BMC's TT02 is a great time trial bike: incredibly stiff, fast, and controllable.
Its clever mix of carbon and aluminium makes it power-conserving stiff and it's as thin – and therefore aerodynamic – as the rules allow.
Check your reflection in shop windows as you fly past and you see a true time trial rider: low position, flat back, arms extended, aero frame and fast wheels. And who’d settle for anything less?
Ride & handling: brick-like but harmonious
The TT02 is simply a great ride, and much of its quality comes from its frame construction which mixes carbon and aluminium. The aluminium in the bottom bracket area affords it that all-important extra stiffness.
Applying maximum power to see if the bottom bracket will move, it feels like trying to shift a brick. You wouldn’t normally think of that as a positive analogy in terms of bike testing, but in this case it is. The bottom bracket just won’t budge. And that feels great: every time you push down hard on the pedals, the bike just speeds up.
That speed helps you stay in an aero tuck, but the geometry of the bike plays its part too. The degree to which your weight sits towards the front wheel and on the bars isn’t extreme, but it's enough to achieve a harmony between maintaining an aerodynamic position and belting out power.
Tucked in an aero position with my head down and turning the 54x11 gear, I flew past the California ranchland countryside of our test venue. Whenever I hit a small climb, I just moved forward in the saddle a little so as to be able to push straight down and turn the pedals over easier.
This ensured I maintained all of my forward momentum, and what momentum it was. The horses racing alongside me had no chance of beating me to the end of their ranch.
Frame: carefully chosen materials boost stiffness
The TT02 looks like an all-carbon bike, but in fact it’s a combination of aluminium and carbon. This is no accident, but instead a carefully chosen mix of materials designed to deliver the utmost strength and performance. The frame material is 7005 series aluminium, with unidirectional carbon fibre aerofoil seat-tube and seatstays.
These are accompanied by aluminium chainstays and downtube, and the carbon seat-tube is bonded to an aluminium sleeve just above the bottom bracket shell. If you tap on the tubes you can hear the different sounds the various tubes make at certain junctions on the bike.
The frame is designed to be extra-narrow. The seatpost and downtube are as wide – 7cm – and flat as International Cycling Union regulations allow.
The aluminium top tube has a seatpost clamp built into it that extends around the uppermost portion of the seat tube.
The aero seatpost is easy to adjust and the seatpost clamps have specific torque settings: 40in-lb on the upper bolt and 70in-lb on the lower. Be warned though – if you break this bolt you ruin the entire frame, and that wouldn’t be good.
Completing the aerodynamic set-up is the Easton Aero EC90 carbon fork. It’s an attractive design that flares at the bottom, making it look as if, propelled fast enough, you might just get lift off.
Not so aerodynamic is the way the cable is routed. It looks messy in front of the headtube, and although there was internal cable routing along the tubes, I’d prefer a cleaner look for a TT bike.
The TT02 has track-style drop-outs that face out horizontally instead of being angled down, as on traditional bikes. Now I see why mechanics prefer bike changes to on-the-fly wheel changes for time trials: it’s easier.
The process of pulling the derailleur out of the way and bringing the chain far enough back to give me space to get the wheel entered correctly isn’t quick by any means. The trick is to shift into the lowest gear, closest to the spokes, and then manoeuvre the wheel into the drop-outs.
One thing I do like about the drop-outs is the adjustment barrels. They turn easily, enabling me to change how close the wheel is to the downtube. The many different wheel types available, coupled with this facility, mean you’re spoilt for choice in terms of adjustment.
Components: aero wheels and bars complement speedy frame
The aero wheels supplied with the TT02 are just the job. A pair of deep-dish carbon Zipp 404s are a perfect complement to any time trial bike – quick, stiff and fast.
One of the first things that caught my attention on my ride was the bike’s narrow time trial bars. The Oval Concepts A921s provide great support and that very narrowness makes them excellent wind cheaters. For me, however, they aren’t so good for climbing or powering away from a start.
When standing on the pedals, I have to concentrate on keeping a straight upper body and pulling straight up on the bars. The A921s don’t take kindly to the kind of flailing around you might do on a road bike, but that’s to be expected from a time trial bike.
The Ovals give you four different arm pad positions, ranging from narrowly to widely spaced, and I find each one comfortable. The aerobar extensions attach to the bottom of the handlebars and it's easy to adjust the extension distance.
There's a bit of flex when you on the bars in TT position. I tried cranking down the bolts but they would only tighten so far. Even so, I didn’t notice the movement if I held the bars near the brakes.
It doesn't take long long before the aero extensions become uncomfortable, though. They are practically at a 90° angle and I find this position puts a lot of stress on the wrist. If the far ends were angled up a little, this would enable the wrist to sit in a more natural position and be much more comfortable.
What I do like about the bars is the little nub at the end, near the brakes. They help keep my hands in place and prevent them from slipping off the end.
Verdict: head-turning rocketship
If you’re time trialling you need the real deal, and BMC’s Time Machine TT02 is it. Carbon and aluminium are expertly combined creating a bike that’s a light as you’d expect, but a solid as a rock where it counts.
The bike’s well-balanced geometry makes maintaining an efficient aero position easy and the barely legal aero frame cuts through the air like an SR-71 Blackbird.
The Zipp 404 wheels are just the job, but it might be worth trying out some alternative aerobars to see what suits you best. Its slick lines and classy black and red paintjob are sure you turn heads when you’re out and about.
Oh yeah, and it goes like a rocket.