All-out aero road bikes feel a little cumbersome when compared to the new crop of lightweight-yet-slippery rouleurs. However, if you seek ferocious speed the BMC Timemachine Road delivers it in spades.
- Absurd straight-line speed
- Balanced geometry
- Stiff yet surprisingly comfortable
- One of the best looking aero road bikes
- Integrated storage
- Aerodynamics can noticeably resist handling
- Rattly on rough roads
The BMC Timemachine Road belongs to a breed of dedicated aero road bikes that are at somewhat of a crossroads. Rising to popularity due to their uncompromising pursuit of speed, the aero road bike soon became the bike of choice for those that wanted to go fast.
The aero road bike concept has been around for two decades now, and has benefitted tremendously from improvements in design, materials and manufacturing. Aerodynamics are better and so is the ride quality, but they aren’t the only bikes that have seen improvements in these areas and aero road bikes are now under threat from the rise of the racy rouleurs.
BMC’s Timemachine Road frame design is a couple of years old now, and has all the truncated tubing, dropped stays and integration you would expect from the best aero road bikes. But is that enough to compete with the new flock of lightweight, almost as aero, race machines?
Design and aesthetic
BMC has used its Aerodynamic 01 Premium Carbon tubing for the frame and fork which is tuned using TCC (Tuned Compliance Concept) to improve comfort. It’s the TCC Speed though, so any compliance has been lightly applied to assure sharp and direct power transfer. BMC claims that the carbon layup paired with the trademark dropped stays and ICS cockpit help with vertical compliance without affecting aerodynamics. The frame uses 12x142mm thru-axles, flat mounts for brakes, a PF86 bottom bracket and clearance for a 28mm tyre. BMC claims that the frameset comes in at 2.7kg. Our 54cm build tipped the scales at 8.2kg.
BMC hasn’t shied away from integration. The ICS stem and handlebar hides all the cables away for an utterly clean front end. This certainly looks great and is no doubt beneficial for aerodynamics, however, when the headset needs to be serviced you will need to also re-bleed the brakes - at least the wireless groupset takes away some of that hassle.
You will also be restricted to BMC’s ICS options if you want to change out the bar or stem for a different size, though since the steerer spacers are a split design, the stem can be lifted if needed. Plus, the bar and stem are independent of each other, so the bar angle can also be tweaked.
On that subject, the handlebar clamp uses two rear-facing bolts which will probably be too tucked away for most torque wrenches to access. However, bar and stem are generally fit-and-forget items so once set up you shouldn’t need to do much in the way of tweaking. As the bars feature a large aero flat-top design, BMC has added a neatly integrated out-front GPS mount.
Elite has been brought in to develop the Aero Module which houses the bottles and offers a storage compartment - which BMC claims makes the bike more aerodynamic. The bottle cages are easy to use, yet extremely secure and although the storage box feels a little plasticky, it offers enough space for a tube and other small ride essentials. You will want to secure items within a pouch to try to stop them from rattling though. If needed the storage box can be removed.
BMC has fully committed to disc brakes with this edition of the Timemachine Road with shrouds covering the front disc caliper to find extra aero gains. Obviously, the UCI will have something to say about this as well as the other integrations if you are racing, however, the majority of us mere mortals will get to enjoy the added aerodynamics and practicality.
Aero road bikes' development-by-numbers has resulted in a now generic look constrained by UCI regulations and drag coefficients. The Timemachine Road is no different in that it uses engineering to deliver its form, yet somehow BMC has managed to make it stand out from other bikes through sharp purposeful lines. The bottle cage and storage adds to this blending into the frame and combining form, practicality and function.
The BMC Timemachine Road comes in three models and a frameset that follows the brand's confusing naming hierarchy, although it’s a little simpler than other BMC ranges, as there is only a single frame version and three builds. The bike we have for review is the Timemachine Road 01 Two. All the Timemachine Road models get the same ICS bar and stem, bottle and storage integration, aero seat post and fairings.
Our bike came equipped with a SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed electronic groupset, which has provided smooth and reliable shifting. However the front derailleur has required some fine-tuning to avoid dropping chains, as it doesn’t appreciate getting banged down in the heat of a climb. The Force brakes are powerful and controlled with a light lever feel and comfortable hood shape. There’s no power meter included, although this is forgivable as it would be fairly unusual at this price.
