BMC bikes are performance orientated machines bred for speed and endurance - we round up the key models
BMC is a Swiss based company whose acronymic title (Bicycle Manufacturing Company) certainly fits into the ‘does what it says on the tin’ category.
Founded by Bob Bigelow in 1986, BMC was initially a wholesale distributor for Raleigh bicycles – but in 2001 it shifted to focus on building bikes under the BMC name after Bigelow lost his distributor’s license.
The brand has always focused on the performance bicycle market, initially supplying bikes to the Swiss professional team. Team patron Andy Rihs took over the company in 2000, building a production facility in Grenchen, Switzerland.
There, the Impec road bike was born, and the centre – still home to the company’s design and engineering teams – is now called the Impec Advanced R&D Lab.
The brand manufactures bikes for all terrains – from road to muddy mountains – and sponsors world class athletes including BMC Racing, for whom the brand is the title sponsor.
Buying a BMC bike in the UK
In the UK, the brand is available exclusively at high street and online retailer, Evans Cycles.
The naming culture has changed slightly in the 2018 line-up. Where once a BMC Alpenchallenge might be called an ‘AC01’, the abbreviation has now been dropped. The first number – in this case 01 -refers to the frame level, and in cases where there are multiple build specs another number follows. Lower numbers are always better. For example, the top end Alpenchallenge hybrid bike is a BMC Alpenchallenge 01 One.
Being a performance orientated brand, BMC prides itself on its engineering and frame technology. The bikes generally come in at higher prices for the same spec when compared with built bikes from other brands.
These bikes are a good choice if you’re more interested in picking up a top end frame and upgrading components as you go, or basically if you’re more bothered by the frame than the logo on the shifters and brakes.
It’s also notable that BMC does not produce any women’s specific options: neither women’s frames nor unisex frames with women’s specific components like narrower handlebars and women’s saddles – so many female shoppers would need to shell out for these from day one.
Useful links for road bike shoppers…
The Teammachine is the race bike of choice for the BMC Racing pro team – at the Tour de France and the Classics.
The geometry is long and low, and all the frames have been developed using computer generated ‘ACE’ (Accelerated Composites Evolution Technology) to ensure that stiffness is kept to a maximum whilst the weight stays low. BMC claims it tested 34,000 frame variations using the computer testing before arriving at the final design.
Teammachine bikes are broken down into SLR01, SLR02, SLR03 and ALR01 families.
The newest Teammachine SLR01 (from £4,000 with Shimano Ultegra) features Asymmetric Tube Design, which means that the bottom bracket and chain stays are beefed up on one side, and the direct brake mount section is also made stronger.
The SLR02 bikes (from £2,250 with Shimano 105) also boast this tech – and both SLR01 and 02 are available with disc brakes and feature greater levels of cockpit integration.
Being crowned Cycling Weekly disc brake bike of the year, during the period where disc brake road bikes were being introduced by nearly every brand, was no easy feat but the BMC Roadmachine took that title in 2017.
The frame was designed from the ground up to suit the disc brake stoppers. A taller stack, and longer wheelbase when compared with the Roadmachine combine to create a more relaxed geometry. BMC’s ‘Tuned Compliance Concept’ is in play here, and a smooth ride is the aim of the game.
There are three frame variants, headed up by the BMC Roadmachine 01 (from £4,400 with Shimano Ultegra) which enjoys a fully integrated cockpit. The BMC Roadmachine 02 (from £2,650 with Shimano 105) is a little less integrated, but still has an all-in-one stem and computer/bike camera mount.
Both the Roadmachine 01 and 02 come with a choice of two headset spacers, allowing the rider to tailor the stack height between a race style geometry, and a more relaxed fit.
The tyres specced are 28mm, but there’s room for 30mm rubber, and a d-shaped seatpost adds to the comfort factor.
For those who want the same Roadmachine endurance focused ride but seek the affordability or durability of aluminium, there’s the Roadmachine 03 which comes in at £1,600 with a (winter bike friendly) single ring SRAM Apex1 chainset or £1,700 with Shimano 105.
The Timemachine has been specifically created for triathletes, following study of multi-sport athletes and their movements. This said, aero testing and optimisation means it still slices quickly through the air for time trial riders.
The top end frame model is the Timemachine 01, which with Shimano Ultegra Di2 comes in at £6,899. This comes with a unique looking V-Cockpit with a hinge fork which creates an optimised fit even for riders who find they go faster with a higher stack, and keeps the frontal profile streamlined.
Those who don’t want to opt for the higher front end can choose a frameset, and fit a ‘flat cockpit’ which will allow them to get to new levels of low.
It’s not just about the position. Hidden brake booster technology ensures that the brake pads allow for enough clearance when the wheel flexes. A Quick Pad cartridge system is used at the rear, keeping the brakes well hidden and the rear wheel perfectly placed thanks to hollow and full-carbon adjustable dropouts.
The whole system is also designed to be easily disconnected when it comes to travel. The seat post can move to allow two positions, too – so the bike can be UCI legal if required.
If it all sounds a bit too much, and you want to keep the design a little bit less integrated (easier to work on, adjust and travel with) then there’s the Timemachine 02 (£2,650 with Shimano 105) which is exactly that. This utilises many of the aero tube shapes found on the 01, but comes with a standard stem (just like you’d find on a road bike) and base bare combination.
