Fast, stiff and direct with great handling, the brand new BMC TeamMachine SLR01 Disc Two is a highly capable carbon fibre race bike, with the hydraulic disc brakes delivering impressive stopping ability and great control in all weathers. It's one of the benchmark disc-equipped race bikes.
- Pros: Fast, stiff, great handling, concealed brake lines, Ultegra groupset and brakes
- Cons: Ugly mechanical cable routing
The BMC TeamMachine has long been considered one of the best carbon fibre race bikes on the market, but it's also one of the most underrated as well. Regardless, it's a top choice if a fast ride with all the performance you could ever wish for was on your list of requirements for a new bike.
The TeamMachine is now available with disc brakes, with only a small weight penalty over the non-disc version and a host of other changes, but has BMC done enough to ensure its flagship race bike is a top contender in this increasingly competitive category?
I've covered all the key frame and tech details in the first look article, so this review will concentrate on how the bike rides and the build equipment on this model.
Ride and handling
I've always been a fan of the TeamMachine and the new bike is no disappointment. That it is fast, direct and great fun to ride is no surprise at all, but I really wasn't expecting the smoothness and composure over my rough local roads. The latest race bikes have really narrowed the comfort gap to endurance bikes designed to deliver more comfort over their racier counterparts in my opinion.
The new frame, still modern looking if not as distinctive as it used to be, is the result of BMC's in-house bike design computer software, which is able to run thousands of simulations before arriving at the optimum design with regard to the tube shapes and profiles. The bike is available with disc brakes or rim brakes – you choose. Disc brakes are arguably where it's at right now, so that's what we're testing here.
Aside from the disc brakes, the down tube is the defining feature of the new frame: it's massive! That girth combined with the oversized bottom bracket and chainstays ensure the TeamMachine has the chops to handle any sort of sprint or surge, and is up there with the best race bikes in this category in terms of efficiency.
Up front, the new fork with a 12mm thru-axle and neatly attached brake calliper – the bolts go through the front of the fork to save weight – give the steering a very precise feel, with good feedback through the handlebar. There's no delay or hesitation when making direction changes, it's snappy and fast.
Set against that massive down tube are the skinniest of skinny seatstays. Their small profile and the low attachment point to the seat tube, along with a narrow seatpost, ensure that seated comfort is impressive for a race bike. It's not quite as sofa-surfing-soft as an endurance bike but it's light years ahead of race bikes from a few years ago that would punish on rough roads.
Despite a host of changes, BMC hasn't messed with the geometry, which is pretty much identical to the previous model. That's a good thing because the set of angles and measurements that BMC uses for the TeamMachine give it a well-balanced character, stable at speed and agile when turning through the corners. Only the chainstays have grown slightly in length, but at 410mm they're still short and don't ruin the handling – it's still as agile as you want a race bike to be.
Although the new bike feels similar to the previous model, it's noticeably stiffer when putting the power down and more direct in the way it responds to your steering inputs. It's a properly quick bike and while it might not have the aerodynamics of some of the latest race bikes, over challenging undulating terrain with lots of climbs and tricky and fast descents, the new TeamMachine Disc is exhilarating and rapid.
Add in the ability to accommodate up to a 28mm tyre thanks to the disc brakes, and you have the option to tailor the bike for longer rides if that's more your thing than bashing around a crit circuit for an hour.
Integration: good or bad?
Integration is a buzzword that has been doing the rounds in cycling for a few years now, and there's a good example of it on the new TeamMachine. In order to hide away the hydraulic hoses, BMC has developed its own unique stem and specially shaped steerer tube with squared-off sides that allow the hoses to be routed directly into the frame.
The hoses are captured underneath the stem by a removable plastic housing, and a little fettling soon had the hose neatly contained. From there the hoses then go in front of the steerer tube via aero-shaped stem spacers. It's a really nice idea, but the test bike needed a bit of fettling because of, I suspect, one of the hoses being a little too short.
Once fettled, everything was good to go. The aero-shaped spacers are a nice touch, interlocking into place. They're a bit fiddly to arrange, not helped by the hose being too short. If you want to lower the stem, as I did, you can place conventional round spacers on top.
