Tour Tech 2013: Philippe Gilbert's BMC TeamMachine SLR01
Philippe Gilbert's BMC gets a special world champs paintjob for the Tour de France
Philippe Gilbert will contest the Tour de France aboard BMC’s brand new TeamMachine SLR01, which has bseen updated with an improved carbon layup and internal cable routing. It’s significantly lighter at 790g, but as that’s the claimed weight for a 56cm, we imagine Gilbert’s 51cm frame will be even lighter.
The bike stands out from his teammates by virtue of the world champion rainbow stripes that adorn the frame. The fork and top tube are painted white and blend into the black half of the frame with the angled stripes. These are mirrored on the seatpost as well, on the seat stays and inside the chainstays. There's also his name and signature on the top tube for good measure.
The saddle is a Selle Italia Flite with the decals removed, we’re guessing that’s to keep Fizik, BMC's saddle sponsor, happy. When it comes to saddles the riders, especially ones like Gilbert, will shun any sponsorship duties and ride what they find most comfortable. It, along with the bar tape, colour matches the frame.
Gilbert stands 6ft tall, so his choice of a 51cm size frame does seem a bit odd. The pros do like to ride very small frames sometimes though, they are lighter and usually stiffer, and they get around the reach issues with extremely long stems and setback saddles. Another reason is that the pros like a stretched position with a very low front, and often the head tube is too tall on the correct size frame. Going down a size or two is an easy way around this when there isn't the option of a custom made frame. You'd think Gilbert would be able to get a custom geometry frame, but that clearly isn't the case here.
To get the right right, Gilbert rides a 14cm stem (the shortest we spotted on any of the BMC team bikes was 13cm). Unusually, and likely on account of the small frame size, the stem isn’t slammed, there’s a healthy stack of spacers under the stem.
The frame wears a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and it’s using the new internal battery, it slips inside the seat post. The chainset is the latest SRM Powermeter 9000, though they’re still using the older 7800-series cranks. Reportedly Shimano still manufacturers these arms especially for SRM.
Wheels will be Dura-Ace C50 tubulars for the majority of the stages, with Continental 25mm tyres - we’re seeing a trend towards wider tyres in the pro peloton this year, and BMC are certainly going down the 'wider is better' road.
Gilbert, like so many pros, prefers a very traditional bend handlebar. These 3T bars are very deep with a generous flat bottom section, ideal for long periods on the drops. Gilbert has the optional sprinter shifters fitted, which you can see inside the handlebars just below the brake lever hoods.
While Gilbert is riding the new TeamMachine we revealed a while ago, some of the team will be riding the Impec bikes. These are built by sophisticated, purpose-built machines in BMC’s Switzerland facility.
New TeamMachine lighter and stiffer
The new TeamMachine has gone on a diet, the weight for a 56cm frame dropping from 950g to 790g. As well as working hard on the carbon fibre layup to reduce weight, increasing the stiffness has been a big goal. They’ve upped it by a huge 25%, which should suit Gilbert when he goes on the attack.
A noticeable change is the internal cable routing. BMC have designed the frame to work with mechanical and electronic groupsets, with small panels to conceal the cable or wire entry points. It has a tapered head tube - 1-1/8in to 1-1/4in - and BB86 PressFit bottom bracket.
The new SLR01 retains the same proven geometry as the previous frame, and visually it has a very close resemblance. They’ve retained the Tuned Compliance Concept (TCC), found in the stays and seatpost, to deliver a reasonable level of comfort, as they recognise the importance of racers arriving as fresh as possible to the finish line.