BMC teamed up with Red Bull Advanced Technologies to develop their next-generation Speedmachine prototype, calling the new TT & Tri bike the “World’s Fastest Race Bike”. Set to debut this weekend at the delayed Ironman World Championships, this first true “Formula One-style” race bike includes many of the wind-cheating aero features we’ve seen on other aero road, time trial, track & triathlon bikes, taken to a next level in the details…
BMC Red Bull Speedmachine World’s Fastest Race Bike prototype
BMC’s Swiss R&D Impec Lab has been working closely with Red Bull’s Advanced Technologies division for four years on this project to develop the next ‘world’s fastest race bike’. We got a glimpse of the partnership just over a month ago.
BMC brings to the table decades of aero road and race bike development expertise, plus the actual bike racing experience by way of their active ambassador and TT legend Fabian Cancellara. The Red Bull Advanced Technologies team on the other hand, brings unmatched aerodynamic simulation capabilities that include more complete whole-bike & race environment modeling than conventional bike design CFD, developed for the complexities of Formula One motorsports racing.
BMC Impec Lab x Red Bull Advanced Technologies development
Together, BMC’s Head of R&D Stefan Christ describes a complementary development process that allowed their design & engineering team in Grenchen, Switzerland to move more quickly from simulation to building their own prototypes in-house, to test the next-gen bike on the road.
Along the way, Cancellara has been involved in every step of the process, from refining the adaptable fit & positions on the bike to dialing in ride quality to maintain an aero tuck during long time trials and full-distancer triathlon racing. Cancellara described the BMC x Red Bull development collaboration as “amazing” from a rider’s perspective, saying “The finished prototype is incredible, and I look forward to what’s next” as the Speedmachine moves from a proof of concept triathlon bike now, ideally to a race-ready time trial bike.
UCI Approval pending?
As of now, this next-gen BMC Speedmachine prototype has not yet received UCI approval for time trial racing – although admittedly, the most recent updates on the UCI List of Approved Models of Framesets was from back in March 2022.
BMC hasn’t made any comments suggesting that is in the cards for this prototype. But Cancellara’s comments (and personal bike position setup, right above) hint that might be the direction the project is headed. And its frame shaping looks to stay within the more recently relaxed UCI design guidelines.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
BMC also hasn’t shared any technical details about the new Speedmachine prototype at all either.
In fact, they haven’t even named it officially, even though they did paint Speedmachine onto the toptube.
That new name makes sense though, as the evolution of aero road bikes has adopted the TimeMachine name that started out as a TT bike more than a decade ago. even the 10-year-old road racing TeamMachine has become more aero & integrated.
But a close look reveals a lot of interesting technical details, starting from the front with an integrated cockpit design with full-internal cable routing.
The new BMC Speedmachine prototype has an all-new fork and one-piece stem & basebar design that neatly integrates with the extended aero headtube. The semi-hourglass-shaped headtube transitions smoothly into both fork & stem profiles, with shaped fins on the downtube to guide airflow off of the fork crown.
The difference in cockpit setups between Nilsson & Cancellara also suggests that different aero basebars will be offered with varying heights to their outer grips, yet the same sleek profile that perfectly aligns with the top of the horizontal toptube.
The headtube itself looks fairly wide, in fact, wider at the top where it transitions into the top tube. Earlier prototypes suggested a conventional 1 1/8″ upper diameter of an assumed tapered steerer tube, so perhaps this wider space also allows for smooth bends of the internal routing around the steerer?
The prototype bike also features a wild, wide fork design with prominently squared-off, deep aero legs. Inside, the 26mm Pirelli P Zero Race TLR tubeless tires on deep DT Swiss ARC wheels look tiny by comparison, with plenty of extra space for undisturbed airflow. Plus, there’s a unique fin on the underside of the fork crown to direct air to the sides, over the aero downtube.
The main body of the frame is wider in its lower half, designed to mesh with an integrated storage box on the time trial version of the Speedmachine, and likely a special water bottle for a TT version.
The new bike also will be both 1x & 2x compatible, with a blank plate molded in the carbon frame for a front derailleur mount. Various versions of this final prototype included conventional road double gearing
Out back, a series of three bolts press an internal clamp against the aero seatpost in lieu of a conventional or wedge-style clamp. The proprietary aero setapost itself features a long horizontal rail on top to allow for wide TT-to-Tri saddle position adjustment.
Down below, we get a glimpse of how narrow the dropped aero-shaped seatstays are as they taper down to the wider chainstays. We also can see regular flat mount brake calipers, a replaceable derailleur hanger, and a thru-axle that is completely hidden on the bike’s driveside for a clean look, just like at the ends of the aero fork blades.
At first glance, the new BMC Speedmachine prototype doesn’t look so different than many other aero-optimized time trial, conventional triathl0pon, or aero road bikes. But in the details, it’s clear that BMC & Red Bull have refined this bike to boost its aerodynamic performance.
BMC x Red Bull Speedmachine prototype availability
As of now, this “World’s Fastest Race Bike” exists only as a time trial/triathlon bike exclusively available to BMC’s pro riders to test out in real-world racing. Red Bull Athlete & BMC Pro Triathlon Team Member Patrik Nilsson will race the Speedmachine prototype at the ‘2021 Ironman World Championship‘ which confusingly takes place this coming weekend in St. George, Utah after COVID delay last year.
After that, based on the more conventional TT position on Fabian Cancellara’s prototype, we expect to see the BMC Speedmachine make its transition to road time trial racing, as well.