If you buy this bike it's likely you'll cut the steerer tube to your desired length to avoid needing additional spacers, and hopefully, your local bike shop will ensure the hoses are correctly installed and neatly fitted under the stem.
What's not so desirable are the gear cables sprouting out of the down tube port on our test bike. Aside from looking ungainly – when you're riding along and looking down at the bike – they occasionally contact the knees on out-of-the-saddle climbs. An electronic groupset would avoid this issue, but I'd like to see BMC address the mechanical cable routing to stop the cable housing looping out of the frame so dramatically.
So it's integration but it's not on the same level as some other brands with cables and hoses entirely housed inside one-piece handlebars; BMC's system does at least provide easy access and adjustment, though.
Adding disc brakes to road bikes has largely come down to the use of flat mount callipers and 12mm thru-axles, and in this regard, the BMC is no exception. What is different is the new fork with the calliper bolts going in through the front of the fork, which according to BMC delivers a small weight saving. It also looks rather neat, though the two holes in the front of the fork aren't so aesthetically pleasing.
The fork/calliper mounting system has been designed entirely around a 160mm disc rotor, which in my opinion is a better choice than a smaller 140mm rotor, with the extra power and heat dissipation offsetting the measly weight difference. Out back a 140mm rotor is fitted and we're seeing this 160/140 setup quite a lot on the latest disc-equipped bikes. Will this become the de facto standard?
To cope with the disc brake forces, the new fork also has an asymmetric design: the left fork blade is wider in profile, with the weight increase a claimed 18g. Also asymmetric are the chainstays: the non-drive side chainstay is a completely different shape to the drive side chainstay.
Full Shimano Ultegra build
For £4,450 this BMC gets a full Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset, the latest iteration that borrows much technology and styling from Dura-Ace. The mechanical gears are a delight to use, as light and crisp as you could ever wish for, and a great argument for mechanical over electronic.
The 52/36-tooth chainset and 11-30t cassette combination on this bike is a great setup for the speed and performance this bike is capable of, ideal for the fastest paced rides and races as well as sportives and hilly training rides.
Occasionally the jumps between the top four sprockets (21-24-27-30) can be a little on the large side depending on the gradient and pace of the climb, but generally it's fine and you soon adapt your pedalling cadence.
This new TeamMachine is also the first bike we've had in the office that has made use of the new direct mount rear derailleur option with Shimano's latest groupsets. It's an idea borrowed from its mountain bike department, the idea being to provide better shifting performance simply because of the increased stiffness and strength from the way the rear mech is bolted to the frame.
In reality, I couldn't detect any advantage compared to a standard mount Ultegra R8000 rear mech on another test bike. It does look cool though.
On to the brakes, and what's not to like? The new rotors not only look extraordinary but work brilliantly, with great heat management on longer descents. The levers deliver a wonderfully smooth and progressive feel – one-finger braking at even the highest speeds is something you quickly get used to.
Wheels and tyres
This model TeamMachine rolls on 25mm Vittoria Corsa tyres, and they are one of my faves at the moment. They feel rapid in the dry, predictable and trustworthy in the wet, don't puncture easily and have proven to be durable for a race tyre. Don't fret, those sidewalls clean up easily after muddy rides, though I'd probably prefer black sidewalls personally. And as I said earlier, there's space for wider tyres if you want to inject more comfort into the ride.
Those tyres are fitted to excellent DT Swiss PR 1600 Spline db 23 wheels. The Swiss wheel company has been killing it recently with new releases and solidly dependable wheels, and these are no exception. At a claimed 1,591g they're a decent weight and the 18mm internal width works well with wider tyres, while the Ratchet System freehub provides super-quick engagement thanks to the many more points of engagement compared with other hub designs.
The rims are tubeless-ready but you'll have to buy new tyres because the Vittoria Corsa tyres aren't tubeless, which is a shame. Can you tell I'm a tubeless fan?
The integration approach means this bike has BMC's own stem. It's made from aluminium and is attached to the steerer tube with a single bolt, while the faceplate hooks into the top of the stem and is bolted at the bottom. The open faceplate design allows out-front mounts to be used with a GoPro-style bracket and an assortment of mounts included with the bike. I fitted a Garmin Edge computer with no problems.
