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Hi all, I'm new to road cycling having come from a mountain bike background and need some advice before I pull the trigger on a new purchase.

I'm keen to sell my car in an attempt to save money and get fit by commuting by bike to work (only about a 6 mile commute each way). Ideally I want one bike thats versatile enough to commute to work (mainly road with some canal paths) whilst still being able to ride local trails with family and friends on mountain bikes. I want to go on adventures at the weekend on the same bike.

Ideally my budget started off at around the £1000 mark and I had settled on the idea of buying the well known Boardman CX Team from Halfords- http://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/road-bikes/boardman-cx-team-bike

The boardman is currently on offer @ £900 and I can get a futher 10% BC discount making it around the £800 for what is a lot of bike. I lilke the idea of being able to take it on trails and off road with my kids.

BUT... I soon saw a good deal on a GT Grade Carbon 105 (2017) £1559 at wiggle and now I've had my head turned - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/gt-grade-carbon-105-2017-adventure-road-bike/ 

I've read some really great reviews of the GT Grade and even one article which described the carbon 105 model as a great entry road bike (mainly due to the comfort). Please note I'm not looking for a thoroughbred Italian whip. Having never ridden road bikes before I'm going for the adventure/Gravel bike setup.

My dilemma is will I regret purchasing and commuting on a carbon frame bike purely because its carbon and seems like a good deal? Having read a few reviews I like the idea that the Carbon Grade is comfortable and fun to ride and I'm worried the Boardman won't give me the same get out of bed excitement. But the GT is really at the top of my budget and I wasn't really supposed to be spending that much money!

Any opinions or advice would be much appreciated? 

22 comments

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wellsprop [616 posts] 3 months ago
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Heart.

If the GT makes getting out of bed that little bit easier and the commute to work that little bit more exciting, then it's a no-brainer.

The Boardman is fantastic value and it will be familiar territory with the 1x and knobbly tyres - it could do with component upgrades in the future though. The gearing is also most suited to CX.

The GT looks awesome and the 32 tyres can be set up tubeless anyway. Admittedly the 52/36 chainrings are an odd choice for the type of bike. I have 52/36 on my road bike and I've never span out a 52/11 gear. I'd try looking to swap the 52/36 for 50/34 facebook pages are good for this, as is this forum! (That said, you shouldn't have a problem at the low with the 34/32 gear combo).

I wouldn't be too worried about carbon frame for commuting - I've just bought myself a Whyte Wessex. Admittedly it means I need to take more care when locking it up, moving it about etc, but it's a much nicer bike than what I have been on.

Go with your heart and get the bike insured whatever you do!

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wycombewheeler [1242 posts] 3 months ago
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Heart every time, the decisions i made with the heart always made me happier.

Is it more than you can afford to spend? Or just more than you think you should spend?

I have a carbon grade 105, I use it as a commuter and on club runs and audaxes in the wet weather. Love it would give up my other bikes before i gave thr grade up. They are slightly better in dry weather but the grade is far better in the wet.

I did have ideas of using it for CX too, but I'm just too lazy to keep removing and refitting the mudguards.

I did swap the chainset with my summer bike puuting the 36 on the bike likely to go faster and the 34 on the one used in the wet.

It always costs more in the long run to buy the cheaper bike first the replacing it with something better 18 months down the line.

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Chez_worldwide [26 posts] 3 months ago
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Hi. I bought the Grade 105 carbon and loved it. I then bought the AL claris version for a bargain £300 and loved it more.

I was a little worried about throwing a £1600 carbon frame around the countryside as I couldn't afford to replace it. No such worries with the AL version. I subsequently sold the carbon and still have the AL- I've done 7000 happy miles including daily commuting all year-round, canal pootles with the wife, off-road adventures and straight up road-rides. 

If I was you I'd look at the current AL range- 105 is £862 on Wiggle- within your price range and a cracking bike. If you really want carbon then the Tiagra version is just over a grand, but personally I wouldn't bother for what you want to use it for.

