Test bike courtesy of SwissValley Pte Ltd.

BMC’s SLX01 was launched during the summer of 2009 to a warm media reception. The SLX01 is classed just below BMC’s full carbon Pro Machine and the almost full carbon Team Machine. A mixture of aluminium and carbon defines the Racemaster. The top tube, head tube, and 1/3 of downtube are a single piece carbon and combined with the carbon seat stays and fork, it is called the “CNT carbon arc”, designed for comfort and handling. With a cross-sectional T-shaped top tube bonded to the seat tube in a vice-like grip, the frame achieves improved torsional rigidity. Supporting the arc is the “aluminium trident”, comprising of 2/3 downtube, aero-shaped seat tube, and chain stays.

 

First Impression 

While the Racemaster itself sports a very cool looking frameset, the most interesting feature has to be the aero-shaped carbon seat post, aka the “Streampost”. Instead of being secured by the usual Q-R, t  the seat post is cleverly fastened by a mechanism not unlike a quill type stem. Using an allen key wrench, a 90 degree turn releases the seat post for vertical adjustments, and turning it back 90 degrees locks it in place. It’s that fast, and hassle-free. The whole seat post assembly reportedly weighs a decent 220g.

The test bike came fitted with Shimano 105 groupset and White Industries wheels, weighing in at about 8.5 kg. With lighter components and a hole in your wallet, getting the bike under 7.5 kg should not be difficult. One component irrelevant to the frameset, but deserving special mention is the Selle San Marco Mantra saddle. Although I haven’t tried an enormous number of saddles, it is by far the most comfortable race saddle I have experienced in my 10 odd years of cycling. The large cutout in the middle of the saddle negates numbness in the nether regions, and reduces weight as well. As a guideline for those interested, I’m a lightweight skinny rider with insufficient natural cushioning on my behind, so hard saddles really give me a hard time. Having said that, saddles are quite a personal choice, and what works for me may not hit your spot.

Unlock seatpost.

Riding it 

The Racemaster rides like a race machine should: stable at high speeds, confident at corners, light & responsive on the climbs. Sometimes such performance comes with the negative aspect of ride harshness, but this is not true for the SLX01. It is surprisingly comfortable even with 100 psi tyres. The only minor drawback I encountered was slight over-steering while climbing out of saddle. Pushing down on the handlebars while climbing caused the bike to veer slightly in the direction of push. This was more obvious with a 110 mm stem, which I later shortened to 80 mm. After getting used to the bike, it became easier minimize this effect such that it is not noticeable.

Verdict 

In a highly competitive road bike market, the SLX01 stands out as a stiff yet comfortable ride, capable of handling a wide variety of road terrain. It was designed with a highly stiff bottom bracket, which makes it particularly suitable for strong climbers. As such, the Racemaster would be a suitable choice for serious enthusiasts looking for a machine to match their performance.