South African Richard Murray has been a ‘hitter’ in elite short-course triathlon for close to a decade and for 2021 he will be riding a BMC SLR01.
He took his first victory at the highest level at the 2012 Dextro Energy World Triathlon Hamburg and since then has regularly rubbed shoulders with his fellow stars of triathlon, such as Mario Mola and Vincent Luis, including a win in 2018 at the AJ Bell ITU World Triathlon Leeds.
With the swim being the weakest of his three disciplines, Murray is often seen riding hard before unleashing his substantial run prowess. Murray seems confident his BMC SLR01 is the best bike for him:
“The bike is very light, agile for the corners and is more aerodynamic than the previous SLR01… I love the stiffness of the cockpit and the complete integration throughout, even the thru axles have been optimised for aerodynamics which is quite cool. The bike is a pure racing machine built for climbs, flats and breakaways.”
Too big or too small?
Interestingly, Murray faces the same conundrum many of us face, sitting between two frame sizes. Richard explained why he opts for a smaller frame:
“I use a medium frame which is 54cm. It is a bit smaller than I “should” ride perhaps, but I sit between medium and large size, I prefer a smaller frame and longer stem. More Aero as well as lighter package.”
There is no point having a top-end bike if it doesn’t fit you properly; being comfortable is crucial, enabling a better power output whilst ideally being as aero as possible. Murray described the extensive detail he goes into to ensure that his bike is setup as he requires – although he takes a ‘feel’ rather than a modern ‘bike fit’ approach:
“I am VERY specific when it comes to details on my bike and the setup is very important. My bikes are built up either in BMC Head office Switzerland or in Woest Sport bicycle shop in the Netherlands.”
He continued: “I usually make sure the stem and bars are the correct length and frame size is the same size. I then go for a ride or two once I’ve measured [the] saddle height as well as reach of the bike. During my first rides I stop a whole bunch of times to fine tune things – shifter height, bar rotation for [the] drops as well as the saddle height and tilt during the ride. I usually get [to] a spot then when I’m comfortable and this is how I get the setup done mainly. It’s not very scientific but seems to work for me.”
Reflecting Murray’s attention to detail with his setup his BMC SLR01 is tricked-out with some special components. Murray confirmed the bars and integrated stem will not be seen on just any old BMC:
“The bar is an integrated 120mm – 400mm wide bar, this is [a] team only bar and is extra stiff to help with sprinting and rigidity of the front end.”
Shimano groupset plus…
His groupset choice is Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 11 speed, along with a power meter (see below), and he uses C-Bear Ceramic bearings in both the jockey wheel and bottom bracket.
The gearing selection is ‘classic’ road racer, namely 53-39, paired with a 11-25 cassette. Richard elaborated on how he settled on this chainring choice:
“53-39 is my go to [chainring setup]. I have played around with a 52 before but lack power and [the] right ratios coming out of corners. I have enough torque to use the 53 and it also builds good strength in [the] legs to run a bigger front ring in most training days.”
To change or not to change?
Despite his attention to the tech-side of his bike, Murray likes what he likes and doesn’t often make change for change sake. He 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 crank size ….Also, it’s all I’ve ever used, and why change it if it’s not broken?!”
He may be firm on his crank length, but it appears Murray is open to changing his pedal choice….then again, maybe not:
“I use Look pedals for now, but plan to try out Shimano pedals again in the near future. I have been using Look however for the past 12 years so we will see …”
Another component choice Murray is mulling over is that of his saddle. Saddles are very subjective and it can be difficult to find one that works for you. It appears Richard is again experiencing a challenge we mere mortals also face:
“…[I] have recently started to try the Prologo [Dimension] Nack [saddle] but [I’m] ‘still on fence as to if I like it or not’. [If] I find something that works I stick with 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 some insight to his power numbers when training and racing:
“I have recently moved over to [a] Shimano power meter for both racing and training. It is SO compact, light and aero which is amazing, also the gloss black finish is very 21st century. The numbers are great and I usually focus on riding between 160-180 NP [normalised power] watts at 72kg on my easy rides, races around 300-340 NP watts.”
Disc brakes? No question
For some there is still some debate as to the merits of disc brakes (for example, UCI WorldTour Cycling Team Ineos Grenadiers still choose rim brakes on their new Pinarello Dogma F bikes), but for Murray there is no question. It is disc brakes all the way:
“DISC BREAKS IS THE ONLY WAY … I always say, do cars still have drum brakes? NO they don’t …. all vehicles are better in general with discs especially in wet conditions when you have ZERO breaks on rim brakes.”
Swiss bike, Swiss wheels
Sticking with the Swiss theme, similar to Pablo Dapena’s 2021 BMC time trial bike, Murray’s BMC SLR01 is paired with DT Swiss ARC DICUT wheels for both race day and training. Murray explained his wheel choices and the variety offered by DT Swiss:
“DT SWISS ARC DICUT 50mm wheelset for racing and PRC 35mm wheels are my training wheels of choice. I have been using DT Swiss wheels for the past few years and have loved their depth as well as stiffness and acceleration capabilities. Sometimes I prefer a shallower race wheel up front for certain events and would the swap out my front 50mm ARC DICUT wheel for the PRC DICUT 35MM wheel.”
Tanned side-walls for race day
Murray also uses different tyres for race day and training. He confirmed he is yet to be swayed by the clamour for tubeless setups and loves the classic look offered by Vittoria tyres:
“My tyres of choice are Vittoria Corsa [for racing] as well as the [Vittoria] Rubino Pro G2.0 [for training]. Both clinchers, I’m old school like that! I use a 25mm tyre width in racing and training and love the tan walls on the Vittoria Corsa.”
In addition to changing his wheels and tyres for race day, Murray explained the functional and practical nature of his training setup:
“I have a bell on my race bike here in the Netherlands as it’s more or less law as you need to pass so many cyclists. I also have a saddle bag which I keep a spare tube in along with a Co2 canister, some money and ID if we head to Germany to cycle.”
“For race day I swap over to the ARC 50mm DICUT wheels from DT and also have a 11-25 cassette on with Corsa Tyres on the race wheels. I remove my saddle bag, and sometimes even a bottle cage if it’s a sprint distance 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 acknowledges the ‘hazards’ of indoor riding:
“I usually use my older training bike the [BMC] SLR01 from 2020/19 as I’ve spent more miles on her and the sweat etc. onto the bike can damage bolts and crank bearings etc. I usually ride on Zwift and either on our Wahoo KICKR or Tax Neo – I have no affiliation to any brand there really.”
Richard has recently been confirmed as part of the South Africa triathlon team for Tokyo 2020. He has experienced some health challenges this year, and we wish him all the best with his continuing recovery!
If you like what you see, check out: BMC, DT Swiss, and Shimano.