(I do have a carbon framed bike, but it doesn't get taken anywhere near tree roots, mud or puddles- done about 100 miles this year!)

EDIT- spelling.

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jterrier [150 posts] 3 months ago
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Interesting one; I have both bikes, and they are both really good for the price. The gt is just that bit more special, but the Boardman is a proper workhorse. The boardman does suffer a bit in terms of heavy wheels and slightly weird gearing given its intended purpose, but oddly enough the gearing makes more sense if you put commuter tires on and use it as a all rounder.

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nadsta [186 posts] 3 months ago
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Go rogue

As someone's said, heart wins every time it really matters. If you've got a bike that you still want to ride when it cold, dark and chucking it down, and the Grade is winking at you, you know what to do. 

I had the carbon 105 for a couple of years, only sold it as it was slightly too heavy, a bit high at the front and  and too slow steering for a true road bike on a fast club run (with me riding...) don't take those things as criticism though. I also rarely went off road. Brilliant descender especially in the wet on sketchy roads.  A true gent of a machine with full mudguards, wider tyres and a lovely ride quality - it replaced quite a high end Ti Van Nicholas and I didn't regret it at all. Great bike. Don't know anything about the boardman. 

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BeatPoet [83 posts] 3 months ago
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I've got the 105 AL and it's ideal for commuting. I personally wouldn't go for the carbon version if that's going to be its main purpose. For the sake of an extra kilo or so you're going to save £800 and not care so much as your lovely new bike becomes as dirty as hell within a month.

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shufflingb [27 posts] 3 months ago
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I've got a 2015 Grade Ultegra which I'm really very happy with. I've used it a lot and it's an incredibly flexible bike that would certainly tick your boxes quite nicely.

My thoughts would be:

1) In terms of the Grade's comfort, I'd probably not get too hung up on this. Most reviewers are rating it relative to road bikes. Compared to a mountain bike it's going to feel very direct/bumpy. There are things that can help with this, e.g . mine's got a Redshift stem and and Thudbuster LT seat post which make a big difference, but out of the box both are going to be lively rides, particularly off-road   1

2) You don't mention, but if where you ride is prone to sticky claggy mud, the Grade is a bit old skool and doesn't have a huge amount of mud clearance. In the winter a 33C is about the limit I can run if I don't want to spend way too much either digging mud out or hike a biking, the Boardman ships with a 35c, so might be better in the respect.

3) The Boardman's not tubeless ready,  that might be a deal breaker depending on the amount of brambles/hawthorns etc where you intend to ride. I think you could fix this fairly easily and still be under the price of the GT, but obviously that'd be more hassle. 

fwiw, I'd go with the Grade  3

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kevvjj [308 posts] 3 months ago
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There's a massive price difference between the two and mostly down to the carbon frame which you don't need. The Boardman is sensational value and has the advantage of being able to fit wider tyres than the GT. The SRAM Rival 1X is awesome stuff, and with proper hydraulic brakes. 

With the money saved you could buy a decent second set of wheels complete with tyres, discs and cassette - one for the off-road days and one for the days when you want to go faster just on the road.  Boardman is my pick (and I say this being the owner of a 2016 GT Grade alloy X).

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rdmp2 [27 posts] 3 months ago
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Whichever you will want to ride on a rainy January morning - either the boardman because it's less precious or the gt because you love it

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mart85 [14 posts] 3 months ago
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Wow, thank you for the replies guys. Really appreciate it, seems like this forum has a lot to offer. I've taken on board all of your comments.

However, as often with advice I've been left more confused!  sad

The grade carbon 105 is slightly more than I should probably be shelling out right now as we're planning to expand our family. It's just so damn tempting at that price! 

So after reading all of your comments I'm still torn between them both (sensible Vs splash out)....

Even though I don't like the paint job on the GT Grade Alloy 105 (2017) I am now seriously considering this. Can anybody chime in regarding the difference in ride between the carbon and alloy grade? 

