Technology that first appears on the most expensive road bikes gradually and eventually finds its way down the range to more affordable models, and that’s the case with BMC’s new TeamMachine SLR03.
Introduced last year, the TeamMachine SLR03 shares the same fundamental design as the SLR01 that was launched several years ago, the bike currently raced by the likes of Philippe Gilbert and Tejay van Garderen. A change of carbon fibre and a mix of Shimano Tiagra and 105 parts puts this version at a very reasonable £1,350 (currently discounted to an even more attractive £1,150).
The SLR01 ushered in a new platform for BMC, and was designed using the Swiss company’s Accelerated Composites Evolution (ACE) computer software. This allowed BMC to test many variations of frame design, tube profile and carbon layup, and run simulations to test different combinations, before settling on the optimum design. The development resulted in a frame significantly lighter and stiffer than the previous model, which the new SLR01 replaced, while retaining the unique aesthetic that is a hallmark of BMC road bikes.
It wasn't long before BMC extended this frame design to more affordable price points, first adding the mid-range SLR02 before following up with the SLR03 we have here. The key differences between the SLR03 and the more expensive versions are found in the grade of carbon fibre used, which results in a slightly higher frame weight. BMC claim 1,230g for a size 54. For reference, an SLR01 frame is 790g, so that is quite a difference on the scales, but a noticeable impact on the price - the Dura-Ace-specced SLR01 I tested cost £6,000.
The SLR03 retains the same key ingredients, though, so there’s the same oversized down tube, press-fit 86 bottom bracket, asymmetric chainstays, 27.2mm seatpost and tapered head tube with a 1.5in lower bearing. The SLR03 also uses aluminium dropouts rather than carbon, and there’s external cable routing.
There are three builds available: a full Shimano 105 build at the top and a Sora at the entry-level, along with the mid-range model here, which uses a mix of Shimano Tiagra and 105 10-speed. BMC use Tiagra for the front and rear derailleurs, compact chainset, 12-30 cassette and brake callipers, and upgrade the brake levers/shifters to 105.
Then there are Shimano R501 wheels rolling on 23mm Continental Ultra Sport folding tyres. BMC have used their own brand aluminium handlebar, stem and seatpost, and the saddle is a Selle Royal Sirio. On the scales the bike weighs in at 8.78kg (19.36lb).
You’re getting the same race-focused geometry on this bike as you find on the SLR01; that means the same fast but steady handling that makes the SLR01 so well suited to racing, obviously, but it won’t be out of place in a sportive or simply for hacking around the lanes on a Sunday morning. It’s available in a range of sizes from 47 to 60cm.
The SLR01 is still one of the nicest race bikes I’ve ridden so it’ll be very interesting to see whether any of that bike's charm is lost in the SLR03. Only one way to find out - time to hit the road and log some miles.
This price point, just above a grand, is a hotly contested one and there’s no shortage of choice. You can pick up the Boardman Road Team for £999 with a very similar Shimano 105/Tiagra build and carbon fibre frame, and for just a bit more there’s the Focus Cayo 7.0 at £1,299, which combines a carbon frame and fork with a Shimano 105 groupset. Another option is the £1,099 Giant TCR Advanced 3, another race-ready carbon bike with a full Shimano Tiagra groupset.
The BMC TeamMachine SLR03 is available exclusively from Evans Cycles.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com 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.