The Teammachine has a rich history of success, having won a variety of titles in the world of cycling from Monuments to the Tour de France to World Championships. The SLR01 Four is the latest edition to the family.
Pushing the boundaries of what an aero bike is capable of, the SLRO1 Four is imbued with a racing DNA yet still with the capabilities of producing a comfortable ride for those longer days in the saddle. It's well-rounded profile was rewarded with a place in our race bike of the year review.
BMC Teammachine SLRO1 Four - the construction
To optimise performance of the Teammachine SLR01 Four BMC used its ACE technology, a virtual technology that creates thousands of virtual prototypes until the most well balanced, performance orientated bike design is developed. Four key aspects are researched: stiffness, weight, compliance and aerodynamics - important factors for all of the best road bikes to consider. The result is the SLR01 which BMC claims is the fastest Teammachine ever produced.
Constructed from a tuned CCT premium carbon the focus when designing the SLRO1 Four was creating a lightweight, stiff road bike that can also provide a comfortable riding experience by being able to handle both vertical and lateral loads. The premium carbon is BMC’s top of the range offering but it's worth bearing in mind that the bike comes with a 110kg weight limit.
Many of the best aero bikes opt for deep down tubes and forks, however the SLR01 Four remains fairly slim in these areas. With a down tube measuring at 6.5cm wide and an incredibly slim seat tube of 1.3cm this helps the bike stay agile and nimble. This is enhanced by the 35mm deep carbon CRD-351 wheels, shallow enough that they can still carry speed on the climbs but not so shallow that they lose speed on the flat. Partnered with 25mm wide Vittoria Corsa tyres, they provide the perfect balance for a range of road surfaces and terrain.
Given that the bike is designed to be fast I was quite surprised with how relaxed it felt to ride. With a fairly shallow head tube angle of 72.3 degrees for the size 54 on test and a chainstay length of 410mm it wasn't one of the more aggressive bikes I have ridden. This was especially noticeable through sharper corners where a shorter wheelbase and greater head tube angle would have allowed for a nimbler and aggressive ride.
Stack height was also a little higher than expected - at 550mm it 's certainly not tall but less aggressive than the S-Works Tarmac SL7, for instance, which measures in at 534mm for a size 54. The reach was maybe a tad longer than usual at 386mm but personally I found I was able to get into a comfortable yet aero tuck on the drops with this set up, which certainly felt fast along the straights.
Although not the most aggressive, the geometry still felt fast, allowing me to hold this aerodynamic position for long periods, even on rides of three hours and over.
When paying a price equivalent to a new car specification is incredibly important. It's likely that upgrades are the last thing you want to be thinking about.
The SLRO1 Four comes equipped with BMC’s carbon 35mm deep CRD-351 wheels matched to a set of Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres. Although tubeless ready they came equipped with inner tubes.
The semi integrated bar and stem is aesthetically pleasing, helping to keep the bike looking clean and tidy. Not only does it look incredible it's also practical as the cables are kept tucked away by a clever housing system, which runs underneath the stem. Integrated bars and stems can be a bike mechanic's worst nightmare but this little touch makes things a whole lot easier when it comes to maintenance.
This isn't the case however with the choice of bottom bracket. The Teammachine SLR01 Four opts for a press fit BB and I personally find a threaded bottom bracket slightly easier to maintain.
The Fizik Argo Vento R5 is a short nose saddle designed to help you keep an aggressive, aero position out on the road. Saddle choice is personal of course, however the R5 is one of Fizik’s more budget friendly saddles it did feel unforgiving and hard, proving uncomfortable on the longer rides. I'd likely swap this out for a carbon railed model such as Argo Vento R1.
SRAM's 12-speed Force eTap AXS groupset provides smooth wireless electronic shifting alongside powerful hydraulic braking. The 48/35t chainset is paired with a 10-28t cassette, which delivers a decent range for a race-focused bike.
Last but certainly not least, the two aero bottle cages that arrive with the bike are a nice touch.
BMC Teammachine SLRO1 Four - the ride
The South Downs in the UK provided the perfect playground for the bike and as the sun came out on a warm spring afternoon I headed out to see what the bike was capable of.
It quickly became apparent that the SLR01 Four is fast.
It took off immediately, feeling both responsive and stiff. My route took me down a gradual descent and over some rolling terrain, which gave me the chance to test out the capabilities of the bike at speed.
The bike's geometry allowed me to comfortably tuck into a relatively aero position as I flew along at 50+ kph. Even when my Garmin ticked over the four hour mark I still felt comfortable - and fast - with no distractions from a sore lower back or neck that some race bikes cause due to their aggressive position. Because of this I was able to focus on putting down the watts and flying along. The CRD-351 wheels and Vittoria Corsa tyres proved the perfect partner at these speeds.
Flatter, exposed roads are often subject to strong crosswinds, which can be a problem for race bikes with deep tubes. Fortunately this wan't the case with the SLRO1. As the gusts blew the bike still felt stable and grounded, giving me the confidence to carry on putting the power down without having to worry the bike was going to be blown out from underneath me.
The short, steep climbs is where the bike really came into its own. With a 48t large front chainring I was able to keep in the big ring over most of these kickers and thanks to the 12-speed cassette I always had the perfect gear. Under load the bike felt stiff and light and came alive out of the saddle.
The slightly taller stack helped to relieve a little pressure from my palms and shoulders which in turn reduced the pain a little when going full gas.
At 7.5kg for a size 54 including pedals the SLRO1 is light but felt like a genuine featherweight on the climbs. It wasn’t surprising over this sort of terrain to find out I easily picked up a number of top-10s on Strava when I uploaded my ride later that day.
I was also super impressed by the fact the bike came equipped with two bottle cages and the frame has been designed to curve slightly around them in a bid to improve the aerodynamics of the bike. When out riding I did have a number of comments suggesting I had a big dent in the downtube, however that was just where the frame had been designed around the cages. On test both bottle cages provided a snug fit for my bottles.
With aerodynamics being a priority, a carbon D-shaped seatpost is used with the seat being clamped from underneath the top tube. Although this helps keep the bike looking clean it did mean I had a number of problems with a slipping seat post. After numerous adjustments while out on my ride and heaps of carbon gripper paste applied later the problem was eventually solved.
Every obstacle the BMC SLR01 Four faced it conquered with ease, from short, sharp ascents to exposed flat roads and twisty, technical back roads. The bike provided the perfect balance between comfort and nimbleness. Personally it's one of the best bikes I have ever had the pleasure of riding.
Value and conclusions
Valued at around $8,499 / £7,600 the BMC Teammachine SLRO1 Four is certainly not cheap and when comparing to other bikes on the market it does come out a little more expensive.
For instance the Merida Scultura 9000 with Ultegra Di2 comes out at $7,450 / £5,950 with a similar 12 speed groupset and Reynolds AERO 46 DB carbon wheels; the two bikes are very similar in many ways yet the BMC is still over $1,000 / £1,600 more expensive.
The BMC very much reminds me of the look of the Specialized Aethos, the Aethos Pro - SRAM Force eTap AXS is valued at $8,700 / £8,500. At $200 / £900 more expensive the Aethos Pro doesn’t even use Specialized’s top of the range carbon, unlike the SLRO1 which uses BMC’s premium carbon. Furthermore, both bikes come equipped with carbon wheels yet the Roval Alpinist CL that come on the Aethos Pro are not tubeless compatible.