Eurobike: BMC Impec Concept bike a look into the future?

Features include internal gearbox and new way to carry water


Eurobike RoadBikeReview

BMC Concept Bike

Renderings of the BMC Impec Concept bike lend to its space age look.

In an effort to both show off the capabilities of its in-house advanced R&D lab, and provide a glimpse of what the aero road bike of the future might look like, BMC pulled back the curtain on a supremely tricked out concept bike at the Eurobike Trade Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, this week.

This “space age” disc-brake equipped steed is the product of the company’s Impec Advanced R&D Lab in Grenchen, Switzerland, which BMC claims gives it access to technology no other bike manufacturer has. The lab contains fully-automated machinery, 3D CNC capabilities, countless frame jigs, injection mold tooling, hand laminate tooling, and advanced engineering software. Or put another way, BMC can turn ideas (no matter how wild they may be) into reality — and do it in a hurry.

In this case, the wild idea is a proof-of-concept bike that was churned out in about four months. And though it’s encased inside a glass box at the trade show, BMC insists this Tron’like machine is a rideable prototype, not just a life-size plastic model. Just don’t expect it to show up at your local bike shop anytime soon.

BMC Concept Bike

Test rides were verboten, but the BMC test bike still drew a crowd at Eurobike.

“The bike is a proof of concept of what goes on in our research and development lab,” said Stefan Christ, BMC’s head of product. “We can create rideable prototypes within days. This allows us to push the limits of our imagination and break the rules of traditional manufacturing. Once we have prototypes in our hands, we can quickly assess the results and reiterate until we get it right. We also found other uses for existing structures such as turning the down tube and seat tube fairings into batteries, storage, or hydration solutions. This makes it a highly functional yet aesthetically pleasing end-product.”

The bike certainly is a looker. And we love the fact that BMC answers the question of why by saying in part, “to explore what a high-end aero road bike could possibly look like if you ignore industry standards, current construction methods, and UCI rules.” Yeah, who needs the damn UCI rules anyway. Seriously.

Integrated gearbox drivetrain cockpit side concept bike

Look Ma, only one chainstay and only one fork blade.

Highlight features include a modular concept where riders (or maybe pilots is a better term) can choose between an internal gearbox or electric motor. Down tube and seat tube fairings double as batteries, and fairings both enhance aerodynamics and allow for full integration of cables, tools, pump, and even water carrying. Could the water bottle cage go the way of the dodo bird?

BMC’s concept bike also harkens backwards, utilizing a single-sided fork and chainstay concept similar to the Lotus Super Bike that British cycling star Chris Boardman won Olympic track gold on in the 1992 Olympics. And yes, you read that right, there is only one fork leg and one chainstay. Heady stuff.

Same goes for the twin stem and seat post concepts, which are designed to maintain stiffness, but enhance aerodynamics. There’s even a new take on the saddle where the shell attaches directly to the seat post, as opposed to the traditional shell-rail-clamp arrangement. Again, lighter weight, less drag, more cool.

side view concept bike

The split-stem improves aerodynamics while maintaining stiffness.

Lower down, air intake ports are designed to keep brake calipers cool and covered for aerodynamics without hampering braking effectiveness. And the aforementioned integrated gearbox replaces traditional derailleur gears, which results in reduced drag and lowered maintenance.

Of course it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see a production version of this exact bike. But there are plenty of interesting ideas that will surely be appearing on bikes in the years to come. Well done, BMC.

This article is part of RoadBikeReviews’s coverage of the 2014 Eurobike trade show in Freidrichschafen, Germany. For more from Eurobike CLICK HERE.

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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  • morpheous says:

    This should be sufficient to start a holy war…..;-)

  • EchtoGammut says:

    I would love to see this kind of innovation come back to cycling. Just because a couple of old guys got that panties in bunch during the Olympics back when and bought their way into the UCI, shouldn’t mean that cycling should suffer. At this point I think manufactures need to start demanding the UCI change or they will pull out / start their own organization.

  • DrSmile says:

    This looks like a 1980s concept bike. Since when are single chainstays and fork legs novel? Ok it has discs… whoop dee doo! No innovation here, unless you consider turning a bike into a moped innovative.

  • abe says:

    Internal gearbox or electric motor, so basically it is an electric moped. Nothing new, looks like a Honda scooter concept from years ago

  • MLuzzana says:

    there is a huge inconsistency in aero terms between the mono fork stays and the split seat and stem “blades”! The guys at BMC R&D should do their homeworks. May I suggest they read Mike Burrows “bicycle design”?

  • Joel says:

    If we’re ignoring pesky things like UCI rules, is there any benefit this machine has over, say, a velomobile? I’m not seeing any…

  • Jerry says:

    Very cool bike. Some of the ideas are very new and exciting, while others have been around for quite awhile. The fairings, allowing things to be stored in the down tube and seat tube, are a nice touch. The single bladed fork. Hmmmm, isn’t that what Cannondale has had on some of their mountain bikes and the Bad Boy for years? As far as internal gearing with a shaft drive? Let me see, I think motorcycles have had that for decades. Disc brakes? ‘Bout damned time! Why does it take so long for these technologies to be brought to the cycling industry? Seems to be all because of the UCI. Screw them,

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