BMC Alpenchallenge AC01: World’s Fastest City Bike?

Eurobike Urban

World’s fastest? Who knows. But this rocket ship will certainly get you to work on time.

What happens when a company steeped in road racing tradition turns its design eyes toward making a top-end city bike? You get a commuter steed that is built for speed. Meet the BMC Alpenchallenge AC01, a bike BMC’s lifestyle product manager Terrance “T.K” Malone calls the “world’s fastest city bike.”

We’re not going to spend a lot of time crunching those numbers. With the rising wave of commuter’centric eBikes hitting the market, it’s a tough statement to verify. But we can say that the top-end Alpenchallenge AC01, which comes spec’d with an 11-speed internal Shimano Alfine drivetrain, Di2 electronic shifting, and a Gates Carbon belt drive, won’t leave you flat footed at a traffic light.

“At BMC the key, core value is racing,” explained Malone during Demo Day at the Eurobike trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. “So as a brand we decided we couldn’t be in the business of building a versatile and fashionable city bike with a kick stand and luggage carriers. That doesn’t mesh with our racing ethos.”

Instead, the revamped version of the longest running model name within the BMC product umbrella has taken elements of construction from its road bikes and put them into this get-to-work green-light catcher. “We wanted this to be the fastest city bike,” added Malone. “It looks fast, feels fast, and adapts to conditions fast.”

Aiding in that adaptation is a frame design that takes many of its design cues from BMC’s Gran Fondo endurance bikes and even the Time Machine aero offering. That means similar compliance zones, says Malone, as well as a cut out seat tube. The chainstay length is also relatively short for a city bike, stretching the tape measure to just 412mm, the same as the Gran Fondo. “Most competing city bikes are an inch or so longer,” said Malone. “This bike is much more agile. So you get road bike handling while not giving up functionality.”

Besides adding aero efficiency, the cut out seat tube allows for easier fender installation, a must for many bike commuters. There are threaded mounts where a fender can attach direct to the frame, and you can still run tires up to 32mm. The top end model also comes with a carbon fork that was designed in conjunction with the frame for increased tire and fender clearance.

No lube necessary means no grease on your fancy trousers.

Not to be forgotten is the Gates Carbon belt drive system, which reduces required maintenance (no periodic lube necessary) and wont leave grease stains on your business suit. The Gates drive is also quieter and about 240 grams lighter than a traditional chain drive system.

Malone even went so far as to point out that the Alpenchallenge AC01 is the BMC pro racing team’s official commuter bike and is used by its press officer to move around the finish line of races. We cant imagine we’ll see the corresponding ad campaign anytime soon. But having some kind of get-around bike is a lot better than running alongside riders to shield them from the media after they’ve crossed the finish line.

The new Alpenchallenge AC01 comes with seven different specs, ranging from a Shimano Sora equipped model for $1,500, to SRAM XX1 or the internally geared Di2 belt drive model for $5,000.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • Feanor says:

    I’d be curious to know how this compares with the Shand Stoater Plus, performance wise. I’ve been thinking of ordering one with the Shimano 11 di2 for a while.

  • I read somewhere that belt drive AND internal gearing are lots less efficient than a chain and derailleurs?

    I’ll stick with an RM01

  • aclinjury says:

    oh look, a $5000 aluminum rigid mountain bike with skinny tires. What a steal.

  • Boulder cyclis says:

    I own the top AC01 X1 SRAM and find this bike in a class of its own. Totally fast, fun, agile, versatile. Allows a true race bike feel wearing street clothes. Try that on your Colnago C59. A $4000 aluminum bike? Yes, but highly engineered with many world class integratd features. With the Belgian fenders and the Sparse lights, it is by far the coolest commute or urban bike anywhere that gets attention. Only downside: too nice to lock and leave in a theft risen city.

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