BMC Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD e-bike first ride review

An e-bike designed for sophisticated commuters

E-bikes are a seemingly unstoppable trend, with manufacturers keen to feed the appetite of a hungry public, and as the technology improves, so do the bikes. BMC has expanded its Lifestyle bike range with the new Alpenchallenge AMP, offering three distinct models, the City, Sport and Cross, which will appeal to different riders, and each of those models is available in two builds: LTD and ONE. 

Every Alpenchallenge AMP boasts an all-carbon frame and fork, Shimano Steps motor, flat bar and single chainring. Beyond those outward similarities, specs change for each model and build level, tailoring each individual bike for its purpose and price.

What’s special about the Alpenchallenge AMP is its relatively low weight, claimed to be 14-15kg, dependent on bike model, and the versatility and practicality that allows.

Clean lines, big motor, but still very much bike-shaped
Clean lines, big motor, but still very much bike-shaped

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD spec overview

  • Frame: Alpenchallenge AMP, MTT, 12x1422mm thru-axle
  • Fork: Alpenchallenge Premium Carbon
  • Motor: Shimano STEPS E-8000 250W, 70Nm output
  • Battery: Shimano STEPS BT-E8010 504Wh
  • Crank: Shimano CR-E80 spider, FSA Megatooth 44t
  • Cassette: Shimano Metrea 11-32
  • Rear mech: Shimano Metrea
  • Shifter: Shimano Metrea
  • Brakes: Shimano Metrea, RT81 160mm rotors
  • Handlebar: BMC LSB02
  • Stem: BMC ICS 01
  • Seatpost: Alpenchallenge AMP “D” Premium Carbon, 15mm offset
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss AMP 1800 Spline db 25
  • Tyres: Vittoria Revolution Tech
  • Extras: Curana Fenderset with integrated ILU rear light, Supernova Mini2 front light

A short walk from my Swiss Air flight, I boarded my onward transport
A short walk from my Swiss Air flight, I boarded my onward transport

Dropping down an escalator from the arrivals hall at Zurich airport, I met with the BMC team and Swiss Tourism representative, and after being relieved of my luggage, was presented with my onward transport. I’d been given hints about cycling soon after arrival, but this was a first for a launch event.

BMC’s David Heine talked me through the new Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD’s features before I checked set up and prepared to set off. I have to admit, my previous knowledge of e-bikes was limited to a couple of diverse Bosch-powered machines, and Shimano’s Steps was just a name to me, but the new bike looked right, with clean lines and the sort of impressive integration I’ve become used to seeing on BMC’s road bikes.

A quick demo by BMC's David Heine of the lights and motor controls
A quick demo by BMC's David Heine of the lights and motor controls

I wasn’t familiar with the DT Swiss AMP 1800 Spline wheelset, and this would be my first Shimano Metrea ride, but the Brooks Cambium C17 saddle and matching grips looked classy.

With only a bottle of water in my backpack, because there wasn’t a bottle cage fitted, and a Wahoo GPS unit to direct me, it was on to a train to begin the ride in the centre of Zurich, two stops away.

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD in the city

My first impressions were how easy the Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD was to wrangle through a station, on and off of a train, then up some stairs — with its weight and balance making it well within the capabilities of almost anyone.

Trying to find the correct starting direction in an unfamiliar city highlighted the bike’s agility, with multiple stops and sudden direction changes when reacting to GPS instructions, road furniture and U-turns.

Setting off from Zurich with a GPS route to the hotel loaded on a Wahoo unit felt quite liberating
Setting off from Zurich with a GPS route to the hotel loaded on a Wahoo unit felt quite liberating

The bike didn’t feel obviously like an e-bike, it was easy to spin around while riding or standing, and didn’t feel rooted to the spot as heavier machines can. Once on the correct course, the motor assistance in ECO mode was ample to allow me to enjoy the sights of Zurich’s stunning lakeside location without working too hard.

Crossing tramlines and following bike paths up and down kerbs was equally stress-free, and seated comfort was very good. Whether that was more a result of the MTT back end, the carbon frame, tyre volume or D-shaped carbon seatpost, it’s impossible to say, but together they work.

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD in the country

After some time failing to find a place for lunch that would accept card payments, I continued along the lake, before climbing away in to quieter urban streets. Soon these gave way to generous, smooth tarmac paths, which bisected meadows and woodland, rolling gently through the Swiss countryside.

Dedicated mudguards allow up to 38mm tyres, or 42mm without
Dedicated mudguards allow up to 38mm tyres, or 42mm without

The City LTD was equally at home here, and in ECO or TRAIL mode, helped maintain a good average speed everywhere. In the quiet lanes, the Steps motor can be heard, but it’s not intrusive, definitely not as much as my loose mudguard stay — it seems the bike’s journey to Zurich had loosened the clamp bolt, leading to a few running repairs to quell the rattling.

Eventually I flagged down a passing rider in full BMC kit, on a new Roadmachine, and asked to borrow a multi-tool. Thankfully he was better equipped than me, and the rattle was solved.

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD overall impression

Saddles and grips will always be utterly personal choices, but on this ride, on a hot day, in regular clothing without padded shorts, I didn’t get along with the Brooks saddle. The rivets at the rear seemed to assault my sit bones, making for a fairly uncomfortable second half of the ride.

I also found the Brooks grips too slim for my liking and would have preferred something more like Ergon’s shaped grips, maybe even with a small hooked bar end built-in. Perhaps the fact that we were cycling for a prolonged period magnified these issues, when most journeys would likely be under an hour.

The Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD is a carbon fibre, sleek, powerful daily rider
The Alpenchallenge AMP City LTD is a carbon fibre, sleek, powerful daily rider

Of course, I tried to wring all the speed I could from the City LTD, and although the motor’s assistance is limited to 25kmh, I found I could maintain 35kmh or more on the flat without too much effort. It certainly wasn’t only my input that produced the speed.

On hills, the option to boost the motor input saved my energy, and on long downhills, 40mph felt very stable and easily controllable. Stringing them all together made for swift progress, which would have been hard work to match on a road bike.

After almost 2.5 hours I reached the hotel on the lake in stunning Lachen, and after checking in was back on the bike, chaingang fashion, to our first appointment at AR Cycling in Pfaffikon — a shop built by the late BMC owner Andy Rihs.

Although my rear was happy to escape that saddle, my legs didn’t feel like they had 55km in them and the bike was ready to go again.

Robin Wilmott

Tech Writer, Tech Hub, UK,
Robin began road cycling in 1988, and with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple, and has remained his favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a good bike shop only amplified that. Ten years as a Forensic Photographer followed, honing his eye for detail in pictures and words. He has shot at the biggest pro events since the '90s, and now he's here, drawing on all those experiences to figure out what makes a bike or component tick.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 178cm / 5'10"
  • Weight: 75kg / 165lb
  • Discipline: Road, cyclocross, time trials
  • Beer of Choice: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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