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Just in: BMC TeamMachine SLR01 updated for 2014

Lighter and stiffer carbon road bike as raced by Philippe Gilbert arrives at towers

This is the brand new TeamMachine SLR01, BMC’s major update of the model they first introduced in 2010. On paper the biggest change is the reduction in weight; a 56cm frame is now a claimed 790g, making the Dura-Ace equipped test bike we’ve just received 6.45kg (14.21lb) on the scales. The BMC team mechanics must have a big box of lead to get these bikes up to the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum limit for sanctioned races.

To develop this new model, BMC went back to the drawing board. Well, more accurately they developed their own computer modelling software, Accelerated Composites Evolution (ACE) Technology. That sort of development can’t come cheap, but it allowed the designers to rapidly run through thousands of design iterations before setting on the final concept. Carbon-fibre frame design has advanced rapidly in the last couple of decades, and designers are now seeking ever smaller performance gains. This software allowed BMC to assess and optimise the shape of every tube and junction, and the layup of the individual fibres. It’s this development that has led to frame weight being reduced by 160g from the previous model. But reduced weight is only part of the story - increased stiffness and ride comfort have also improved, according to the company’s claims.

Through the years BMC have settled on a unique aesthetic that ensures their road bikes stand out from the crowd. The hard lines are a bit softer these days, and less divisive of opinion. The hexagonal tube profiles, compact rear triangle and split top tube are key identifying features that carry over from the previous model. Let your eyes rest on the new bike for a split second and you might think it’s identical. Allow your eyes to be drawn in for a closer look, however, and it’s clear that much has changed.

The first thing you notice is the colossal down tube. It’s huge. I’ve seen smaller drainpipes! BMC claim they’ve upped the stiffness by a whopping 25%, and looking at the size of the down tube it’s not hard to believe they’ve managed this. It makes full uses of the BB86 Shimano Press-Fit bottom bracket. A pair of massive asymmetric chainstays branch off the bottom bracket, and there’s the signature skinny seatstays forming a compact rear triangle.

The top tube is wider than before, creating a large junction with the head tube. That head tube is tapered with 1 1/8in to 1 1/4in bearings, and a new 340g fork, with a distinct side profile, slots in there.

BMC have moved away from the integrated seat clamp design to an regular external seat clamp, so it's a little simpler than before. They’ve also designed a new seatpost, doing away with the complex cam system to secure the saddle in place, and now go for a normal single bolt affair.

All cables are now routed internally, a key change from the previous model. Nearly all manufacturers are moving towards internal cable routing on their top-end models, and it’s now filtering down through the price points. A big reason for this is the increased adoption of electronic groupsets: you don’t want the wires dangling off the frame. The new TeamMachine is fully compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets.

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 comfort - well, that's the idea, anyway - as they recognise the importance of racers arriving as fresh as possible to the finish line.

There are four bikes being offered by Evans Cycles, with a Shimano Ultegra build priced at £4,000, rising to a heady £8,500 for a Dura-Ace Di2 bike. A frame is also available for £2,750 if you fancy building your own bike. Six sizes from 48 to 61cm are available.

Our review sample is the £6,000 Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11-speed mechanical groupset. You can read Mat’s review of the groupset to get the full lowdown on the changes.

The groupset is paired with Dura-Ace C24 wheels and Continental GP4000S tyres. 3T supply the Ergosum Team handlebar and ARX 2 Team stem. The saddle is a Fizik Arione R3 braided.

Make no mistake, £6,000 is a lot of cash, meaning that the TeamMachine SLR01 is a bike you should be comparing to the new Scott Addict (which we’ve yet to ride), Trek’s Madone 6, Bianchi Oltre XR, Argon 18 Gallium Pro, Canyon’s Ultimate CF SLX and the Storck Fenomalist.

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David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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