Latest ‘Big Wheel Concept’ BMC gets thoroughly beach-tested by Matt Levett
Need to know
- Second-from-top XC race bike in the Teamelite range
- Carbon frame with BMC’s Big Wheel Concept 29er geometry
- Fox 32 Float fork with 100mm travel and remote CTD lever
- SRAM X01 groupset with 30t chaining
- Five frame sizes
In preparation for this year’s Howies Battle on the Beach, I found myself struggling with a rather fortunate dilemma: whether to race a cyclo-cross bike — more familiar territory for me, lighter and potentially faster — or to go for a mountain bike that could offer extra grip in the deeper sand and more fun on the trails that snaked through the dunes.
As I wasn’t in contention for a podium finish, when the opportunity to ride BMC’s Teamelite TE02 X01 cross-country machine came up, I jumped at it, as it seemingly offered the perfect compromise between traction and weight.
From the outset, it was clear that what might have been considered compromises didn’t actually exist. The TE02 climbs like no other mtb I’ve ridden. It’s impressively light, at 10.49kg, and power transfer is remarkable through the stiff carbon frame with its ultra-wide PF92 BB shell.
To achieve some compliance at the rear, BMC uses similar technology across its XC mtbs and endurance road bikes. As such, the lay-up of the carbon seatstays is finely-tuned to filter out trail chatter and, combined with the slender, 27.2mm seatpost, there’s a tangible improvement in comfort.
How to ride technical climbs
There is plenty of straight-line speed on offer too, and it was easy to make my little bursts of acceleration count in the mass dash across 5km of pan-flat beach. Built around BMC’s ‘Big Wheel Concept’ geometry, the TE02 frame is optimised for 29-inch wheels. That translates to a (claimed) low bottom bracket, very short chainstays, a long top tube and slacker steering geometry.
With the stock 70mm stem, the size M bike had a pretty stretched riding position, one that may feel a touch long unless you’re a diehard racer. Still, it felt perfect for the terrain, and I had no issues adjusting to it from my road bike. Handling was great — sure rather than sharp — and I didn’t get that ‘runaway horse’ feeling that I’ve experienced before with 29ers.
I ran the Fox 32 Float fork at the maximum recommended pressure for my weight, which was pretty much spot-on for the terrain, dealing with the worst of the roots and bumps without being too soft hammering across the beach. Which was handy, as my only real complaint with the BMC, as an out-and-out race bike, was that it doesn’t offer a full lockout when using Climb mode. Other than that, the BMC Teamelite is an impressively fast package.