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We’ve recently looked at some of the oldest brands in cycling but Swiss company BMC is one of the most recent to come to prominence. The name came simply from the abbreviation of Bicycle Manufacturing Company - a typically Swiss no-nonsense approach. Also unsurprisingly for a Swiss company they’ve come to be known for clean design and precision engineering.
BMC as we know it now came out of a sponsorship relationship with Swiss Pro Team Phonak. Team Patron Andy Rihs bought the company and built a state-of-the-art carbon production facility with the aim of building the “Porsche of race bikes”. The Impec Advanced R&D lab remains the home of the company’s design and engineering teams.
In 2005, the Pro Machine SLC01 was one of the first full-carbon frames used in the professional peloton with the only metal frame part being the bottom bracket threads. BMC frames have always had a distinctive look with the early aluminium bikes having a skeletal “cross-lock” frame junction between the top tube and seat tube. A similar approach in carbon allowed heavily dropped seat stays which marked out BMC frames more recently (a design now adopted by many other manufacturers).
The BMC Racing Team has been competing at Grand Tour level since 2010 with Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France title in 2011. They’ve fielded a strong team in 2017 with Greg Van Avermaet, Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen all taking significant early season wins. The ever cheerful Porte was a contender for the Tour de France until the crash which fractured his pelvis and collarbone on a Stage 9 mountain descent.
The featured bike today is a 2016 RoadMachine01. This is a thoroughly modern bike with the sharp lines of a concept design. BMC’s ‘integrated cockpit system’ hides cables for both brakes and gearing completely with the hoses and cables only exiting the frame just ahead of the rear dropouts. A patented flat steerer allows this magic to happen. Taking integration to extremes ITS even includes mounts for your Garmin and Go-Pro.
BMC pitch the bike as their ‘one bike collection’ - the only road bike you’ll need. Tuned Compliance Concept carbon layup is designed to deal with the cobbles of the Paris Roubaix while keeping things responsive on smoother roads with stiffness where needed for efficient power transfer. The super low chainstay junction and flat chainstays are now a familiar solution to bring compliance to rear triangle but BMC were one of the originators of the design. This isn’t at the expense of a high weight - a 54cm frame has a claimed weight of only 920g - and with that stiffness it can compete with climbing bikes uphill. There are neat little aero touches as well, with a fork crown partly envolped by the downtube and a flat backed seattube with a scallop to smooth air over the rear wheel.
Geometry wise the RoadMachine sits between the RaceMachine that the pro-team ride and BMC’s Gran Fondo ‘sportive’ bike. There’s another trick up its sleeve as the aero top cone for the headset allows you to raise the stack for a more upright position.
Like anything Swiss the BMC comes with a high price tag attached but at Road Cycle Exchange we make it a lot more affordable.