Reviews are often maligned within the industry, generally for being terribly generic or biased. I’ve never tried to write one before and just attempting to put some basic thoughts down it quickly became apparent why they seem so generic. It’s also resulted in a three part “first ride” review that’s taken nearly two weeks to write. For a bit of context I’m small (1.69m), relatively light (62kg) and ride reasonable amount (~400km/wk). Because of this I tend to like bikes which win grand tours – the ones with an optimum balance of weight, stiffness and comfort. I’m not personally a fan of endurance or aero road bikes so each year I look for a new bike which will build up light, climb well and be fine for the odd 200km ride.
THE first ride:
This was out of BMC’s HQ in Grenchen, Switzerland. It was the day after a 70 mile mtb race, it was wet and the bike was hastily set up for a quick ride. All I really learnt was how much I disliked the Fizik Arione (I knew this already admittedly), that the bike was ultra stiff at the bb and that riding up 20% gradients is tough regardless of the bike. We took ours up the Weissenstein, the most fearsome climb around BMC. I wasn’t blown away but then it was hardly the conditions and I certainly wasn’t in the condition!
The comfort test:
A month later and after much chasing my own SLR01 finally arrived. This was just in time for a ride down to Paris to watch the end of the TdF with the BMC crew which I thought would be the perfect testing ground. I edited my bike’s spec to make it more in-line with what I know – swapped the bar, stem, saddle purely for personal preference. Put a larger ratio cassette on and my Enve wheels/powertap. With this kit on the bike was very comparable to my previous rides and I was going to have 600km to get used to it.
Unfortunately, what became apparent for most of the ride was that having to ride steady bearing in mind the overall distance and long, straight, smooth French roads were not going to make a great testing ground. Admittedly, a few cobbles in Paris and the amount of time in the saddle certainly gave me a good reflection on the bikes comfort and I had no issues whatsoever. However, once I returned to the UK I spent a night in Newhaven before finishing off the ride to London. That last stretch was the best testing ground.
Picking up speed on the final 80km the bike begins to come into its own. What’s very apparent is the stiffness in the BB and the headtube. Riding steady you just don’t notice but get out the saddle on a climb or to sprint for a green light and it’s the stiffest bike I’ve ridden. This is then combined with such a stiff headtube that steering inputs are incredibly precise. All this though is balanced alongside a bike that can easily be ridden for 8 hours straight out of the box – because that’s pretty much exactly what I did! I still wouldn’t say I was blown away though. I was starting to get a positive feeling for the bike but when I dashed off to China after getting home the jury was still out.
Getting to know you better:
Whilst I was in China I got to see the SLR being manufactured, on the testing rigs and then painted. It was pretty cool to see the bike from some carbon sheets all the way through to a finished article. When I got back I was straight back on the SLR and now really starting to feel at home. It has a refined feel, at first I wasn’t sure how comfortable it was but a longer term test leaves one in no doubt. On top of that it feels like a proper race bike – stiff and light and I know the looks are a bit Marmite with a BMC but I love it. Now the bike has 1000km and a few KOMs under its belt I’m really confident in saying it’s up there with all the best bikes from the grand tours.
The BMC SLR01 starts at £3,750 for the Ultegra equipped model, with the top spec Dura Ace Di2 model coming in at £9,000. The model tested was the Dura Ace mechanical bike, RRP £6250. View the line-up here >>