BMC Timemachine R01 Road review

Speedy Swiss superbike

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £10,000
BMC Timemachine RO1

Our review

Fast, fluid handling, cutting-edge design at a price
Pros: Brutal turn of speed and stable, planted handling
Cons: Expensive and a firm, firm ride
BMC’s original aero road bike, the TMR01 (Timemachine road) from back in 2016, was a brute of a bike. Yes, it was damned fast in a straight line and on a smooth road, but the super-aggressive position and rock-solid ride meant it was a bike that would wear you down on anything but optimal conditions.

The new Timemachine is designed to address those issues and, in comparison, it smashes the older design out of the park.

  • The BMC Timemachine R01 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.

The R01 is an unreservedly aggressive bike; my 56cm test model has a slammed 555mm stack and a long 395mm reach, the 73.5-degree seat angle pitches you smack bang straight over the cranks for TT bike efficiency when pedalling yet the head angle is slightly relaxed at 72 degrees.

The wheelbase is similarly extended at 1,004mm (the wheelbase on BMC’s Teammachine is nearly a centimetre shorter).

The ride position all adds up to a bike that’s bullet fast in a straight line on flat or lightly rolling terrain, and every element on the bike’s design seems to be geared towards being fast and frugal with efforts when in the drops and powering along.

The bike’s muscular, angular design and aero details — such as the cockpit and bottle cage cum storage box aero aid — are all very BMC, compared with the similarly priced and similarly aimed Trek Madone. The Timemachine is very much in a Brutalist style compared to the Madone’s curvy renaissance styling.

Much is often made about how easy the integration on an aero road bike would be to live with, and the Timemachine is no exception. The storage box for example works well, and on my test rides I could fit a multi-tool, patch kit, spare tube, tyre levers and a CO2 pump, which were held in place with no rattles.

The R01 is a superb bike on the road. It certainly is stunningly fast, the chassis is rock solid and it accelerates with consummate ease

The cockpit setup however was a little frustrating. When you’re tightening the cockpit on a ten grand bike, which isn’t yours, your main concern is to adhere to the torque settings completely, and while I appreciate the aero optimisation, the stem bolt arrangement — which threads in from the rear for a clean smooth frontal area — and 4mm hex bolts that run in line with the stem, leave little space for a torque wrench.

I’m lucky enough to have four different torque wrenches, yet only one of them got even close to fitting in the available space and proved a laborious exercise with only a quarter turn available in the space.

When Ritchey and Oval designed a similar setup, threading bolts in from the back, they had the sense to angle the bolt path making it easy to tighten, and I wish BMC had done the same.

With the seat tube set up though BMC has got it right, with the seat clamp bolt threads running underneath and below the seat tube to the tube junction. Here there’s a substantial bolt that’s angled for easy access to ensure the usual pitfall-laden deep aero-shaped seatpost doesn’t suffer from slippage.

BMC Timemachine R01 ride impressions

Setup aside, the R01 is a superb bike on the road. It certainly is stunningly fast, the chassis is rock solid and it accelerates with consummate ease, the finishing kit is almost beyond reproach with Dura-Ace Di2 working in its flawless fashion and smartly specced 160 front 140 rear brake rotors ensure confident deceleration every time and in all conditions.

DT Swiss’s exceptional ARC1100 wheels are easily the equal of the best wheels on the market from aero veterans Zipp, HED, and Enve, and are backed up with DT Swiss’s brilliant hubs.

When you’re down in the drops the Timemachine is a smooth riding speed machine, but get up on the hoods and it’s a much, much firmer proposition

The R01 is also a better climber than a bike this aggressive and speed focussed should be, mostly thanks to the lightweight and great wheels, but the power transfer is impeccable with it too.

The handling is nicely balanced and the steering response is steady rather than rapid. This is a bike to carve big turns at speed with rather than dart from one side of the road to another, finding a gap and fighting with other riders.

I think it’s the sort of bike that should appeal to solo speedsters, triathletes who favour sporting courses, and those who want time trial-like speeds but don’t want to commit to a low-profile special.

I do however have an issue with the R01, ride comfort. It’s a strange thing, but when you’re down in the drops the Timemachine is a smooth riding speed machine, with the clever ICS cockpit offering plenty of buzz-killing smoothness through your hands, but get up on the hoods and it’s a much, much firmer proposition.

The buzz still isn’t there, but the front-end seems to crash through ruts much more firmly when you’re up in this high position.

The back-end is firm, though thankfully not ‘noisy’ with the vibrations of bad road surfaces, but spend a few hours riding hard on the R01 and your hind quarters will know about it.

BMC Timemachine R01 overall

Compared to older aero designs, the Timemachine is leagues ahead, but it’s just not as smooth riding as the new Specialized Venge, Cervélo S5, or Cannondale’s debutant SystemSix, and it can’t get anywhere near the sublime smoothness of Trek’s magical riding Madone.

If your riding environment is smooth and your favoured riding suits the speedy stability that characterises the R01 then I’d recommend you try it on for size.

If your pockets are deep (and at £10,000 we mean really, really deep) and you really want an aero road bike for all-round duties this BMC is good, but many of its rivals offer a more rounded ride experience, with bikes such as the Madone offering much more compliance and comfort with it.

BMC Timemachine R01 specifications

  • Sizes (*tested): 47, 51, 54, 56*, 58, 61
  • Weight: 7.91kg
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Chainset: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, 52/36
  • Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, 11-28
  • Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Derailleurs: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
  • Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss ARC1100 Dicut
  • Tyres: Vittoria Corsa
  • Stem: BMC ICS Aero
  • Bar: BMC ICS Aero
  • Saddle: Fizik Antares R1 carbon
  • Seatpost: BMC Aero post 01 premium carbon
  • Brakes: Brakes: Shimano Dura Ace (160/140mm Icetech rotor)

BMC Timemachine R01 geometry

  • Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
  • Head angle: 72 degrees
  • Chainstay: 41cm
  • Seat tube: 56.8cm
  • Top tube: 56cm
  • Head tube: 15cm
  • Fork offset: 4.5cm
  • Trail: 6.2cm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 7cm
  • Wheelbase: 1,004mm
  • Stack: 55.4cm
  • Reach: 39.5cm
  • Price: £10,000 / US$12999

BikeRadar would like to thank Stolen Goat, Lazer, Northwave and Effetto Mariposa for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.