The stand out components on the spec list is the ENVE SES 5.6 Disc wheelset, featuring a 54mm front and 63mm rear rim depth, which are lightweight and aerodynamic. The wheels are optimised around 25mm tyres, for which BMC has chosen Vittoria’s Corsa Graphene 2.0. These are grippy, but if you want to go tubeless you're going to have to swap them out.
The ICS bars have a comfortable, compact shape with our 54cm model coming specced with 420cm width (66mm reach, 122mm drop) and complemented with a 110cm stem. Pushing on the bars can produce a noticeable flex, which adds a little extra comfort on rough road surfaces, but isn’t noticeable when working the controls in anger. BMC’s Aero seatpost offers three positions of offset - 0, 15, 30mm - which is positioned using a single, slightly awkward, bolt and affixes a Fizik Argo Vento R5 saddle.
The BMC Timemachine Road is designed to do one thing and it does it extremely well. It’s stupidly fast on flat or rolling roads and for those looking to buy an aero road bike, this is really all that matters.
When at speed the Timemachine Road is at its best, keeping pace doesn’t require as much input as aerodynamics take a noticeable share of the workload, and the bike is thoroughly planted and in control. If you do need to top up speed, power transfer is fantastic with every pedal stroke culminating in an extra surge of velocity.
Beyond flat-out speed, the BMC handles corners and curves with poise and the stiff frame and deep wheels allow purposeful, direct handling. Geometry is beautifully composed. There are some compromises though. At very high speeds or descending into a block headwind, you can feel changes of direction being challenged by the aerodynamics which can make the bike feel a little nervous when turning into a bend.
Unfortunately for aero bikes these days, straight-line speed is no longer the only criteria people are looking for, particularly as bike categories become more interlinked. Point the Timemachine Road towards fast and sprinty climbs, and it snarls with every pedal stroke viciously propelling you forward. However, all the effortless speed held over rolling terrain can be easily forgotten. On slow speed-winching gradients, the Timemachine can be a reluctant climber and will feel more laboured than other bikes. This is mainly down to the 8.2kg weight, but isn’t helped by SRAM’s frustrating consistency for dropping chains when changing to the small chainring if you haven’t got the front derailleur set up just right. Work the cranks and the Timemachine will deliver you to the top but it doesn’t have that spark on the climbs that other bikes possess. The same can be said for slow start sprints as the bike takes a little longer to get up to speed.
Comfort is as about as good as can be expected of an aero race bike with deep carbon wheels. I haven’t finished any rides feeling beaten, even after five-plus hours in the saddle. The road surface is transmitted through the bike but BMC’s TCC work filters out the worst of it, especially at speed: the faster you go the smoother it is. Aero road bikes are also known for not being the quietest bikes on rough roads and the BMC is no different, especially if you have any items stashed in the Aero Module storage.
The BMC Timemachine Road is not about climbing finesse, it's about all-out speed. Once it picks up speed it’s a whole different story though. Keep glancing over your shoulder as you take the lead of the group with a pace that sees your riding cohorts fall off the back one by one. The Timemachine delivers exactly what you expect from an aero road bike and on smooth open roads, it's the epitome of riding pleasure as it efficiently drives you forward at speed. If the red mist descends the Timemachine Road is capable of brutal turns of speed with a few stamps on the pedals. Handling is spot on as well and the bike feels extremely planted even in these high-octane moments.
Previously, road bike purchases were easy. Climbers bought climbing bikes, endurance riders bought endurance bikes and those that sought high speeds bought aero bikes. Now it isn’t as simple with the emerging development of semi-aero race bikes that threaten to excel in multi-disciplines and potentially kill off dedicated performers.
For now, BMC’s Timemachine Road still makes a valid case for dedicated aero road bikes. Ultra-fast and efficient, it will decimate open roads with enough comfort to keep going all day.
Logbook: BMC Timemachine Road 01 Two
- Time: 3 months
- Mileage: 1,347km
- Punctures: 1
- Ride types: Training rides, indoor rides
Tech Specs: BMC Timemachine Road 01 Two
- Price: €6,399 / $6,499
- Frame: BMC Timemachine Road
- Size: 54cm
- Weight: 8.2kg (actual)
- Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS 12sp, 10-28T
- Crankset: SRAM Force, 48/35
- Wheels: ENVE SES 5.6 DISC
- Brakes: SRAM Force
- Handlebar: BMC ICS Aero
- Stem: BMC ICS Aero
- Seatpost: BMC Aero post
- Saddle: Fizik Argo Vento R5
- Tyres: Vittoria Corsa, 25mm
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