BMC Teammachine SLR03 review$1,999.00

Distinctive pro-inspired frame gets more affordable carbon and kit

BikeRadar score4/5

The Bicycle Manufacturing Company of Switzerland – how Harry Lime would have loved that Mitteleuropäische imagination in The Third Man! – has been present in the pro peloton for a decade now. And while its name is uninspired, its bikes show flair that belies the so-so moniker, and one of the brand's features in particular – dropped seatstays – is appearing everywhere these days. Scott’s Foil, Colnago’s Concept, the Ridley Noah, various Giants, Wilier’s Cento1 for starters.

Our test bike comes with the greatest raft of budget components, but at the heart of things is a frame that strongly resembles the SLR01s being ridden by Richie Porte and co in the Tour. 

This is made from lower-spec carbon and is designed for ‘enthusiast racers’. That accounts for the wide-ranging 11-32 cassette that’ll help those of us who aren’t so great on the climbs, the larger jumps being a price worth paying for the knee- and lung-friendly bottom gear.

We’d expect Shimano 105 at this price and that’s what we get, albeit with some cost-cutting components, notably the non-series compact chainset and brakes. Both are okay though we’d have preferred the real thing. 

The wheels, too, are budget items, but the Shimano RS011s are tough, well made and durable and are also specced on one of the much more expensive bikes here. 

There’s enough rear-end comfort without it ever feeling like an endurance machine

Continental’s Ultra Sport II tyres are a good choice, though we’d have much preferred the slight extra comfort of 25mm rubber that is standard on most bikes these days.

But the pro-inspired frame genuinely delivers a pro-influenced ride. The geometry is identical to the pro-level SLR01, so that means a sub-metre wheelbase, shortish head-tube and a tight rear triangle. 

The SLR03 is a fine bike for the money
The SLR03 is a fine bike for the money

It’s a firm ride from the stiff frame and those tyres mean you can feel any variations in the road, but this feels efficient rather than uncomfortable, those dropped seatstays and big-is-beautiful bottom bracket shell combining well. 

There’s enough rear-end comfort without it ever feeling like an endurance machine, and plenty of ‘grunt’ when you put the hammer down, with no sensation of your energy ever being wasted. Its slight extra weight penalty is evident on climbs, but on descents and through sweeping bends your handling will probably let you down before any failings of the BMC become evident.

The SLR03 is a fine bike for the money, and if you can get it at a discount it’s an even better deal. The BMC’s more budget-flavoured kit is acceptable in this company given its very appealing price. We’d fit wider tyres when the Contis bite the dust, and might consider a carbon seatpost with some of the cash saved. 

And the frame is easily good enough to deserve better wheels. We’d wait till the RS011s are well beaten-up before swapping, and given that they’re Shimano that could be a while.

You may not quite unleash your inner Richie Porte, but if you want a first ‘serious’ road bike for sharp days out, with precise handling and comfort for day-long rides, you’ll be able to bank on this Swiss roller.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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