TESTED: BMC Roadmachine 01 – Bike Magazine Australia

While riding on a trip in the Vaud Alps in Switzerland, it seemed fitting to take a Swiss bike. BMC are a typically Swiss company, engineering their bikes with a programme that allows rapid development of prototypes, then producing the prototypes in their Impec lab before testing the bikes in their ‘terrain lab’ – the quiet but demanding roads or trails of Switzerland.

The new Roadmachine was launched in 2016, with an unmistakable profile thanks to the variety of tube sizes, dropped seat stay height and integration of cables and hoses. 

With much of the cycling world going adventure bike mad, the Roadmachine takes a suitably Swiss approach, building a high-performance bike for how the majority of us ride. It marries race performance and acceleration with frame design that allows compliance and clearance for fatter tyres. So while best-suited to tarmac, it’s comfortable on dirt roads and anything between the two.

A piece of art

The Roadmachine takes integration to another level – which you really notice at the front end of the bike. The hydraulic hoses for the brakes, and the Di2 cables for the Shimano Ultegra Di2 group set, run internally thanks to custom bars, stem, and spacers. It’s a clean look that would appeal not only to the aesthete but also assists with aerodynamics.

There’s more integration over the rest of the bike too, with a hidden seatpost clamp, integrated chain catcher, and very neat 12mm through-axles that have a removable handle so the axles sit flush with the frame or fork. The fork’s flat mount for the disc is integrated into the leg of the fork, for a truly neat look.

While I rode a 2017 model, the 2018 equivalent is the RM01 Three. It has the new Shimano Ultegra Di2 group with hydraulic brakes with 160/140mm rotors. Otherwise it remains the same besides the colours and a change of tyres.

Riding the Roadmachine

Designed as a bike to ride far and fast, one of the things that was immediately striking was the lively feel of the bike. Some endurance road bikes can feel sluggish, with longer wheelbases or overly upright positions. The RM01 maintains plenty of punch in the ride and is the stiffest bike of its kind under power that I have ridden.

With a combination of a huge downtube and substantial chainstays, 12mm through-axles and the 3T C35 wheels, the RM01 shot forward under effort. BMC have done a remarkable job using different grades and layups of carbon fibre to make the bike supple where it needs to be (seat stays and vertically in the fork) and rigid where it has to be.

With a little more bottom bracket drop than a pure racing bike, the chainstay length is only increased a couple of millimetres to gain stability, while knocking about a degree off the head angle and steepening up the seat angle.

The result? This bike surges forward under power, and puts you in a great position to climb. BMC say it’s the one bike you need, and with Cycling Australia’s new acceptance of disc brakes in competition, they might be right. The bike comes with 28mm tyres as stock, but has clearance for 30mm rubber. That doesn’t quite make this a gravel-specific bike, but the handling could well suit sojourns on dirt roads – the stability is there.

The RM01 was happy spinning up a Swiss pass, or being tipped into a fast, twisty descent – yet remained undeterred by bad road conditions. Exploring some smaller roads around Villars, the precise handling made moving the bike around a joy. 

What I really enjoyed was the silent ride. There was no cable rattle, or brake squeal, or disc rub, or chain slap – it was silent. Under load on steep climbs, or over chattery roads on fast descents, the bike was mute. 

The ride feel wasn’t too far off that either. The ‘D’ premium carbon seatpost is designed to be compliant, and with the seat stays attaching to the frame so low, there is a lot of ride comfort in the saddle. The surprise is how rigid the bike feels when jumping out of the saddle and putting it under pressure – no doubt aided by the huge integrated stem and massive main tubes.

Fit for purpose

Given the nature of Swiss roads, BMC have clearly used their local terrain for inspiration for the Roadmachine. The high passes and valleys have fantastic road conditions, where the RM01 just sings along with relative ease. But the Swiss mountains are littered with tiny roads that are sealed, gravel and dirt, that reward cyclists open to exploring. And a bike like the BMC Roadmachine doesn’t hold you back.

If I were to take this bike home, I’d throw on some 30mm tyres and just see where it took me. It’s not too tall like some endurance road bikes, nor too long like many adventure bikes. It gives versatility without a big weight or handling penalty, and doesn’t skimp on speed-fast surfaces. The only downside is the entry price, but BMC have RM02 and RM03 options, in a different grade of carbon and aluminium respectively. 

RRP: $9,999 (2018 RM01 Three)

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