BMC TimeMachine TM01 SRAM Red review

Fast aero ride

BikeRadar score3/5

One of the most striking new introductions to  the tri bike arsenal for 2012, BMC’s TimeMachine TM01 is a truly uncompromising aero machine. It’s certainly not  for the faint-hearted or financially limited.

Ride & handling: Aggressive and dramatic but with superbike speed potential

The TimeMachine immediately communicates that it’s a truly uncompromising speed machine. For a start, the very limited turning lock on the frame can catch you out if you try and swing it round too quickly on a singletrack road or in transition. 

Even with the Rubik Snake stem set up in one of its tallest position options it’s still a lot lower than other tri bikes, which makes it less accessible to beginners or less flexible riders. The potential for an extreme flat back, knees on nipples position is obviously an aerodynamic bonus for those who’ve got the body flexibility to make it work for them.

The ride feel of the TM01 is pretty uncompromising too. The integrated fork and stem is noticeably stiffer and less forgiving than the conventional fork on the TM02 we’ve tested previously. It’s a firm riding machine and more sensitive riders may find it uncomfortable if the road gets rough.

The payback for occasional bouts of surface related punishment is an exceptionally responsive and direct performance through the pedals and the bars. Even with light pressure underfoot, the bike is eager to accelerate. 

The advanced aerodynamics, aggressive position and savage power delivery aren’t designed for pottering. If you feed more muscle fibres into the fight it sucks up the spark from each synapse and spits you down the road with venomous velocity. 

The faster you can push it, the more obvious the aero benefits become as the TM01 milks every bit of momentum out of each mile. Switching onto deep-section wheels steps up the performance significantly, turning the bike into a proper PB predator. 

If you do need to slice off speed then the brakes on the BMC are more than up to the job. They give plenty of feedback and are really powerful. You need to be careful to avoid locking up though, particularly in slippery conditions. That’s very much a positive warning rather than the alert we often feel obliged to include when it comes to the spongy feeling integrated anchors of other bikes.

The only surprise was that, even with the standard shallow wheels and truncated tube profiles that work very well on other bikes, the BMC is slightly more side-wind and gust prone than some other frames. It’s rarely anything to worry about though, and it handles deep wheels and high speeds very well. 

Combined with the steering lock, brakes and sharp overall feel, it’s not what you’d call a relaxing ride but it is definitely a top-class bike that is best suited to those on top of their game.

Frame & equipment: Ticks all the aero boxes apart from the wheels

The TM01 is a rolling hit list of the latest aerodynamic trends. An integrated leading edge fork is topped with a multi-piece space/shim and bar clamp stem that can be configured in 30 different reach and height combinations. The 21-21 carbon seatpost has four different clamp positions. 

The front edges of the main tubes use a stepped tripwire section to smooth out overall airflow. Blunt rear edges are designed to effectively extend a flexible, crosswind friendly aerofoil well behind the actual tubes. 

Power is delivered through a BB30 bottom bracket, while V brakes are built into the wide stance fork and under the chainstays for minimal airflow disturbance. Neat adjusters mean perfect rear wheel placement and Di2 electric shift upgrade compatibility includes an internal battery compartment. It’s very light for an aero frame too.

BMC’s leading edge fork is integrated into the multi-piece stem, which is adjustable for angle and reach :
BMC’s leading edge fork is integrated into the multi-piece stem, which is adjustable for angle and reach :

Integrated V brakes and the highly tweakable, multi-piece stem 

The TM01 Red bike comes with a full set of the superlight SRAM groupset, including R2C tip shifters, which benefit from extremely smooth internal cable routing. A lightweight Profile carbon base bar and extension cockpit and Fizik Arione saddle provide comfortable accommodation atop the integrated BMC stem and seatpost. 

DT Swiss tubeless wheels are tight and light, but there’s no doubt that you’ll want to find at least another £1,000 for some proper aero wheels. You’ll have to do some spacer juggling and pad shaving to get the latest fat rim style wheels in though.

The £3,200 Shimano Ultegra build is good value too, as it allows you to save enough cash for quality aero wheels.

This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, available on Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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