The 02 comes with direct-mount calipers, which hide from the wind and provide fast braking, even in wet conditions. Both bikes come with storage boxes for snacks along the way, too.
For those looking for straight-line speed in a road bike, there’s the Timemachine road bike. A flat road specialist, this model comes in with just one build. A carbon frame comes with the ‘P2P’ (position to perform) seat post seen on the time trial bike, plus integrated rear brake and DTi internal cable routing.
Designed to be stiff and suited to sprinters and short course time trial or triathlon riders, the geometry is aggressive for a long and low aerodynamic position.
Like the Timemachine, the Trackmachine (made for riding the boards) comes in two guises: the Trackmachine 01 and 02.
The Trackmachine silhouette was designed specifically for the Swiss National Track Team, using aero testing and incorporating a ‘p2p’ (position to perform) cockpit with plenty of adjustability.
The top end Trackmachine 01 carries a carbon frame and comes with a hinge fork which allows the rider to find the perfect position.
Not content with up-front adjustability alone, BMC incorporates a slender seatpost which allows for a range of layback adjustments – there’s four main attachment points, along with the normal forward and backward attachments. It sounds complicated – but we actually found it all pretty easy to use.
For those chasing simplicity (and not keen to spend £3,700 – Dura-Ace or no Dura-Ace), there’s the Trackmachine 01. This uses an aluminium frame – popular for those seeking a training and racing bike for its reliability and robustness. This still enjoys a carbon fork and steerer, plus tasty DT Swiss Track Aero wheels.
Firstly: renowned for keeping its paint jobs understated and blocky, BMC has broken from the mould with the Crossmachine and added some snazzy geometric patterns.
Away from the aesthetics, the Crossmachine combines the ACE tech you’ll find on the road frames, with a cross geometry – which means longer wheelbase, slacker head angle and taller stack.
The Crossmachine 01 (£2,800) features a carbon frame and SRAM Rival 1 groupset, with 40 tooth chainset and 11-42 cassette.
If aluminium feels like a safer option, there’s the Crossmachine 02 which uses SRAM Rival too, for £1,899.
The Alpenchallenge is BMC’s hybrid bike, perfect for town and city commuting, it’s certainly not an entry level option with prices starting at £1,000.
There are two frame levels – the 01 and 02. The 01 is the top end option, and comes with a belt drive for easy maintenance (and a reduced chance go greasy marks on trousers) and hidden mudguard mounts.
All models come with disc brakes, for quick stops regardless of weather conditions, and hydroformed aluminium frames. Tyre width varies, from 28mm to 35mm – if you plan to go off-road on your commutes, you’re best off going for a bike built with wider rubber.
During our last review, we noted the bike wasn’t quite as suited to off-road terrain as some hybrids, but on the road we found it but “refined, controllable, and very fast.”
BMC bikes technologies
The afore mentioned Impec lab is located in Switzerland, with the Jura mountain range on one side and the Swiss Alps on the other. It houses BMC’s engineers, machinery, carbon development resources and performance evaluation instruments.
Since 2007, BMC has been producing carbon framesets from scratch inside the facility, and its the birthplace of many of the brand’s concept bikes.
All leading bike brands have their own proprietary technologies, many of which are then applied to a selection of frames – in varying guises depending upon the intended rider. Here’s the low-down on BMC’s key tech…
Vmax is BMC’s aero technology.
The equation is fairly simple. Vmax is the maximum rate at which someone is able to move or operate. It’s achieved via a combination of ‘p2p’ (position to perform) adjustable cockpits to help them achieve the best position possible, and SubA integrated aerodynamics. In short: provide adjustability to find a good position and aero shapes for fast riding.
ICS: integrated cockpit system
This ties in easily with the above equation. BMC aims to cut down on drag with an entirely integrated cockpit, tying in the ICStem and ICFork. Ease of use is taken into account, with the ICFork’s service friendly cable routing system and ICStem’s cable clamp, cable cover and integrated mounting system lending a hand.
DTi cable routing
All BMC road frames feature this tech, which allows cable routing to be swapped between mechanical and electronic drivetrains. Every cable or housing entry and exit port has an adjustable system fitted.
ACE – Accelerated Composites Evolution Technology
Weight, stiffness and vertical compliance: finding the correct balance between the three is key to optimum ride quality. BMC adjusts geometry, carbon lay up and examines frame cross sections to try to do just that – using computer generated testing. It reports to have tested 34,000 frames in this way over the curse of just one year. The result is frame constructions which it feels hits the target.
TCC – Tune Compliance Concept
These technologies are created to counter the cobbles of spring Classics like Paris-Roubaix – but amateur riders might be pleased to know they can enjoy the same tech on home roads, built into the Roadmachine and Teammachine bikes.
The goal is to balance stiffness with vertical compliance, and methods include the use of thin, low seat stays, offset dropouts, carbon fork tips, and a re-designed seatpost. The brand ties in what it calls ‘Angle Compliance Technology’ to add bends and angles to the frame triangles, creating flex and compliance without damaging stiffness.