by Wil Barrett
October 25, 2016
The BMC Team Elite TE01 uses a unique technology to deliver more comfort. Olly puts the lightweight racebike to the test to see if it really works
Rewind to Issue #105 of Singletrack Magazine for our racebike grouptest with the BMC Team Elite TE01.
BMC is a Swiss company, well known for its road bike heritage and pioneering approach to using carbon fibre in its bikes. In the UK, the BMC brand mountain bike isn’t anything like as common as its road-based brethren, but with retail giant Evans now in charge of sales and distribution in the UK, you should expect to see more of its bikes at races and on the trails from now on.
My first impression of the BMC Team Elite TE01 is that it’s a great looking bike. The minimal black and white colour scheme, black componentry and low-slung stance make it look as though it means business. It’s definitely not noticeable from first impressions that the frame has suspension built into it.
The suspension is located at the top of the seat stays and comprises a small stack of three elastomers that move on two parallel guide rods. From the outside you can’t see any of the technology and it’s only when you ride the bike that you notice the small amount (15mm) of movement that the system offers.
Unfortunately when the bike arrived, it suffered a number of minor teething problems – the fork remote lockout didn’t work properly, the fork also felt very sluggish and playing around with air pressure and compression/rebound settings didn’t improve things all that much. In addition, the BMC carbon seatpost regularly slipped (despite adding extra carbon grip paste and torqueing the binder bolt to maximum) and both brakes appeared to need bleeding, and pumped-up on steep descents.
The cable outers appeared to be slightly too long and rubbed on both the fork crown and the headtube of the bike, resulting in unsightly marks even on the first ride. None of these are big issues and all are likely to be resolved by the bike shop before a bike is issued to a customer, but it was noticeable that the attention to detail that seemed present on the Niner and the Trek was missing on the BMC.
Aside from a few niggles with the set-up, the componentry on the bike was all ‘top-drawer’. Full 2×11 Shimano XT M8000 groupset, BMC own-brand carbon bars and seatpost, BMC brand stem and Fizik saddle. Wheels were DT Swiss XR 1501 shod with minimally treaded Continental Race King 2.2 tyres.
The BMC was fitted with bolt-thru wheels front and rear, but the standout feature from the other two bikes was that the rear skewer was a Syntace X-12 model that uses a 5mm Allen key to loosen/tighten it instead of the more common lever. The Syntace axle is much neater looking, is lighter and as long as you have an Allen key to hand, it doesn’t take any longer to either remove or refit. The Fizik saddle polarised opinion – it was narrow and lightweight, but appears to arch up in the middle, which suited some riders and not others.
The Continental Race King tyres were superfast and rolled well, but are too stiff with tubes in. They offer only minimal grip in wet conditions and would have been aided by running them tubeless at lower pressures. They also had tiny side knobbles so offered limited grip on contouring trails. During dry conditions this was fine, but when we did some wet weather testing it was noticeable how often the BMC tyres tended to spit traction rather than dig in.
So, enough about the spec, what about the riding? The short answer is that the BMC is a blast to ride – the lightweight frame and components help the bike get up to speed straight away. The rear suspension did move noticeably when riding. It’s more visible to following riders than the system fitted to the Trek, but it’s not in the least bit off-putting or distracting. The MTT system seemed to add just enough comfort and compliance to reduce fatigue and increase confidence in dealing with rocky terrain. The only downside was that it easy to forget that the bike wasn’t a ‘proper’ full suspension bike, and to get out of your depth.
BMC seems to have got the geometry of the TE01 spot on – the ride position is just stretched enough and low enough at the front to feel fast and racey, the super-short chainstays (only 429mm, so 6mm shorter than the Trek and 10mm shorter than the Niner) mean it climbs exceptionally well (even with the minimally treaded tyres) and the MTT system offers enough compliance and comfort to really take the sting out of even the most lumpy trail.
The BMC is a great looking bike, with an impressive level of componentry and technology for your money. Initially it was plagued with quite a number of teething problems, which you wouldn’t have expected for a bike at this price point. However, once these issues are ironed out and the tyres either switched out or converted to tubeless, you’d be getting a hell of a lot of bike for your money. The great fit and confident handling mean the BMC is a great choice for the race course – just make sure to get it set up correctly before you head out between the race tapes!
The BMC Team Elite TE01 Specifications:
- Frame // 01 Premium Carbon, Micro Travel Technology (MTT)
- Fork // Fox 32 Float Factory Series, 100mm travel, Remote lockout
- Hubs // DT Swiss XR 1501 Spline ONE
- Rims // DT Swiss XR 1501 Spline ONE
- Tyres // Continental Race King Performance 29×2.2in
- Chainset // Shimano XT M8000 36/26t
- Front mech // Shimano XT M8000
- Rear mech // Shimano XT M8000 GS 11 speed shadow+
- Shifters // Shimano XT M800
- Cassette // Shimano XT M8000, 11-40t 11 speed
- Brakes // Shimano XT with 160mm RT86 rotors
- Stem // BMC Alloy 70mm
- Bars // BMC Carbon720mm
- Seatpost // BMC Carbon
- Saddle // Fizik Tundra M7
- Size tested // Medium
- Sizes available // XS, S, M, L, XL
- Weight // 23lbs (10.4kg)