Day two at the BMC training camp was a little disappointing, but only due to the weather. I got to the hotel late and missed two things; yoga in the large room downstairs and breakfast, glad I missed one, and disappointed I missed the other!
The cold and wet weather allowed more time to look at the bikes and hear more about the fabrication, design and style of the three frames that the team will be using in 2011. The two road frames are the Team Machine SLR01 and the very beautiful impec; for the rides against the clock the team will use the TT01 time machine, all are built up with Shimano Dura-Ace and as far as I could see they all had the electronic Di2 system. The wheels and bars were from Easton and the saddles were from fi’zi:k.
Take a look at the fabrication video before I get caught up in the science:
If you want read about Phil Gale’s visit to the BMC factory in Grenchen, you can read it here.
OK to the technical stuff: Mike Hьerlimann took us through the production processes and proved BMC’s proud boast “hand made by robots” makes sense when you see the amount of technology behind their frame building. They utilise many different systems for their manufacture, and I won’t embarrass the guys at BMC by getting the facts wrong, if you want the exact details check out their web-site.
The most obvious facet must be the “Skeleton Concept” this is stiffening around the seat cluster/top tube and around the rear brake. Also the seat stays come into the seat tube lower than normal which BMC claim gives exceptional ride comfort and superior handling. The shape of the tubes is part of the “Load Specific Weave” concept, which means that BMC weave the tubes seamlessly and each of the tubes are load-optimised, this gives the best strength for weight due to shape and thickness of the specific tube.
On the impec, the lugs, or joints, of the frame are quite obvious to the eye, this is the “Shell Node Concept”. These are made of compressed thermoplastic resin with a high percentage of carbon fibre. These are made in two half shells and then glued together to joint the frame. The joints might look ugly to some, but I must admit I liked them, this could be because I’m from the older generation who remembers the lugs on steel tubed frames. To me the impec is one of the nicest looking bikes in the peloton.
If you prefer the smoother look, then the BMC Team Machine SLR01 will be more to your liking. This is the bike George Hincapie will be riding in his favourite races; Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. It also has the low seat stays and the skeleton concept, but without the lugs that the impec has. The chain stays are obviously square and the down tube is not small. Strong and comfortable and with those smooth lines.
For the time trial the team will be using the very sleek Team Machine TT01. The frames are made in Switzerland to the riders dimensions, although there is still a small amount of adjustment. The stem and headset arrangement give a very aero front end with an integrated headset and stem set up, the only disappointment could be the use of an normal brake and not a hidden calliper in the fork, similar to the Trek system, but maybe I’m nit picking!
The seminar came to an end and the open discussions started, team owner Andy Rihs was on hand to give his opinion and from everything he says you can tell he loves these bikes, the team, and the sport through and through.
Outside things were no better, so there would be no organised team ride. I chatted with Jim Ochowicz who told me the riders didn’t have to ride today, most would ride the indoor trainers and Cadel might go out this afternoon, but there was no pressure from the team.
Down in the large room the trainers were set out, but Chad Bayer wanted to try the new rollers that (allegedly) you can ride out of the saddle on. Chad didn’t seem keen on trying it, and the masseur suggested he didn’t as there is a long season ahead.
Three other riders joined him on the more usual trainers; all had their head phones except for Steve Morabito who was watching the tennis on his lap-top, but then this could have been for the benefit of the French TV crew from Eurosport.
As Johann Tschopp and Danilo Wyss battered away next to Morabito and Beyer I saw one lone rider next to the hotel swimming pool. Dutch rider Karsten Kroon preferred to be outside, it was cold for me but the steam was rising from his back.
It was a bit of a sad end to two great days with the BMC team, the rain was falling quite heavily now and under a gray sky I drove home with the blossoms from the almond trees being washed down the road. Thinking of the team, if organisation, top bikes, and fit riders win races then BMC should do well this year…if luck goes their way!