Also for those of you who own the Boardman - what is the SRAM Rival x1 like on the road and commuting? Am I likely to be left behind when out riding with friends on road bikes? The hydraulic brakes are tempting. I guess what's holding me back is the notion that the Boardman might not be as fun as the grade?? Also would I regret commuting and long days out on the road riding on the Boardman given that its geared for CX?
 

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I am a human [40 posts] 3 months ago
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mart85 wrote:

Also for those of you who own the Boardman - what is the SRAM Rival x1 like on the road and commuting? Am I likely to be left behind when out riding with friends on road bikes? The hydraulic brakes are tempting. I guess what's holding me back is the notion that the Boardman might not be as fun as the grade?? Also would I regret commuting and long days out on the road riding on the Boardman given that its geared for CX?

I've got the Boardman, and it is excellent on the road.  I've been out on club runs with 28mm slicks and it keeps up just fine.  The gearing is pretty similar in range to 50/34, 11-32 but obviously with bigger jumps at either end.  The middle of the cassette is fine though, as long as you're not a super strict cadence nerd!

As for fun, it's ace.  I was on holiday in Purbeck in Dorset last week and I took the Boardman and rode up and along the downs which involved grassy paths along the tops of the hills, but rocky ascents and descents to get to and from the tops.  It was great fun, although my off road skills are sorely lacking.  I never once got the feeling that the bike was holding me back, only my skills and (lack of) bottle!

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rdmp2 [27 posts] 3 months ago
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Carbon bike might be overkill for commute- will others bash it when adding their bikes to the rack? The gear range of the 1x is identical to the 2x but has bigger jumps between the sprockets. Boardman has full hydraulic brakes vs Hy/Rd for alu GT. Boardman has smaller stack/reach than GT. With slick tyres either should be fine for group road riding. Get test rides- GT should be easy to rest. Halfords are less keen for you to test ride them, but you might get lucky.

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mart85 [14 posts] 3 months ago
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rdmp2 wrote:

The gear range of the 1x is identical to the 2x but has bigger jumps between the sprockets. Boardman has full hydraulic brakes vs Hy/Rd for alu GT. Boardman has smaller stack/reach than GT. With slick tyres either should be fine for group road riding. Get test rides- GT should be easy to rest. 

 

Thank you! Really good advice there about the gear range. 

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rdmp2 [27 posts] 3 months ago
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See link below for good visual guide to comparing the gearing

http://www.gear-calculator.com/?GR=DERS&KB=44&RZ=10,12,14,16,18,21,24,28...

 

mart85 wrote:
rdmp2 wrote:

The gear range of the 1x is identical to the 2x but has bigger jumps between the sprockets. Boardman has full hydraulic brakes vs Hy/Rd for alu GT. Boardman has smaller stack/reach than GT. With slick tyres either should be fine for group road riding. Get test rides- GT should be easy to rest. 

 

Thank you! Really good advice there about the gear range. 

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wellsprop [616 posts] 3 months ago
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mart85 wrote:

Even though I don't like the paint job on the GT Grade Alloy 105 (2017) I am now seriously considering this. Can anybody chime in regarding the difference in ride between the carbon and alloy grade? 

I haven't ridden either, but I might be able to be of some help with regards to components. I have/had FSA Vero, Shimano 105 and Shimano hydraulics.

The Alu Grade 105 has FSA Vero cranks with a square taper BB. This system is a bit heavier and a bit less stiff. However, it's VERY resistant to atrocious conditions (and I mean really bad, neglect, mud, sand, salt water etc - when all the other bearings start to fail, internal bb's are laughing. The other major benefit of 5 bolt FSA cranks is the components are MUCH MUCH cheaper and easier to get hold of (i.e. if you wanted to switch one or more of the chainrings to a more CX gearing).

My commute bike currently has 105 shifters with TRP Spyre (mechanical) brakes - the performance is very good overall - from what I have read and heard the TRP HY/RD mechanical hydraulic brakes (as found on the 105 al) are a step better again.

