- Efficient, fast frameset
- Comfortable ride
- Excellent SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset
- Wheels and tyres are a bit sub-par on a bike at this price
Price as reviewed:
BMC bikes have been a fixture of the WorldTour for years. Even if the brand is no longer headline sponsor of its own team, its bikes are currently ridden by Team Dimension Data. And the machine of choice for the pros is the Teammachine.
That depth of racing experience is reflected in the Swiss brand’s continuing relationship with Cadel Evans, who won the Tour de France for BMC in 2011. Evans still rides the Teammachine in retirement, highlighting the bike’s power transfer and handling, coupled to its compliance and comfort, which he says would leave him fresher to do battle in a race’s finale.
In common with many brands, BMC makes the Teammachine frame in two different grades of carbon, with the higher spec Teammachine 01 getting a higher modulus, lighter frameset than the Teammachine SLR 02. BMC quotes a frameset weight of 1045g for the SLR 02 Disc frameset and 375g for the fork, as against 815g for the SRL 01 frameset and 350g for its fork.
Both framesets benefit from BMC’s proprietary Accelerated Composites Evolution development tech, ACE. This used computer modelling to analyse frame designs, tube cross-sections and carbon lay-up before advancing to the production and testing of prototypes. Typically, BMC goes through tens of thousands of modelling iterations to develop a new frame.
The result is a frameset with BMC’s typical clean lines, thin, dropped seatstays and characteristic angled sections at the junctions of the top tube with head tube and the seat tube. There’s marked asymmetry in the chainstays and in the fork blades, where the left side is wider than the right to handle the differential forces exerted by the brake caliper.
BMC uses its D-shaped seatpost in the Teammachine SLR 02, with the flattened rear side designed to improve compliance at the saddle, as well as saving weight over a round seatpost. BMC sells a clip-on spray guard which fits to the post, for protection when riding damp roads.
In contrast to the skinny looking top half of the bike, the Teammachine SLR 02’s down tube is massive and merges seamlessly into the PF86 bottom bracket shell. The design is not overtly aero, unlike many of the latest generation of race bikes. That’s left to the Timemachine Road range, but that doesn’t stop the Teammachine SLR 02 feeling fast, while the hefty bottom half tube sections lead to excellent power transfer.
Likewise, tyre clearance isn’t as wide as some bikes. There’s plenty of space for 25mm tyres, even on wider rims than the 18mm internal DT Swiss P1800 wheels that come with the bike. You could probably squeeze a 28mm tyre in.
Suffice to say, it’s excellent. It’s not so much about having an extra gear ratio, as that SRAM has spread those ratios out over a wider range. So you have the same top end as on a 53×11, but can keep in the large ring for longer on uphills too. When you do switch to the small ring, there’s the low range to get up steeps – the same as a 34×32. The fluid clutch in the rear mech helps keep the chain under tension and avoid clatter, while rear shifting is precise and rapid.
The AXS part of the name refers to the groupset’s Bluetooth connectivity with SRAM’s phone app, which lets you configure the shifting and check battery status, amongst other functions. In standard configuration, shifting is intuitive: right paddle to shift up, left to shift down, both together to swap chainrings, but you can also use the app to automate front shifting or set Force eTap AXS to make compensatory rear shifts when you change chainrings.
The Teammachine SLR 02 One comes with BMC’s ICS integrated stem. It merges neatly into the fork’s steerer tube, with a set of aero-shaped split spacers below it, which can be removed without needing to remove the stem.
There’s internal routing for cables through the stem, although on the Teammachine SLR 02 One, this isn’t used: the brake hoses run externally into the frame and fork and there are no mech cables with the wireless groupset. You can purchase a Garmin and a GoPro mount that clamp under the neat stem faceplate, which wraps around the bar, concealing its clamping bolts.
The wheels are DT Swiss P1800 Spline 32 db alloys. They’re best described as workaday, although their deeper section and aero bladed spokes add a bit of pizzazz. DT Swiss claims a wheelset weight of just over 1800g and an internal width of 18mm. They are likely to prove durable and cope with poor weather, although the Teammachine SLR would certainly benefit from something more exciting.
The fitted Vittoria Rubino 25mm tyres roll well, feel compliant and should be durable too, although they are quite heavy. Again, it would be worth an upgrade for summer use.
Riding the BMC Teammachine
You can feel the Teammachine’s race-winning DNA right away, as soon as you start to ride. With that aggressively stiff bottom bracket and chainstays, every watt of power feels as if it’s being transmitted to the road. So I was up at the top end of the cassette even on flatter roads and making extra speed on downhills.
There’s an agreeably precise feel to the handling, making fast descents confident, even on broken and wet surfaces and making it easy to pick and hold a line through hairpins and more gentle curves.
The SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset is a good match for this high tempo and I was able to use the extended range offered to push on in the large ring over undulating terrain to the east of Oxford.
I switched the groupset to sequential mode for some of my rides, where the groupset swaps between chainrings at specific points in the gear range, without you needing to initiate the change.
Shift up to the large ring is smooth. But the swap to the small ring comes on the second-to-largest sprocket and can be a bit jarring, particularly if you’re coming off a fast downhill onto a sharp ascent. Fortunately on these occasions, you can still use the levers to initiate a chainring change manually and pre-empt the system.
Despite its racing credentials, the Teammachine SLR 02 is still very comfortable for longer rides. There’s plenty of compliance in the skinny, dropped seat stays and D-shaped seatpost and the Fizik Antares saddle is well shaped and a bit broader than an out-and-out racing saddle like the Arione. Even on four hour plus rides, I didn’t come back feeling beaten up.
BMC bikes tend to be a bit pricier than some brands, probably a reflection of the brand’s Swiss roots. But its pricing isn’t too out of line with comparable race-ready bikes from other high end marques with WorldTour racing credentials like Scott, Merida and Cervélo.
SRP for the SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset is over £2000, which is a fair chunk of the Teammachine SLR 02’s £5200 list price and there’s clearly been a significant investment in development of the excellent frameset. Plus BMC’s bespoke seatpost and stem add cost over off-the-shelf components.
There has to be some give somewhere and as tends to be the case, that’s in the wheelset. That’s a logical compromise, as most riders looking to spend north of £5000 on a bike are likely to have a set of best day carbon hoops hanging in their shed, or the funds to purchase one.
But the need to run an XD-R cassette body for the SRAM 12-speed groupset adds complication to a wheel swap. And the supplied DT Swiss wheels are a good all-weather training option in any case, although at around £350, they’re certainly not up to the standard of the rest of the bike.
The Teammachine SLR 02 is a great bike if you’re looking for a more sporty, fast ride that doesn’t beat you up on longer excursions. It just feels fast and handling is superb. The SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed groupset matches the bike’s credentials well, but the supplied wheelset doesn’t live up to the rest of the spec.
Frame: Teammachine SLR02
Fork: Teammachine SLR02 Carbon TCC Race
Size range: 47 – 61cm
Size tested: 54cm
Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed
Gear ratios: 48/35, 10-33
Wheels: DT Swiss P1800 Spline db 32
Tyres: Vittoria Rubino Pro 25mm
Brakes: SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD hydraulic disc
Bars: BMC RAB 02, ergo top
Stem: BMC ICS alloy
Seatpost: Teammachine SLR02 D-Shape Carbon
Saddle: Fizik Antares R7, manganese rails