Almost a year ago, at the 2014 Euro-Bike, we got a first look at BMC's latest re-entry into the world of cyclocross with their carbon fiber CrossMachine CX01. Although the frame was still in the prototype phase, with the small details being ironed out, the model was an exciting prospect into the future direction of BMC, as the company had gone years without a model ready to tackle the cyclocross course or gravel race.
The geometry of the newest CX01 was similar to BMC's GranFondo that the company has been selling over the last few years, however, the tube shape selection mirrored the company's TeamMachine SLR01, which is BMC's time trails model. Unlike the older GranFondos, both the CrossMachine and TimeMachine use BMC's Accelerated Composites Evolution Technology (ACE) design process. ACE is what BMC calls "a reiterative computer modeling program electronically prototyped more than 34,000 possible frame configurations with the goal of optimizing geometry, tube cross sections, carbon lay-up, ride quality, and handling characteristics."
For 2016, BMC is not only offering the full-carbon CrossMachine CX01, but has recently unveiled its CrossMachine CXA01, an aluminum frame with a cabon fork for the value-conscious cyclocross racers. The company calls it a versatile machine designed for cyclocross and gravel races, and it recently sent us a CXA01, priced at $2,399, to give a comprehensive test, and today we offer an "in review" look of the model.
BMC CrossMachine CXA01 105 Frame
The CrossMachine CXA01 is built with triple-butted alloy tube shaping, and is designed for disc brakes. The frame is finished with a glossy silver color the company calls Shark, which seeks to inspire the bloodthirsty competitive nature in all cyclocross racers. The shape of the tubes are iconic to the BMC brand, with bold shapes and edges defining the top tube, down tube and chainstays. Much like the carbon fiber frames designed by BMC, the seat tube and top tube are joined with a bridge that flows with the design of frame's seatstays.
The chainstays measure out to 425mm, with an overall wheelbase of 1016mm for our 56cm testing model. The bottom bracket drop on the frame is 68mm, over 5mm lower than the geometry of the company's carbon fiber CrossMachine CX01 model. The aluminum model is not only appealing to some of the sensibilities of the faster American cyclocross courses, but also looking to offer a more stable ride for the long gravel roads. The bottom bracket shell itself is designed for a BSA threaded bottom bracket.
The frame is finished off with the full carbon fork that is also used on BMC's CX01, which has a 1-1/8'' to 1-1/2'' tapered steerer tube. In kind, also uses BMC's in-house TCC carbon fiber seatpost, 27.2mm in size, for some of the longer days in the saddle. The company declares a claimed weight of 1260g for a size 54 frame, and this includes the weights of some interesting add-ons, including removable hardware that allows for fenders and racks. The frame is designed for postmount 160mm disc brake rotors.
BMC suggests a maximum tire clearance for 35mm tires, which might prevent a few gravel cyclists who preferred some of our larger volume tubeless gravel tires we reviewed for Issue 29 from using their tire of choice. The CXA01 does not mirror the sizes offered by its full carbon fiber brother, and comes in 48, 51, 54, 56, 58 and 61.
BMC CrossMachine CXA01 105 Build
The BMC CrossMachine CXA01 105 comes with Shimano 105 5800 shifters and derailleurs, and as Clifford Lee has argued for in the past, this 11-speed group offers racing performance on a budget, perfect for the cyclist workingman. The drivetrain is finished off with the heavier Shimano FC-RS500 crankset mated with 46/36 chainrings, a combination that we've seen before on value-minded bikes such as the Bianchi Zolder we reviewed in Issue 29.
RS685 levers and R785 calipers supply the braking power to 160mm rotors both front and rear, which are installed on DT Swiss X-1900 Spline front and rear wheels with a Centerlock system. Continental Cyclocross Speed 700 x 35c clincher tires come stock on the wheels, which is the maximum tire width recommended by BMC. This choice in tire width also shows that the company is being slightly conservative with its recommendations, as there is more space for a larger tire, especially in the rear of the bike.
The cockpit is finished with in-house BMC RSM 03 handlebars and a RDB 3 stem, while saddle duty is accomplished by a Selle Royal Saba, which offers a padded ride.
Stay tuned for a full review in Issue 30, and use the slider below for more photos and full specs. More info: bmc-switzerland.com