- A quick, stiff, and well mannered bike
- Not too innovative in a good way
- Does just about everything a good road bike should
- Good bike for fast club rides, getting started in racing, or bad weather bike
- A little buzzy
Earlier this summer, I had the chance to test ride a BMC Teammachine ALR01. Or what is kind of an ALR01. It’s an ALR01 frameset BMC sends to dealers for test rides and built up with a mix of Shimano Ultegra, an FSA K ForceLight crank, Vittoria Elusion Nero wheels and Rubino Pro Endurance tires, a Syncros RR1.0 Carbon Aero 420 Bar/Stem, and some kind of Syncros saddle the less said about the better. Rod from BG Bicycles of Houma, LA built the bike up with his usual eclectic and smart mix of parts. (Disclosure, BG Bicycles sponsors the team I race for and is a sponsor of the collegiate club I advise.)
Overall, it is a very nice package despite my struggles with the mechanical Ultegra after spending a year and half riding Ultegra Di2. There’s not a lot of innovative stuff going on here other and for a lot of folks that’s a good thing. Sure there’s a pressfit bottom bracket and tapered head tube, but other than that, BMC has stayed away from some of the current bicycle industry fads. Tubes are shaped and butted, but they aren’t aero. There’s no pivots or elastomers or any other new fangled stuff. Just “smart welded” aluminum tubes and well-thought out geometry.
The matte black, yellow, and white color scheme is fetching (though not available for purchase). The performance of the frame matches its looks. If I had to describe the ALR01 in one word it would be monolithic. That’s not a bad thing. The ALR01 does one thing and it does it very, very well. It’s a fast bike. It wants to dive into corners in a very controlled way. It reacts to rider input. It’s stiff (and here the Syncros RR1.0 Bar/Stem combo didn’t soften things up at all) and precise. A quick shift of your hips or arms and the bike reacts. And it reacts when you push on the pedals. It is a bike that lacks subtlety. It goes. And you feel it–both in good and not so good ways.
I spent two days on the fairly good roads and compared to my 2014 Fuji Altamira with a Zipp SLC2 bar, I felt a bit more road buzz on the ALR01 than I’d have liked. Maybe with more supple tires and more forgiving handlebar or stem, the road buzz wouldn’t be so noticeable (at the time I was riding a set of Vittoria Corsa G+ clinchers on Zipp 303 wheels on my Altamira). But the ALR01 gets down the road quickly and even though it’s not billed as a full out race bike (it has a higher head tube then the carbon SLR versions), it turned faster than my Altamira and seemed to want to react to steering inputs of all kinds in a fast though not twitchy way. It is a lot of fun to ride. I never felt like I had to watch the ALR01.
Now on to the quickness part. Maybe it was because I wanted to get off the saddle (I really should have swapped out my regular one), but I came within a second or two of beating my personal best time on Strava segment without really trying. The ALR01 is stiff and seems to transmit power very efficiently.
Beyond the Frame
The Vittoria Elusion Nero wheels are equally nice and stiff. As expected for wheels with ceramic coated brake tracks, they offer great braking, though I didn’t ride in the wet or down any hills (it’s really, really flat in south Louisiana). In terms of durability, they seem stout, though a guy I ride with had the rear hub on his set break after about 2,000 miles. Vittoria was good and sent him a full set without seeing the broken pair. They said it was only second failure they’ve had.
The Syncros RR1.0 Bar/Stem combo is a nice bit. It’s stiff and the drops have a nice radius. I wasn’t crazy about the tops. The edge facing the rider have a bit of angled rectangular edge to them that didn’t get along with my hands. Others may like them though. They seemed to offer good stiffness and may have contributed to the quick and precise handling of the ALR01.
If you’re looking for a fun bike or even an inexpensive crit bike, the BMC Teammachine ALR01 will suit you. If you’re looking for bike for leisurely fondo type riding, look elsewhere. For spirited club rides, crits, and road racing, or even as a winter/rain bike, it’s a great choice.
You can get a BMC Teammachine ALR01 built with Ultegra, 105, Tiagra, or Sora. All of them use the same frame and SLR 03 full carbon fork and basic cockpit.