Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to our eyes the Swiss company BMC have created a masterpiece in rolling sculpture, probably the best looking bike ever made. Just run your eyes along the top- tube and you can see the T section tubing that is tuned to take the buzz out of poor road surfaces...
The Pro Machine SLC01 has the world's first frame to be made entirely using Easton CNT nanotechnology, promising greater strength and reliability. It's a true one-piece carbon construction, as opposed to tubes that are mitred and then wrapped where they join with a reinforcing layer.
What really sets it apart is the ISC Skeleton Design; the designers must have taken a leaf out of Mother Nature's book by designing the parts that join the seat-tubes to the top-tube to resemble the roots of a tree. These provide strength where it's needed as well as adding a distinctive style. Each frame then undergoes a ride simulation over a number of days on BMC's Big Quake test rig to ascertain strength using a stress and strain program.
The paint scheme and Astana graphics of the Khazak team are so expertly laid down that this alone gives the bike an aura of speciality. But this assurance of quality control and good looks does carry a price tag that's along the lines of 'if you have to ask the price you can't afford it'. Having said that, we cannot imagine a better bike for creating that feelgood factor on even the shortest of training rides. The ride weighs heavily in favour of vertical compliance yet is very stable and responsive. It is simply the best bike that we have sampled ever for stage racing, where a rider needs to recover from the previous days - or weeks in the case of the Tour de France. We likened this magic carpet ride to that of a butted titanium frame but with added lightness and stiffness.
The highly distinctive Easton logo figures everywhere on the team issue bike. The EA90 stem and oversized carbon EC90 handlebars are stiff and their ergonomic shape lets the hands rest comfortably; the Easton wheels feel rapid and help the rider respond to the sudden burst of speeds that happen in an attack - they aren't superlight but they are unquestionably reliable, and the Hutchinson tyres grip in corners with a confidence that matches the width of the rider's grin.
The set back seatpost, also from Easton, is of course carbon, but where this differs from most is that it is completely carbon and it's one piece too - usually a carbon post is just a carbon tube mated to an aluminium head, so this is really cutting edge construction. We like the facility to move the saddle really well back, something that should bode well for the long hours in the saddle during Le Tour, especially when it's coupled with the popular Fizik Arione; this, when you're sat on the rearmost part, allows you to stretch tired thigh muscles while on the move. It's no ordinary Arione either, it's the range topping K:1 full one-piece carbon construction (including the rails), superlight at just 149g and with a supple gel bonded to the surface for comfort.
Lastly, the BMC is equipped with Campagnolo's Record Ergopower - a superb groupset for a superb frame; Campag have retained the original control mechanism on these for 2007 which allows the rider to 'trim' the front gear mech - something the pro riders prefer to the lighter action but fully indexed clicks of the lesser groupsets in the Campagnolo range, we hear.