Professional cycling: the 2021 BMC SLR01 by Richard Murray | Bicycle equipment
South African Richard murray has been an elite short course triathlon hitter for nearly a decade and for 2021 he will be piloting a BMC SLR01.
He scored his first victory at the highest level at the Dextro Energy World Triathlon Hamburg 2012 and since then he has regularly rubbed shoulders with fellow triathlon stars such as Mario Mola and Vincent Luis, including a 2018 victory at the AJ Bell ITU World. Leeds Triathlon.
Swimming being the weakest of his three disciplines, Murray is often seen riding hard before unleashing his running prowess. Murray seems confident that his BMC SLR01 is the best bike for him:
“The bike is very light, nimble in the corners and more aerodynamic than the previous SLR01… I like the stiffness of the cockpit and the full integration, even the thru axles have been optimized for aerodynamics which is pretty cool. The bike is a pure racing machine designed for climbs, flats and breakaways.
Too big or too small?
Interestingly, Murray faces the same conundrum that many of us face, sitting between two frame sizes. Richard explained why he chooses a smaller frame:
“I use a medium frame which is 54 cm. It’s a little smaller than me “should”Ride maybe, but I’m somewhere between medium and tall, I prefer a smaller frame and a longer stem. More Aero as well as a lighter package.
There’s no point in having a top-of-the-range bike if it doesn’t suit you properly; being comfortable is crucial, allowing for better power output while ideally being as aerodynamic as possible. Murray described the many details he goes into to make sure his bike is set up the way he requires – although he takes a ‘feel’ approach rather than a modern ‘bike fit’:
“I am VERY specific about the details of my bike and the settings are very important. My bikes are produced either at the BMC headquarters in Switzerland or at the Woest Sport bicycle shop in the Netherlands.
He continued, “I usually make sure the stem and bars are the right length and the frame size is the same size. I will then take a ride or two once I measure [the] the height of the saddle and the reach of the bike. On my first few rides, I stop a bunch of times to tweak things – shift lever height, bar rotation for [the] falls as well as the height and inclination of the saddle during the ride. i usually receive [to] a place so when I’m comfortable and that’s how I do the setup mainly. It’s not very scientific but seems to work for me.
Reflecting Murray’s attention to detail with his setup, his BMC SLR01 features special components. Murray has confirmed that the bars and integrated stem will not be visible on any old BMC:
“The bar is an integrated bar 120 mm to 400 mm wide, it is [a] Team only bar and is extra stiff to help with sprinting and forward stiffness.
Shimano groupset more …
Its group choice is the Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 11-speed, along with a power meter (see below), and it uses C-Bear Ceramic bearings in the jockey wheel and bottom bracket.
The gear selection is a “classic” road race, namely 53-39, combined with an 11-25 cassette. Richard explained how he chose this choice of tray:
“53-39 is my date [chainring setup]. I have played with a 52 before but lack of power and [the] good ratios coming out of the corners. I have enough torque to use the 53 and it also builds up good resistance in [the] legs to run a larger front ring in most workout days.
To change or not to change?
Despite the attention he pays to the technical aspect of his bike, Murray loves what he likes and doesn’t change often for the fun of it. It still uses 172.5mm cranks, and why not? :
“Standard crank length of 172.5 for me. It’s standard and so much easier to order than changing the crank size …. Plus, it’s all I’ve ever used, and why change it if it’s not broken ?!
He might be firm along the length of his crank, but it looks like Murray is ready to change his pedal choice … again, maybe not:
“I am using Look pedals at the moment, but plan to try Shimano pedals again in the near future. I’ve been using Look for 12 years so we’ll see… ”
Another component choice Murray is thinking about is his saddle. Stools are very subjective and it can be difficult to find a suitable one for you. It seems that Richard is once again faced with a challenge that we mere mortals also face:
“…[I] recently started trying the Prologo [Dimension] Nack [saddle] But [I’m] ‘still on the fence as to whether I like it or not’. [If] I find something that works, I stick to it and it’s hard for me to try new things on my bike.
New power meter
Murray is very impressed with his new Shimano power meter and he gave an overview of his power figures during training and racing:
“I recently moved to [a] Shimano power meter for racing and training. It is SO compact, light and aerodynamic which is amazing, the glossy black finish is also very 21st century. The numbers are great and I generally focus on driving between 160 and 180 NP [normalised power] watts at 72 kg on my easy runs, runs around 300-340 NP watts.
Disc brakes? No question
For some there is still a debate over the merits of disc brakes (for example, the UCI WorldTour Ineos Grenadiers cycling team still chooses rim brakes on their new Pinarello Dogma F bikes), but for Murray, that doesn’t matter. no doubt. These are disc brakes all the way:
“DISC BREAKAGE IS THE ONLY WAY… I always say, do cars still have drum brakes? NO, they don’t…. all vehicles are generally better with discs, especially in wet conditions when rim brakes are ZERO.
Swiss bike, Swiss wheels
True to the Swiss theme, similar to Pablo Dapena’s BMC 2021 time trial bike, Murray’s BMC SLR01 pairs with DT Swiss ARC DICUT wheels for race day and training. Murray explained his wheel choices and the variety DT Swiss offers:
“The DT SWISS ARC DICUT 50mm racing wheels and PRC 35mm wheels are my training wheels of choice. I have been using DT Swiss wheels for a few years and love their depth as well as their stiffness and stiffness capabilities. Sometimes I prefer a shallower racing wheel up front for certain events and would swap my 50mm ARC DICUT front wheel for the PRC DICUT 35MM wheel.
Tanned sidewalls for race day
Murray also uses different tires for race day and training. He confirmed that he had yet to be swayed by the clamor of tubeless setups and that he liked the classic look offered by Vittoria tires:
“My favorite tires are Vittoria Corsa [for racing] as good as [Vittoria] Rubino Pro G2.0 [for training]. The two clinchers, I’m old school like that! I use a 25mm tire width in racing and training and love the beige walls of the Vittoria Corsa.
In addition to changing his wheels and tires for race day, Murray explained the functional and practical nature of his training setup:
“I have a bell on my racing bike here in the Netherlands because it’s more or less the law because you have to overtake so many cyclists. I also have a saddle bag in which I keep a spare tube with a Co2 cartridge, money and ID if we are going to Germany for cycling.
“For race day I’m switching to DT’s ARC 50mm DICUT wheels and also have an 11-25 cassette with Corsa tires on the race wheels. I take off my saddle bag, and sometimes even a bottle cage if it’s a distance sprint triathlon, I’m an aero / weight weenie. ”
Like many athletes, Murray appreciates the benefits of indoor training in a controlled environment and is a fan of Zwift, but he also recognizes the “dangers” of indoor riding:
“I usually use my old training bike on [BMC] SLR01 from 2020/19 because I spent more miles on it and sweat etc. on the bicycle may damage the crank bolts and bearings, etc. I usually ride on Zwift and our Wahoo KICKR or Tax Neo – I don’t have any affiliation with any brand out there really.
Richard was recently confirmed to the South Africa triathlon team for Tokyo 2020. He has experienced some health issues this year, and we wish him all the best for his continued recovery!
If you like what you see, check out: BMC, DT Swiss, and Shimano.