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BMC Timemachine Road 01 Two review

31 May 2019
Verdict:

Fast, with stunning aesthetics and impressive aero integration, but a little flexy at the front end

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Fast • Incredible integration * Extremely neat aesthetics
Against 
A little heavy for a bike of this price * The stem-bar setup seems to generate a surprising level of flex

Famous time machines have often proved troublesome. Dr Who’s Tardis has always required a kick to get it working properly. The DeLorean was forever running out of plutonium, and Bill and Ted’s phone booth accidentally brought Napoleon back from the past.

BMC’s original Timemachine TMR01 was similarly a wonder of science and physics, but had a few glitches. It was in essence a time-trial bike repurposed for the road.

That meant it was blisteringly fast, but it was so rigid that at times it was impractical for longer rides. It was a fantastic bike nonetheless, and has remained unchanged in BMC’s line for several years, so this redesign and rebirth of the model had me intrigued.

Buy the BMC Timemachine 01 from Tredz for £9,999

‘The new Timemachine Road carries over some design cues, but it has basically been redesigned from the ground up,’ says Stefano Gennaioli, BMC’s product marketing manager.

The most important facet of that redesign has been the introduction of disc brakes, and BMC has committed to them to such an extent that there is no rim brake alternative.

‘We wanted to deliver a solution that would improve the bike’s aerodynamic performance in side winds while also improving the level of functionality for riders,’ Gennaioli says.

‘The idea most riders have about aero bikes is that they’re difficult to ride and uncomfortable, reducing the distance that can be ridden at a high pace.’

It’s a line of thinking that has cropped up at numerous brands, which now target comfort even with their fastest bikes.

Take the Trek Madone, which now has an adjustable IsoSpeed decoupler, or the Specialized Venge that’s specced with 26mm width tyres as standard.

With the new Timemachine, BMC hasn’t used any innovative suspension systems, but has built the bike around wider tyres and a system BMC calls ‘Tuned Compliance Concept’.

That means compliance is designed into the stem, seatstays and fork, where tube shapes and carbon layup work together to filter out road vibrations.

Adding to the considerations for the more practical cyclist is the ‘Aero Module’.

This is the box that sits between the bottle cages and is integrated into the frame (but removable).

As well as providing a small amount of storage space, BMC claims it offers three watts of aerodynamic savings at zero yaw and a whopping 18 watts at 15° of yaw compared to standard bottle cages.

Back to the future

At first glance I was very excited by this bike. The rear triangle, top tube junction and even the fork bear a close resemblance to the original TMR01.

It makes for an edgy and almost space-age aesthetic, and seems to scream out that the bike will be fast, rigid and nimble.

My first impression on riding the bike, though, was that it’s very different to the TMR01.

The Timemachine Road is certainly fast – it slices through the air with ease at higher speeds, making it almost glide – yet it doesn’t have the same stiff rebound from the road as the TMR01, which was very unforgiving.

In that sense it reminds me more of BMC’s all-rounder, the Teammachine, which does a great job of juggling comfort and speed.

In terms of practicality, the disc brakes are far simpler than the aero rim brake offerings of yesteryear.

Previously, BMC concealed the front brakes within a structural fairing and placed the rear brake behind the bottom bracket.

I drove myself near-insane trying to adjust them.

The disc brakes and concealed hydraulic cabling are a big step forward and on a par with the best of the competition.

That said, the tiny plastic fairing in front of the front brake calliper is a little fiddly.

Similarly, the Aero Module may help with aerodynamics but it’s not particularly useful as storage space (it was a struggle to fit much more than an inner tube inside) and it feels a little bit flimsy and plasticky.

Losing the spark

While the Timemachine Road is undoubtedly rapid at top speed, I still got the impression that it lacked a little spark.

Some road bikes seem to just take off, as if propelled by a concealed motor.

The Timemachine took a little coaxing to get up to speed, and often felt a touch lacklustre and almost soft.

At first I couldn’t decide why.

I considered whether it might have something to do with weight.

At 7.99kg the Timemachine is a little chunky compared to some top-end aero bikes on the market (although still fractionally lighter than others such as the Look Blade RS on the previous pages).

However, whenever I was climbing on the BMC its weight was only really noticeable on the steepest of inclines, and I scored some great times on middling climbs.

I decided that the culprit was an unusually large level of flex from the aero handlebars.

That may have been caused by the steerer tube, which has chamfered sides to accommodate the internal cabling.

A reduced stem height may have helped, but it probably wouldn’t have solved the problem as a certain amount of the flex came from the slim profile of the stem and handlebar.

At any rate, hauling on the bars produced a lot of flex, which took the edge off full-on sprinting or accelerating quickly from a standing start.

Perhaps it’s a fair penalty for the aero gains, but I felt it sapped the sense of speed from the bike.

Added to that, the Timemachine Road has a fairly long wheelbase of 1,004mm for a 56cm frame, which typically increases stability while reducing the responsiveness in handling.

Buy the BMC Timemachine 01 from Tredz for £9,999

Sure enough, the Timemachine felt planted when cornering and descending, but not as nimble as other race-oriented bikes I’ve tested recently.

Again, the front end flex played a part in this.

Despite all this nitpicking, there’s no doubt this an extremely fast bike that’s significantly more comfortable than its predecessor, and which will leave any rider well-equipped for a chain gang, race or big solo effort.

All-told, the new BMC Timemachine does most things very well and looks stunning, but if I’m honest it didn’t live up to my expectations.

For that I blame BMC for setting the expectation levels so very high in the first place.

Spec

Frame BMC Timemachine Road 01 Two
Groupset Sram Red eTap 22 HRD
Brakes Sram Red eTap 22 HRD
Chainset Sram Red eTap 22 HRD
Cassette Sram Red eTap 22 HRD
Bars BMC ICS Aero
Stem BMC ICS Aero
Seatpost BMC Aero Post 01  
Saddle Fizik Arione R1 Carbon
Wheels DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut 62, Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres
Weight 7.99kg 
Contact Zyro Fischer
Price: 
£8,500

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