BMC have just introduced the Masterpiece Roadmachine, hailed as a future icon, with an € 18,000 price tag. But can BMC’s carbon expertise and high-end manufacturing justify the price? Is it easy to quantify the value of a road bike like this to an individual? Where rational arguments cease, emotions come into play – and these will ultimately be decisive in how you respond to this bike.

Aesthetics, technology, art and poetry. Or pride, satisfaction and joy for life. There are some things you can’t put a price on. For many of us, a bike encapsulates these things. From that ancient, rickety bike you grew up with to your lust-worthy top-of-the-line road bike, they can all make you quiver. Admittedly, the price of the latter is more expensive but it’s all relative. Or is it? The question we are grappling with in this case is complex. Does said object of desire constitute such added value to my life that it justifies the astronomical price? In the case of the Masterpiece from BMC, are we only paying for the Swiss artisanry and decades of experience without which such a technologically advanced bike could never have existed?

Or is it something more? What is it about a Patek Philippe watch or an Eames Lounge Chair that fascinates us so much? A watch from Argos can tell you the time just as well and an Ikea armchair is just as comfortable. What is so special about BMC’s Mpc. that we’d be willing to splash out € 10,000 on the Masterpiece frameset, BMC’s custom seatpost and proprietary bars and stem over its standard counterpart? We set out to find the answer to this question and hit upon two fundamentally different schools of thought.

The rational approach – The head: An extraordinary frame

BMC set out to push the limits of what was deemed possible to create something deserving of the moniker Masterpiece that would outdo even their own high expectations. We’re talking a unique frame, manufactured with premium materials, painstakingly assembled by the world’s leading carbon fibre experts. For the Swiss brand, each Mpc. is the embodiment of what is feasible when cost, time and effort don’t factor into the equation. Each carbon frame is built as a true monocoque and moulded in one piece – not, as is common practice across the industry, by assembling individually constructed segments of the frame in a second moulding step. The single mould production of the Mpc. demands a level of expertise that very few possess. Unlike standard bicycle manufacturing, the carbon sheets are laminated directly into the mould, before a single cycle in the autoclave, where temperature and pressure are precisely controlled to further ensure quality.

The adoption of such a complex procedure limits BMC to producing a single frame per day. Nonetheless, with such attention to detail BMC have eradicated the need for any of the usual further finishing work on the frameset, like final sanding.

Coming into direct contact with the silky-soft carbon surface is both surprising and fascinating. The pure aesthetic of the matte carbon has a visual depth and organic feel. Like a raw diamond, it exudes luxury without the bling-bling. Instead, it’s timeless understatement with an edge, leaving nothing to distract you from the beauty of the material and the shape of the tubes. BMC have estimated that they’ll create just 100 150 of these frames per year, at limited locations including their HQ in Northern Switzerland and its American counterpart, as well as three further Masterpiece boutiques across the globe.

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value
of nothing.
(Oscar Wilde)

The emotional approach – The heart: Is it worth it?

It would be easy to dive further into the details of the complex manufacturing process and attempt to justify the price on a pragmatic, costed accounting. But it would be futile. From whatever angle we look at it, we hit a brick wall. Objects like this cannot be judged on price. You have to weigh up the value for your own life. Here’s where the Mpc. appeals to your emotional side. A watch, an armchair, a bike – or any ordinary object that adorns our daily life – can become an item of lust, pulling on your heartstrings through the extravagant way it is made, the fact of its own scarcity, or by its unusual story.

The extent it moves you, or not, as the case may be, is wholly personal. By implication, those who are entirely unmoved by a product, impervious to an object’s intangible values, will consider any and all price tags too high. The amount we’d be willing to pay is therefore individual.

€18,000 for a bike. A price that renders you speechless at first. But the more you look into it, the more you realise that value cannot be measured in numbers. Emotions count. They add up. In the same way that when buying a precious watch, you are not only paying for the impeccable artisanry but for the aesthetics, purism and sense that you now own something truly marvellous, a Masterpiece Roadmachine from BMC is aimed at stirring these feelings in you. So, in the end, the decision is easy and it will be based entirely on your own, very personal value system. Determining whether the price tag is right is out of our remit – it’s more likely that your heart will decide whether you’ll be one of the few to own a Masterpiece.

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Words: Susanne Feddersen Photos: Benjamin Topf