Making bikes for their eponymous pro cycling team, and now supplying bikes for the Uplace-BMC tri team, Swiss-based BMC have established themselves right at the cutting edge of cycling technology.
The Team Machine SLR01 is one of two bikes ridden by Philippe Gilbert, Taylor Phinney et al, along with the much more expensive Impec, but the majority of their riders favour this model as their day-to-day steed.
As with any bike, the build is the first thing you notice, and this one’s superb. Our test model came with Shimano’s mechanical Dura-Ace 9000, which we still regard as the best mechanical groupset on the market, bringing the price down from £8,500 for the Dura-Ace Di2 model and making it, if not exactly a bargain, quite an enticing proposition. Interestingly, it comes with a 52/36t ‘pro compact’ chainset as standard and an 11/28t cassette, so you get a pretty wide range of gearing that will definitely help you scale any peak you fancy challenging.
The frameset is pure race as it’s low and long, while the size of the bottom bracket promises a very responsive ride, although possibly sacrificing a bit of comfort. The Dura-Ace C24 wheels are a lovely touch, too, and although they won’t be providing any aero benefit, they’re miles ahead of the standard specced-down clinchers you often get as a cost-cutting measure.
Finishing kit is provided by 3T, with their alloy ARX 2 Team stem paired to Easton bars, and BMC’s own-brand seatpost topped by a Fizik Arione R3 saddle, the same as we use on our own bike, which provides genuine all-day comfort.
The first thing noticeable is the weight or, rather, lack of it. It’s amazingly light – our 54cm test bike came in at under 6.4kg – and that combined with the huge, stiff BB86 bottom bracket make bursts of speed great fun. Climbing is superb, too, coping brilliantly whether you’re a rider who sits in the saddle and churns or someone who flits between sitting and standing.
In terms of comfort, it’s a race-ready bike with a low front end and an aggressive profile. It might be a mile-muncher for riders in le Tour, but a 6hr ride on one of these would leave the majority of us needing a trip to the physio, so you should definitely check to see whether you’d fit on it before taking the plunge. Having said that, it soaks up the road extremely well for such a high-performance bike, and there was no point on test where we felt we were taking a beating for our troubles. On a similar note, it handles superbly, and even on descents doing in excess of 65km/h there were no twitches at all. You can also really throw the bike into corners and push your limits, making it a very exciting ride indeed.
If you’re looking for something with a bit of an aero edge, BMC do a road version, which, with a set of clip-ons or even swapping out the drop bars for a full aero cockpit – if you’re part bike mechanic, part masochist – would save you a few seconds Of course, if you’re thinking purely in terms of tri, for the £6,000 price tag of this steed you could treat yourself to a very nice tri bike indeed and have change for a workhorse road bike as well.
But if you’re in the market for a dream bike, you could do a lot worse than this. For all-round quality, the Team Machine is one of the most enjoyable, best performing and lightest road bikes we’ve ever ridden. You might toy with going for the Di2 model if you’ve got the cash but, personally, there’s no way we’d splash £2,500 extra for electronic shifting and a slight saddle upgrade (Fizik’s Arione 00). This bike is everything you could need and more.
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Contact : www.evanscycles.com