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BMC Roadmachine X review

24 Jan 2022
Verdict:

BMC's all-road endurance road bike combines outstanding road performance with off-road versatility

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Road bike speed with added versatility • Looks
Against 
Geared harder than 2× road model

Road plus. All-road. Gravel-adjacent. Groad. Choose your subculture. Choose life. Choose the BMC Roadmachine X.

The BMC Roadmachine X is an all-road, gravel-adjacent endurance road bike that combines outstanding on-tarmac performance with a dash of off-road versatility.

We’re living in an age of what BMC engineer Tobias Habegger calls ‘micro segmentation’, as brands try to work out what the hell different bikes actually are, and the goalposts for riding disciplines keep getting moved around by sentient Instagram accounts sporting bar bags, tan-wall tyres and deeply entrenched views on tyre tread patterns.

The lines between road, gravel and mountain bikes have never been blurrier and the Roadmachine X is as mixed-message as they come.

BMC Roadmachine X: Same body, new clothes


If this bike looks familiar, that’s because it’s built around the existing Roadmachine, but with a versatility-oriented build that reflects a market gone mad for all things gravel.

The frameset is pure BMC, with familiar, angular styling and very dropped seatstays – a design quirk that was once a BMC signature but now barely warrants acknowledgement, so ubiquitous has it become.

Where top-spec Roadmachines are fully integrated, the X has standard internal routing with brake hoses on show.

It’s a very clean design, however, and the lack of integration comes with a small benefit in the form of a conventional round fork steerer rather than the squared-off one used on pricier models, so future component swapping will cause fewer headaches.

As the name suggests, tarmac is still the Roadmachine’s natural habitat, but the X denotes a subtle nudge into the realm of riding over small stones. The bike gets a SRAM Force eTap AXS 1× drivetrain with the latest gravel-focussed XPLR rear derailleur and matching comedy cassette that tops (bottoms?) out with a gargantuan 44-tooth sprocket.

It comes with 32mm tubeless-ready WTB tyres as standard, taking almost full advantage of the official 33mm allowance. These lead one to wonder exactly where a bike like this sits on the road-gravel spectrum, which is what I set out to discover.

My conclusion was this: don’t go thinking it’s a pure gravel machine and you will get on famously with this bicycle.

BMC Roadmachine X geometry

Riding the BMC Roadmachine X

Habegger imagines the typical Roadmachine X rider will spend at least half their time on tarmac, perhaps straying onto ‘light gravel’ when the mood suits.

‘With a 32mm tyre you’re not going to ride singletrack, or at least you won’t enjoy it,’ he says. He’s not completely wrong – the bike excels on broken tarmac and smoother fire roads but doesn’t cosset you at all when the going gets rocky.

Despite this, it lends itself well to the time-honoured practice of under-biking – there’s joy to be gleaned from taking a road bike where it doesn’t strictly belong.

With the tyres set up tubeless and a suitably minimal amount of air inside them, it’s a joy to find out just what you can get away with. The standard rubber is plush but nearly slick, so it’s not well-suited to mud or looser surfaces, but on packed dirt there’s little to fear.

There’s nothing big or clever about taking your road bike off-road and in some ways there’s nothing about the Roadmachine – fat tyres aside – that makes it better suited to such antics than any other endurance road bike. It still has pure road geometry and standard width bars, after all.

At the same time there’s decent vertical flex built into the rear to take the sting out of smaller hits; the absence of a front derailleur makes shifting in extremis largely idiot-proof, and the brakes won’t leave you wanting.

On paved surfaces, the Roadmachine X remains sublime. The move to slightly fatter tyres doesn’t really have a downside – the bike is still quick, composed and comfortable, and properly, reassuringly stiff under hard pedalling.

BMC Roadmachine X verdict

Starting with a blank sheet of paper, it would be hard to come up with a design that more perfectly reflects my everyday riding than the Roadmachine X, but I do have one criticism.

I think a 2× drivetrain would actually make more sense for a bike like this because the multi-role nature of the design means you’re likely to want the maximum possible number of gears, with both plenty of range and close spacing between them.

At a minimum, a smaller chainring than the 44-tooth fitted would be a better choice for riders looking to exploit the bike’s versatility – the low end is adequate, but ironically this particular BMC is actually geared harder than the 2x road-going models.

This isn’t big-picture stuff, however. For road riders who want a little more, the Roadmachine X makes a compelling case for itself. Whether it’s crumbling country lanes or gravel dabbling alongside regular road riding that appeals, this is a splendid way to get around.

Pick of the kit


Velocio Alpha Long Sleeve mid-layer jersey, £155, velocio.cc

Mid-layers usually have neither the sartorial impact of outer layers nor the reassuring intimacy of base layers, but this top might just change that. It’s both exceptionally cosy thanks to the ultra-fuzzy Polartec Alpha Direct material on the front, and remarkably eye-catching when you strip off at the cafe.

It’s also extraordinarily warm and can be used to extend the usefulness of a softshell jacket into sub-zero temperatures, along with an appropriate base layer. The Alpha even has three rear pockets like a regular jersey.

BMC Roadmachine X alternatives

BMC Roadmachine Two

The 28mm tyres won’t be as squishy, but the £5,250 Roadmachine Two is arguably more versatile than the X thanks to a 2x drivetrain that offers more gears at both ends of the range.

BMC URLS LT Two

With 10mm of rear-wheel travel, 20mm of fork travel, mountain bike gearing and long, slack geometry, the URS LT Two (£5,700) is a fully fledged gravel-worrier.

BMC Roadmachine X spec

Frame BMC Roadmachine X One
Groupset   SRAM Force eTap AXS XPLR
Brakes SRAM Force eTap AXS XPLR
Crankset SRAM Force eTap AXS XPLR
Cassette SRAM Force eTap AXS XPLR
Bars BMC RAB 02
Stem BMC ICS1
Seatpost BMC carbon D-shaped seatpost
Saddle Fizik Terra Argo X3
Wheels CRD-321 Carbon, WTB Expanse 700c × 32mm tyres
Weight 8.0kg (54cm)
Contact bmc-switzerland.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£5,700

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