BMC Roadmachine: defining the future of endurance riding

BMC has future-proofed the gen-three Roadmachine

This article was produced in association with BMC

The road goes ever on if you’re Tolkien; it’s long and winding if you’re the Beatles; it’s paved with good intentions if you’re Satan; if you’re Kerouac, literally anything could happen; and life is a highway if you’re Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane. For the launch of the third-generation Roadmachine, BMC has brought together the widest range of definitions and experiences of the road – in reality these came more from endurance cyclists than from fantasy novelists, musicians or beatniks – and fed them through its Impec Lab (home to its in-house R&D and testing facilities) with a clear goal: to define the future of endurance riding.

To define the future it’s necessary to rewind to the past of endurance riding for a moment. The BMC Granfondo GF 01 of 2012 was the genre-defining endurance bike of its era with clearance for bigger tyres, geometry for long distances and frame architecture that improved compliance on rough terrain. It was originally designed for the BMC racing team to use in the cobbled Classics, but the Swiss brand quickly realised that this type of bike had a much broader use case and so it repurposed the recipe – or at least its tastiest ingredients – to create the original Roadmachine in 2016.

With sleek looks, cable integration, responsiveness and comfort, it had everything the enthusiast rider wanted and needed. However, the second-generation Roadmachine, though stiffer and more dynamic than the original, lost out on comfort in a road setup with deep-section wheels. So for the third generation of the Roadmachine, BMC aimed to combine the power transfer of the previous bike with the comfort of the original Granfondo, so it refined the formula, improved it and introduced new all-road capability – essential for the modern cyclist.

The biggest challenge was to devise a way to increase the tyre size without lengthening the Roadmachine’s wheelbase or compromising its ride behaviour. Frame storage capacity was another must-have – without sacrificing stiffness or increasing weight to compensate for a ‘hole’ in the down tube – and integrated lights were on the wish list too.

For the first, BMC enlarged the rear-wheel cutout, giving the new bike clearance for tyres up to 40mm – 7mm more than before with just a rear-centre increase of 3mm, which head of R&D Stefan Christ hailed as “quite an achievement”. The larger curve of the cutout had the additional effect of making the seat tube thinner and able to deflect more easily under load, supplying around 2cm of travel at the saddle.

“If we hit a pothole or a compression it can apply 2.4G onto the seat tube,” says Christ. “With the deflection of the D-shaped seatpost and the kink in the seatstays, which allows them to move under compression, the result is additional rotation of the entire node, multiplying with the lever of the seatpost.”

Particularly impressive is that BMC has accomplished this movement at the seat tube without resorting to suspension systems involving springs and dampers and decoupled tubes – all of which add weight and complexity.

“Comfort is all about tube shapes and laminates,” Christ insists. Adding integrated down tube storage was an even bigger engineering challenge, according to BMC. A bicycle frame relies on the torsional stiffness of the down tube to stop it from flexing under pedalling forces, but how to maintain that stiffness when it has a rectangular hole in it? Christ and his team achieved it without adding weight or losing that stiffness and the compartment – which is neatly sealed under a drag-reducing bottle cage – conceals a purpose-designed water-repellent pouch containing all your spares.

The integrated USB-rechargeable rear light is arguably something all bikes should include since daytime running lights are increasingly used by everyone – it’s another example of how BMC has future-proofed the gen-three Roadmachine.

The geometry has been revised around the latest thinking: stack height has been increased by 1cm and reach has been shortened very slightly (2mm in the size 56) for a more comfortable position that for many riders is also more powerful and also makes for more flexible fitting options without stacking spacers under the stem.

To keep the tried-and-tested handling, the bottom bracket has been dropped by 5mm. At the front is BMC’s next-gen ICS carbon cockpit that has a revised shape for better fit, comfort and control. It’s lightweight, stiff and has an 8° flare for surer steering in the drops. Needless to say, all cables are hidden.

The new platform comes in three guises: Roadmachine, Roadmachine X and Roadmachine AMP. The first has a classic road spec with a choice of 2x Shimano and SRAM groupsets and comes with 30mm tyres as standard that will take it beyond the smoothest asphalt if that’s where your riding takes you. The Roadmachine X extends the remit yet further, coming with 1x SRAM XPLR groupset options, BMC’s ICS MTT suspension stem that supplies 2cm of travel, and 34mm gravel tyres.

The Roadmachine AMP – the e-bike version which comes in both road or light gravel ‘X’ spec – pushes the boundaries with a TQ-HPR50 drive unit seamlessly integrated into the frame. However you – or any of your literary, poetic or musical heroes – define the road, the BMC Roadmachine is on it.

More information on BMC's website

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