Much talked about last year, BMC will be bringing its especially rare Masterpiece Roadmachine bike to Rouleur Live in London this November.
Costing a solid €10,000 for the frame module, the bicycle aims to be a complete example of the Swiss firm’s manufacturing expertise. With a price that makes the odds of one turning up in the window of your local bike shop unlikely, the show will be a great chance to see the bike, of which only a single example is produced per day.
The benefit of using a single mould is that it offers a simpler construction, where the frame goes through a single curing cycle in an autoclave and emerges ready to be be built. BMC assures us the raw finish of the Mpc reflects how it emerges from the mould – with a smooth carbon finish.
In what BMC's R&D Project Lead Sandro Linder describes as a "very precise process", where carbon prepreg sheets are laser cut, then follow a careful "lamination plan" to be placed directly into the mould by hand.
"This is a special step in the manufacturing process, and is the reason the Mpc is a product that we cannot produce in high quantities," says Linder. "It has allowed us to really improve the manufacturing method and have a product which just looks great out of mould."
Aside from more care in the manufacturing process, this monocoque production method means a separate mould has to be created for each size. That increases costs compared to normal frame construction, where certain tube shapes can be used across different size frames.
Back to BMC Impec
The Mpc is reminiscent of BMC’s Impec project, launched in 2011. That was made with Resin Transfer Moulding, rather than traditional pre-preg and heat-press moulding. Strands of carbon were weaved together on a giant stargate-like circular lathe, in BMC’s headquarters in Switzerland.
The spirit of that project has continued in the Mpc, which was developed in the same facility as the Impec was made. Where Impec frames were previously fabricated here, it is now called the Impec lab, and used as a centre for research and development.
Alongside the monocoque construction, the Masterpiece also departs from production conventions by using an autoclave for the curing process, where usually this would be done in a heated metal press. It's a minor difference, but one that adds more control (and more cost) to the manufacturing process.
The Mpc will be delivered only to BMC’s headquarters in Switzerland, and a handful of other selected locations, where components will be selected and the bike assembled. Unsurprisingly, given the price tag, there are no stipulations on the spec. Marketing images show the Masterpiece sporting a set of Lightweight Meilenstein wheels.
In the Roadmachine mould
The Mpc Roadmachine follows the same geometry as the normal Roadmachine precisely, as well as the 33mm tyre clearance, meaning that the central difference in the Mpc is the production method.
BMC’s dedicated Masterpiece website describes, "Stiffness, weight, and performance numbers all exceed those of the most demanding professional riders." However, the carbon fibres being used are largely of the same grade as the Roadmachine 01, which for BMC reflects the quality of that frame.
BMC was also quick to point out the technical difficulties of placing very high-modulus carbon sheets in single mould with little room for error. It means that in weight and stiffness terms, the Masterpiece isn't significantly more impressive than the standard Roadmachine 01. Rather it's the craftsmanship itself that distinguishes the Mpc – alongside a handful of minor technical details.
One such detail is an embedded NFC chip, which BMC claims offers "authentication, support and exclusive privileges." It appears that the latter will culminate in a Masterpiece owners club.
Due to be displayed alongside BMC’s other road bikes, the firm’s more rugged URS LT One and Roadmachine X One models will also be on show. Visitors to the BMC stand will simultaneously be able to talk to the experts behind each bike, along with possibly scoring an autograph from brand ambassador Fabian Cancellara who’ll also be appearing on stage on Saturday.
Taking place in London between the 4-6th November, more information and tickets can be found here.