Gear News

BMC unveils three new road bikes for model year 2015

New Team Machine SLR03, Granfondo GF02 carbon, and Crossmachine CX01

BMC Team Machine SLR03 Tiagra – first ride

We climbed aboard the middle of the range Team Machine SLR03, equipped with a full Shimano Tiagra groupset, and headed out for a few laps of a roughly 10km circuit from postcard pretty Lenzerheide.

We put the BMC Team Machine SLR03 Tiagra through its paces in postcard pretty (and hilly) Lenzerheide. pic: ©Oliver Burgess/BMC

The resort is surrounded by soaring peaks, and while BMC’s loop didn’t take us into the high mountains, it included a useful ascent to 800m, and a twisting, technical descent back down again. The road back to the hotel was flat, but beset by headwinds. While a longer test would be required to draw any lasting conclusions, the mix of climbing, descending, and wind-whipped flatlands gave us a useful taster of what the SLR03 might deliver.

The first thing to note is the geometry: identical to the SLR02, we were told, and only marginally less aggressive than the flagship SLR01 (the charts revealed them to be damn near identical). We rode the 51cm bike, where the greatest impression was created by the 535mm top tube, which contributed to an aggressive position entirely befitting the SLR03’s role.

On the climb – a gently curving ramp of around 3km, pitched at a challenging rather than excessive gradient, taken mostly out of the saddle – the SLR03 proved a willing accomplice. Its natural zest made, ahem, light of its 8.8kg heft. In short, it climbed like a lighter machine, a pleasing quality that might be exaggerated with a lighter and stiffer wheelset than the supplied Shimano R501s.

RCUK joined an international press pack to test the BMC Team Machine SLR03 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. pic: ©Oliver Burgess/BMC

The descent cast the frameset in a better light than the Tiagra brakes, which frankly weren’t up to the job.

On a more positive note, the chassis proved itself more than equal to the task: no great surprise to this correspondent, who descended from the summit of the 2,383m Flüela Pass en route to nearby Davos just two weeks earlier aboard the Team Machine SLR01.

While falling just short of the pinsharp handling offered by its senior sibling, the SLR03 was entirely competent, taking the challenge of a narrow, steeply declining road with a changeable surface, tight turns (including one hairpin), and oncoming traffic in its stride.

On the flat road back to Lenzerheide, we again found time to appreciate the SLR03’s defiantly race-oriented geometry, falling easily into the drops as a defence against the headwind. The long, low position was a boon, and even up on the hoods with elbows bent it was naturally inclined to the search for a suitably aerodynamic position.

The SLR03 chassis unquestionably carries the pedigree of its senior siblings in BMC’s Altitude series. With better brakes and wheels the Tiagra model would sing, and might entirely meet the brand’s billing as ‘race ready’. Perhaps the 105 version already does.

To complete our compare and contrast exercise, we returned the SLR03 and headed out immediately aboard an SLR01. While the flagship bike is superior in every regard (the significant difference in weight was as screamingly obvious on the climb as the gulf in the modulation of Dura-Ace and Tiagra brakes revealed by the descent), the handling is almost identical, and this quality alone should make the SLR03 an attractive proposition for the aspirant racer, café or club.

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