Ben O’Connor has been riding a prototype BMC aero bike at the 2023 Tour de France. The same bike was also spotted at this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné.
We don’t know what the new bike is called and there’s no official word from BMC yet, but the aggressive frame shapes indicate this is clearly a new aero bike.
Could this be a replacement for the BMC Timemachine? That model hasn’t been updated since 2019, so we think there’s a good chance this will be the latest version of BMC’s aero road bike.
Let’s take a closer look at O’Connor’s bike from the Tour de France.
Aero tech in collaboration with Red Bull
The new frame looks to have exploited the latest slackening of the UCI’s frame geometry rules to deepen the frame profiles, particularly around the head tube.
Despite its aero profiling, we weighed O’Connor’s size 58cm bike at an impressively light 7.34kg.
The bike has been developed in partnership between BMC and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, as evidenced by the logos on the down tube and the fork legs.
Red Bull Advanced Technologies is involved in Formula One aerodynamic modelling and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations.
It’s been working with BMC since 2018 to use motor racing know-how in cycle racing.
Red Bull Advanced Technologies says its aerodynamics team has used its CFD expertise to model bike behaviour, as well as enlisting the help of Fabian Cancellara in its projects.
However, given that BMC remains tight-lipped about the new bike, we don’t know Red Bull’s specific involvement in the development of this machine.
The new bike has a one-piece bar/stem design. We reckon this is the same design (or one very similar) as seen on the BMC Kaius aero gravel race bike.
Gravel racing as a test bed for the Tour de France? Who’d have thought it.
The bike’s down tube is narrow at its top end, but widens out significantly lower down, likely to provide some aerodynamic shielding for the Elite Fly bottles on O’Connor’s bike.
There are mismatched bottle cages on the Aussie star’s bike – a BMC Aerocore cage on the down tube, which is designed to improve airflow by integrating with the frame, is paired with a 17g Elite Leggero Carbon cage on the seat tube.
Even the race number holder has got into the aero act, with a design that slots into the seat tube junction, rather than being separately bolted onto the seatpost.
We’d guess the retail bikes get a simpler wedge design.
Latest Super Record Wireless groupset – at least in part
AG2R Citroen is the only WorldTour team sponsored by Campagnolo this year.
O’Connor is using the latest Campagnolo Super Record Wireless 12-speed groupset.
This follows SRAM’s example and uses cassettes with a 10-tooth smallest sprocket, with the widest range option going up to 29 teeth.
As with SRAM, Campagnolo pairs this with smaller 50/34t, 48/32t and 45/29t chainring options, to give similar ratios to conventional standard, semi-compact and compact cranksets.
That’s great for us mortals, but the pros like the option to push larger gears, or at least to ride similar gears but nearer the middle of the cassette for a more efficient chainline.
As we speculated in our Tour de France 2023 bikes preview, AG2R Citroen has mixed the new Super Record Wireless with the older Super Record EPS chainset to provide higher gearing.
In O’Connor’s case, that means using the 54/39t Power2Max power meter-equipped crankset from the previous generation groupset.
Non-tubeless wheel set-up
When we saw O’Connor’s bike at the Grand Départ in Bilbao, it wasn’t set up tubeless, despite the Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45 wheelset using the brand’s 2-Way Fit tubeless-ready (and inner tube-compatible) rims.
They were fitted with 28c Pirelli P-Zero Race tyres at the time, which we measured at a 30.2mm actual width – reflective of the trend for wide tyres at this year’s race.
There’s likely to be a slight weight advantage in using the thinner-walled, non-tubeless Pirelli P-Zero tyres and not needing sealant, particularly if O’Connor is using TPU or latex tubes.
Pirelli quotes a 225g weight for the 28c non-tubeless P-Zero Race tyre against 295g for the tubeless tyre.
Ben O’Connor’s prototype BMC | Specs
- Frameset: Prototype BMC, size 58cm
- Groupset: Campagnolo Super Record Wireless (54/39t crankset, 10-29t cassette)
- Wheelset: Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45
- Power meter: Power2Max
- Tyres: Pirelli P-Zero Race tubed clincher, 28c (measured width 30.2mm)
- Handlebar: BMC ICS Carbon Aero one piece (36cm handlebar width, 14cm stem length)
- Seatpost: BMC carbon
- Saddle: Fizik Antares Versus Evo R1
- Bottle cages: BMC Aerocore/Elite Leggero Carbon
- Pedals: Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic
- Weight: 7.34kg