BMC team machine SLR01 First Ride

BMC team machine SLR01

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Seems a rather apt way to sum up BMC bikes in the past, which have always left me feeling a little, well undecided about whether the unique lug/frame design works for me.

The new teammachine changes all this. It’s still an striking looker compared to the usual curved-tube fare seen on most other bikes, but with its near-horizontal top tube and small rear triangle, angular lug-free tube profiles and understated paint job, it wouldn’t look out of place in a modern art gallery.

The teammachine is the latest from the Swiss company, which was founded in 1986. It replaces the promachine SCL01 at the top of the BMC road bike range. The new frame ushers in the ‘Tuned Compliance Concept’ which sees a combination of features that work in unison to give the bike a comfortable ride. These include the super skinny seat stays, unique seatpost and all-new fork.

It’s light too. A reported weight of just 860g for a 55cm frame is impressive and puts it right on the money when compared to similarly price-pegged bikes. This low weight has been helped by the loss of metal inserts in places such as the headset bearing cups, which are now carbon, and by using carbon dropouts and cable stops. Stiffness is assured with a BB30 bottom bracket, large profile chainstays and a wide downtube and tapered headtube, so it should please even the most demanding riders.

Setting the bike up was easy. The two-bolt seatpost uses an internal cam system which requires a quarter turn of a 5mm Allen key to loosen, and there are height markers on the rear of the post. Because the supplied post offers only 5mm of offset, I had to swap the stem for a longer 13cm item to achieve the desired reach. A post with increased offset is available.

Out on the road and it really shines. I’ve only been riding it for a couple of weeks, but every time I step off it I’m left impressed, and I always find myself taking a moment just to look the bike up and down. Combined with the SRAM RED groupset, it’s impressively light and that lack of mass makes the SLR01 something of a mountain goat, even with me powering it.

Its comfort is outstanding on numerous rough surfaces from rough country lanes to the cobbles of Belgium, but turn up the speed and the bike responds with the immediacy I would expect of a bike designed to compete in the upper echelon of performance road bikes. It’s almost uncanny how it manages to combine the level of stiffness I want from a road frame yet does so without battering my body to a million pieces as soon as a few bumps or holes are encountered. It feels silky smooth on all road surfaces, and reminds me of the Cervelo R3 I tested last year.

The only blight on an otherwise top shelf package has been the flexy Easton EA90 wheelset. These wheels imposed the only handicap on an otherwise impeccable ride, feeling noticeably flexy (their flexiness undoubtedly made even more stark due to the stiff frame) and vague when pushing hard through corners in a criterium race recently. A change of wheels is on the cards then…

BMC teammachine SLR01 £4299.99, sizes 50cm, 53cm, 55cm, 57c, 60cm

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