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(The Gear Loop) - Over the past few years, cyclists have been greeted with an overwhelming choice when it comes to buying a new bike. We’re not talking about choosing between road or mountain - or even road versus gravel - we’re talking about the multitude of niches that now exist under just the road bike moniker.

In the mid 2010’s, punters bemoaned the fact they had to choose between an aero bike or a lightweight climbing machine,  but shoot forwards to 2022 and we’ve got aero, lightweight, comfort and all-road bikes to choose between, and that’s before opening the Pandora’s box of gravel bikes

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So, when we pulled the BMC Roadmachine X One from its box, we were a bit confused as to what this bike was actually for. The 32mm wide tyres implied it might be good for smashing out the miles over smooth gravel, but the reasonably tight ratios on the cassette painted a picture of fast group rides through the countryside.

BMC explicitly said this wasn’t a gravel bike, so what did we do? We took it to the Cairngorms to thrash around some of the finest roads and, erm, gravel, the UK has to offer. Sorry BMC.

The Gear LoopBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 32
Our quick take

The BMC's Roadmachine X One Disc is perfectly summarised as a Jack of all trades. It might not be a master of all, but it comes tantalisingly close to being a perfect one-bike garage. It devours tarmac like few things we’ve ridden before and left us feeling fresher at the end of punishing four-hour rides, but it also kept up with the gravel-tuned bikes when the tarmac turned to dust. Technical single track and really tough terrain is likely out of the question, but it remains an impressive package, especially with SRAM’s excellent AXS Force electronic shifting onboard.

BMC Roadmachine X One Disc review: the perfect one-bike garage?

BMC Roadmachine X One Disc

4.0 stars
For
  • Smooth ride
  • Stiff frame in the right places
  • SRAM shifting is excellent
  • Tan wall tyres make everything look better
Against
  • Large jumps between gears
  • Not fully internal cabling
  • Large volume tyres didn’t handle as well as we’d like

First impressions

Upon unpacking the bike, we felt the subtle yet classy paint job oozed understated luxury and the wireless SRAM AXS Force groupset meant the front end was incredibly tidy, save for the externally routed hydraulic hoses. It would be great to see these fully integrated, but it does make maintenance easier having them on show. 

The other thing that stood out to us was the full carbon wheelset. They may only have been 35mm in depth and stickered up with BMC’s in-house brand, but they looked great and completed a solid package for the money.

BMCBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 21

The first few pedal strokes on the Roadmachine X made its intentions clear; this wasn’t some softened up road bike with big pillowy tyres. Far from it. The frame was stiff in all the right places and the bottom bracket had no perceivable flex, even when this tester was stamping on the pedals in the wrong gear up a steep hill, which often weeds out the flexy frames. 

It wasn’t all tough going though, as there was a remarkable amount of compliance in the rear end, which made riding over broken surfaces a lot less fatiguing after multiple hours in the saddle.

The Gear LoopBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 37

A large part of this likely comes down to the 32mm wide WTB Expanse tyres, which when pumped up to 70psi, provided the optimal balance between rolling speed and compliance. Thanks to them being set up tubeless already, we could have probably flirted with lower pressures, but we did find that under hard cornering there was a bit of hesitancy to turn in, which was probably down to the generous sidewalls. 

However, a split second later, they’d be grippy as anything, so we didn’t have to change our riding style. It was just a bit unnerving the first few times leaning the bike hard into a corner. All in all, the trade-off between ride comfort and razor sharp handling is a welcome one, after all this isn’t a crit bike

The Gear LoopBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 35

Off-road shenanigans

BMC were very clear that the Roadmachine X One isn’t a gravel bike, so naturally we took it on a gravel loop around the Cairngorms to see how far we could push it. A long way is the answer, it was only unsettled on some very rocky parts of the route, which wouldn’t have been straightforward for even a full suspension mountain bike. 

Aside from this, the Roadmachine X One cruised along at a fair pace on the smoother gravel and the road sections were dispatched without issue. The gearing was the only thing that held us back slightly. Due to it being predominantly a road bike, the gear ratios proved quite tall, so steeper sections of trail had to be attacked, otherwise you’d quickly end up grinding away.

BMCBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 22

Although the perfect companion to long, slow days in the saddle, the Roadmachine X One also makes for a surprisingly sprightly ride. Turn the pedals in anger and the frame really comes alive.

It’s not on the same level as a dedicated road bike, but it could certainly hang on to a fast group ride without too much fuss. 

The Gear LoopBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 47

Groupset and mechanicals

One of the standout features of the Roadmachine X One is the groupset. Shifting and braking is dealt with by SRAM’s exceptional Force AXS. Drop down to the X Two and you'll have to make do with SRAM’s 1x Rival/XPLR, which is fine, but no way near as accurate as this electronic set-up.

With electronic shifting like this, sticky cables are banished with wireless signals and because the movement of the mech is no longer controlled by an indexed cable, the mech can move varying amounts between cogs on the cassette, meaning it can account for - in the very worst case 0- bent mechs, too. We placed the Roadmachine X One into the back of our car on multiple occasions and every time, the gears still worked flawlessly.

The Gear LoopBMC Roadmachine X One Disc review photo 45

We found shifting with SRAM’s second tier groupset a joy, as shifts proved accurate and blazingly fast. The shifters could even be reconfigured to change different number of gears with different length taps thanks to the SRAM AXS app. We had our shifters configured so the left shifter shifted up the cassette and the right went down which worked very intuitively. 

Similarly, the braking proved fantastic with regards to smooth and controllable stopping power. The ergonomics of the shifters were very pleasant too. Slightly larger than Shimano’s offerings, but that’s no bad thing, as it gave us something more to hang onto when the road got bumpy.

To recap

When we dragged the Roadmachine X One out of its box, we were a bit baffled at what it was actually for. It didn’t look as fast or sharp as a road bike, yet it also didn’t look as capable as a gravel bike so where would you ride the thing? The answer is, rather unhelpfully, everywhere. It’ll eat up miles on the road as easily as it does off it. We wouldn’t suggest taking it on super gnarly gravel routes but it’ll cope with fire roads and the smoother end of gravel. We loved being able to string our normal road routes together with some light gravel to make a stimulating ride and the Roadmachine X One meant that we weren’t compromised on either. Throw some deeper section wheels and dedicated road tyres and it’ll be able to keep up with the pure road bikes. If we were forced into having just one bike in the garage, the Roadmachine X One would be very near the top of the shopping list.

Writing by Matt Buckley. Editing by Leon Poultney.