BMC Teammachine SLR 01 review
The updated Teammachine gets an aero makeover, but aside from the integrated cockpit, you wouldn't know it by looking at it.
Integrated cockpit; Stealth dropouts; Aerocore water bottle cage system;
Super stiff and fast; a pure racer’s bike
Harsh ride; handlebar shape can cause pressure points on rider’s palms
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When BMC pulled back the curtain on the redesigned Teammachine SLR 01 on a recent Zoom call, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought, “That looks exactly the same as the last one.” Now that the bike is in my garage and I’ve had plenty of miles of fun with it, I can confirm that the differences are indeed subtle, but very important. The new Teammachine SLR 01 is stiffer and lighter than its predecessor, but aerodynamics factor in to the redesign in a big way.
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Teammachine SLR 01 nuts and bolts
BMC’s stated goals for the Teammachine update should come as no surprise: make it lighter, improve responsiveness, and make it faster. That about sums up the goals for any race-worthy road bike, right?
It seems the company has largely succeeded in that quest, keeping the Teammachine in tight contention with other superbikes on the market. BMC stuck with its Integrated Cable System, or ICS, which tucks everything nicely through the handlebars and stem into the frame. This time it’s with a one-piece handlebar and stem, which BMC says is among the lightest on the market at 305 grams. (The ICS 2 system maintains a two-piece setup, and it’s 15 grams lighter than the previous version.)
The integrated cockpit is really the last overtly visual cue that the Teammachine has gotten a makeover. Everything else is far more subtle, like the Stealth dropouts (the axle nut is co-molded into the frame and fork to create a cleaner look and cut down on weight in parts), the wider bolt spacing on the front brake that should make it easier to make adjustments, and the redesigned junction at the seat stays and seat tube — along with the seatpost clamp that has been relocated underneath the top tube junction.
All told, the fine details add up to a bike that’s 6 percent faster, 9 percent lighter, and 20 percent stiffer than its predecessor, according to BMC.
The integrated handlebar and stem is the most visually aerodynamic element of the bike, but it’s hardly the most consequential. BMC refined its tube shapes, from the fork on back, to achieve as much aerodynamic gain as possible. All told, BMC says the updated version of the Teammachine is 6 percent faster than the previous one.
So while the new Teammachine looks a lot like the old one, a closer look reveals the nuances of the changed tube shapes. It’s not dramatic, but it’s all there, especially in the fork blades, which have been re-shaped entirely.
This revamp builds on BMC’s existing ACE technology that focuses on enhancing stiffness, weight, and compliance. Now dubbed ACE+ Technology, aerodynamics gets thrown in the mix. BMC focused on specific parts of the bike — head tube, fork blades, down tube, and dropouts, to be specific.
The head tube remains the same width to maintain torsional stiffness, but it also got stretched front and back. The front also sports a rounder shape.
The fork legs got stretched out, too, though not as stretched out as the Timemachine Road. In other words, the truncated foil shape now adorns the fork, which would usually lead to less lateral stiffness. To counter that, BMC used new materials to maintain fork stiffness. It’s ultimately 50 grams lighter and more aero, but it maintains identical stiffness as compared to its predecessor.
The commitment to aerodynamics extends to the smaller details. Take a look at the bottle cage on the down tube and you’ll notice it looks fairly overbuilt. That’s not really a nod to strengthening the cage; it’s actually to improve aerodynamics. BMC calls it Aerocore: The down tube and bottle cage work together to help air flow more smoothly over that area of the bike when there’s a water bottle in the cage. The shape reduces drag, particularly at certain yaw angles that area of the bike is likely to encounter. The down tube cage is 43 grams, and the seat tube cage is 26 grams. Both are carbon.
Teammachine on the road
I got to test out the revamped Teammachine over the course of about 150 miles on my home roads. That’s fortunate because I know where the windy sections are, where I can test out the cornering, and when I should expect to get a sense of the bike’s compliance features. Having ridden the previous Teammachine extensively, I had a preconceived notion of what to expect here, and largely I was right, with a few notable exceptions.
Let me start by saying the Teammachine offers an incredible ride, one that racers will make friends with immediately. That said, I was quite surprised to find out that the Teammachine is startlingly stiff. That means both laterally and vertically, which means this ends up being one of those trade-off situations: The bike explodes when you climb and sprint, but it definitely feels jarring over chattery roads. The front end is especially rough, which may have something to do with the ultra-stiff integrated cockpit.
It should be noted that my test bike came stock with 25mm tires. The Teammachine can fit up to a 30mm tire, so while I did go through the trouble of adjusting tire pressure to up the comfort here, I think a wider tire would really be in order to get more compliance out of the bike. Even then, I suspect much of the frame stiffness would remain.
About that cockpit: It looks super fast and sleek on the bike, but I found the handlebar shape to be uncomfortable where the brake hoods meet the bar. The slight curve from the hoods to the bar tops causes a pressure point, which landed in such a way that my pinky fingers kept going numb. That said, the bar tops are shaped slightly for aero purposes, but they are still round enough to feel comfortable on the hands. This is a place where a lot of integrated cockpits get tripped up, but BMC got the shape right here.
The Teammachine’s handling also took me a bit by surprise, and I need to note that BMC sent me a size 54cm based off the measurements I gave them, while I usually ride a 56cm bike. In terms of fit and comfort, the bike fit wonderfully, though I could probably have used a bit longer of a stem.
I mention the sizing because the handling felt sort of wobbly when I got out of the saddle for hard efforts on climbs, or if I was trying to get up to speed quickly on the flats. When I was sitting, the handling feels locked-in and stable. The Teammachine corners tightly, but not as tightly as something like a Specialized S-Works Tarmac or a Giant TCR Advanced SL 0, both of which live on the ultra-twitchy end of the handling spectrum. The handling here is a net positive, though it was interesting how much of a chameleon the Teammachine was, depending on whether I was sitting or standing.
Is the updated Teammachine faster? Once again, we have to enter the trust circle here. We can’t verify BMC’s numbers without independent lab testing; in lieu of that, I’m willing to believe that the gains BMC is touting are real, though I’d be crazy to say I could feel it out on the road.
It’s hard to argue with a fast bike, and the Teammachine is undoubtedly fast and fun to ride. It’s packed with nice touches like the high-zoot computer mount and integrated cockpit, and BMC has wisely stuck with the general DNA of the Teammachine by keeping the general silhouette. But this is hardly the same bike it was last year; the new beast doesn’t advertise its changes, but perhaps that’s simply an indication that BMC had already gotten so much right before. The new tube shapes only add to the total package here.
That said, I think the handlebar shape can use some refining, and the overall ride quality is pretty harsh, so if compliance is important to you, the Teammachine might be a bit too jarring for you.