Founded in 2007 by Olympian Chris Boardman, Boardman Bikes might not have the history of some bike brands, but a combination of affordable prices and well-designed bikes, and some notable race success, has ensured that over the years the brand has become very popular with UK cyclists.
The range covers a wide spread of prices and disciplines, including mountain bikes and city bikes, so there’s truly something for all tastes and wallets. We’re focusing on road bikes in this guide to the 2017 range.
To help choose the right road bike, Boardman helpfully splits the range into Performance and Elite, the latter focused on absolute performance and used by world class athletes, while the former is designed for everyone from beginners to enthusiasts and focuses on affordable value.
Boardman Bikes was bought by Halfords in 2015, where all of the Performance bikes are available. A select number of the Elite bikes are available through Cycle Republic. Last year the company decided to also offer direct sales, and you can buy any bike from its extensive range through www.boardmanbikes.com.
The company says this decision has allowed it to lower the price of the Elite road bikes making them better value for money.
“By us going direct, we have made it possible for the first time for our customers to buy all Boardman products in the way they want to buy them. We have kept on a few key dealers across the country as click and collect locations. As part of the Halfords Group, you can now also go and see, test and buy a selection of the Boardman Elite range in 16 of the Cycle Republic stores across the UK. The Boardman Performance Series range is sold through Halfords, online and in over 460 of their retail outlets across the UK,” says Marthe Jansen, Boardman Bikes Marketing Manager.
The website also allows you to customise the Elite road bikes so you can put together a bespoke bike. That custom option lets you spec the colour you want - with the main frame, secondary frame and a logo colour to choose from. Boardman says the total number of variables on offer comes to more than 5,000.
Boardman road bikes have reviewed very well on road.cc over the years. In fact, the Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR was the road.cc Bike of the Year 2016-17. We said: “when you combine the top level ride and handling, decent equipment and finishing kit, and the price, it just all adds up to offer a complete package.”
It’s worth adding that Boardman works to a two-year product cycle, and these bikes were all released in 2016, so we’d expect to see some updates and/or new models later this year for the 2018 model year. Boardman has already discounted some of the current bikes which see them offer even better value for money than they already did at RRP.
The Elite range includes the AIR and SLR in several guises, including with disc brakes or a titanium frame.
Aerodynamics are everything in road racing these days and the AiR is Boardman’s go-to aero road model.
Every tube profile has been designed using “world-class aerodynamic engineering” to reduce drag using computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing. The fork features integrated brake calipers to smooth airflow, whilst the cables are internally routed into the top tube behind the stem. The rear brake is tucked down below the bottom bracket.
The top models also feature new AST – Aero Surface Trip – technology which, it is claimed, reduces drag by 6 watts and could potentially save you 23secs over an hour of cycling.
There are six models priced from £1,899.99 up to £5,999.99 and two framesets at £1,399.99 and £1,499.99.
The most affordable AIR 9.0 (£1,899.99) gets the same frame as the higher-end models and features a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Boardman Air Elite Five wheels to keep the price down.
The AIR Signature (£5,999.99) is the top-of-the-range model and gets the best equipment you would expect at this price. A full Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with TRP brakes and an Enve SES 6.7 wheelset with Chris King hubs and Vittoria tyres complete a very nice build.
- Air 9.0 £1,899.99
- Air 9.2 £2,299.99
- Air 9.4 £3,299.99
- Air 9.8 £3,799.99
- Air 9.9 £5,500.00
- Air Signature £5,999.99
Air Womens £2,299.99
- Air 9.8 Frameset £1,399.99
- Air Signature Frameset £1,499.99
- Air Custom Frameset £1,699.99
If you’re a weight weenie and want the lightest bike with a Boardman name on it, look no further than the SLR Race. The carbon frame weighs a claimed 798g putting it up there with the lightest carbon race frames on the market. Geometry is suitably aggressive for a bike with race in its frame, “perfect for sprinting out of tight corners or powering up steep hills” says the company.
It’s a bijou range, just two complete bikes and two framesets. The SLR Race 9.8 (£2,999.99) comes with a SRAM Red groupset and SLR Elite Nine 30mm carbon wheels, while the SLR Race Signature (£5,999.99) gets upgrades of a Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Enve SES 3.4 wheels and matching bars, stem and seatpost.
- SLR Race 9.8 £3,099.99
- SLR Race Signature £5,999.99
- SLR Race 9.8 Frameset £1,099.99
- SLR Race Signature Frameset £1,199.99
- SLR Race Custom Frameset £1,399.99
If you want a bit of added comfort, the SLR Endurance, as the name indicates, is aimed at longer distance riding. The geometry has been tuned to provide a more relaxed fit, with a taller head tube and shorter top tube to reduce the stretch to the bars a little.
The C10 carbon frame also delivers a smoother ride with narrow profile seatstays designed to absorb vibrations.
There are five models priced from £1,599.99, with Ultegra parts, up to £5,999.99 with a Campagnolo Super Record groupset and Enve SES 3.4 wheels. As you’d expect of an endurance bike, Boardman has specced compact 50/34t chainsets across the board.
- SLR Endurance 9.0 £1,699.99
- SLR Endurance 9.2 £2,099.99
- SLR Endurance 9.4 £2,799.99
- SLR Endurance 9.9 £5,299.99
- SLR Endurance Signature £5,999.99
- SLR Endurance 9.8 Frameset £1,099.99
- SLR Endurance Signature Frameset £1,199.99
- SLR Endurance Custom Frameset £1,399.99
SLR Endurance Womens £1,849.99
SLR Endurance Disc Womens £2,049.99
SLR Endurance Disc
Disc brakes are super popular on endurance bikes these days and the Endurance Disc takes the all-carbon Endurance model and adds disc brakes.
