BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE first ride review

BMC's fastest aero bike yet

The new Timemachine Road 01 aero road bike is the headline bike from BMC’s 2018 road launch. Although the Teammachine SLR01 will still be the mainstay of BMC’s World Tour professional team, for some riders and certain scenarios, an aero road bike is preferable, so having an up to date option that can back up its performance claims on the road is crucial for rider confidence and success.

This launch schedule saw the other attendant press and I riding across Switzerland, from Zurich to Interlaken, the scenic way. As if there is another way in such a pretty country.

I rode four different bikes during the four days, but 112 of the trip’s 198 miles were aboard the new range-topping Timemachine Road 01 ONE.

BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE specification

  • Frame: Timemachine Road 01, Aerodynamic 01 Premium Carbon, TCC Speed
  • Fork: Timemachine Road 01, Aerodynamic Premium Carbon Disc, TCC Speed, flat mount with caliper cover, 12mm thru-axle
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 hydraulic disc, 52/36 with 11-30 cassette
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss ARC 1100 Dicut db 62 Carbon
  • Tyres: Vittoria Corsa 25mm
  • Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic disc, RT-900 160mm/140mm rotors
  • Bar: BMC ICS Aero, aero top shape, compact bend
  • Stem: BMC ICS Aero, integrated Aero cockpit design with computer mount
  • Seatpost: BMC Aero post, 01 Premium Carbon
  • Saddle: Fizik Arione R1 carbon
  • Weight: 7.76kg/17.1lb, 54cm including Aero Module, bottles and GPS mount

I spent 112 miles riding the new bike through Switzerland's impressive scenery
I spent 112 miles riding the new bike through Switzerland's impressive scenery

BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE highlights

  • All-new highly aerodynamic disc brake-only frameset
  • Designed for electronic shifting
  • Integrated Aero Module blends bottles and cages aerodynamically in to frame
  • Front disc brake caliper aero cover
  • Integrated ICS bar and stem ensure clean front end
  • 62mm deep wheels with 25mm tyres

BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE bike set up

Lakes were a regular feature of the route
Lakes were a regular feature of the route

I usually ride a 56cm BMC, and find it a perfect fit, but my Timemachine Road 01 ONE test bike was a 54cm example. At 178cm I’m near the upper end of the recommended height for a 54 and the bottom of a 56cm frame’s expected size. It was set up with two 10mm spacers beneath the ICS stem, confirming that the next frame size up could be ideal, and a reasonable amount of seatpost and standover height, although less of both wouldn’t be a problem.

Making up the difference was a 130mm stem, rather than my usual 110mm (stock 54cm and 56cm bikes will come with 110mm stems), but the BMC Aero Post still allowed my normal 8cm saddle setback, and the separate bar and stem meant angle adjustment was simple.

There isn't very much flat riding in Switzerland, but the climbs are worth it
There isn't very much flat riding in Switzerland, but the climbs are worth it

The final position felt perfect and I didn’t experience any toe overlap. Each bike was set up with a full spares pouch, and the faceplate-mounted GPS mount was quickly extended to suit.

BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE ride impressions

The route for my longest ride intersected four different lakes on the way from AR Cycling at Pfaffikon, south of Lake Zurich, towards Schwyz, then wriggling along the northern shore of Lake Vierwaldstatter to Lucerne, and south west to finish beside the stunning Lake Sarnen.

The most significant climbs were at the start, with two peaks over 2,500ft and others around 2,000ft, before dropping down in to Lucerne with mainly rolling terrain to the end.

Rolling out with BMC pros Stefan Kung and Michal Schar on their team issue white Timemachine Road 01 bikes, the pace soon settled on swift, which seemed appropriate.

As well as its speed, the TMR01 has impressive ride quality and comfort
As well as its speed, the TMR01 has impressive ride quality and comfort

What was instantly noticeable, while threading our way through urban areas, was how lively the bike felt. Really aero frames plus deep rims have been known to feel quite wooden, or too flexy and disjointed, but the BMC felt just like riding a top-class road bike that happens to look very aero.

