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New aero road bike comes with masses of frame stiffness

The BMC Timemachine TMR01 is one super-stiff bike – that’s the over-riding impression I got when I jumped aboard and got a few miles in at the Eurobike Demo Day. This new release boasts the Swiss brand’s latest aerodynamic frame technology and integrated features, including hidden brakes.

Aerodynamics is what the TMR01 is all about. Dave Arthur wrote about it in detail when he went to the launch earlier in the year. Essentially, BMC have taken features for managing airflow from their Timemachine TM01 time trial bike and incorporated them in a road bike format to produce the Timemachine TMR01.

BMC describe the aerodynamics like this: “The aerodynamic optimization, called Sub A, consists of the tripwire technology and truncated profile. The tripwire technology creates a turbulent boundary layer, improving the airflow along the profile. “Truncated profile” means that the tube profile is cut with a flat surface at the back, which improves weight and stiffness without influencing the aerodynamics.”

And what exactly is the tripwire technology? It’s BMC’s name for a groove at the leading edge of forward facing sections. It’s designed to delay the separation of the air to minimise drag.

The most distinctive element of the TMR01’s design is the front end. The fork steerer, which is 1 1/8in at the top and 1 1/4in at the bottom, slots through the head tube in the normal way, but there’s an extra external strut that extends from the crown to the top of the head tube. It’s not structural but covers the mini V-brake, acts as a guide for the cable, and controls airflow over the front end. That V-brake is integrated into the front of the fork with just the pads protruding out.

The rear brake sits just behind the bottom bracket, sheltered away from the wind, as you’ll see on a lot of time trial bikes. This means BMC can do away with a brake bridge between the seatstays, like Trek have on their high-end Madone models for 2013.

The TMR01 that we got to ride at the Eurobike Demo Day came with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic groupset, Mavic Cosmic SL wheels, an Easton EA70 aluminium bar and stem, and a Fizik Arione saddle (£6,000, available from December). There will be a Dura-Ace Di2 version (£8,500, available December) too, and an Ultegra mechanical model with internal cabling (£4,100, available November). You can get the TMR01 as a frameset only too – that includes the fork, seat post and brakes (£3,200, available December).

As I said up top, the most notable feature of the ride is the frame rigidity. BMC reckon the TMR01 is stiffer than anything they’ve made before and I can certainly believe it. Get on board and sling the bike about and you can’t fail to notice this. Chuck the bike about in out-of-the saddle sprints and there’s zero slack there. The aluminium bar and stem doubtless add to that feeling but the frame and fork are certainly at the heart of it.

It’s the same story around the BB86 bottom bracket – there’s a ton of stiffness here so when you stamp on the pedals you get an immediate return on your investment. It pings forward when you crank up your effort. The bigger and more powerful a rider you are, the more you’ll appreciate this.

As for the weight, BMC reckon the frame is 1,140g, the fork (with a 350mm steerer) is 440g and the aero seatpost is 187g. There are certainly lighter frames out there; the lightest road models from many brands are weighing in at under 800g these days. This adds to the impression that the TMR01 is best suited riders who value stiffness and power transfer highly.

We didn’t get long enough on the TMR01 to be able to tell you too much about comfort, I’m afraid. We’re on the bikes for less than an hour each at the Eurobike Demo Day so these are initial impressions only. Plus, the roads in southern Germany are so incredibly smooth that everything feels ridiculously comfy. I mean, I could tell you if the TMR01 was a tooth-rattler – and it isn’t - but I couldn’t tell you whether it’ll still be feeling super smooth 50 or 100 miles down the line.

What I can tell you for sure, though, is that this frame comes with super-high frame stiffness as standard and if that’s a characteristic that’s important to you, check it out.

BMC are available in the UK through Evans Cycles.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

2 comments

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step-hent [718 posts] 3 years ago
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Interesting that the front strut (in front of the headtube) is non-structural and just covers to front brake. Doesn't that make it a banned fairing for UCI purposes?

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Cervelo12 [77 posts] 3 years ago
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Interesting technology and design behind this, can't wait to hear the sales patter from the 18 year old aussie guy in my local evans 'don't waste ur money mate, buy a bmx'