We still remember the first time we saw a BMC TMR01 frame sitting in a shop. It was just a frame hanging from a ceiling, and yet it exuded speed. With its TT’esque lines, integrated front fork and hidden rear brake it, looked more TT than road, and we were ok with that. The frame begged us to take it down, build it up, and take it to the nearest race we could find. Really the only reason we didn’t walk out the shop with frame in hand was the price. When the TMR frame originally launched there was just one version – the TMR01 and it was an easy $6,500 to get on one.
Lucky for us, BMC recognizes that athletes have needs at multiple price points. And following the tradition of their Time Machine TM01 and TM02 time trial bikes have crafted a more affordable solution. Last year BMC introduced the TMR02, which shares the TMR frame but offers a non-integrated fork and lower modulus carbon at a much easier to swallow price tag – $3,499. Over the past few months we have spent time with a TMR02 Ultegra, seeing if it’s everything we had dreamt of.
The BMC TMR02 Ultegra
It’s hard to look at a TMR frame and not see the immediate connection to BMC’s own Time Machine TT bikes. The sharp angles and dropped seat stays scream time trial, so it would be easy to think that BMC simply added road bars to their TM01 frame and called it a day. But the TMR is a completely unique frame. The TMR features a 74-degree seat angle (versus the 77 degree angle found on the TM01). Likewise, the tubes themselves have been slimmed down. But that doesn’t meant the core philosophy between the two bikes has not been shared.
BMC’s SubA concept is based around the balance between creating an aerodynamic optimal shape and maximum rigidity. The end result is truncated tube shapes that are UCI legal and satisfy the UCI 3:1 rules. The frame tubing has a stepped profile running along the leading edge, which BMC calls tripwire. The goal is to efficiently control the airflow around the profiles and delay separation of the boundary layer from the tube surface — the same effect that’s generated by the dimples of a golf ball.
Like it’s more expensive sibling, the TMR02 has its rear brake hidden under the bottom bracket. Up front, the TMR02 uses a more standard fork and front brake mount. Of course the tradeoff here is aerodynamic performance (though BMC did not have data to show how much). However, this does make serviceability a lot simpler. And if it was our bike, we would quickly swap out the included Ultegra brake for something like a Tririg Omega to help recover some of the TMR01s aero advantage.
The frame uses a BB86 bottom bracket and has a 1–1/8″ to 1–1/4″ tapered steerer tube. The frame is both mechanical and electronic compatible. (And while we tend to prefer electronic groupsets for those looking to mount aerobars, the mechanical shifting on our Ultegra test bike was just superb).
Both the TMR01 and TMR02 feature an aero seat post that offers three mounting positions (0mm, +15mm and +30mm). However, we did find that if you really want to slam the seat forward, you may want to consider that as part of your sizing decision. The 74-degree measurement is from the 0mm measurement, so if you need to go farther forward, you may have to size down. Likewise, the maximum setback may not be enough for some riders. Long story short, make sure to get sized correctly. And if you’re planning to use the bike for both road racing and triathlon, make sure you can move the saddle to meet your needs.
The saddle clamp is hidden inside the frame, and the only clue to its location is a small rubber plug on the top tube. When first building the bike, we were initially a bit confused on how to install the seat post. Finally we realized that you have to first insert the clamp into the frame and then hold it in place with an Allen wrench while you insert the seat post. While this makes for a very clean looking (and more aero) frame, this is a bit of a hassle if you need to remove the seatpost (and can easily end up with the clamp falling down into the frame). Definitely something to be mindful of when building the bike.
One of the first things you notice while riding the TMR02 is stiffness. Some aero road bikes, especially those that have gone more TT than road, end up compromising stiffness for the sake of aero abilities – the TMR02 is not one of them. Whether we were doing sprints, climbing, or just putting in miles, the frame sought to take every watt we put down and deliver it to the rear wheels.
We spent most of our miles with the bike doing long road rides TT style. After watching Taylor Phinney cruise solo to victory on a TMR01 at the Tour of California, we knew what this frame was capable of. So it came as no surprise that we found the bike to be a comfortable long-distance hauler with a need for speed. Sitting in the drops, the bike rode true and never felt affected by cross winds. After three hours in the saddle, our body was not begging to stop, which is a testament to how the bike can soak up some of the bumps. However, we never felt disconnected from the bike.
Fully setup with aerobars and an aero wheelset, we suspect this bike would have no trouble keeping up with the majority of bikes you find in transition. Though unfortunately, due to timing constraints, we didn’t get the opportunity to try this as part of our review.
We did some climbing with the TMR (mind you that climbing in South Florida is limited to a former garbage dump with a ¼ mile stretch at an 8% grade) and found the bike to be stiff and competent. While we never felt like we were hauling the TMR02 up the climb, this isn’t a mountain goat of a climbing bike either. Descending, the bike far out-handles almost all TT bikes, but like most aero road bikes, sacrifices a bit of handling prowess for the sake of straight line travel.
When sprinting, the bike showed virtually no flex as we pounded the pedals. The frame is stiff and transmits power to the ground well. BMC says, “The TMR02 is made for sprinters digging for extra watts at the finish line, rouleurs who need to keep the pressure on all day, or Olympic-distance triathletes pushing for a little breathing room from the competition before hitting the final transition.” We easily see how this bike was made to back up those claims.
Walking away, we have to say that the TMR is one of our favorite all around aero frames out there. Without the specific aero data, it’s hard to say exactly where we rank it. Although knowing pros not only race the TMR but win on it, instills a great deal of confidence. From a ride characteristics perspective, this bike clearly follows the philosophy of a new generation of aero bikes—stiffness and comfort cannot and will not be sacrificed in terms of aero, BUT aero needs to be a priority as well. Balance is clearly the name of the game, and the TMR02 exudes it – not something you would expect in a package that looks like a close cousin of the stealth fighter.