I spent a couple of days in Melbourne checking out the 2017 BMC Roadmachine, a bike that could represent the future of road cycling.
Words - James Raison Images - Mike Boudrie
My sweet rig for the weekend was the Roadmachine 01, just one step below the absolute top of the range. Its build includes a Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain with 50/34 rings, ST-R785 Di2 Hydraulic shifters connected to RS805 brakes that grab onto SM-RT81-SS Rotors. Under your arse is a Fizik Aliante R5 saddle atop a 15mm offset BMC post and in your hands are 3T Ergonova Team handlebars held onto by BMC’s in-house ICS 01 integrated stem. The rolling stock is a set of 3T Discus C35 Team wheels sporting 12mm Thru Axles, wrapped in 25mm Continental GP4000 tyres.
The Roadmachine frame has been exceptionally well designed. It’s incredibly well-balanced with plenty of speed on tap when you want it, and cruisy comfort when you don’t. You decide what you want the bike to do, and it does it. In a way, I was barely aware of it. The frame always did what I wanted so I never had to think about it. It’s a rare blend of comfort, compliance and speed.
My test was about 130km over two days that ranged from the inner-Melbourne CBD to the pinchy climbs and rolling backroads of the Mt Pleasant area, and some industrial roads near the airport. The Roadmachine was never bothered by any of the terrain. It’s just such a smooth and composed ride. It’s no featherweight at 7.75kg but it still skipped up the pinchy ramps.
The smooth ride is matched with some zippy handling. It isn’t the fastest steering bike out there, owing to its slacker angles at the front end, but it doesn’t struggle to change direction. Descending is a lot of fun because of how planted you feel. The disc brakes have an abundance of power and modulation so you can wait until the last moment before scrubbing off speed.
The Shimano drivetrain is typically outstanding. Shifting is crisp, quiet, and precise. The only fly in the ointment is the ergonomics hoods that have you holding onto some hard and pointy plastics immediately behind the brake lever. It is, otherwise, an exceptional system that works brilliantly on this bike.
3T’s Discus C35 wheels roll very willingly. Their 1450g-ish weight and 32mm depth makes them a solid all-rounder. The rims measure at a plump 25mm internal width, meaning you can drop the tyre pressures for an uber-smooth ride. The wheels were surprisingly skittish in crosswinds though. There was quite a bit of tugging at the front of the bike when it got blustery, which is unusual for a rim this shallow.
A lot of the buzz at the launch of the Roadmachine was around the sleek integrated stem. It certainly looks the impressive with cables only visible when you go looking for them. There was quite a rattle from somewhere inside the stem though. It sounded like the hydraulic and electric lines running through it were bouncing around over heavy bumps. It’s also quite difficult to mount anything to the handlebars because of how close the hydraulic lines are the the bars. Getting a lights with a small mount was fiddly. Anything bigger would involve some wrestling.
Hanging off the stem is the excellent 3T Ergonova Team handle bars. Their flattened tops, short reach, and shallow drops are all very in-vogue right now, and for good reason. They’re a top quality bit of kit. Everywhere I put my hands was comfortable.
The final contact point, the Fizik Aliante R5 is a perfect component choice. Its rounded profile, and flexiness made for a comfortable ride. There is plenty of compliance in the narrow BMC post too. Height is adjusted through an almost invisible port in the top tube which is a little bit awkward to get an allen key into. While riding there was some slipping of the seatpost even at the recommended torque.
Everything written about this bike, including BMC’s marketing material, is drenched with the word ‘endurance” but I don’t think that tells the full story. Sure, this thing just eats up the miles with smooth indifference, but there’s too much pace hiding below the surface to just call it an endurance rig. I have a few niggles with the proprietary parts but this is an impressive package overall. I had a total blast on the Roadmachine. Keep a close eye on this section of the market. This so-called endurance rig could be all the bike most people will ever need.
Thanks to the guys at Essendon Cyclery for the loan of this bike for the weekend. Head into see Gareth and Riley for all the detail on the BMC range.
What are your thoughts on the BMC Roadmachine? Would you buy one? Let us know in the comments below.