2012 Superbike Shootout
Dec 24, 2011
article & images by Nick Salazar
(Click here to read my detailed first look at the BMC TM01 from 2011 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas.)
With the brand new Time Machine TM01, BMC has entered the tri market in earnest. Its previous flagship, the TT01, was a machine built at a 72-degree seat tube angle, and at $12,000 for just the frameset, was out of reach for just about everyone. The new bike hits an aggressive 77-degree seat angle, and will hit price points more or less in line with the other bikes in this feature.
To some extent, the TM01 follows a trail blazed by Trek's Speed Concept: the bike uses truncated airfoils, and uses an invisible front brake of similar construction. But that's where the similarities end. What BMC has attempted to do is to take the slick, clean appearance that comes from fully-integrated front ends, and combine it with the versatility and flexibility of a modular setup. That concept is most prevalent in the stem system in the TM01. Instead of using an integrated stem/fork/bar combo as Trek did, BMC uses its "Triangle Concept" stem as the link between the aerobar of your choice and an otherwise integrated front end.
The stem is a five-piece system consisting of two different-sized wedges, two different length spacers, and the bar clamp. The wedges and the stem clamp can be flip-flopped, and spacers inserted or removed, for a total of 32 different combinations. The result is a final product that still appears super clean, yet lets you pick the aerobar of your choice based on your personal preferences, or fit requirements. The problem is that the stem combinations aren't the most straightforward in terms of dialing in your fit. If all you need is another 10mm of stack, for example, you'll have to first tweak your stem setup, and then re-adjust your bars. There's no simple way to change just one dimension.
Riders would do well to be very careful about their aerobar selection. For lower positions, you'll want to pick a corresponding aerobar like the Felt Devox, the Easton Attack TT, or the Shimano Pro Missile. Those who need more stack can pick something like the Zipp Vuka or the 3T Brezza. Cables route into the stem behind the wedges, and the front brake cable disappears into the frame as well, going straight into the integrated brake and staying out of the wind. Even Di2 is well-integrated with an internal battery compartment behind the bottom bracket.
The rear end of the bike is similarly flexible. The BB30 bottom bracket keeps things simple, and opens up a huge variety of crankset options. A thumbscrew-adjustable rear dropout keeps your wheel tucked right into the frame. And instead of using a flip-flop seatpost as other manufacturers do, BMC opted for a single post with a four-position head, for a total of 42mm of fore-aft adjustment. It's definitely a simple solution, but actually uses fairly a fairly primitive clamping mechanism that can be difficult to adjust. It requires the use of a 13mm crescent wrench that must be slotted in from the side, under your saddle's shell but above the rails. This mechanism can be a bit of a nuisance to use, and means that you can't adjust your saddle using a standard compact folding toolkit.
In the end, this bike can be thought of as something of an ode to minimal elegance, but always tempered by notes of practicality. And though it may take a bit of patience to dial in a precise fit, that's typically the price for the TM01's incredibly high level of integration.