BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike review
The BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike comes with double the range of most e-bikes - does that bring with it any compromises?
The BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike has all the good looks you’d expected, but with the addition of a long-range battery. Despite it's name, it is far from a traditional road bike, and while a 'high end mixed surface commuter bike ideal for flat terrain' might be a niche market, it's certainly captured here.
Extra long range
Power to weight ratio
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When BMC announced its new drop bar BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike last summer, it raised a lot of eyebrows. At its heart are all the good looks of the BMC Roadmachine, but it’s not exactly the most subtle of road style e-bikes, with the pedal-assist motor strapped on like a roof box on top of a Porsche 911.
The roof box in question provides a longer range than most, however, so we were keen to hop on and see if the lightweight BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road was a hit or miss.
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As the standout feature clearly is the electric aspect, it’s probably a good starting point.
Provided courtesy of Shimano Steps' E8000 system, it’s a drive unit that is technically listed on the e-mountain bike side of the Shimano business. It’s been nicely integrated with the Shimano Ultegra Di2 set up, as with just the single chainring at the front, the left shifter is then free to become the unit switch for the power functions, making it a simple and familiar leaver click between Eco, Trail and Boost settings.
Number wise, the system provides 504Wh of power. That’s around double the juice provided by the popular Fazua and ebikemotion batteries seen elsewhere. So while you’ll be unlikely to deny your motorised assistance to your team mates, as there’s no way this puppy is every getting integrated, it does mean you get twice the potential range – useful if you’re planning to tackle extended rides.
The supersized battery makes the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road heavier than specific road e-bikes like the Focus Paralane2, the Wilier Cento1Hy and the Ribble SLe, with the latter two models around the 12kg mark and the Focus at 13kg for a size medium.
BMC is clear that the bike really shouldn't be compared to the lightweight, road style fraternity of electric machines. At 15kg, for a size small, it's targeted at the leisure end of the market, so a better comparison would be the Specialized Vado Turbo 2.0, which tips the scales at a much more weighty at 23kg.
Converting this juice is a 250watt mid-mounted motor unit with 70Nm of torque, with the battery pack attached to the seat tube. Shimano say that weighing just 2.4kg it’s one of the lightest motors on the market.
A comfortable ride
Despite a full carbon chassis, the Alpenchallenge AMP will never be a lightweight machine. However, the brand is right when it says that the central mounted battery and motor lead to a low centre of gravity, so that once you’ve got used to it, the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road handling does feel stable at speed with precise cornering.
With it’s own Micro Travel Technology (MITT) creating 10mm of travel from the carbon lay-up process of the rear triangle, BMC's Alpenchallenge AMP Road does indeed provide a comfortable ride, noticeable over the bumpy surfaces of Cheshire’s finest road network, although the Fizik Antare R3 Kium saddle no doubt assisted some what.
As with the new BMC Roadmachine, the integrated cable routing provides very clean lines, and while not technically an integrated cockpit, the alloy BMC RAB 02 handlebar and BMC ICS 01 stem are as good as looks wise, complete with computer and camera mount. This means you also gain the benefits of fine tuning your fit with a wide range of stem length options as well as 0 degree and -12 degree stem angles.
Though the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road isn't a traditional road bike, when you do get on the dropped bars, the low centre of gravity that they afford creates a well handling and balanced bike.
Ideal for the Het Scheldepeloton
Asked what the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike's ideal testing ground was, the brand's Road Senior Product Manager Mart Otten told me: "[Its] natural terrain is the road, but the MTT and 40c tire clearance capability increases its versatility for a variety of road conditions” - which was all the encouragement I needed to take this wee beasty for a classic Peak District mash up ride.
It was on this maiden voyage, however, that I realised that the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike is clearly not designed for the foothills of the Peaks. The slopes quickly over powered the low torque motor unit, in a way I've not experienced when riding heavier e-bikes.
However, all was by no means lost. It was also on this ride that I figured out the BMC's raison d'etre - it just took a segregated bike path and old railway line to do it.
This bike was made for Het Scheldepeloton, the infamous chaingang that balts up and down the river Schelde in East Flanders, Belgium. It's a roughish surface and, as you can imagine, pretty flat. The epiphany hit me as, having turned away from the hills to circumnavigate the flatter Cheshire plains, I could just tap out a constant 1-2-1-2 on the pedals all day on the flat.
The BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike was happy as Larry at a constant 15mph (24kmph). While any incline does take it’s toll on the bike, with the weight sucking up some of the power, it’s just a matter of sitting back knocking it in to the 34 and cruising. Your speed will drop significantly, but the pedal assist will take the strain off at a more sedate pace.
The DTSwiss HE 1800 wheels and big ol’comfy Vittoria Corsa Control 30mm tyres made taking the bike on unpaved routes a breeze, ideal for disused railway lines, or, taking inspiration from the river Schelde, tow paths.
The BMC did lack the vavavoom that the Specailized Vado Tubo offered - the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike is all about the long game, and with somewhere in the region of 150 to 200 power assisted pedalling kilometres between charges under the saddle to boast about, it's going to be the ideal bike for some folk, assuming that is that you can afford to pay the money.
There is no denying the elephant in the room with the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike is the price. There are three 'Roads' in the Alpenchallenge range, our 'Road One' test version would set you back a breath inhaling £6,299. There is of course the 'Road Two', with it's Shimano 105/GRX groupset mix, a lower spec'ed motor and wheelset, for £4,299. At the other end of the spectrum is the range topping 'Road LTD' which comes with part Dura Ace Di2 an ISC fully integrated aero carbon cockpit and fancy set of DT Swiss HEC 1400 carbon wheels and would set you back £9,9999.
If you're looking to justify such a spend, it's worth considering that (unless your buying a Renault Twizy of course) you'll be saving around £10k when compared to the most basic of electric cars, and you'll be able to go a lot further between charges whilst enjoying the fresh air and traffic free lanes.
A mixed surface, flat terrain high end commuter e-bike is a bit of a niche market, but one that the BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Road e-bike has definitely captured. Just make sure you purchase a blooming good bike lock to go with it.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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