Mar 12, 2010
Posted by Chad
Welcome to our latest long term bike review. This time we are going to focus on the BMC Racemaster. As with our past reviews and the ones still to come we are going to focus on the most important thing to us, how the bike rides and who we feel it's the best fit for.
The bike in question is a '09 52cm yellow BMC. We have put about 3,000 miles on it, the last 2000 in the past couple months. It has Campagnolo Chorus 11s and Speedplay pedals, but pretty much everything else has been changed up a bit, from the handlebars to the brake calipers and the wheels in an effort to see how the ride changes if it does, from component selection.
First the obvious ones; the BMC Racemaster has a carbon and aluminum frame. The majority of the down tube, seat tube and chain stays are aluminum while the top tube, head tube and small portion of the down tube are made of a single molded carbon construction. The seat stays are also carbon, but as you can see from the above picture, are not screwed into place but bonded to the aluminum dropouts.
A view of the unique top tube to seat tube intersection. I had an issue with the brake cable coming out at a weird angle and had issues with rubbing it my thighs while pedaling. Easy fix is the zip tie and the issue was gone. You can also see that the Racemaster has what at first glance looks like an integrated seatpost. We are happy to say that this is not the case and instead uses an internal expansion system that allows for full movement of the seat post and complete removal like any normal post. In fact we are happy to say that not one of the bikes we carry has an integrated seat post but will talk about that later! Last thing in regards to the seat post is that it is not round, so this is the only post that will work with frame.
Here is another shot of the seat post and the clean way it enters the seat tube. The top tube is much wider towards the head tube as well. At first I found my knees would hit the tube as I pedaled but never to the point of being annoying and now it does not happen at all as I've adapted to the frame.
The one piece carbon head tube. It's a standard 1&1/8th diameter top and bottom, but trust us, stiffness is not an issue here. We believe that an oversize head tube would in fact be overkill on this bike. A standard FSA top cap works as well, so there are a few different stack heights available...
The BMC Racemaster incorporates internal cable guides into the frame for the front and rear derailleurs and the rear brake. We tend to like external cables a little more for ease of cleaning and repair, but have not had any issues at all with shifting performance mainly due to the fact that we clean the bike often and keep the cables lubed...
The bottom bracket area is massive and aluminum which is the main reason the bike is so stiff. Next up is the ride and we'll let you know if that stiffness equals harshness on the road...
The short answer is no. While this is no doubt one super stiff bike, it is surprisingly smooth. I used to ride a full aluminum Cramerotti built with Deda EM2 tubing and while that bike was one of the, no THE stiffest bike I have ever ridden, it was also by far the harshest as well. The kind of bike that just did not want to stay connected to the ground. That is not fun on a super bumpy 40mph downhill, you only have traction and grip when the tires are on the ground! While you feel this bike on bumpy roads it still tends to keep itself planted where it should. On smoother roads it is pure heaven.
This bike is a pure power riders dream. Hit a longish roller in the big ring with a little momentum and it seems easy to keep it going to the top. Short rollers are laughable and easily negotiated (of course, legs have a lot to do with this as well!). This is one of the best descending bikes I've been on, in the same league with my Pegoretti's and Magnesium Pinarello Dogma. It is an able climbing bike, but I would not put it up there with the best, and for pure climber types I'd recommend the BMC Pro Machine or the new SLR Team Machine for sure. But it is so good everywhere else that I wouldn't mind take it out on an epic climbing day. Remember, what comes up, must come down!
On the other side this is not an especially light bike. The frame is not too heavy but the fork is. On the '09 bikes it's over 500g! I have since replaced the fork with a full carbon one from Edge, but the bike still does not feel like a light bike. I'm not talking about the scale here, I'm talking out on the road. As built right now it's apprx. mid 16's, but just feels heavier than say my Pro Machine at the same weight. But it feels FAST. Keep the speed up and attack the rollers and the Racemaster shines!
Who is the BMC Racemaster for?
I'd recommend this bike for pretty much anybody except for the small super lean and light pure climber. But I'd really recommend it for the newer racer who is looking for something stiff and not too expensive (ie. something you can crash on and not feel like crap if you break it). Also for triathletes who compete in shorter course events like Jeff P, pictured above who used this bike with some Edge 68 tubulars to win a few triathlons on. He also tends to kick my ass up our climbs here with me on a lightweight "climbing" bike which takes us back to the 'legs' argument! The BMC seems very well made, super durable and depending on your style, beautiful, in a Swiss geometrical kind of way. If I could only have one bike I would not have an issue with this being it. The best thing about this bike though and something I have not touched on yet is the price. While we have some super exotic and as such very expensive bikes at Above Category, this frame fits nicely in but is only $1699 for the version with the aluminum fork! They also have a version with a full carbon fork that will cost you $300 more at $1999. This means that you can invest in some serious components and still keep the price down. In fact, you could build it up w/ SRAM Red and Lightwieghts and keep it well under 10K which is not an easy feet on most high end bikes! (Conversely, you can build it up with something like Campagnolo Athena, nice wheels, bars, stem, saddle etc. and have an incredible bike for well under $5000)
In the next few days we'll talk about some of the specific components that we put on this bike to test. These include the Edge Composites 65 clinchers and Aero 2.0 fork. We also have been testing the new Hive Revl brake calipers and will cover those as well. Then we'll move on to our next long term test bikes. Kris has been killing it for over a year on his Pegoretti Marcelo in the local and national Pro-1 races and then we'll be looking at the BMC Pro Machine, Pinarello Dogma and Parlee Z5 among others... Stay tuned and thanks for reading! Also, remember, if you have any questions at all, stop by the shop to see these bikes in person or give us a call...