Swiss efficiency and keeping everything local has worked for BMCReading through the BMC official website you can't miss the usage of the word stiffness - it's everywhere, take it one step further with the IMPEC they've conjured up the word Swissness then joined it at the hip with pure. Pure Swissness - after living and racing in Switzerland I can't help but be a little amused at what PURE SWISSNESS means. (Don't get me wrong here, Switzerland is my favourite place on earth after Australia).
When you'd go to visit your mechanic in Italy during the 80's some workshops would look like a 19th Century blacksmiths shop. In place of anything that resembled a purpose made bicycle tool there would be anvils, hammers, pliers and wire. All those expensive wooden boxed Campagnolo tool sets were thin on the ground in Italy. There was the one in the back of the Campagnolo parts van that appeared at major races. Then there was Moreno Argentin's bike, I checked it out the year he won the world's in Colorado. Back then we still had cables sprouting from the brake hoods, Argentin's Bianchi had an old wire randonneur cable clip keeping his brake cables tidy.
In Switzerland bike shops were the complete antithesis of the Italian blacksmith's shop version. Australian bike shops were somewhere between the Italian and Swiss models. Suffice to say the first time I ever visited a Swiss bike shop I'd stepped inside the doors of a new retail cycling world. Inside a Swiss bike shop you could expect the usual Swiss minimalist graphics coupled with clinical paint schemes, not one thing out of place. Next there was the small matter of becoming a bike mechanic, at the time in Australia you could just go and work on bikes in any bike shop, no qualifications required. In Bischoffzell Norbert Krapf built "Krapf" frames and Norbert employed mechanics who completed apprenticeships to become bike mechanics. Today there's the the bike school, United Bicycle Institute in the USA at Ashland Oregon. Yet still nothing Australia except a couple of TAFE college courses. So the Swiss were way ahead of their time.
In my first year racing in Switzerland my sponsor had me working part time in their cycle clothing business, Forice Sportswear, there I was exposed to a prototype form of the current version of Pure Swissness right from the onset. The key here being that while I worked in the industry one thing stood out to me, with associated manufacturing sectors being located so close together an integrated network meant high efficiency production allowing each business capability to become class leaders in their respective sectors. Local textile mills placed a huge emphasis on R&D, providing immediate benefits to local cycle clothing manufacturers. Swiss firms like Descente and Assos are renowned worldwide for their products. Today there are innovations coming out of Switzerland thick and fast, one example is Pop Products if you are a weight weenie take a look at their quick release skewers, when you've got one in your hand it's seriously featherlight, their Road Race Superlight skewer weighs in at 30.9 g. Pop Products smart design will compliment any modern wheels and frame with a choice of colours. More Swissness. Now in 2012, for the new player on the block - Swiss efficiency and keeping everything local has worked for BMC and Andy Rihs, "We will do all of it in Switzerland - with Swiss thoroughness and precision."
This brings us to the Race Machine RM01 supplied by Planet Cycles. When I took it out of the shop fitted up with Zipp 303's and the latest 2012 Sram Red, I was in for the Stiffest ride of any road bike ever - mainly due to the fact that Ash from Planet had forgotten to tell me that the headset was overtightened and it only had three positions, dead centre and a left and right notch.
The Race Machine RM01 is described by BMC as being "For the ambitious cyclist who attaches great importance to direct handling, good propulsion and the best possible efficency." It certainly ticks all these boxes. It's a consummate performer in a straight line, climbing and cornering. The notchiness aside this bike with the Firecrest's fitted still ran through the corners with perfection. Power delivery through the drive train is very direct. The lightweight wheels inspire confidence in cornering, plus to keep it planted in the corners the Firecrest's wheel dynamics synch well in tandem with BMC's Tuned Compliance Conceptframe.
BMC's Tuned Compliance Concept "TCC" is intended to optimise bike handling and comfort. TCC is applied to the seatmast, seat stays and front end through the forks. Benefits of this system includes better handling and power transmission, at the same time slowing rider fatigue. The result of Swiss precision the BMC RM01 when properly setup up will cope with almost anything thrown at it. Go and race a crit or road race, train on it week in week out, smash down your favourite descent and this bike will take it all in it's stride. Combined with the 2012 Sram Red double tap, in Australia this machine gives a big bang for your buck, currently available at recommended retail of $5,995 and that includes a full BMC Hincapie team cycling kit pack.
Ashley Hutchinson's choice of wheels: (Not included with the standard RM01 package) Zipp Firecrest's - first there's the wider brake track effectively spreading the tire width and added ride comfort plus better handling. I'll delve into this a lot further in another article dedicated just to these wheels. Chris from Echelon Sports explained the advantages Zipp have built into the Firecrest's using a highly manipulated "centre of pressure", this is absolutely crucial in understanding how these wheels function. The centre of pressure effect promotes stability. Proven also to be reliable now in Paris Roubaix and Tour of Flanders as race winners. Zipp put it this way - "And yet, because Firecrest technology allows us to manipulate the wheel’s center of pressure, the new 303 handles like a box-section rim."
The 2012 Sram Red group set has set new benchmarks in efficiency. The front derailleur shifts seamlessly and ultra quick. The brakes are precise with very decisive actuation leaving the rider in control. You can also adjust the shift lever and brake lever independantly of the other for optimum ergonomic advantage. The shift lever offers four positions and the brake lever can be adjusted simply by accessing an adjustment bolt and setting to your desired position. The ergonomics of the levers is functional and very comfortable providing a broad platform to rest on when on top of the levers, there's also a gel pack provided for extra comfort when resting on the levers. The graphics printed onto the Sram Red groupset with the trademark red is a real standout, yet neutral enough to compliment any paint scheme. Sram Red 2012 double Tap is a real winner, it simply works well on all levels.
BMC's range of bikes backed by Pure Swissness and a world class Tour de France winning race team provides all the options you'll need to create your perfect Race Machine.
All BMC Bike photographs by Robert Cobcroft