BMC’s premium aero road frame is an uncompromising commitment to the Swiss firm’s controversial aero approach, and it’s equally uncompromising in the speed and attitude it brings to the road.
BMC’s aero concept is all about provoking the immediate airflow over the frame to create a smoother bigger drag picture rather than trying to disturb it as little as possible. That’s why the leading edges of every main tube and the fork have a small ‘Sub A’ step just behind the round nose.
According to BMC, this effectively creates a bigger overall aerofoil effect that ‘sticks’ less to the bike and can also curve at the trailing edge to reduce crosswind drag.
The custom front brakes are built into the front of the fork legs at the base of an extended cover that extends all the way up in front of the head tube and rejoins the fork under the stem. It’s a smaller version of the stem ‘beards’ used on some full-on time trial/triathlon bikes and a cunning way of decreasing front-end drag and neatly managing the front cable run without falling foul of the aero fairing restrictions of cycling’s governing body the UCI.
The rear brake is also ‘hidden’ under the big rectangular chainstays for drag reduction reasons.
Despite a down tube dropped down behind the fork so it skims the front wheel and a wheel hugger seat tube there’s just space for 25mm tyres. The Di2 gears (or conventional cables) are very neatly installed via replaceable DTi bolted panels and the battery is hidden in the ‘Sub A’ profiled seatpost, which also has a triple position saddle clamp for steeper tri-style angles. You are going to have to juggle/remove brake washers and potentially even shave the pads themselves down to get the widest aero wheels between the brakes though.
There's room, just, for 25c rubber on the BMC
The Zipp 60 wheels the BMC comes with are OK if not outstanding in terms of aerodynamics. The alloy braking surface was particularly welcome for its consistent all weather braking too, letting us fully exploit the exceptionally powerful built in brakes.
BMC has also specced the TMR with a full-size 53-39t crankset for maximum speed, though there is some steep climb salvation in the 11-28t rear block. 3T provides the stem and relatively narrow, drag reducing 400mm width bar with Fizik on saddle duty – so no complaints there.
You get top-quality Continental GP4000S II rubber too, and BMC fits 25c tyres as standard. It’s a particularly smart move for too, as some previous TMRs we’ve tested have been on the too-brutal borderline as far as enjoying extended rides goes.
While it’s still definitely firm, we still felt fresh enough to dig hard after 330km and weren’t suffering on subsequent 150km rides or even long back road rides in the UK. The P2P geometry of the BMC was also praised by all our testers for its aggressive but not fatiguing ‘perfect for purpose’ feel.
The payback for staying alert to dodge big hits and occasionally gritting your teeth across unavoidable rough patches is the most dramatic and obvious sense of speed of any of the four-bikes test – also featuring the Boardman AiR 9.4 Di2, Giant Propel Advanced 0 and Cérvelo S3 Ultegra Di2 – we recently took around Majorca.
Obviously speed rattle tends to heighten velocity sensations but the Strava segment/heart rate stats between typically very well matched testers showed the blistering pace and efficiency of the BMC is actual rather anecdotal. While we don’t have any wind tunnel to back up road feel it also seemed to hold momentum and handle fractionally better than the other bikes on test in exposed cross wind sections during our extended tests and an actual lap of the island itself.
The power punch from the monster chainstays and geometric frame sections was obvious when we really dug deep into the wattage wallet and put it all on red. Despite relatively weighty wheels it repeatedly kicked clear on climbs too, taking the win on the big Sa Calobra showdown of our Majorca mission with a decisive leap for the summit in the last km.
Ultra precise handling, rich road feedback and firm authority combine with the outstanding brakes and stable all round aerodynamics to make it an absolute demon on descents too, whether it was the tight switchbacks and scything high speed arcs of Majorca or the steep and dirty plunges of the Yorkshire Dales.
Don’t expect the killer value reduced price that makes it a current money match for other Di2 Ultegra bikes (in the UK at least) to carry over until 2016, but as new bikes get a new BMC cockpit and DT Swiss wheels we can’t see it losing it’s searing solo speed benchmark status any time soon.