BMC recently released the new Teammachine R. This redesign of the firm’s everyday racer is slippery enough to have sent the firm’s Timemachine aero bike and will likely become the go-to bike for BMC-sponsored riders. Its profile has been created in collaboration with the aerodynamics and composites experts at Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT), the people behind Red Bull Racing’s Grand Prix-winning cars.
Their design brief included improving the efficiency of BMC’s most aerodynamic road bike while staying within 50g of its dedicated climber, the SLR. Challenged at the Critérium du Dauphiné and finally released to the public at Il Lombardia, we put a couple of hundred kilometers on board to give you our first impressions.
What is it for?
The Teammachine R has been built from the ground up for racing. This means it sits just above the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit while taking all the aerodynamic advantages possible. To achieve this, BMC has collaborated with RBAT engineers on a frame that pushes the limits of what is allowed under current road bike design rules. This approach can be seen in areas such as the colossal head tube junction, extremely deep bottom bracket and numerous fairing-like spoilers that direct airflow over the bike.
The fork on the Teammachine R is just as flashy. Called the Halo in a nod to its F1 heritage, it’s incredibly wide to allow air to pass between it and the wheel with minimal disturbance. It and the frame retain some of the boxy, truncated profiles of the old BMC bikes. However, its shapes depart enough from previous designs that you’d need an informed eye to have identified the Teammachine R as a BMC before it was advertised as such.
However, some technologies are passed down. In line with BMC’s other bikes, the Teammachine R’s Aerocore cages are patented and help integrate your bottles into the frame efficiently. The bars are narrow and the wheels are deep. It’s part of a comprehensive approach that takes into account not only the bike, but also the rider and the things they have to carry with them.
By killing off the old Timemachine aero bike, the Teammachine R is helping BMC narrow down its range. This process, where the brands’ reference models become more aerodynamic and collide with an adjacent sibling, is well established. Specialized’s revenge-denying asphalt redesign is perhaps the prime example of the trend.
However, BMC isn’t keen on the “aero bike” tag changing from the outgoing Timemachine to the new Teammachine R. This is not surprising, as it tends to conjure up the idea of fast but often awkward and somewhat few . So if the Teammachine R isn’t an aero bike, what is?
Let’s start with where the Teammachine R is weakest. It climbs acceptably, thanks to a moderate weight of around 7 kg. However, its deep wheels, thin bars and narrow cassette mean that this is not its forte. Getting out of the saddle can feel a bit cramped, while the bike’s extended side profile also means it’s prone to getting hit when cornering in stormy conditions.
Where the Teammachine R excels is on flat descents, or even better, open descent. The effects of his time in the wind tunnel are most noticeable when he’s chasing people. The faster you go, the faster the Teammachine R approaches. According to the laws of physics, I assume this is because drag increases exponentially with speed. It is in these moments when you are most aware of the benefits that the bicycle offers you.
BMC claims the Teammachine R and its rider will be 3.5% more aerodynamic compared to the Teammachine SLR. It should also be 1.9% faster than the soon-to-be-released Timemachine. Considering that these figures are for the rider and the bike, and that the bike is only about 20% of the total drag, this is a significant improvement. This figure of 3.5% apparently translates into a gain of 1.5 km/h when the rider and bike are put into a wind tunnel at 45 km/h.
The Teammachine R definitely feels fast on the road. It’s a bike that begs you to climb into the drops or get in and hammer, which never hurts your average speed. Also, above a certain speed, the freewheel and the airflow over the bike combine to make a sound like an idling jet engine, which really reinforces the idea of going fast.
BMC makes much of the bike’s rider feel, having borrowed the term from their RBAT collaborators. The idea of how connected the user feels to their machine and the road below is as applicable to motoring as it is to cycling. If I had to characterize the Teammachine R, I’d say it’s a bike that keeps you on your toes.
The geometry has mostly been carried over from previous BMC racers. Given its long service in the peloton, it’s no surprise that the handling is quite committed. Let your attention wander and you can end up in trouble. However, you’ll be covered if you want to weave through the pile or reassess your trajectory as you turn a corner. It is a machine well prepared to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.
The oversized frame is sturdy and unyielding. Given its massively deep bottom bracket and colossal head tube, you’d expect as much. However, to round out cycling PR’s favorite pairing, at least some degree of vertical compliance is also offered. This can come from the frame’s flat profile tubes or dropped seatposts. Alternatively, it could be for the stock 28mm tires, which can be swapped out for models up to 30mm if desired. It certainly doesn’t come down to the wheels, which are extremely deep and aggressive models from DT.
