The aggressive ride is great for speed, but will it last the distance? Words: Guy Kesteven Photos: Mick Kirkman
BMC TMR01 Ultegra Di2
BMC’S time Machine Road is a well proven champion on the pro road circuit. Does the literally cutting edge technology translate as well to real life riding?
Frame and Forks
The aggressively angular look of the TMR01 is obvious from a distance but there’s even more detail close up. The front of the fork legs and tubes have a distinct “Sub A” step set into the curve of the face that’s designed to deliberately “trip up” surface airflow creating a layer of turbulence that reduces overall drag. The back sides of most of the tubes also use a blunt trailing edge that again creates a flexible “virtual tail” of turbulence designed to keep overall airflow cleaner than a fixed teardrop in crosswinds.
The front brakes are not only custom items built into the front of the fork legs but an extended cover extends all the way up in front of the head tube and rejoins the fork under the stem. It’s a neat way of decreasing front end drag and managing the front cable run without falling foul of cycling’s UCI restrictions. The rear brake is hidden under the big rectangular chainstays for drag reduction reasons with the only obvious downside being very tight clearances on wider wheels. There is space for 25mm tyres and the Di2 gears are neatly installed via replaceable bolted panels that can also handle conventional cable gears. The battery is hidden in the “Sub A” profiled seat post which has a triple position saddle clamp for steeper tri style angles.
As the name suggests you’re getting a full Ultegra Di2 chainset with a full size 53/39 tooth chainring set up but a broader range rear block for some relief on the climbs. Zipp’s alloy braking surface 60 wheels are narrower than the carbon Firecrest models so an easier fit into the BMC brakes. Braking consistency is excellent in all weathers, they handle okay and they’re within 100g per wheel of the full carbon competition. The Continental GP4000S II tyres are the benchmark for high speed and cornering confidence while their larger 25mm volume softens an otherwise seriously stiff ride. Italian firm 3T supply the cockpit kit in similarly aero efficient narrow bar style to the Cervelo. A big recent price drop makes this normally premium Swiss brand competitively priced too.
The TMR01 is as stiff and fierce to ride as it looks with feedback from every contact point with rider and road clearly communicated and precisely controlled. The head angle of the BMC is more relaxed than most, which combines with the narrow bar and deep section wheels to create a stable and straight line favouring default feel. The steeper than average seat angle puts plenty of weight forward onto the grippy high volume front tyre. Add the extremely precise feeling, stiff fork, reasonably agile handling Zipp wheels and the BMC loves throwing itself into corners.
The BMC’s built in brakes are extremely powerful, plus with alloy rims give consistent stopping in all weathers and phases of braking. The same stiffness blasts the TMR up to speed with ego boosting immediacy whether you’re coming out of a corner or attacking the base of a climb. The advanced aerodynamics and speed sustain of the Zipp wheels mean you can go for broke from a long way out in a group or mill out a seriously high solo pace.
There’s always a concern all this speed will make the bike too uncomfortable to stay fresh and efficient over long distances. The good news is the BMC the P2P rider positioning feels extremely natural and relaxing. That meant aches and fatigue stayed manageable even on the longest day of our test ride.
Pros: Dramatically direct drive, handling and braking performance
Cons: Performance comes at the expense of direct comfort
- Price: £4,000