£ Still futuristic-looking after nearly half a decade…
Weight 8.68kg (56cm) Frame Timemachine Road 01 Gears SRAM Rival eTap AXS 12-speed Brakes SRAM Rival eTap AXS HRD Wheels CRD-501 Carbon, Tubeless Ready, 50mm Finishing kit BMC ICS Aero stem, Fizik Argo Vento R5 saddle, Vittoria Corsa G2.0, 700 x 25c tyres
DESPITE ITS AGE, the BMC Timemachine Road 01’s frame from 2018 still looks ahead of its time. With its sharp lines, narrow frontal profile and deep, truncated aerofoil tube shapes, it seems every bit the modern aero bike. For 2022, the Timemachine Road 01 Three brings the platform up to date with SRAM’s valuepacked wireless electronic groupset, Rival eTap AXS.
The integration of aero bottle cages solves the problem of how to carry fluids without spoiling aerodynamics or compromising practicality. The storage box above the bottom bracket is a further neat touch and actually makes things more aerodynamic. It isn’t UCI legal, but it’s a convenient place to store your tubes and tools.
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The riding position is typically aggressive for a road racing bike, with a relatively long 395mm of reach and 555mm of stack. You can run a few spacers under the stem but, like other race bikes, the BMC cajoles you into adopting a more head-down, bumup position on the bike. At 73.5°, the seat tube angle is also relatively steep, while the seatpost offers three setback options (30, 15 and 0mm) for optimising saddle position.
At the front end, the head-tube angle sits at a relatively slack 72°, which translates into a 62mm trail figure. That’s 4-5mm more than you get on a typical aero road bike such as the Cannondale SystemSix, and the result feels lethargic and leads to a disconnect between how things feel and what your bike computer says is happening. This isn’t helped by the 8.68kg weight. As a pure aero road bike, weight isn’t the primary consideration – this is designed to be fastest on flat and rolling courses, not to win hill climbs – but a sluggish feel reduces the riding fun. The upside of this geometry is that it’s very stable at high speeds and in highs winds.
On top of this, it’s a firm ride, more reminiscent of the previous generation of aero road bikes than those which are now used to win cobbled classics such as Paris-Roubaix. As you’d expect from the large, angular tubes, power transfer is excellent, but a few hours on rough backroads left me feeling sorer than the effort warranted.
The finishing kit is mostly from BMC. The saddle, though, is a short-nosed Fizik Argo Vento R5 (140mm width) with a generous cut-out that’s well designed for the more aggressive torso angles you’ll likely be adopting on this bike. Up front, the nonintegrated cockpit doesn’t offer the same adjustability as a more standard front end.
“You can run spacers under the stem, but the BMC cajoles you into adopting a more head-down, bum-up position on the bike”
The Rival eTap AXS is SRAM’s cheapest wireless electronic groupset. It offers almost all of the performance of SRAM’s higher end groupsets at a much cheaper price. Shifter paddle clicks are vaguer than on its more expensive siblings, though, and front shifting speed lags noticeably behind that of Shimano’s electronic groupsets. It’s also 450g heavier than Shimano’s more expensive second-tier Ultegra R8020.
The CRD-501 Carbon wheels are unspectacular mainly due to the fairly conservative rim profile. The 50mm rim depth does add a noticeable aero benefit, but the narrowish 17mm internal and 26.7mm external rim widths mean they’re optimised for use with 700 x 25c tyres as a maximum. Not long ago 25c tyres were considered wide for an aero bike, but 700 x 28c is now arguably the road bike standard.
The official maximum tyre clearance of 28mm does limit the BMC’s versatility in comparison to the Canyon Aeroad CFR or Merida Reacto, both of which can accommodate tyres at least 30mm wide. The Vittoria Corsa G2.0 clincher tyres are a high-end choice, and offer relatively low rolling resistance and plenty of grip, though I would have preferred tubeless versions given the wheels are tubeless-ready.
Overall, it’s hard to ignore the relatively high price and weight compared to the similarly specced competition, with the Giant Propel Advanced Pro Disc 1, for example, costing £ and including a power meter. While the Timemachine Road 01 Three has some great ideas that have stood the test of time, it has some catching up to do elsewhere.
Verdict A fast bike, but its firm ride and slow handling mean it loses out on fun
• A little more…
BMC Timemachine Road 01 Two £
The 01 Two’s spec is otherwise similar, but the upgrade to Shimano’s latest Ultegra Di2 groupset saves around 450g on its own – almost a full water bottle.
• A lot less…
BMC Roadmachine X One £
There isn’t a cheaper Timemachine Road 01 in BMC’s range, so if you’re on a slightly tighter budget, the more endurance-focused X One could be what you’re looking for.
Fast in a straight line; stable handling; cleverly executed integration
Sluggish handling; firm ride quality; expensive for the spec