Choose from five models priced from £1,999.99 to £5,499.99. All use the same frame, which harnesses the same essential design and geometry as the regular Endurance but adds disc brakes with a 12mm rear thru-axle and 15mm thru-axle fork. There’s clearance for up to 28mm tyres.
The SLR Endurance Disc 9.0 (£1,999.99) is equipped with Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes, the range-topping SLR Endurance Disc Signature (£5,499.99) comes with Dura-Ace Di2 and Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels and Enve finishing kit.
- SLR Endurance Disc 9.0 £1,999.99
- SLR Endurance Disc 9.2 £2,299.99
- SLR Endurance Disc 9.4 £2,999.99
- SLR Endurance Disc 9.8 £3,799.99
- SLR Endurance Disc Signature £5,999.99
- SLR Endurance Disc 9.8 Frameset £1,149.99
- SLR Endurance Disc Signature Frameset £1,249.99
- SLR Endurance Disc Custom Frameset £1,449.99
Most of the Boardman range of bikes are made from carbon fibre but if you desire something a little bit special, the SLR Titanium is a good choice. Boardman has never produced titanium bikes before but the brand thinks that the material fits its endurance platform perfectly. The frame is made from 3AL/2.5V titanium with a pressfit30 bottom bracket.
There are just two bikes in the range and both come with disc brakes and a 15mm thru-axle carbon fork. The SLR Titanium 9.2 (£2,999.99) gets a Shimano Ultegra groupset with hydro brakes on 160mm rotors and SLR wheels. The SLR Titanium 9.4 (£3,999.99) upgrades to Ultegra Di2 for electronic shifting and carbon fibre wheels.
- SLR Titanium 9.2 £2,999.99
- SLR Titanium 9.4 £3,999.99
- SLR Titanium 9.8 Frameset £1,699.99
Where Boardman has been really successful in gaining a strong foothold in the highly competitive road bike market over the years is in offering exceedingly good value for money, and its Performance range is a good place to start if you’re in the market for a new road bike.
The range covers seven price points from £500 up to £1,619, and two frame materials, aluminium and carbon and a choice of Shimano and SRAM groupsets.
The Road Sport (£500) kicks the range off and is a bike road.cc reviewed and awarded when it first came out a few years ago. It features a really nicely designed modern aluminium frame with double butted tubes to save weight and a carbon fork. There are also a few details that extend its usefulness to commuting, with mudguard and rack mounts. It also now comes in a choice of white or grey colours.
It’s equipped with excellent Shimano Claris 16-speed gearing with Mavic wheels and Vittoria tyres. A compact 50/34t chainset and 11-28t cassette will be a help on steep hills.
“The Road Sport is a very capable road bike. When you're riding along you don't think, 'Well, this is okay considering it's only £500.' You think, 'This is a decent bike,’” said Mat Brett when he tested it.
The Road Comp (£560) features the same aluminium frame as the entry-level Road Sport but swaps rim brakes for disc brakes, for extra control in all conditions. It’s a bike that has been designed specifically for endurance riding, says Boardman. The brakes are TRP Spyres with Shimano Sora brake levers and gears.
The Road Team Carbon (£800) is the first rung on the carbon fibre ladder. The frame borrows technology from the more expensive SLR Endurance model and is equipped with Shimano Tiagra gears and Tektro dual pivot brakes.
It's a practical bike as well. It's got a full complement of mudguard mounts so you can keep yourself and your riding buddies spatter-free through the winter, and you get dependable high-spoke-count wheels with Mavic CXP rims, and four-seasons-friendly Zaffiro Pro folding tyres
Step up to the Road Pro Carbon (£1,200) and you a carbon endurance frame and disc brakes. The C7 Carbon frame has a fairly sporty geometry - Boardman describes it as 'endurance' not quite as aggressive as an all out race bike, but not as upright as a classic sportive geometry. It's a bike intended to deliver all day comfort while riding at a decent clip. All cables and hoses are internally routed, including through the carbon fork.
The carbon frame is specced with a Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and an FSA Gossamer Pro compact chainset. Wheels are Boardman’s own Aero Profile rims with Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 25mm folding tyres.
Sitting atop the Performance line of bikes is the Road Pro Carbon SLR (£1,619) which uses a frame made from lighter C8 carbon fibre to the same endurance geometry as the Road Pro. It packs a competitive punch when compared to similarly priced rivals, with a SRAM Force 22 groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels.
The value proposition and the excellent ride manners have earned the Road Pro Carbon SLR two awards in the coveted road.cc Bike of the Year 2016/17 awards.
“The Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR is a great bike. It's there to be ridden fast, whether that's eyeballs-out fast or just a rapid average speed on a longer journey. It excites, and you certainly feel rewarded for any effort you put through the pedals.
“With a great groupset, impressive finishing kit and that smooth-riding frame, for this money, it's very hard to find fault with the SLR. It's certainly become one of my favourites.”
Here is the full price list for the Performance range:
- Road Sport £500.00
- Road Comp £560.00
- Road Team Carbon £800.00
- Road Team Carbon 105 £1,049.99
- Road Pro Carbon £1,200.00
- Road Pro Carbon SLR £1,619.00
- Road Pro Carbon Grey £1,500.00
- Road Team Carbon White £1,000.00
- Road Comp Red £700.00
- Road Sport White £500.00
- Road Sport Women Teal £500.00
Like what you see and want to take a closer look, or even buy a Boardman? All the Boardman Bikes mentioned above and the full range can be purchased directly at www.boardmanbikes.com. Alternatively, the Performance range is available in all Halfords stores, while a selection of the Boardman Elite range is sold through Cycle Republic stores across the UK.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.