As popular with the pros in the Tour de France peloton as they are serious amateurs out for a Sunday spin, BMC’s road bikes combine sleek, modernist looks and cutting edge technology. All of which has been subtly electrified with this Roadmachine 01 AMP X ONE, the integration of the motor and battery so neat the only giveaway you’re on an e-bike is the lack of sweat on your brow as you power up the hills! Part of a line-up of electrified Roadmachine models, the ‘X’ denotes ambitions beyond the tarmac and into so-called gravel riding along towpaths, forest trails and the like, should you so desire. Wherever you ride it there’s no getting around the fact this is a very, very expensive toy but you get what you pay for, and if you’re looking to electrify your road and gravel riding it’s a convincing choice.
“The fat frame tubes used by most carbon bikes means BMC has effectively been able to conceal the battery pack”
BMC’s distinctive frame shape has been refined over the years but is still instantly recognisable, while the sophisticated carbon fibre structure uses angular profiles for a futuristic and aerodynamic appearance. The fat frame tubes used by most carbon bikes means BMC has effectively been able to conceal the battery pack as well, the neat integration of the TQ motor unit meaning it could pass for a conventional road bike rather than an electrically assisted one. Other neat features include a hinged handlebar stem with a concealed rubber bumper to take the edge off the bumps, while the integrated design tucks all the cables away for a super sleek appearance.
Expert rating: 5/5
“The riding position is more traditional road bike than gravel bike”
If you’re paying this much for a road bike – electrified or not – we’d advise a professional fitting to make sure you’re on the right size. Our 54cm test bike was a tad on the short side for your six-foot tester, but BMC offers a wide range of sizes to suit riders of all builds. In the modern style the top tube (or crossbar, if you prefer) is low and you run the bike with a lot of seatpost sticking out, which can make judging which size you need a little confusing. But it means the bike feels compact underneath you, which is confidence inspiring when flinging it about. The riding position is, meanwhile, more traditional road bike than gravel bike, with a longer stem and narrower handlebars than those designed for more extreme off-road terrain.
Expert rating: 4/5
“There are mounts for two bottle cages and a neat, integrated rear light that illuminates when the drive battery is switched on”
The BMC is built for speed, so doesn’t offer much in the way of creature comforts. There are mounts for two bottle cages and a neat, integrated rear light that illuminates when the drive battery is switched on but that’s about it and there are no threaded inserts for installing mudguards or luggage racks.
Expert rating: 2/5
Performance & braking
“If you live somewhere hilly and spend a lot of time winching up steep gradients, it makes a lot more sense”
Given even a half decent rider on a super lightweight carbon road bike can cruise well above the legally mandated 15.5mph limit for electrical assistance you may wonder at the point of e-bikes of this type. And while the boost up to that speed is welcome it feels like you hit a brick wall beyond it, and where a non-assisted road bike of this price would be taking off the extra weight of the electric version becomes a burden. On mild gradients where you’re just on the cusp of that assistance cut-off it’s especially annoying, but if you live somewhere hilly and spend a lot of time winching up steep gradients it makes a lot more sense. We tried it on some of the most savage, cobbled climbs used by the Tour de Yorkshire and, while you still need to put some effort in, the BMC whizzes up the hills, the sophisticated calibration (and silence) of the motor meaning you feel like it’s all you rather than some battery-boosted cheat mode. In keeping with its off-road ambitions the X version of the Roadmachine also gets bigger brake discs than the pure road equivalent, and once we’d adjusted the reach of the levers to get them closer to the bars the hydraulically boosted stopping power was suitably confidence inspiring.
