BMC Team Machine SLR01 – review

The precision of Swiss timing extends from watch making to trains arriving at the second they are expected.

To the outside world, the Swiss deliver a series of logical steps that produce an efficient system. BMC have taken this national work ethos and injected it into bicycles.

The BMC Team Machine SLR01 absorbs much of the modern technology available to bolt on to a frame but the core of this bike, the BMC in this bike, is the woven carbon. The supplied 57cm frame fitted our 6’1″ test rider with the saddle set forward somewhat.

Shimano provide their Ultegra Di2 shifting combined with the standard friction and drive systems, BMC have opted to position the battery unit at the base of the down tube: a sensible choice and one that not only reduces the visual impact but makes servicing and charging straight forward. The Di2 is great to use, the auto trim works a treat, and when pushing hard, the gears still shifted smoothly. Easton’s EA and EC ranges combine to form the stem and handlebars respectively. The EC90 carbon bar has a round profile and traditioinal drop shape. They are comfortable, both on the tops and drops. Width is also accurately perceived by BMC and these handlebars fitted the 44\’94 shoulders of the test rider well. Saddles are of personal preference but one of the most popular tops out this bike: the Arione from Fi:Zik, a favourite of many.

Frame design is about balance, giving the rider poise and power transfer but maintaining comfort while in the saddle for hours on end. A visual inspection of this bike would suggest that the bike sways more to the power, speed and poise of a rider rather than their comfort over distance, it does however offer a more balanced ride.

BMC have developed the Tuned Compliance Concept to deliver comfort at speed across their range of road bikes. The combination of stiff structures close to the mainframe with tapered narrower sections stretching to the wheel centres is the simplest way to describe the concept. Combined with the use of specific weaves across other frame sections comfort is maintained and even across the roughest of terrain the hands received little pounding and saddle comfort was maintained on a long days riding. The downtube is large and serves to maintain a solid base for the frame it splits into two tall and rigid chainstays via a BB86 bottom bracket. The square profile seat tube connects the backbone of the frame to the top tube with the short truss bridging the two and firming up the upper frame.

When out on the first ride the most noticeable feature of the frame is the head angle; for a bike of this pedigree it feels relaxed. This doesn’t however equate to slow reactions but stability and confidence. When cornering,  both through tight turns and at speed the bike feels solid but remains alive. The delivery of power through the frame feels accurate and measured, acceleration is rewarded and only encourages you to push harder. This is partly down to the geometry, a short rear and places the rear wheel under the rider and stiff chain stays transfer the power. Though power and rigidity are important comfort must be taken care of, with the seat stays exiting lower down the seat tube the balance in the length and thickness of the stays forms the comfortable nature of this ride within the small rear triangle. The narrow seatstays combine and meet the frame in a flat section, the two fingers of carbon held together like this maintains a rigid connection to the frame. This principle is carried forward to the forks, a stiff crown narrows to the thinner fork blades aiding front end compliance. Wheels, tyres and road conditions all play their parts but the frame defines the effectiveness of the system and ultimately BMC have controlled the tools and technology available to them to hone a superb frame.

Easton EA90 SLX wheels proved a good match for the bike: stiff and light, and absorbent of any bumps we encountered; a good match for BMC’s Tuned Compliance Concept. The EA90 SLX freehub was quick to engage. This is not a wheelset we’d seek to upgrade, unless you’re specifically seeking an aero rim for time trial duties.

Some may think that the seemingly unnatural frame geometry of a short rear end and longer front end will not fit or feel right, however this frame is easily accustomed by a new rider who is then rewarded with speed, comfort and power.

The BMC Team Machine SLR01 costs £4999 and is available in six sizes from 47cm to 60cm.

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