And for the Carbon 105 Grade... The 105 crankset with external BB is lighter and feels a little better (not exactly sure how to explain the feeling, but it feels a little more planted and responsive). The shifting is also noticeably slicker and slightly quicker than FSA Vero - particularly under heavy loading. I have RS685, the ergonomics aren't as nice as Shimano 105 5800, but they certainly aren't bad. I haven't properly used the RS505 that the GT carbon has (aside from a test ride), again they aren't the same super-slim feeling as 105, but they are not at all bad - the shifting isn't just as slick as normal 105, but it's still good.

The Clement Strada tyres on the carbon are vastly better than the Schwalbe Road Cruisers on the alu. The rims are also better (and tubeless ready) on the carbon. Not only that, the Carbon comes with an FSA K Force carbon seatpost (had one of them too, more comfortable than an alloy post) and it has a Fizik Aliante saddle.

Sorry, bombarding you with (useless?) info. Maybe worth a sum up?

Carbon Grade

  • better crankset = better shifting (though larger gearing)
  • better tyres
  • better rims
  • better (full hydraulic) brakes
  • better seatpost
  • better saddle

Alu Grade

  • more durable BB
  • much cheaper and easier to get spares for FSA Vero cranks (no really, MUCH cheaper)
  • 50/34 compact gearing is easier more suited for commuting and CX than the 52/36 on the carbon.

It depends on what you are looking for and what you can afford (in terms of your family). If you could go for the carbon, I would imagine it will feel that bit better and more exciting than the alu.

 

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alansmurphy [1472 posts] 3 months ago
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Pressed the button this morning on the GT Grade AL 2017 after sitting on the 2018 at the bike show. My current winter bike will have nobbly tyres and a rack now to get me thru the worst days.

Hydraulic brakes and 105 for £762 at Whinstanley Bikes is just ridiculous value. For me, this was the best way to get close to my summer bike for wet days and then still have a commute / winter bike (my current winter bike). Delivery Thursday, will update Friday. Oh and yep, I've took a gamble on the paintwork but know a guy  1

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alansmurphy [1472 posts] 3 months ago
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Isn't the 2017 carbon on at 1098

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Simboid [116 posts] 3 months ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

Pressed the button this morning on the GT Grade AL 2017 after sitting on the 2018 at the bike show.

Sounds like a good deal. Those on the fb grade owners group with al grades love them, you won't regret it. I have a 2016 105 carbon as my only bike. I only get passed by the skinniest super serious roadies and can take a bridleway or footpath if I feel like it. Why have any other bike?

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alansmurphy [1472 posts] 3 months ago
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This was another n+1 and I looked at them in 2015/16 and made the wrong choice going Specializes Diverge Claris.

 

I was looking at the Cannondale Slate with the lefty fork for a bit of gravelling but sense prevailed. I now have a best bike (Carbon, 105, rim brakes) and will buy nobbly tyres for the Specialized and use as a Gravel/Tourer. Hoping the GT sits nice in the middle so that on that summer day where it's raining (hmmm) I can leave the best bike in the shed and not feel the GT is slowing me down too much  1

 

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mart85 [14 posts] 3 months ago
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Thanks again for all the great comments guys, I've still not pulled the trigeer but I'm getting closer, just trying to sell the car atm and weigh up all the sales going on right now.

alansmurphy wrote:

Pressed the button this morning on the GT Grade AL 2017 after sitting on the 2018 at the bike show. Delivery Thursday, will update Friday. Oh and yep, I've took a gamble on the paintwork but know a guy  1

Hey Alan, hows the Grade AL?!! Any piccies? 

 

 

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mart85 [14 posts] 3 months ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

I was looking at the Cannondale Slate with the lefty fork for a bit of gravelling but sense prevailed

 

I've also looked at the Slate recently, downsides seem to be the tyres but I believe you can get  Schwalbe G-One's to fit. What were your thoughts?

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mart85 [14 posts] 3 months ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

Pressed the button this morning on the GT Grade AL 2017 after sitting on the 2018 at the bike show. Delivery Thursday, will update Friday. Oh and yep, I've took a gamble on the paintwork but know a guy  1

 

Whats the verdict on the bike mate?  1