Given the stiffness on offer throughout, the Teammachine R’s aerodynamic-looking bar is a bit of an anomaly. Despite my puny arms, I could still make out a touch of the drops. It would be interesting to know how the professionals do it. So far, none of the riders on BMC’s Tudor Pro cycling teams or AG2R Citroën seem to have changed the cockpit, so presumably they feel it’s fine.
This is just as the Teammachine R’s one-piece cockpit plays an important role in determining its character while also dictating rider positioning. While you’ll find a wide range of different stem lengths, the ICS Carbon Aero bar dimensions are fixed across all frame sizes. Its narrow top is only 36cm wide, fitting the trend of narrow bars and encouraging users to get into an aerodynamically efficient shape.
This design suited me perfectly as a narrow shouldered rider who prefers dinky bars. Those that are more robust will also see a significant aerodynamic improvement, but it may be less pleasant in terms of handling. However, given the Teammachine R’s focus on going fast, it’s a sacrifice they’d be wise to make.
Sitting in contrast to the top of the bar are the much wider drops. These are 42cm apart and are shallow and easy to grip. This combination of narrow top and wide bottom ensures that aerodynamic efficiency is maintained at the top while providing a confident corner while covering the brakes or riding off the drops.
Parts and prices
I won’t pay too much attention to the price of the bike. Unsurprisingly, it’s super-premium, even when pitted against other top-tier bikes. Instead, I’ll work from the assumption that if you’re spending over €10,000 on a bike, it’s a false economy to try and save a few thousand and get anything other than the exact bike you want.
Unlike other brands that offer their designs in budget versions with modified layups and materials, all Teammachine R bikes use the same high-end frame. This means you’ll always have a full-fat experience, even though you’ll have to pay for it in full.
With four models available, LTD, ONE, TWO and THREE, you have a choice of high-end groupsets from SRAM and Shimano. All include some type of power meter. The DT wheels on the top two models are 62mm deep. Spend a little less and you’ll find 50mm-deep rims on the two BMC-branded alternatives found on slightly cheaper versions. The tires are from Pirelli, the saddle from Selle Italia and the seat post is proprietary and comes in different offsets. It’s all good stuff.
You can see this review at; Review: BMC TeamMachine R 01
Do you need one BMC TeamMachine R 01?
If BMC has spent the last few years removing weight and adding stiffness to the frame of the Teammachine R, I have achieved rather the opposite. This begs the question: How useful are these types of bikes to riders who are unlikely to get a pro team call-up in the near future?
The various qualities of the Teammachine mean that it will almost certainly become the first choice of BMC-sponsored athletes. The lighter and more forgiving SLR is still for the mountains, but I think the R can also be used for cobbled classics, even if it’s less forgiving and offers less clearance.
So should consumers interested in going fast automatically opt for the Teammachine R?
In the end, it depends on what you want. There are plenty of superbikes out there that make concessions to flatter the average rider. However, the BMC does not soft pedal its abilities. Its ease of use is not bad. It’s just not a primary concern. However, when you’re spending serious money, I think you want something a little extreme in return. The BMC Teamamchine R is extreme. Extremely fast, very fun and extremely expensive.
It’s also likely to be one of the fastest bikes you can pick up for any given day. There may be bikes that are more forgiving or require less attention to handle, but few make such a concerted effort to translate all your efforts into speed. At the same time, Teammachine R’s stack and reach are not unmanageable for people with moderate flexibility. And although it is stiff, it is not of a skull.
By choosing the Teammachine R, you’ll be missing out on a few things. None are absolute deal breakers. You could opt for greater comfort, less weight, a more normal cabin or easier service. You could certainly save yourself some cash by looking elsewhere, too.
There were times on our spin around the course at Il Lombardia when we would have swapped the Teammachine R for another bike. Climbing the 20% plus slopes of the Muro di Sormano was one of those moments. But there weren’t many. Whether you’re riding with a group, soloing to find the next one, or going up and over the smaller climbs, the difficulties you face are always rewarded with maximum forward momentum.
The R in the name might be for racing, but it’s still a very fast bike, even if you don’t have a number on the back. The BMC Teammachine R is far from cheap, but we think there will be plenty of riders able to extract value from the kind of speed it offers.
Cover photo courtesy of BMC