With Cadel Evans winning this year’s Tour de France on a BMC Teammachine SLR01, the Swiss company certainly know what it takes to make a race bike. Ironically, though, we reckon calling the RM01 the Racemachine does a disservice to its do-it-all quality. If it came with an amateur-friendly compact option it would be nigh-on the ideal big ride bike. As it stands the only thing limiting its high mileage potential is the rider on board.
There’s no denying the RM01's race bike pedigree, but the real story is the smooth comfort of the ride, making it much more than a race-day-only bike. There’s plenty of stiffness in the chassis, with a combination of squared-off tubing, super-shallow seatstays and structural reinforcing detailing throughout.
Most of the frame’s mass is concentrated in the oversized down tube, big BB30 standard bottom bracket (though that will change to Shimano BB90 for 2012) and massive boxed chainstays. The head tube is reinforced at the rear and a brace between the top tube and seat tube adds stiffness to the minimal-diameter tubing used up top. The fork matches the frame with a deep, wide crown that tapers to a very narrow leg just below the wheel height.
With a high-end specification and very low overall weight – thanks in no small part to the lightweight frame and fork – the RM01 is a nimble machine. Despite its racing 53/39T standard drivetrain it flies on the hills, and when you put the power down on the flat it responds and accelerates with the best of them.
But although responsive and sturdy, it’s also supple, the large expanse of unsupported seat tube giving plenty of comfort-enhancing flex, aided by the short, small diameter seatstays. Up front the super-narrow fork legs are very active fore and aft – over rough surfaces you can see the fork absorbing impacts – all making for a wonderfully comfortable ride.
This soft yet rigid nature takes some getting used to, but persevere and you’ll find yourself getting on with the business of going fast. Get into the drops and hit the descents and it grips and sticks like a true descender; sit up and take in the scenery and it’s as smooth as a classy titanium sportive bike. We did have one issue though: the square seatpost.
Not only does it mean you only have one option should it ever need replacing, but we also had some issues with it slipping. The post is torque rated to 5.5Nm; tightened to this rating it then slipped over long rides, to the point where we needed to stop and re-tighten it. Back at base a liberal application of carbon prep paste halted the slippage, but it’s something we’ve needed to keep on top of.
For a penny shy of three grand, the RM01 is suitably equipped with SRAM Red, only the brakes being downgraded to the still excellent Force units. All the other finishing kit comes from Easton with the brilliant EC70 carbon bar and great EA70 wheels shod with Continental Ultra Race rubber. We 've seen bikes with a better component spec for the money, but few have such a well-developed frame and unique look and ride.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.