BMC’s bikes have always had a distinct look, from the early noughties’ machines with their radical T-shaped tubing bonded to alloy lugs, and the Pro Machine SLC 01 Phonak as ridden by Floyd Landis in 2006 with its ‘integrated skeleton concept’, through to today’s Road, Time, and Teammachine bikes.
The classic BMC silhouette with dropped seatstays has been a mainstay in the range since the SLR of a decade ago and now it’s something that’s been adopted across pretty much every design of BMC’s rivals.
It’s a similar story for cockpit integration and the D-shaped seatpost designed to combine aerodynamics and comfort – although Giant also lays claim to that.
Now the latest Teammachine SLR 01 takes things up a notch. The fourth-generation Teammachine is claimed to be 6 per cent faster, 9 per cent lighter and 20 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, thanks to a redesigned frame that aims to combine both aerodynamics and light weight (without a doubt, this year’s trend).
You can read all the tech details about the new Teammachine in our full launch story, here I’m going to focus on how it rides.
The Teammachine SLR01 Two has the iconic BMC silhouette, but now with added aerodynamics. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
First things first, the Teammachine SLR 01 Two I have on test is a looker, with a clean finish and none of its lines interrupted by stray cables or anything that out of place.
That’s no mean feat when running Shimano’s wire-heavy Di2 groupset (it’s without doubt much easier with SRAM’s wireless AXS).
The attention to detail is impressive, too, from the bolt-less ‘stealth’ thru-axles to the skeletal-minimal rear mech hanger, finished in a wonderful pewter coloured chrome, and the wind-cheating Aerocore bottle cages integrated with the down and seat tube tubes.
It’s detailing like this that means the SLR 01 Two doesn’t come cheap. At £9,800 it’s one hell of a price to pay, especially when you consider this isn’t even the top-of-the-range bike. That’s reserved for the SLR 01 One with Red AXS at £10,250.
A bike with that sort of tag, and these sort of looks, better be good, otherwise we’d be looking at the most crushing disappointment to come out of Switzerland since Fabian Cancellara crashed out of the 2015 Tour while wearing yellow.
Stiffness and stability
BMC’s Teammachine SLR 01 Two is at its best when going full-gas. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Thankfully, BMC’s brand ambassador and test pilot Spartacus can rest easy. The new SLR 01 certainly lives up to its looks.
It may not beat out either the new Giant TCR (6.78kg including two Giant carbon cages) or Trek’s latest Emonda SLR 9 (6.92kg) in the weight stakes at 7.09kg, but on the road it’s a match for both when it comes to sheer unadulterated pace.
The chassis is resolutely unflappable when sprinting out of the saddle and is well-matched by the Mavic Cosmic SLR 45 wheels, which combine the French company’s latest (and broader) 45mm-deep carbon rim with bladed spokes and straight-pull hubs.
The bottom bracket’s unflinching stiffness is matched by the redesigned, truncated head tube, and when going full gas and wrenching on the bars the bike just holds firm. You can’t detect even a millimetre of flex throughout the frame.
The bike’s ride position is one that’s pure-race, with a low 565mm stack and long 392mm reach on my 56cm test bike. The metre-long wheelbase adds a good splash of agility to the way in which the bike behaves under quick changes in direction too.
The steep 73.5-degree seat angle puts you in prime position squarely over the cranks, yet the 72.3-degree head angle gives a 63mm trail which adds an element of stability to the way in which the SLR reacts to steering inputs (in comparison, Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo has a shorter 58mm trail).
Against the Evo, TCR, and Emonda, the BMC Teammachine certainly feels more on the stable than snappy side in steering response, feeling quite similar to BMC’s out-and-out aero bike, the Timemachine Road.
Up against its rivals, the difference is there, but it’s a subtle difference. It’s not like the SLR has suddenly morphed into a lazy Sunday cruiser. Without doubt it remains every inch a racing rig capable of performing at the front on the world stage.
The new mech hanger on the SLR 01 is a minimalist work of art. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Where it does work well is in damping down poor road surface vibrations. The new Teammachine has the unmistakably firm ride of a thoroughbred race bike, like its rivals, but it doesn’t transmit or convey any undue amounts of fatiguing road noise through to your fingers or seat.
Some of that smoothness is down to great contact points. The ICS integrated cockpit is very nicely shaped and the bar tape thick and compliant.
The saddle choice is a good one as well (for me, at least) – a new shortened ‘boost’ version of Selle Italia’s classic Flite, with its swoopy lines and excellent padding.
The graphene-infused Vittoria tyres measure up at 27mm-wide mounted to Mavic’s rims and offer fizzing speed in a straight line, along with supple comfort and control in the corners. This is one very well sorted machine.
Shimano’s superb Dura-Ace Di2 groupset is what I’d expect on a bike at this price, though BMC has deviated away from full-Shimano with Rotor’s ADHLU 24 chainset.
The Aerocage bottle cages are designed to enhance the bikes aerodynamics in real-world use. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Its industrial, CNC-machined looks certainly stand out and the direct-mount chainring design is clever too. However, while dropping down to the smaller 36 ring from the 52 was Dura-Ace swift and smooth, the reverse occasionally laboured as the chain hooked into the teeth but didn’t settle until the cranks had rotated more than 90 degrees.
It could be a case of new rings and chain not quite worn-in together (I’ve only managed around 150 miles of testing so far), but it’s not something I’ve experienced on full Dura-Ace bikes.
The Dura-Ace disc brakes are superb here and the chassis stiffness means no rubs, ticks or noises from the rotors, even after long descents and braking in all weathers experienced so far.
At home uphill and downhill
Low weight and a wide gear range make the Teammachine SLR 01 Two a mean machine on the climbs. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
On the ups, the SLR 01 is as good as you’d expect a flyweight bike to be, and I for one like that BMC has given this particular bike the broadest cassette option available in Dura-Ace. with an 11-30t.
Combined with the semi-compact 52/36t chainset it gives a great range for both speed and steep slopes.
The efficient stiffness in the bottom bracket and head tube makes the BMC great to climb on and the solid feel through the bars when standing and climbing makes you feel that all of your efforts are being channeled through the pedals, with no power-sapping flex in between.
It’s when the road points down that the SLR 01 Two comes into its own. The stable handling and taut frame inspire confidence – it’s a bike that I felt totally confident in cranking over into corners and sprinting out looking for the next direction change.
As soon as our current global situation eases and we can again travel to the great European climbs (and descents), I want a Teammachine SLR01 as a companion for a proper head-down, full-chat, alpine descent.
BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two overall
The new Teammachine SLR 01 retains most of what made the 2018 model so very, very good – however, this 2021 bike has now gained more in aerodynamics and stiffness.
It may have lost a little of the ultra-smooth comfort of the previous bike but it’s not an uncomfortable ride, just a little firmer, which seems to be a recurring theme with the new wave of aerodynamic, lightweight machines we’ve seen launched this year.