BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Sport LTD e-bike first ride review

The sporty Alpenchallenge AMP for more ambitious riders

Sharing much of its spec list with the City LTD, the Alpenchallenge AMP Sport LTD does away with the mudguards and wider tyres, and swaps out the 38x11-32 gearing for a 44x11-34 setup.

Shimano’s Metrea is replaced by the new Ultegra RX clutch mech, an Ultegra cassette and RS600 hydraulic discs. The wheels are sportier too, being DT Swiss AMP 1600 Spline, with 30mm Vittorias fitted.

After a 2.5-hour morning ride on a different bike (watch this space), the afternoon’s bike was unveiled. By the time the pre-ride adjustments and cat herding had taken place, it was around 15:30, so the perfect time to set off for a ride up the Grosse Scheidegg in Switzerland.

Blissfully unaware of the mountain’s Swiss status, I rolled out aboard the AMP Sport LTD through heavily rolling country lanes, and away from yet another gorgeous lake.

I rode the Alpenchallenge AMP Sport up the 1,400m climb of the Grosse Scheidegg
I rode the Alpenchallenge AMP Sport up the 1,400m climb of the Grosse Scheidegg

The climb involves 1,400m of vertical gain in around 15km, and is mostly 10–12 percent, with stretches at up to 18 percent. Apparently the Tour de Suisse organisers say it’s the hardest climb in Switzerland, and you’d think they have plenty to choose from…

With a reasonable amount of climbing already in the bag, I turned on to the climb proper at around 16:15 — a road that is closed for vehicles, except for residents and the Post Bus.

Equipped with the Steps E8000 motor and quick wheels and tyres, it's built for efficiency
Equipped with the Steps E8000 motor and quick wheels and tyres, it's built for efficiency

The threatening clouds, which had brought thunder and rain after lunch, let go, leaving me needing to decide whether to prioritise cooling and risk getting soaked through, or wear a rain jacket to keep the rain out, but risk overheating. The rain got heavier, so the rain jacket won.

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Sport LTD ride impressions

With the same frame, motor and cockpit as the City LTD, the Sport LTD had a familiar feel. Thankfully it comes with a Fizik Antares, one of my favourite saddles, and for me, more comfortable grips, but the riding position was obviously the same. I’d ridden the City LTD with appropriate flat pedals, today’s more testing jaunt meant a welcome switch to double-sided off-road pedals.

The road to the summit is only open to residents and the Post Bus
The road to the summit is only open to residents and the Post Bus

The lower section of the climb rises steadily, and our group gradually spread out due to a combination of human and electronic input. The pre-ride warning not to go too crazy with the BOOST function was clearly necessary, as even with a powerful battery, there’s a finite limit, and the Grosse Scheidegg could be it.

I mainly climbed in ECO, making steady progress, saving TRAIL for when things steepened and my legs started to ache following the morning’s exertions.

Reaching a set of switchbacks, I discovered that the unnaturally fast climbing speed I’d been able to maintain on the corner entry was too much for a wet hairpin bend, and the only safe way around it was to stop pedalling or brake.

Dramatic scenery but despite the altitude, getting there was anything but
Dramatic scenery but despite the altitude, getting there was anything but

Of the two methods, braking gave the most predictable response, because stopping pedalling caused a fairly sudden slowing, which upsets balance mid-corner. On future corners, I learned to feather my pedalling input on approach for a smoother turn.

A lengthy false flat across some meadows, alongside a stream, allowed time to marvel at the towering peaks on all sides. But with light fading a little beneath the clouds, the road rose again to climb incessantly to the summit.

E-bike climbing is definitely smoother when seated, as sudden out of the saddle bursts of pedalling can confuse the motor during each transition between seated and standing, making things a little jerky. Again, I learned to work with it and it was never a hindrance.

BMC Alpenchallenge AMP Sport LTD overall

Despite the motor, I knew I’d been on a climb by the time the summit was reached, at about 17:30. Without it, on that day, I’d have been toast, as it had been some time since lunch, and the Steps assistance was welcome.

Thankfully, seemingly endless plates of delicious Swiss cheese, meats and bread at the Berghotel Grosse Scheidegg took care of my hunger, and with the lights of distant houses becoming visible in the fading light, it was soon time to descend again, below the north face of the Eiger.

What goes up…
What goes up…

…goes down for some considerable distance
…goes down for some considerable distance

Even with the motor assistance, the wheel and tyre combination on the Sport LTD definitely made it a little more lively and responsive to acceleration.

On the flat and while climbing this was a good thing, but I personally found it less fun on the lengthy, and occasionally fast, descent in to Grindelwald. Lower tyre volume, a fairly upright position and flat bars, together aren’t my preferred choice, although some in my group carried road bike speeds through the corners.

For less outlay, there's the Alpenchallenge AMP Sport ONE
For less outlay, there's the Alpenchallenge AMP Sport ONE

I couldn’t fault the handling, and how easy the Sport LTD is to place when cornering, or to change line when necessary, it just feels like a regular bike.

Finally arriving at the hotel around 19:00, my battery had dropped from five bars when fully charged, to just one, but to be fair, in the 2.5-hours or more I’d been riding, much had been fairly intense climbing, and all on a bike with higher gearing than the City LTD.

Even after five or more hours in the saddle, I had no ill effects from the perch on the Sport LTD, even with less cushioning from the tyres.

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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