BMC TEAMELITE 02 DEORE/SLX (2017)
£1,599 Pro pedigree comes at a comfort price
BMC’s Teamelite 02 isn’t just a striking-looking bike, it’s also got one of the most in-yourface aggressive rides we’ve ever experienced. That makes it great for muscular masochists, but it’s no comfortable cruiser.
If you like your frames angular and futuristic, you’ll love the TE02. The head tube only tapers slightly at the very top and it extends into a long box-section front end. Control lines are routed through the huge octagonal down tube. The top tube is less sloped than most, increasing the triangulation of the mainframe, at the expense of standover clearance. A direct-mount side-swing front mech sits above the press-fit bottom bracket (BB) shell, and the bottom of the slim seat tube splays out in all directions to increase stiffness.
Out back, the asymmetric chainstays are absolutely massive and taper out only slightly towards the 142mm bolt-through axle. The Shimano rear mech gets a direct-mount arm. BMC’s ‘Tuned Compliance Concept’ (TCC) means the seatstays are broad but flat and spread into a wishbone that joins the seat tube low down. There are two bottle mounts for thirsty riders, but no provision for a dropper post, even though BMC team rider Julien Absalon was one of the first to start using one in World Cup races.
In a late-season deal, BMC’s UK distributors, Evans Cycles, have knocked 25 per cent off the TE02’s original £2,149 price. The 2017 bike uses Shimano’s older SLX gearing though, which is 2x10 and has no clutch on the rear mech to stop the chain rattling against the chainstay. Its RockShox Reba fork is also heavier than the 2018 version. The Shimano Deore brakes get a 180mm rotor for extra power though, and the 75mm stem is the shortest here. A flat bar and firm grips underline the aggressive feel, while the Continental X-King tyres are blisteringly fastrolling. The fat fi’zi:k Nisene saddle sits atop a skinny 27.2mm post.
BMC’s TCC road bikes have a reputation for eerily spooky smoothness. But it’s notable that their top off-road rider, Julien Absalon, chooses to ride a full-sus most of the time. There’s a halfway house between hardtail and full suspension in the BMC range, in the shape of the softtail TE01 with its solid-state suspension cush. And it doesn’t take long to realise why BMC riders might want a bit of impact isolation. Despite its skinny, low-set
seatstays, the TE02 is one of the stiffest bikes we’ve ever ridden.
The huge chainstays mean power transfer is devastatingly direct. Add the ultra-fast-rolling Conti tyres, and this makes the TE02 crazy quick on smooth surfaces. While they’re not particularly light, the 32-spoke, DT Swiss-rimmed wheels are stiff no matter how hard you stamp on the pedals too. The 15mm axle in the Reba fork combines with the big box-section front end to make the steering equally accurate. It’s got a typically race-twitchy 70-degree head angle and the shortest stem on test, so it’s relatively keen to turn, for a race bike.
So far this all sounds spot on for a flat-out fast hardtail, and on smoother trails it is. The trouble is that as soon as things get even slightly rough, the TE02 batters you. Not through the saddle, because the chunky padding and skinny post soak up some of the abuse, but through the other contact points. Your feet will take a beating and your hands will think they’re holding bare metal. More importantly in terms of speed, even small roots and rocks bang through the whole bike, killing momentum and making it hard to maintain pedalling rhythm. The lumpy grass fields so typical of UK races are misery. Even when we dropped tyre pressures to a risky 20psi at either end, there was so little compliance in the rest of the bike that we struggled to keep it connected to the ground. www.evanscycles.com