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BMC Roadmachine RM03 Disc review

21 Jun 2017
Verdict:

The Roadmachine RM03 makes a good case for just how far low-end groupsets have come

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,649

Buy the BMC Roadmachine RM03 105 from Evans Cycles here

The BMC Roadmachine range is the Swiss company’s attempt to present a perfect compromise between their Teammachine climber’s bike and Gran Fondo endurance machine – a bike for all occasions.

This BMC Roadmachine RM03 version is alloy-framed (the more expensive RM01 and RM02 bikes are carbon), sports a full Shimano Tiagra groupset, hydraulic brakes and 28mm any-roatyres.

Frameset

For the RM03’s frame, BMC has used lessons learned in the creation of its carbon framesets, employing its Tuned Compliance Concept.

In essence, this system of frame design creates vertical compliance in the areas of the frame that need to flex in response to road impact and vibration.

These include the seatstays, upper reaches of the seat tube and rear three quarters of the top tube.

Lateral stiffness, meanwhile, is provided in those areas where ultimate rigidity is required for efficient power delivery – the fork tops, head tube, front of the top tube, the down tube and the chainstays.

It’s been achieved in alloy by employing triple-butted tubing, which has three different thicknesses depending on how close the material is to a frame junction.

The cables are internally routed, while there are also mounts for mudguards, giving the RM03 all-round versatility.

A particularly relaxed head angle of 70.7° ensures that there are no nasty surprises in the handling.

Combined with a rangy wheelbase and a 154mm head tube, the keystone of the Roadmachine’s frame is stability and comfort, rather than out-and-out performance.

Groupset

Shimano’s Tiagra groupset is used throughout for the RM03’s moving parts, and it’s a cracking range of kit.

Truly on a par with the last incarnation of the higher-spec 105 groupset, it comprises a Tiagra 50/34 chainset combined with a wide-ratio 11-32 cassette, with shifts taken care of by Tiagra derailleurs front and rear.

The shifters/brake levers are 105-equivalent BR-RS505 hydraulic components, working not only on the mechs but also the hydraulic brake discs.

The hydro equipment is cleverly hidden in the hoods of the levers, and stopping power is very decent.

Finishing kit

BMC’s own alloy finishing kit adorns the Roadmachine. The short-reach RAB03 handlebars are 420mm in width, which feels just a little too wide for our 51cm bike, while a workaday alloy seatpost carries a Velo saddle.

This perch features a pronounced scoop which suitably cradles the rump, and is well padded to isolate the rider’s rear from road vibrations.

Wheels

Novatec’s ‘30’ wheelset is a little on the bulky side, adding a good 2kg to the weight of the BMC’s frame and other components.

But when you consider their primary job is to promote comfort rather than propel you up a mountain at speed, things start to make sense.

Their 20mm internal width makes the Continental Sport Contact tyres feel even wider than their 28c diameter. When it comes to dialling out jarring road imperfections, there are few better combinations.

The ride

This bike has a bit of a split personality. One look at the rear triangle tells you it’s built for efficiency, while the forks are aero in design, while an all-up weight of 9.78kg suggests it’ll be good for neither.

However, one thing that's immediately evident is just how comfortable the RM03 is. This is thanks in no small part to its easy-going geometry and voluminous tyres.

For a bike that’s designed to cope with anything a road can throw at you, it’s certainly a case of mission accomplished.

The high-volume tyres are exceptionally cushioning, and because they’re not deeply treaded like a cyclocross tyre, they don’t impede progress when you just want to get your head down and cover distance at speed.

In terms of pure speed, the Roadmachine is a good performer, but simply good rather than exceptional, since its bulk makes rapid progress very much dependent on the terrain.

Rolling roads and downhill stretches are a cinch, but once the road rises you’ll be wishing you had a lighter bike, despite the wide-ranging 11-34 cassette.

Yes, that does make the best of your efforts on ascents – and the frame design assists in this – but a bike that weighs nearly 10kg is never going to excel on a climb.

The long wheelbase and relaxed riding position, however, cosset you throughout a ride of any length, and were particularly adept at ensuring we experienced next to no fatigue on a 60-mile jaunt around the British countryside.

Trade-off

It’s a trade-off, but sometimes you’ll favour long-distance comfort over outright performance. If that’s the kind of riding you’re into, this bike is well worth closer inspection.

One thing we can be sure of is that Shimano’s Tiagra groupset is a well-matched fitment, and operates with all the efficiency of the firm’s higher end 105 and Ultegra groupsets.

The laid-back frame geometry and 1009mm wheelbase also have a marked effect on the overall handling characteristics of the alloy Roadmachine.

It’s not slow to steer, but if you’re used to a more racy endurance geometry you’ll notice the difference.

It’s more a case of thinking ahead, and not making any huge demands of the bike as you enter – or when you’re already in – a corner, especially if this happens to be a tight downhill turn.

What does assist in the handling stakes is the braking set-up. Shimano’s hydraulic brakes prove themselves to be well suited to this package, in that they allow you to finely gauge your stopping force rather than offering an all-or-nothing approach to scrubbing off speed.

We didn’t experience any brake rub between pads and rotors, so can only assume the bolt-thru axle system is doing its job.

The wide-diameter wheel rims spread the 28c tyres’ footprint widely, which does offer stacks of confidence when you’re barrelling into a turn at speed, or when the road surface becomes unexpectedly iffy mid-corner.

It’s here that the Roadmachine proves its worth, in happily ploughing through, over and across almost any road surface imaginable. It will even handle a little gravel if you’re so inclined.

Bikes aimed at all-road domination will always involve a certain amount of compromise, but if you don’t plan to race, instead preferring a social more ride interspersed with the odd (flattish) sportive, this bike needs to be on your shortlist. 

Ratings

Frame: Comfort is the aim, and it achieves this in spades. 8/10
Components: The Tiagra groupset is a good choice for the bike 8/10 
Wheels: Wide rims and fat, slick tyres do a good job of handling varied terrain. 8/10 
The Ride: Proceeds well on the flat, but feels the weight on hills. 8/10

VERDICT

The Roadmachine RM03 and its Tiagra components are a great example of just how far low-end groupsets have come.

Buy the Roadmachine RM03 105 from Evans Cycles here

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 539mm 540mm
Seat Tube (ST) 464mm 464mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 614mm
Fork Length (FL) 369mm 368mm
Head Tube (HT) 154mm 154mm
Head Angle (HA) 70.5 70.7
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 74.2
Wheelbase (WB) 1007mm 1009mm
BB drop (BB) 71mm 71mm

Spec

BMC Roadmachine RM03
Frame AI-13 triple-butted, hydroformed, smooth weld frame, Roadmachine 03 carbon fork
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Brakes Shimano BR-RS405 hydraulic discs, 160mm rotors front and rear
Chainset Shimano Tiagra, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Tiagra, 11-34
Bars BMC RAB 03, alloy
Stem BMC RSM 03, alloy
Seatpost BMC RSP 03, alloy
Wheels Novatec 30 with 28cm Continental Sport Contact II SL tyres
Saddle Velo VL-1205
Weight 9.68kg (51cm)
Contact evanscycles.com

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