BMC Streetfire SSX01 review

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1st June 2010   Words: Simon Smythe Photos: Roo Fowler

If you haven’t heard of BMC and are wondering what the letters stand for, it’s simply Bicycle Manufacturing Company. However, according to the website, “BMC stands for unmistakable style, for deep passion and for Swiss precision.”

The firm was started by an American in the Eighties, but it never really got going until the Noughties, when it got a new owner, embraced its Swissness and supplied bikes for the Phonak pro team, whose leader Floyd Landis won the Tour de France but was disqualified for having naughty substances in his blood. So, new decade, new start for BMC’s racing ambitions, and it now sponsors a major team that includes world champion Cadel Evans.

Also, in 2010 you can buy BMCs from Evans Cycles, a new development which should ensure regular sightings of BMCs in the UK from now on. The Streetfire SSX01 is BMC’s entry-level road bike and is made from hydroformed aluminium with a carbon fork. The tube profiles are incredibly complicated — all angles and edges. There is almost a triple triangle at the top of the seat tube, which is something we sort of expected to see on the GT frame. Geometry is the most compact of the three bikes in this test, and the head tube is relatively the shortest, which gives a lower position at the front.

The finish is impressive. The welds are very smooth and the paint and decals perfectly applied — it looks like a bike that costs twice as much. However, giving it the roadie lift, it feels surprisingly heavy, especially given that the frame is so compact and in theory uses less material. It could be that there’s no escaping the inevitable mass of the very big tubing.

Or it could be the componentry: 105 is used sparingly — limited to shifters and derailleurs. The chainset is Shimano’s catch-all compact, which has the Hollowtech II outboard bearing design of the top Shimano chainsets, and calipers are Tektro.

Hip to be square

Wheels are Shimano R500, the same as specced on the Cannondale and while perfectly useable, they are relatively heavy and would be a candidate for an early upgrade. The finishing kit is called Scor, which we haven’t come across before, but it will be componentry that’s been specifically made for BMC’s lower-end bikes. It all seems to work well, and the saddle is especially well designed. Metallic-finish BMC bar tape gives it the pro look.

We found it easy to get a great position on the BMC — basically set your saddle height and the bike feels right immediately. Although the top tube is 45mm wide at its widest point, with squared off edges, it doesn’t catch the inside of the knee like the GT’s top tube sometimes did. The ride quality is also good — despite the solid-looking aluminium beams, vibration damping is efficient and as you would expect, it is very stiff, especially at the rear triangle. The steering seemed a little nervy, but we put that down to a shortish 100mm stem being specced, when really 120mm would be the ‘normal’ size. That’s easily remedied.

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Cannondale CAAD8 105

BMC Streetfire SSX01

GT GTR Carbon Sport

Click here for the test verdict

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