As the pro peloton continues to eschew disc brakes, average riders are quickly seeing their advantages (wider tires and rims, better braking, flexibility of riding gravel, etc.). So, it’s interesting that BMC originally had plans for the Roadmachine to debut in the 2016 Tour de Suisse, but those plans were scrapped and, as luck would have it, they are now finding a downright receptive audience for this new Goldilocks of bikes.
2017 BMC Roadmachine 02 Ultegra Features
- Tuned Compliance Concept 02 carbon frame and fork
- Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset with hydraulic discs (160/140 rotors)
- Compact 50/34t crankset with 11-32t cassette
- Up to 30mm tire clearance
- BMC D-shaped seatpost
- BMC alloy cockpit
- DT Swiss R24 Spline wheelset
- Continental Grand Sport Race SL 25mm tires
- Weight: 18.5 lbs (56cm, actual)
- MSRP: $3999
The Roadmachine is built for you and me
While BMC had grand designs to launch the Roadmachine at a WorldTour race, those plans were scrapped. But, as mentioned, that was just a minor setback because the Roadmachine is truly a remarkable bike that is a harbinger of what’s to come. In my mind, BMC’s Roadmachine is the essence of what we are all looking for in our next road bike: comfort, racy performance, flexible fit, ample tire clearance, thru-axles and disc brakes. This bike checks off every box and does so without gimmicks.
As a Swiss brand, BMC is known to be no-nonsense and is always regarded as engineering-first. Their bikes have consistently won over consumers and incredulous journalists alike with their outstanding on-road performance — in spite of never being all that sexy to look at.
While the Roadmachine isn’t a drastic departure from BMC’s classic lines, a well-trained eye will notice some of the subtle nods to aerodynamics and added sex-appeal. The semi-integrated fork and tucked-in rear wheel provide visual proof that this bike was built to eke out just a little more aerodynamic performance. An “aero road bike” in a literal sense it is not, but it’s a step in that direction.
As a disc-only platform, the Roadmachine will find a home with those seeking a one-bike quiver. And, after a month-long affair, I’m affectionally calling this one the Smilemachine.
Just why do I call it the “Smilemachine”?
My first ride aboard the Roadmachine 02 Ultegra was a ride up American Fork Canyon towards Tibble Fork Reservoir. This is a ride that I’ve completed hundreds of times. I know every pitch, every turn, every bump. It’s a great shake-out ride and that’s just what I did here.
Any concerns that the Roadmachine’s waistline would negatively-effect performance were quickly laid to rest as I powered up one of the most beautiful rides in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. I immediately noted that it climbed well and responded in a jiffy when pushed. I noticed that the entire package felt comfortable and extremely-smooth. In fact, several times I had to look down to see if I had a flat.
Further, climbing on this bike is one of its strengths. Lateral stiffness and rigidity simply propels you forward and has allowed me to hang with some of my best times on every ride. On another, steeper climb, I knocked off a longstanding PR, which left me wondering just how much faster I might be if I were to get the Roadmachine 01 flavor in a significantly-lighter package (I just might have to make that happen).
Back to why I call this the Smilemachine. Well, it’s a great climber, which is a huge part of what I love to do. But, what good is climbing if you can’t have a blast letting it all hang out on the descent? Well, descending just so happens to be something this bike does really, really well.
Handling is responsive and crisp without being skittish. It feels wicked-stable at speed and just begs to be pushed into every turn. I can’t help but smile every time I head out on this bike.
Roadmachine 02 Ultegra kit rundown
With a full Ultegra mechanical kit, hydraulic disc brakes and a set of DT Swiss R24’s, the Roadmachine 02 is right on the mark at $3999 retail. As-is, this bike tips the scales at 18.5 lbs (56cm, actual), which does seem heavy on paper, but it is an Ultegra kit after all with a pedestrian set of wheels and an alloy cockpit.
Admittedly, weight should not be the primary factor on giving a bike the thumb’s up or down. But, most of the time, extra weight makes a bike feel sluggish. And, while a diet would do this bike good, it carries that extra weight better than any other bike I’ve ridden.
All things considered, the build kit has performed flawlessly and very, well, Ultegra-like. That is to say, it’s not flashy, but it is predictable and functional.
I do have a few gripes with this build and I’ll start with the Ultegra shifters. Well, they rattle when riding on rough pavement and the shifters are hard to use when wearing cold-weather gloves. This isn’t anything new about Ultegra, but worth noting.
And now for something that should be remedied right away — those ultra-stiff and uncomfortable bars. They are that bad and should be replaced by either a high-quality alloy bar or, preferably a nice set of carbon bars. That alone will improve the feel of this bike and should be on your list for an immediate upgrade.
Lastly, the entry-level DT Swiss R24’s do allow BMC to hit a $4000 price point, but they are heavy (1775 grams, stated) and still a bit narrow (19mm internal). They do come tubeless-ready, which I didn’t have time to test, but does add to their flexibility. I’d keep these around for winter wheels, but a new set of Zipp 303’s or the Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR’s would make this bike sing.
While I’m on the subject of wheels, I’m still scratching my head on BMC’s reasoning for going with tool-required thru axles. If you do get a flat, you have to break out the multi-tool just to get the wheel off. Do us all a favor and please switch to a tool-free design.
I’ll finish off with a small, but useful feature — the chainstay protector. Whatever BMC did with this one, it’s a keeper. It protects against damage from chainslap and seems to be made of some sort of superhuman material.
- Outstanding “one-bike quiver”
- Always feels perfectly-balanced
- Climbs much better than it’s 18.5 lb weight would suggest
- Loves to be pushed hard
- Extraordinarily-comfortable without any gimmicks
- Superhuman chainstay protector
- “Bring Your Own Stem” offers flexibility versus the 01 model
- Ditch those stiff bars
- Entry-level wheels look nice, but should be relegated to winter duty
- A standard thru-axle lever would be nice
The Bottom Line: BMC Roadmachine 02 Ultegra
BMC has delivered quite the bike with the Roadmachine. I daresay this is the type of bike we will all be riding in the near future. Luckily, this one is available now and really is the Goldilocks bike in terms of performance, comfort and versatility.
Buy Now: Find Your Local BMC Retailer
The Roadmachine 02 Ultegra (a.k.a. Smilemachine) has been a ton of fun to have around and I reluctantly sent it back to HQ after the test period ended. This bike truly is an excellent mix of comfort and performance all wrapped in a disc-only package.
- Ride Quality
- Pedaling Efficiency