Naturally, following a long day with a late finish, I was up at 06:00 and ready to ride again on another new bike. Knowing we’d be riding up the Kleine Scheidegg, a climb with 1,000m elevation in under 10km, or 10 percent average gradient, I had the choice to ride the new Roadmachine X, launched two weeks ago, or the Alpenchallenge AMP Cross LTD.
Now, I’m not one to shy away from the physical effort of a hard climb, and doing it unaided, I like climbing. But other factors were in play. The small matter of 175 miles in the legs in three days and the fact that the Roadmachine X group needed to leave at 06:00, as opposed to 06:45 for the Alpenchallenge riders, sealed the deal. A little more precious sleep and the carrot of our colleagues to chase up a mountain, perfect.
Alpenchallenge AMP Cross LTD
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 XT 11-40
Rear mech: Shimano XT Di2
Shifter: Shimano SW-EW6010
Brakes: Shimano RS600, RT81 160mm rotors
Handlebar: BMC LSB02
Stem: BMC ICS 01
Seatpost: Alpenchallenge AMP “D” Premium Carbon, 15mm offset
Saddle: Fizik Aliante R3
Wheelset: DT Swiss AMP 1600 Spline db 32
Tyres: WTB Nano 40mm
Alpenchallenge AMP Cross LTD ride impressions
Known as the Gateway To The Top Of Europe, the Kleine Scheidegg is roughly half way up Europe’s highest funicular railway, between Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch, which is Europe’s highest point accessible without climbing.
Thursday morning’s early start meant tackling the 1,000m, 10km climb of the Kleine Scheidegg on the Alpenchallenge AMP Cross LTD Courtesy BMC
Setting off from Grindelwald at 1,034m/3,393ft, I soon began to climb on a narrow road through the trees. From the off, I’d felt totally at home on the AMP Cross LTD, with its 40mm WTB Nano tyres, low pressures and suitably low 44×11-40 gearing.
The XT Di2 rear mech is operated by an identical thumb controller to the Steps motor, and the handlebar display of course shows current gear selection as well as numerous other data fields. I was quickly well practised with its slick shifting, as the road was steep from the start, and congratulated myself on my bike choice, because it would’ve been a rude start to the day otherwise.
The Steps motor controls are in easy reach and child’s play to operate Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media
Climbing beneath the looming, partly cloud-covered Eiger, the non-public vehicle road often became gravel, especially the higher it got. On the rougher sections, the tyre volume and pressure, coupled with the MTT and its different damper, kept big bumps and sharp shocks from reaching me, and the Fizik Aliante saddle was again to my liking.
Weighing 15.09kg, my Cross LTD already had several kg advantage over many other e-bikes, and was less than 6kg heavier than the non-electric Roadmachine X I could have chosen.
An XT Di2 rear mech plus 11-40 XT cassette Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media
Handling at low speed, even on loose surfaces, is assured, although you need to remember the motor will assist you if just tickling the pedals when turning on a down slope. Or as I found, when hill starting.
My usual hill start protocol is to push down with the engaged foot and collect the other pedal near the top of its stroke, and generally, I know how long a revolution will take. But with a motor helping things along, of course the cranks spin faster, and I received a sharp whack on the calf, leaving a pair of cuts from my Time Atac pedal. I didn’t do that again.
The seatstays blend in to the Shimano battery via the MTT system Robin Wilmott / Immediate Media
The morning light made the early start worth it, and the Cross LTD made enjoying the scenery far easier, with more time to look around and a clear head to take it all in. In that sense, e-bikes have a lot to offer.
As I neared the Kleine Scheidegg station at 2,061m/6,762ft, it was almost embarrassing to catch the earlier group so quickly. That’s 45 minutes in a 10km climb, plus a few km before that. Worse still, it was actually hard to slow enough to ride at their speed.
Descending from the top of Europe
After a break during the train ride to the Jungfraujoch at 3,454m/11,333ft and back, where the average annual temperature is -7.9°C (and you feel a little odd wandering about in cycling shoes and shorts), it was descending time.
After seeing the gravel sections of the climb, and enjoying the Cross LTD so much on the way up, I didn’t descend on a Roadmachine X as planned. Sure enough, the ability of the Alpenchallenge AMP Cross LTD downhill is impressive. Whistling past other riders and revelling in plenty of grip, great feel and excellent balance, this bike, of the three (City, Sport and Cross), was to me where it all made sense.
BMC’s head of R&D, Stefan Christ, on one of the lengthy and fun gravel sections of the climb Courtesy BMC
Intuitive shifting, handling and power control matched with great agility on what was occasionally quite gnarly terrain, added to the potential to venture to places that you other wise might not, make this e-bike quite special.
Although BMC offers three distinct builds, the Cross LTD with a tyre, and maybe gearing, change could satisfy multiple uses.
The final part of the ride to Interlaken took in small roads, tracks and some dirt, and the Cross LTD left me with a big smile on my face, because it was enormous fun on all of them.
For a little less cash, there’s the Alpenchallenge AMP Cross ONE Courtesy BMC