The aluminium handlebar is also BMC's own design. It's a pleasant shape and comfortable, if nothing to write home about.
The last bit of equipment to cast my eye over is the Fizik Antares R5 saddle. I found it extremely comfortable with generous padding and a shape that just works for me. It might not work for you, of course, but Fizik does have a useful saddle selector to help you choose from its many models if you don't get on with the Antares shape.
Rivals and value
To my mind, the BMC TeamMachine SLR01 Disc Two does enough to justify its high price, but there's no doubting it's a heck of a lot of money, and you might want to consider what else is out there. The Trek Emonda SLR 6 Disc (£4,400) has a much lighter frame but keeps the same Ultegra mechanical groupset. Or if you don't mind a slightly heavier frame, the Emonda SL 7 Disc (£4,400) upgrades to Ultegra Di2 and carbon fibre wheels.
Go shopping at Canyon and you'll get a Di2 and Cosmic wheelset upgrade over the BMC with the £4,449 Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 Di2.
It might not be the biggest bargain going, but the new BMC Teammachine SLR01 Disc Two is one of the best carbon fibre, disc brake-equipped race bikes I've yet tested. It packs some impressive technology and integration (though I would like to see the mechanical cables better routed) and combines impressive stiffness with surprising comfort, producing a bike that's right at home in a frantic road race or a relaxed sportive.
Fast, stiff and great handling carbon disc race bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BMC TeamMachine SLR01 Disc Two
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Teammachine SLR01, Disc-specific, ACE Technology, 01 Premium Carbon
Teammachine SLR, 01 Premium Carbon, Integrated Cockpit, Disc-specific
Number of Gears
Shimano Ultegra, Hydraulic
Shimano Ultegra, 52-36T
Shimano Ultegra, 11-30T
Shimano Ultegra, SM-RT800 Rotors (160 /140)
BMC RAB 02, ergo top shape, compact bend
BMC ICS 01 - Integrated Cockpit Design, w/ computer and camera mount
DT Swiss PR 1600 SPLINE db 23, Thru Axle (12mm)
Vittoria Corsa, 700x25c
Fizik Antares R5, kium
Teamachine SLR01 "D" Premium Carbon, 15mm offset
Tell us what the bike is for
From Evans: "Backed by the confidence of a World Championship win, the prestige of a Tour de France title, and the experience of owning countless World and Grand Tour stages, the Teammachine is well-equipped to stare any brutal day of racing square in the face. Even the best must evolve to remain on the top step of the podium. Their mission is to constantly innovate; to make the world's "winningest" bike even better. By utilising BMC's ACE Technology, accelerated the evolution of the Teammachine by light years. The result is the pinnacle of performance in competitive cycling: the world's raciest balance of weight, stiffness and compliance, perfected with maximal integration and Swiss design.
"The Teammachine's trademark balance of lightweight, stiffness and compliance continues to deliver the superior ride experience it is famous for. The Integrated Cockpit System (ICS) redefines 'sleek front-end', while our proprietary Direct Frontal Flat-Mount eliminates extra material to shave off grams. Our engineers also cleverly integrated the Di2 junction box, hiding if from sight within the frame."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very high quality finish, frame and fork made from BMC's top grade 01 Premium carbon fibre.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
BMC calls it 01 Premium carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
What you'd expect from a race bike: an emphasis on a long and low position for racing.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It felt perfect – no changes were required to get a good fit.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Thanks to the D-Shaped carbon fibre seatpost it's surprisingly comfortable for a race bike.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The bottom bracket stiffness has improved and it certainly doesn't flex, twist or deform when you give it the beans.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
As above, very well.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively Direct and fast.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is a nice balance of high-speed stability and low-speed agility.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Deep section wheels would unleash more speed potential.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
A carbon fibre handlebar rather than the aluminium bar might have been nice at this price.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you want a high-end lightweight and stiff carbon fibre race bike with great handling and disc brakes, the latest TeamMachine SLR01 is a top pick. It's very good on performance and although it's expensive I still think it warrants an 8 overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
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.