The Roadmachine 02 Three gives you a tuned endurance frameset with the versatility to tackle different terrain and road surfaces and really long excursions. It’s a comfortable distance ride, although its component spec is a notch down on what you’d expect on a bike of its price.
Good power transfer not bought at the expense of ride comfort
Clearance for extra-wide tyres
Extra endurance features like mounts for a top tube box and an optional rear mudguard
Although shifting performance is good, Shimano 105 is a low spec groupset for the Roadmachine’s price
By Paul Norman
We really liked the BMC Roadmachine when we tested it last year; so much so that we placed it on our Editor’s Choice list of our favourite products tested in 2018.
Now BMC has updated its Roadmachine range, giving it increased compliance, making the frame lighter and upping the tyre clearance to 33mm. At the same time, UK distribution has swapped from Evans Cycles to ZyroFisher, so the BMC Roadmachine will be available from a wider range of cycle shops.
We’ve now tested the new 2020 Roadmachine 02 Three. It’s the entry level bike in BMC’s endurance-oriented range – although at £3000 it’s not a cheap option.
New Roadmachine range overview
To set the bike in context, the Roadmachine range comprises two platforms: both are made of the same high modulus carbon fibre and are disc brake only. The Roadmachine 01 has an integrated cockpit with a separate carbon bar and alloy stem, which allow the fine tuning of fit often lacking from integrated cockpits. There’s internal cable routing from the levers through to the brake calipers and the mechs.
As you’d expect, BMC kits out the Roadmachine 01 range with premium kit, starting off with the Roadmachine 01 One with SRAM Red eTap AXS and Enve 4.5C AR wheels and running down to the Roadmachine 01 Four with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss ERC 1650 Spline db 47 carbon wheels.
The Roadmachine 02 has the same carbon frame as the 01 series. But it foregoes the integrated cockpit in favour of a more conventional bar and stem set-up with external cabling from the bar into the down tube. This also means that the fork is different from the Roadmachine 01, using different carbon fibre for a slight weight and performance difference.
The Roadmachine 02 One gets Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss E1800 Spline db 32 alloy wheels, the 02 Two has mechanical Ultegra and the 02 Three, tested here, gets Shimano 105 and Shimano RS-370 TL wheels.
I like the angular aesthetics of all BMC’s bikes. It’s a look that the new Roadmachine inherits from the older model and which gives the bike a pared-down, purposeful look.
BMC has altered the reach and stack values of the new frameset, so that larger sizes, in particular, get a higher stack and shorter reach, for a more balanced fit that’s similar for larger riders to that for those on smaller sized frames. The short wheelbase – just under 1000mm on the size 51 frame tested, aided by the rear wheel cut-out in the seat tube, leads to agile handling at lower speeds, but enough stability not to be nervy on fast descents and through corners.
The chunky down tube is offset by the skinny, angular top tube, with its characteristic triangular downward extension at the seat tube junction. There’s a PF86 bottom bracket for wide bearing placement, adding to the design’s effective power transfer.
Another BMC design characteristic is the thin, dropped seatstays. They’re seen on an increasing number of competitors’ bikes too now, and add extra compliance to the Roadmachine frameset, without compromising lateral stiffness, as they’re quite wide across their section.
Strangely, although the front mech cable runs internally through the back of the seat tube, the rear mech cable is routed externally under the chainstay. This seems to have been necessitated by the chainstay shape needed to provide extra space around the rear wheel. The cable then goes through the end of the chainstay into the bottom of the seatstay. It doesn't affect shifting quality but is something that probably works better with the higher spec models with electronic shifting.
There’s a neatly integrated skeleton rear mech hanger, that extends out neatly rearward from the dropout.
BMC fits an adjustable chaincatcher beside the smaller chainring. It should help avoid your chain unshipping and potential damage to the bottom bracket shell.
The Swiss brand obviously takes the Roadmachine’s endurance credentials seriously, with two blanked off bolts at the front of the top tube, allowing you to mount a feed bag to keep extra bars and gels easily to hand.
Whereas the outgoing model had mounting points for mudguards, they are absent on the new Roadmachine. But as an optional extra you can buy BMC’s Dfender clip-on rear guard, designed to attach securely to the D-shaped seatpost.
It’s easy to be snobby about groupsets, as they’re one of the first things that stands out on a bike. But Shimano 105 actually offers shifting that you’d be hard pressed to distinguish from Ultegra, if presented with a label-less set-up. It’s a bit heavier, as is the shifting action, but otherwise there’s little to distinguish it from its pricier sibling.
105 hydraulic brakes offer plenty of stopping power and modulation for confident descending and the 28mm Vittoria Rubino tyres fitted have the grip to handle late, hard deceleration. BMC fits 160mm brake rotors front and rear too, so overheating and fade are unlikely to be a problem, even if you take your Roadmachine to the Alps.
BMC gives you bags of gear range too. The 50/34 compact chainset is coupled to an 11-32 cassette, so you won’t be held back by lack of lower range on steeper uphills.
BMC’s D-shaped carbon seatpost is designed to add extra compliance over a round section post, for a smother ride. It’s coupled to a Selle Royal saddle that I mistook for a Fizik Aliante. The profile and the decoration look the same, although it lacks the logos. The Roadmachine’s saddle is a comfortable, well padded perch. And with Selle Royal being the parent company of Fizik, it’s a safe bet that there’s plenty of spill-over from the Aliante.
There’s a BMC alloy stem and bar, with the bar tops slightly elliptical for a wide hand hold and more comfort. On longer rides, my palms suffered no discomfort even in the fleeting heat of the British summer.
Wheels are alloy Shimano RS370 TL. They’re a fairly workaday choice, although they should be robust and do let you set up tubeless for lower tyre pressures and additional compliance, along with increased puncture protection.
Riding the BMC Roadmachine
The outgoing model BMC Roadmachine gained a place on our 2018 Editor’s Choice list of our favourite products tested last year. We highlighted its comfortable, engaging ride and efficient power transfer. Those are qualities that the new Roadmachine carries forward. The changes from the previous model are actually quite subtle – but that’s no bad thing as the bike was already a polished long distance performer.
We couldn’t say whether there was a 25% increase in compliance, as claimed by BMC, but the Roadmachine is a really nice bike for longer excursions. The sloping frame geometry gives you a long seatpost, helping to soak up road imperfections, while the frame still retains the sharp handling that makes faster riding over twisty roads and on descents interesting and enjoyable.
Even on the supplied 28mm tyres, there’s bags of grip and the BMC Roadmachine seems to float over poor road surfaces and even a bit of gravel. Take full advantage of the available clearance with 30mm tyres or wider and that’s an effect that would only be amplified.
With a cassette extending to 32 teeth, coupled to the 34 inner ring, BMC gives you plenty of lower end gearing, so you can sit in and spin up the hills.
Switzerland is an expensive place to base a bike company and BMC’s products are at the premium end of the market, reflecting this. If you judge a bike by its groupset, to find Shimano 105 – even the more expensive disc brake variant – on a bike at this price point may seem a let-down.
But BMC has a reputation for excellent engineering and is bike sponsor to Dimension Data, providing it with pro-level feedback. The ride and handling offered by the Roadmachine reflect this. Upgrade the wheels and you’ve got a very capable, comfortable distance-oriented ride.
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