BMC launches the new Roadmachine X One: The road beyond the road
A bump up to a premium carbon frame turns the RoadMachine X into a high-end performance bike over a variety of ground
BMC has today announced the launch of the new Roadmachine X, a bike that aims to suit the ever-widening riding tastes of the modern endurance rider. Although it features BMC’s signature endurance geometry that endows previous iterations of the Roadmachine, a few innovative updates make the Roadmachine X One surprisingly well suited to rough surfaces given its road-bike silhouette.
In 2018, the Swiss manufacturer released the first version of the BMC Roadmachine X, a step away from its previous strict road models. The bike embodied the Swiss version of adventure — created for rides that continue after the tarmac ends. It was a tiptoe into the world of gravel, with one of the most notable differences from the rest of the Roadmachine range being the aluminum frame and big tire clearances.
Today, the Roadmachine X has stepped up another level, though, to the carbon Roadmachine X One – bringing the bike from a slightly more entry-level point amongst BMC's performance range to the highest echelons of the brand's offering. It brings some serious updates including a premium carbon frame, allowing for optimum performance without compromising on versatility. The carefully tuned carbon lay-up adds a desirable flex for even more challenging ground than the previous Roadmachine X might venture onto.
Intricately tested in BMC’s headquarters in Switzerland, the Roadmachine X One frame design uses TCC Endurance technology, BMC’s compliance concept which provides comfort on the roughest of surfaces. The 15mm offset D-shaped carbon seatpost is an integral part of how this works. Originally designed to conquer the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix, it smooths out vibrations typical to off-road riding for both comfort and more control.
In addition, offset seat stays are a signature feature of BMC bikes but they become even more crucial on rocky terrain. Placing them low down on the seat tube absorbs vibrations and reduces the impact of any hard knocks.
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The specially designed TCC fork is another component that adds more comfort to the Roadmachine X One, creating flex and compliance without damaging stiffness. Also aiding improved control on rocky terrain is the use of BMC’s signature Endurance geometry. The slightly longer front end allows better handling while short chainstays improve the agility of the bike, making it easy to manoeuvre both on and off-road.
Despite a focus on performance with the high-spec carbon frame, BMC maintains its long-term commitment to comfort in the Roadmachine range. The geometry is sporty without being too aggressive, hitting a perfect sweet spot for long rides that may include high speed sections. The Roadmachine X One offers a wide range of fit options since the cockpit is not fully integrated (mechanics rejoice!). Stem lengths, stack height and bar width are all adjustable.
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Aiming to break away from the dogmas of old-school road riding the Roadmachine X One comes with 32mm tubeless ready tires, a width that a few years ago would have been reserved for fully fledged cross and gravel bikes. Although not as wide as some complete gravel bikes, the width should be suitable for most, keeping in mind the UCI limit on cyclo-cross tires is 33mm.
The Roadmachine X One frame is completed with a SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset including the SRAM XPLR cassette, meaning you get a big range of gears for fast riding on road and steep gravel climbs.The 10-44T combination is a good compromise for a big range, well suited to undulating terrain. The components are able to tackle most ground with the rear derailleur being compact and uncluttered.
Retailing at €5,999, the Roadmachine X One is certainly sits at the more premium end of the market, but with the high-end additions of carbon wheels and a SRAM Force AXS and XPLR group, BMC is coming in at a relatively lower cost than its premium frames have historically demanded.
However, the Roadmachine X Two will be available in 2022 and it’s a slightly more affordable iteration (we await prices). While it keeps the carbon frame, the Roadmachine X Two will be accompanied by a SRAM Rival AXS groupset and aluminum wheels. The Roadmachine X AL one will also be available next year and comes at a far lower price point. With a premium aluminum frame and Shimano 105 groupset, as well as fender and cargo mounts, it’s a less racey version of the Roadmachine X.
I put the Roadmachine X One to the test over steep gravel inclines in the Swiss Alps, climbing up to 2,500m. Admittedly, some of the terrain was probably too rough for what the bike was designed for – the BMC R&D team explained that it was made with the rider who travelled on some rough surfaces when the tarmac ends in mind – still, it mastered the rocky slopes incredibly well on our ride.The 32mm tires interacted well with the overall system of frame, forks and wheels, making the ride comfortable on the bumpiest of sections without a feeling of being thrown about on the bike. The bike is relatively lightweight (ours weighed 7.6kgs), which served us well on the mountainous terrain. However, it maintains stiffness despite the feathery feel.
On the descents, the closeness of the bike in geometry to the previous iterations of the Roadmachine ensured that the bike had an innately road-like character to it, making for sharp handling and agility, alongside a sense of stability on rough descents. The lower bottom bracket gives a similar feel to race bikes but still allows you to maintain control on the downhills. The bike was comfortable over an endurance ride but still allowed us to get low and aero on the tarmaced sections of the ride.I rode a 51cm frame which comes with a 90mm stem and 42cm bars. While wider bars do have benefits when it comes to handling on gravel terrain, I would note that these were too wide for me as a female rider of 167cm. I also found the reach slightly too long and would have opted for a shorter stem had I been building the bike myself. However, as mentioned before, the stem and bars are not integrated, so adjustment is easy.
I approached the Fizik Terra Argo X3 saddle with caution as someone who is particular over saddle shape and comfort. However, I found it comfortable for the duration of the ride, the middle dipped section meant that pressure was evenly distributed and the saddle didn’t feel too wide.
The SRAM Force brakes were predictably solid thanks to good modulation and biting point, despite the steep gradients. I was surprised to see there were no tempering marks on the rotors after some startlingly steep downward inclines. On the road, the bike was extremely responsive to accelerations, keeping to BMC’s claim that the Roadmachine X is suitable for road riding as well as gravel.In terms of the SRAM XPLR cassette, the shifting was smooth and precise and the range and jumps between gears were ideal for this ride. With the direct mount 1x crankset, the chain control was excellent on rough terrain with minimal bouncing.
Overall, the Roadmachine X certainly impressed when it came to its balance of on and off-road performance. For a rider like myself who lives in the inner city, it would serve me exceptionally well on the tarmac roads as I headed towards the countryside and transitioned onto gravel trails when I got there, all while maintaining a good enough speed to hang in with fully-fledged roadies.
BMC aims to “reset the boundaries of riding experience” with this bike and we’d ascertain that it fits this bill, moving away from the strict tradition of road bikes to an all-rounder that matches the needs of endurance riders who like to follow the slightly less trodden path.