BMC Timemachine 01 Road Four 2020 review
Will Thompson takes the BMC Timemachine Road 04 on an epic 25-hour relay race to see if this disc only aero bike can give him the speed to survive...
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Without doubt a huge improvement on what was already a class leading speed weapon. The Timemachine Road adds another string to it bow with ride quality of comfort that puts it right at the top of its class. The only drawbacks I can see are the price, given it’s only equipped with Shimano di2 and possibly the limited tyre clearance in a world where bigger are proven to be better. With that aside, this is a bike that makes you want to ride faster and harder, and smile while you’re doing it. It’s best in class cable integration and super clean frame lines, give it an aero beauty that even the biggest aero critics would find hard to dislike. It’s surpassed my expectations and doubts as a one trick pony and allowed me to take on a 25-hour ride with surprising ease!
All day comfort
Narrow tyre clearance
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The BMC Timemachine 01 Road Four 2020 was selected for an Editor's Choice award (opens in new tab) in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval. We tested the 2020 model, since then, a 2021 version has been released - but the frame and spec remain largely unchanged.
Love them or hate them, aero bikes are a common sight within most brand’s model line-ups these days, and BMC is no stranger in this category.
Since its introduction back in 2012, the original road going Timemachine was pitched as a purely functional bike: sacrificing comfort and compliance over ultimate speed and wind cheating abilities.
With the 25 hour Redbull Timelaps looming on the calendar for the Cycling Weekly team, you can understand my increased nervousness when the BMC Timemachine Road 04 was made my weapon of choice for the event.
>>> What's it like to race the world's longest one day race?
The design brief for this bike was to build on the existing Timemachine platform and extract as much speed from aerodynamic advantage, but this time, creating increased ride quality from BMCs Tuned Compliance concept (TCC) and in a disc only package.
The Le Mans racer styling speaks to that mantra of speed. The Aerodynamic design and striking tube profiles add up to allow this bike to optimise rolling resistance and power transfer, meaning less effort getting up to speed and holding it at peak power. They’ve even gone as far as adding an integrated aero cover that blankets the front disc caliper to further optimise airflow, and a nice touch that it’s removable for adjustment and servicing of the disc brakes.
A recognisable shape to most BMCs is the dropped seat stays, and the Timemachine Road continues in this iconic design, in what they coin TCC Aero. This is where BMCs magic of improved vertical compliance gives this bike some of those comfort credentials it was so dearly lacking before.
Two standout pieces of design I’d like to call out on this bike are the Integrated Cockpit System (ICS) and the aero module. With so many buzz words in the aero bike scene, I was dubious of how good these parts would be.
Firstly the ICS; BMC have created an integrated bar and stem system that is still two piece, meaning the bars can be adjusted (+/- 9 degrees) to suit different rider styles and set ups. The wide profile of the stem and bars might give the appearance of bulk and stiffness, however, these are some of the most compliant handlebars I’ve ridden, and aided in taking away the majority of road buzz, but still giving razor sharp feel while sprinting and in the corners.
The bar and stem combo also allows full integration of all the cabling without upsetting steering feel. There are some nifty interlocking spacers for adjusting stem height, and these can be added and removed without the ICS leaving the steerer tube.
The aero module felt a bit of a gimmick at first, but on closer inspection, it’s a part carbon, part plastic bottle cage and storage box that gives a seamless appearance to the joining of the downtube and seat tube.
Designed in combination with Elite, it increases airflow over this area of bike that would otherwise be disrupted by regular water bottle cages. It also neatly houses a cut out for the Di2 controller and there’s no chance of a bottle flying out on bumpy roads. The only negative point is that even though the storage box is really useful (I was able to put a couple of tubes and a multi-tool in there), the plastic used for the cover feels cheaply made vs the premium feel of the rest of the bike.
As someone who has slight OCD for detail and aesthetics of bikes, the Timemachine road is really pleasing on the eye. The paint is a matt finish Red, and although this has a tendency to look dirty quickly and show finger-marks, I came to really love it. In addition, BMC make a big statement in their Timemachine Road specifications about ultimate integration, and they’re not wrong, there’s not a Di2 cable or hydraulic hose in sight.
As I mentioned earlier, I was a little sceptical that we were about to embark on a 25 hour relay race on a bike that had been previously known for its unforgiving ride. But I was really blown away.
From the very first test ride in the run up to the event, I was shocked at how well is soaked up bumps and road buzz, even with the (now skinny feeling) 25mm tyres pumped to 100psi. Don’t get me wrong, It was certainly very direct and felt like a precision tool to ride, but coming from a gravel bike with 42mm tyres, the difference in comfort between the two was far from night and day.
Finally, the day of the event came, and I’d had a chance to dial in my position on the bike over the previous weeks, but I’d yet to put more the 60-70 miles on it in one go. Fast forward 25 hours, needless to say I was tired and a little delirious, but I was also ache free - I really couldn’t believe it.
The course was really bumpy in places and it had rained for a good portion of the event, but this really helped highlight a few take aways about this bike.
Firstly, it’s comfortable, really comfortable; forget aero bikes being these harsh riding weapons that are only built for one thing, the Timemachine Road felt like an endurance racer.
It was quick, and when you got it going at speed it stayed there; bumps and vibrations were really well damped and never unsettled you, ensuring a secure feeling of control, like you were part of the bike and not just sat on it. Even in the heavy rain, I could tip it into the 90-degree corners with a confidence I’d never felt on a dedicated aero bike before.
I’ve not mentioned them until this point, but the DT Swiss ERC 1650 Carbon wheels with bolt thru front and rear, not only added to the strong speed aesthetic but they made out of the saddle sprints and accelerations enjoyable (if that’s even a thing?), increasing the overall incredible lateral stiffness of the package!
It slowly dawned on me that for the first time, a road rider with only space for one bike in the house could realistically buy one of these and not feel like they were missing something in any way. It’s light, so it goes up climbs. It’s comfortable, so you could ride it all day. It’s fast - so on the club run, road race or time trial, you’re going to benefit from all that aero styling.
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