Expert rating: 3/5
Ride & handling
“In handling terms the Roadmachine rewards the more experienced riders BMC attracts”
While BMC has tweaked the angles and sizing of the frame compared with the pure road version of the Roadmachine, this gravel-oriented derivative still feels pretty racy, with relatively twitchy steering that can feel a little nervous if you get ambitious with your off-road adventures. It feels much more in its comfort zone on the road, while the fatter gravel-specific tyres open up your route options beyond. While it is impressively light for an e-bike the BMC is still a lot heavier than an equivalent non-assisted road or gravel bike, and for all the clever tuning of the carbon fibre frame doesn’t have the same spring in its step, or ability to filter out smaller bumps through carefully calibrated flex in the structure. In handling terms the Roadmachine rewards the more experienced riders BMC attracts, though if you’re looking for a more relaxed riding experience there may be better options.
Expert rating: 4/5
“The extra power of the electric motors can put extra wear on parts like chains and sprockets”
This is a high-end bike, so although the parts are all top of the line and of suitably high quality you need to look after it properly. The battery and motor unit are pretty much self-contained, while the rest of the bike will simply require the same ongoing maintenance of any equivalent non-assisted bike. The extra power of the electric motors can put extra wear on parts like chains and sprockets, so if you rack up big miles and ride in all weathers these may wear out faster, though the gravel-specific groupset should be tougher than the road-oriented equivalents on the regular road version.
Expert rating: 3/5
“The only issue we encountered was an annoying creaking from the drive unit when really pushing hard on the pedals”
We didn’t run the Roadmachine for long enough to make a reasonable judgement on reliability, but the brakes, gears and other components are all from respected suppliers like SRAM and Pirelli and worked perfectly over the course of our test rides. Given the price you’d have a reasonable expectation they’d continue to do so, as well. The only issue we encountered was an annoying creaking from the drive unit when really pushing hard on the pedals – a dab of grease on the axle might have been enough to cure it but, by the same token, it may have been something more serious within the motor and gearbox. Either way, it rather spoiled the otherwise refined riding experience.
Expert rating: 4/5
Warranty & servicing
“The frame is covered by a crash replacement policy in the case of an accident serious enough to render it unrideable”
If you buy a new BMC it’s well worth immediately registering it with the manufacturer, on the basis if you do this within 30 days of purchase the frame is covered by a crash replacement policy in the case of an accident serious enough to render it beyond repair. This also extends the overall warranty from three to five years, BMC also covering its bikes for use in competition. In terms of servicing any competent bike shop should be well capable of keeping it running sweetly, though given BMC’s love of bespoke parts and very specific design you may be better off taking it to an authorised dealer for truly expert care – a link on the BMC website will point you in the right direction and it seems the brand has reasonable coverage across the UK.
Expert rating: 4/5
“Gravel-specific Pirelli tyres also roll smoothly on the road while also giving you a bit of extra grip on loose surfaces”
The most obvious difference for the X version of the Roadmachine 01 over its road equivalent are the sturdier, gravel-specific SRAM Force XPLR eTap brakes and gears. These run a mountain bike style single chainring up front and a wide-range 12-speed gearing system at the back, with slick electric shifting via buttons on the brake levers. This wireless system also contributes to the super sleek lines of the bike. Gravel-specific Pirelli tyres also roll smoothly on the road while also giving you a bit of extra grip on loose surfaces, though the pairing with deep-section carbon fibre wheels was a little unusual. In terms of the drive system there’s a slick little screen integrated into the frame at the front of the bike, which gives you a battery status, the remaining range in the three different power modes and your speed according to which display you select. A mount on the handlebars meanwhile lets you attach a Garmin, GoPro or other third-party device.
Expert rating: 5/5
“The case for e-bikes feels harder to argue for road or gravel type machines than it is for mountain bikes”
If you want a properly fancy road or gravel bike BMC has various non-electric options at this price point, any of which will get respect from the serious cyclists the brand speaks to. Would any of these people spend the same on an electrically assisted version, though? That’s an interesting question, and the case for e-bikes feels harder to argue for road or gravel type machines than it is for mountain bikes. But if you live somewhere seriously hilly, have a faster partner you want go out on rides with or find yourself getting dropped by the rest of the riding gang on the climbs there might be something in it. The fact the Roadmachine looks just as sleek as any similarly fancy non-electric road bike also works in its favour.