From time to time, brands grant themselves free rein to indulge in an ultimate passion project, for once ignoring the accountants’ stifling penny pinching grip. When BMC, the multiple World Championship and Tour de France-winning Swiss bike brand, set out to build its Masterpiece, it also softened the influence of gram-counting, aerodynamic-obsessed engineers (and customers, for that matter). This was, after all, primarily to be a thing of beauty built by craftsmen; a one-off unlike anything it had ever produced.
So what is the BMC Masterpiece?
The team behind BMC set out to make the purest and most beautiful carbon frame bike possible. Most carbon bikes, as well as being made in Asia, use preformed shapes which are assembled together like a jigsaw using overlaid patches of carbon to complete the frame. This is a much quicker and more profitable way of making bikes but the end result can rarely be described as beautiful.
The Masterpiece, however, is handmade in Germany by highly skilled craftsmen in a single mould, meaning the bike is one piece of carbon. This is the purest way to make a carbon bike and is an exceptionally time consuming and costly process – hence why it is so unusual. Each bike takes the factory an entire day to make and when it comes out of the mould, it is already perfectly finished and requires no further treatment, such as sanding, a clear coat or painting, to cover any impurities.
What’s it like to ride?
BMC has three models specifically for the road – the Teammachine (its top end lightweight performance bike used by pro teams across the world); the aerodynamic Timemachine built for time trials or triathlons and the Roadmachine – its endurance-oriented all-rounder for long days in the saddle on regular pot-holed roads.
The Roadmachine is the mould it decided to use for the Masterpiece – after all, at £9,000 the target customer isn’t going to be a pro rider or out and out performance-led customer. Rather, this is an indulgence for those with a genuine passion for bikes wanting a work of art, an object of beauty that could even be hung on a wall and admired between rides. The riding experience offered by the Masterpiece – almost identical to that of the original Roadmachine – is more comfortable and forgiving, ideal for weekend rides, Sportives and Fondus.
How much does it cost?
Each Masterpiece is handmade to order and it’ll be around 4-6 weeks before you take delivery. The frame alone costs £9,000, which includes the seatpost and stem. Fully built (wheels, gears and all) in the ‘house blend’, it will cost you a smidge over £16,000. Clearly, it’s for the well heeled cyclist and, as such, this is a very exclusive bike that’ll likely only exist in numbers of a hundred or so.
Should you like to see one in the flesh before you buy, you’ll need to head to BMC’s Swiss headquarters in Grenchen, otherwise you’ll find it at one shop in Switzerland and one in South Korea. There are BMC dealers in the UK through whom you can order the bike and have it built exactly to your specification.
Is it worth it?
If your focus is on technicalities, such as aerodynamics, weight and stiffness, and you’re looking for the fastest bike possible – the Masterpiece won’t be for you. There are many other options out there that will cost you significantly less and be better on all these fronts. However, if you have a soft spot for detail, aesthetic and craftsmanship (and have pockets deep enough) the Masterpiece may be just the bike you’re looking for.
Buy one and you’ll be joining a very exclusive club as the custodian of a beautiful, and capable, bike that will last you a lifetime. You’ll be riding on one of the rarest and most exclusive production bikes anywhere in the world.