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BMC Teammachine SLR01 One review

9 Feb 2021
Verdict:

The new BMC Teammachine SLR01 is a brilliant example of a modern race bike. Photography: Mike Massaro

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Stiffness • Weight • Handling
Against 
Comfort imbalance between seatpost and cockpit

Bike building is a lot like baking. As much art as it is science, experience is everything and the slightest deviation from a trusted recipe can have quite catastrophic results. A soggy bottom is just as undesirable on a race bike as it is on a roulade.

BMC therefore took a huge risk with its latest Teammachine by attempting to factor aerodynamics into an already highly refined formula. It’s an ingredient that is notoriously disruptive in any design, let alone in one as established as BMC’s flagship race bike.

It is the front of the bike that has received the most treatment in the drag-reduction department. The new Teammachine takes cues from BMC’s Timemachine Road aero race bike, with a head tube and down tube that have been stretched front-to-back to adopt kamm-tail shapes in profile.

The forks have been similarly changed and are now thinner and deeper. An extra scoop of slipperiness is said to come from the impeccably tidy ICS carbon cockpit. It pairs with a flattened steerer to guide cables internally into the frame.

All told the new bike is claimed to be 6% faster at race speeds on the flat than the previous design, and BMC believes the new Teammachine is almost on par in terms of aerodynamics with the Timemachine Road.

Indirect advantages

If you’re a pro, anything that makes you faster is a worthy investment, but I am rarely riding at those kinds of speeds so the performance improvements on offer for the likes of me are not as high as 6%.

Indeed I can’t say I noticed the effects of the changes much. What did impress me, however, was BMC has managed to make these changes to the frame design without adversely affecting the Teammachine’s excellent pre-existing handling and stiffness traits, its overall weight or comfort levels.

Aero profiles and flattened steerers are inherently less stiff, as Cyclist recognised in testing the Timemachine Road back in issue 84, yet this bike handles just as precisely as its predecessor.

BMC says it recognised the issue in the Timemachine Road so has rectified it here by enlarging the clamping height of the stem and creating special ‘half moon’ spacers to fit between the stem and the head tube that connect securely to combat torsional movement. The head tube plays its part too.

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I daresay BMC could have squeezed extra aero gains out of it by slimming it down as well as elongating it. However by stretching it backwards while preserving its width the brand has actually improved the tube’s stiffness by a claimed 10%.

Buy the BMC Teammachine SLR01

Coupled with BMC’s tried-and-tested race geometry, the stiff front end makes the bike delightfully reactive, allowing it to dodge potholes with ease. BMC says the frame has been fortified even more at the rear triangle, with stiffness up 20%.

The gains at both ends lent the bike a wonderfully cohesive feel, with pedal stomps and bar wrenches working in synergy to propel me forwards rapidly.

Using the well-worn (but ultimately credible) ‘advancements in the carbon layup’ explanation, BMC says it has achieved these improvements in stiffness without affecting weight. A painted medium frame continues to hover around the 820g mark, however savings in a revised seat clamp, fork crown and cockpit mean the complete frameset is said to be 150g lighter this time around.

It means a UCI rule-flouting sub-6.8kg bike is easy to build up. That light weight combined with the Teammachine’s stiffness means it accelerates like a stallion who’s just been given a whiff of smelling salts and a slap on the haunch.

It also means the Teammachine remains fairly unforgiving when it comes to comfort, but to the bike’s credit I never found the feedback came across in an unsettling way. If anything, in contrast to the bike’s stiffness, its comfort was perhaps a little mismatched from front to back.

BMC says it purposefully cedes weight in its seatpost by using heavier fibres that are more flexible. That did a stirling job of improving comfort towards the back of the bike, whereas to save so much weight in the cockpit BMC had to use very stiff fibres that don’t do as good a job at dissipating vibrations up front.

Overall though, that perceived drawback is minor and potentially irrelevant to the racers this bike is designed for. I came away from my time on the bike with the impression that despite the extra ingredients now in the mix, BMC’s Teammachine remains a showstopper.

Buy the BMC Teammachine SLR01

Alternatively, buy the BMC Teammachine SLR02 from Tredz now

Pick of the kit

Met Trenta 3K Carbon helmet, £270, met-helmets.com

The Trenta 3K was the first helmet to use carbon fibre for a claimed structural advantage. Apparently the attributes of this helmet’s carbon skeleton allowed Met to reduce the density of the EPS foam, making it lighter but just as strong.

Luckily I haven’t had an opportunity to test this claim but I’d still like to see MIPS technology included as well. It would bring the Trenta in line with every other helmet at the price point. Safety aside, the lid is light, airy and comfortable. The lacquered carbon weave on show is a rather fetching feature too.

Buy the Met Trenta 3K carbon helmet from Wiggle now

Alternatively…

Bargain hunters beware

The Teammachine SLR01 is typically Swiss in high-quality execution, but also typically Swiss in terms of pricing. The SLR01 Four is the ‘most accessible’ version of the new Teammachine at £6,500

Buy the BMC Teammachine SLR01 Four from Sigma Sports now

Thinking person’s BMC

If you want to trade raciness for a bit more comfort, the Roadmachine 01 One is still aero but uses a less aggressive geometry and is probably a better option for regular riders with a £10,000 budget.

Buy the BMC Roadmachine 01 One from Tredz now

Spec

Frame BMC Teammachine SLR01 One
Groupset Sram Red eTap AXS
Brakes Sram Red eTap AXS
Chainset Sram Red eTap AXS
Cassette Sram Red eTap AXS
Bars BMC ICS Carbon cockpit
Stem BMC ICS Carbon cockpit
Seatpost BMC Teammachine 01 Premium Carbon
Saddle Selle Italia Flite Boost
Wheels DT Swiss PRC 1100 Dicut Mon Chasseral, Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres 
Weight 6.79kg (56cm)
Contact zyrofisher.co.uk

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£10,250

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