Just in: BMC Teammachine SLR01
Not just any Teammachine either a UK special at what looks like a very tempting price
When we say 'just in' the Teammachine is that fast that it's already 'just out'… flying round the roads of Wilts and points west with that Stu Kerton on board.
What we have here is basically a 2011 special or perhaps more accurately a 2011.5 special spec'd for the UK by Evans and built up by BMC. 2011.5? Have you looked at the calendar lately? More importantly though there aren't that many differences between the 2011 and 2012 bikes, but one of those there is is that BMC have switched from SRAM to Shimano groupsets for next year. Evans have pre-empted that change with this particular version of the Teammachine. They've also priced it to sell, they're offering two builds the Dura Ace compact we have here at £3499 or an Ultegra version for £2999 that's considerably less than the £3799.99 – let's call it £3800 shall we – discounted price Evans are offering standard 2011 Teammachines at. Oh yes, and this baby weighs a measly 6.8Kg.
So what are the differences? In its standard build the Teammachine comes with a mixture of SRAM Red and Easton finishing kit, with the big E supplying EC90 bars, EA90 stem and EA90 SLX wheels shod with Continental Grand Prix 4000 rubber. Our test bike replaces Red with Dura Ace and the Easton wheels for Mavic Ksyrium Elites, all pretty fair swaps, we can imagine there are plenty of people who will actually prefer Dura Ace to Red and while the Mavics may retail for less than the Eastons they're not that much less and they are certainly not out of place here. The rest of the finishing kit is pretty much the same including those Conti tyres.
For 2012 the Teammachine swaps from a BB30 bottom bracket to the new BB86 and a Shimano unit, either Dura Ace or Ultegra. Word is BMC have made the switch because they had negative feedback about longevity and the inboard bearings creaking against the BB shell, they've also made a big switch over to Shimano for next year with Di2 options for the Teammachine which makes going for BB86 something of a no-brainer. The 2011 Teammachine is designed to take a BB30 bottom bracket though, way back then BMC thought all that extra stiffness and inboard bearings was the way forward… That was then, our test bike gets in ahead of the 2012 machines with its Shimano Dura Ace bottom bracket courtesy of a set of adaptors.
Evans haven't tried to incorporate the other change to the 2012 bike though, next year's version does away with the Angle Lock 'intelligent' clamping system which proved either too intelligent for its own good, or possibly just too complicated… and not as good as simply using a seat collar - which is what they've gone back to for 2012. The seat post still has the same square profile though. The Angle Lock is neat you tighten the seat post via a turn of a dial in the seatpost, but it can be a fiddle to adjust the post in small increments. Plus, if my own experience with one is anything to go by, it can also allow the seat tube to fill with water if you ride it in the pouring rain which aside from the extra weight makes things very interesting if you then need to adjust the post - basically you get a vacuum seal, but you wouldn't ride one of these in the wet anyway would you?
Those minor changes aside this is the Teammachine frame that Cadel Evans piloted to glory in this year's Tour de France. The frame is made from unidirectional carbon fibre with plenty of the exotic tube profiles BMC are famous for with some with different layup and types of fibre used for the fork legs, seatstays and seatpost to boost rider comfort through "increased vertical compliance while maintaining high levels of lateral and torsional stiffness"… that's the sort of straight talking use of the c-word from the Swiss dudes we like in these parts… lateral frame deflection? Pah!. Hats off to 'em I say and check out this little vid of BMC testing a frame's vertical compliance.
As we all know elite level bikes need elite level techy sounding acronyms. Okay 'need' might be pushing it but it would be wrong to have a race bike without acronyms like peaches without cream, tea without milk and four sugars, that sort of thing. BMC don't disappoint on that score either our Teammachine comes with TCC - that's the clever vertical compliance increasing layup in the seatstays and fork legs; and isc – Integrated Skeleton Concept which is all about tube junctions perfectly tailored to the distribution of forces, how? Glad you asked: "Cleverly selected skeletal reinforcement elements at the nodal points and the spread of the top tube distribute the impacting forces perfectly." Er… internal ribs offer reinforcement where it's needed as does the trademark bracing strut between the top tube and seat tube. That combination adds strength and rigidity while allowing for lighter top and down tubes than could be used in conventional designs reckon BMC.
As you'd expect all the usual high end race frame appurtenances are present: very light weight - check; top end carbon fibre - check; asymmetric head tube - check; BB30 bottom bracket - che… well we've covered that.
Looking at it in the office the thing that's intrigued us most about this version of the Teammachine is how Stu gets on with that compact chainset, don't get me wrong my old knees love a compact, but as we've said this Teammachine weighs a feathery 6.8Kg and while BMC were offering a compact option on the 2011 model, they live in Switzerland and interestingly they don't appear to be offering a compact on the 2012 bikes - it's a 53-39 up front with 11-28 at the back. I was lucky enough to ride a 2011 version earlier this year in the foothills of the Italian Dolomites (it rained the whole time) I certainly didn't have any problems getting up some big climbs on a standard 53-39 chainset so I just wonder if a 50-34 pushing a 12-25 might leave you a bit under geared for UK conditions? We'll find out soon.