Great slow speed agility and stability made dodging obstructions and maintaining close order in a bunch simple, but a firmer push on the pedals made the bike spring forwards. The 62mm deep rims and efficiently rigid frame make acceleration impressively rapid, especially from speed, when it really counts.

What’s really surprising though, is the ride quality. From the off, small kerbs, broken and patched tarmac and sunken drain covers didn’t unsettle me with sharp impacts. Of course they can be felt, but the TMR01’s bump absorption is extremely good for an aero road bike, and that not only conserves valuable energy, but also enhances grip and handling.

Even when travelling quickly, more speed always feels possible on this bike
Even when travelling quickly, more speed always feels possible on this bike

Aero road bikes just aren’t as light as road bikes designed to fight gravity, but the TMR01’s weight is hardly an anvil around your neck. I weighed my bike at 7.76kg, and over the course of 82 miles I climbed almost 4,500ft, and never found it a hindrance. Sure, if going for a mountainous ride I’d choose an SLR01, because, although it climbs very well, high mountains are not the TMR01’s natural home.

I asked BMC’s Michal Schar whether he would be riding the new bike on every stage of the forthcoming Tour de France, to which he replied that he would, on all but the cobbled one. As a rider whose job it is to look after his team leader and protected riders, riding in the wind as required, the new bike’s watt savings are very welcome indeed. By the time he hits the mountains, Schar’s job for the day is done, so any potential time loss then is immaterial for him.

Day two

The next day’s ride aboard the Timemachine Road 01 ONE took us from Lake Sarnen, south west around Aare, then westbound to Lake Brienzer. Billed as a ‘flat ride’, the Swiss definition of flat is seemingly a little opposed to mine, especially when we hit the single car width-wide 2km long, 12 percent climb…

Topping out above 2,300ft, a false flat then a steadier climb gained another 1,000ft before a fast descent with some long straight stretches, sweeping curves and good road surface brought us back down to lake level again. It was a 2,700ft ‘flat’ ride.

After 4.5 hours in the saddle the previous day, I expected to feel some ill effects when starting out, but the bike felt truly comfortable, and as familiar as any I’ve owned for extended periods.

Sometimes you just have to stop and admire the view
Sometimes you just have to stop and admire the view

Although I only rode 30 miles during the morning, the aforementioned fast descent did confirm my only nagging concern from the first ride. At speeds over 35mph, I’d felt the front wheel shimmy a little, but couldn’t be sure whether it was only occurring in bends. Ride two’s long straight descent saw my speed reach 47mph, and there was no doubting what I could feel at that velocity.

The shimmy was regular and unsettling enough to make me sit up and brake lightly to scrub some speed, as nothing else seemed to cure it. I have experienced speed wobble before, and this wasn’t that. I’m sure it wasn’t the frameset either, but to be certain, I’d like to have been able to run a shallower front wheel.

I wouldn’t say I’m by any means the sport’s most heroic descender, far from it, but I do get down quickly and safely enough, and other riders on identical bikes were descending a lot quicker than I did.

On talking to some of my colleagues, they experienced the same feeling. Some, like me felt the need to shed speed, but one who rides very deep rims regularly felt it but thought it was nothing especially unusual, and not a reason to ease up.

BMC Timemachine Road 01 ONE early verdict

That experience didn’t negatively affect my impressions of the Timemachine Road 01, because it’s every bit as fast as I hoped, with a cultured ride, great acceleration and so much easily sustainable speed on tap.

The handling is perfectly neutral, predictable and confident, thanks in part to its 72-degree head angle, but it also has the sort of intuitive seat of the pants control that the best bikes display.

In the past, this might have been enough to seal the deal, but truly brilliant ride quality brings the Timemachine Road 01 right up to date with the very best aero road bikes.

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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