BMC racemachine RM01 Ultegra £3100

Smooth long-distance road bike

BikeRadar score 3/5

It’s been around for a couple of years, but rolling updates mean BMC’s distinctive-looking and efficiently smooth-riding racemachine RM01 deserves a look for more subtle, long-haul riders.

Ride & handling: Smooth, floated ride and easy, efficient spinning

In true Continental pro race style, BMC have given even the 55cm-framed model a long 120mm stem, and compounded this with a surprisingly narrow 390mm bar. The result was a real shock when we jumped off other bikes. 

The lack of bar leverage makes steering much more about leaning than turning, and the long stem gives a naturally stubborn straight-line feel to an already steady-handling frame. It almost feels like you’re riding with a joystick rather than a bar.

The narrow shoulder stance felt cramped for large torso, wide shoulder testers, too. On the plus side, it promotes a naturally aerodynamic stance and you’ll either get used to the steering over time or just decide to switch the cockpit.

Even with a tapered steerer, the skinny-legged fork makes the front end feel vague in corners and twangy under braking compared to the short, taut back end. Once you’re used to the approximate rather than accurate character, though, the inherent flex helps keep the softer-compound Mavic front tyre securely planted on rough road surfaces.

The rapidly tapering full-carbon fork is very light, and distinctively smooth on the road 

Despite the chunky-cut down tube and chainstays on the buttressed frame, the racemachine also transmits less road buzz and pothole bite than most bikes. This made scruffy back roads perfectly bearable and smoother surfaces positively blissful, to the point where we felt as though we’d been transported to the perfect Tarmac playground of the BMC’s Swiss homeland.

There’s potential to make the racemachine even smoother by swapping the stiff DT wheels for a set of fat-rimmed carbon hoops. We wouldn’t go too deep, though, as the cockpit and fork lack the muscle to control a really deep rim in gusty conditions. Its smoothness does make the BMC a natural home for some short aero bars, though.

Even with the stock wheels and bars, it’s an extremely efficient and fast cruising machine. There’s nothing outwardly aero about the frame – in fact, the broad, flat-faced down tube is the opposite of drag-friendly – but the RM01 consistently tapped out a higher than normal speed and kept pace with other similarly pitched bikes on flatter and rolling terrain. Add the smooth ride feel, and the further we rode the BMC, the more we liked it, making it a good choice if you like long distance trips or events.

While it’s definitely soft rather than sharp, there’s still a useful sense of purpose to pedalling strokes transmitted through the deep chainstays, oversize bottom bracket, compact rear triangle and big, boxy frame sections. However, big acceleration efforts were never as convincingly rewarded as on some similarly priced bikes.

The RM01 felt best when spun rather than stomped up to speed, so we adapted our approach to climbs to more of a sustained assault rather than a snap attack to reflect that. Luckily it’s lithe and responsive enough that the relatively small 12- to 25-tooth rear cassette only left us grunting on really steep stuff.

Frame & equipment: Light, but flexy fork takes some getting used to

It seems the Swiss love geometric frames as much as triangular chocolate, as the racemachine gets several different shelved squares, some rectangles and even an octagonal down tube in its shape-sorting tube selection. 

The key thing to notice, though, is the way the seat and top tubes taper from a big press-fit bottom bracket shell and tapered head tube to meet at a relatively skinny junction. A little reinforcing strut across the ‘armpit’ helps compensate for the fact that the seatstays are dropped right down, way below the normal joining point.

The legs of the full-carbon fork slim down suddenly below the wheel line, making for a light and soft-riding fork. Frame weight is reasonable too, at just over a kilo including trimmings, with external gear cabling helping to save a few more grams.

BMC racemachine RM01

Shimano’s smoothly solid Ultegra suite provides the braking and driving element of this particular RM01. Add DT Swiss’ very stiff and tubeless ready, if not particularly light, R1650 wheels and it’s fair value for such a distinctive frame. 

The Fi’zi:k saddle is a definite bonus for conventional (non aero bar) riding but the square seat tube means BMC’s matching square-section carbon seatpost is the only option. It’s the Easton cockpit that’s the first thing you’ll notice about the BMC in terms of ride feel, however.

This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, available on Zinio.

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