Just in: Boardman Pro Carbon

First look at a light, lush carbon monocoque for [just] under £1500

by Tony Farrelly   July 23, 2009  

Boardman Road Pro Carbon 2009

We've wanted to get our hands on the Boardman Pro Carbon ever since we saw it at the Boardman range launch last year, and now we have…

'What makes this bike so special?' we hear you ask. Well, it has the same unidirectional carbon frame as the bike bused by Nicole Cooke to do the double of winning the Olympic gold and the Road World Championships last year: that bike with SRAM Red and Zipp 404s will set you back £3299 which is pretty phenomenal in its own right, but this bike is less than half that at £1499.99.

Boardman Pro Carbon gallery

Your money buys you a 16.2lb bike with plenty of options for further lighening in the future – we weighed the more expensive RP version at the launch and it came in at 14.8lb, it has to have weight added to make it UCI legal at the worlds and Olympics – that gives you some idea of just how light the frame is.

The Carbon Pro's frame is a monocoque construction (as is the fork) made from unidirectional T800 intermediate modulus carbon fibre – good stuff, originally developed for the aircraft industry. This is a shrewd choice of material for delivering a combination of high performance at a reasonable price. It's not the most cutting edge, highest modulus carbon fibre on offer which is no doubt reflected in the price, but is it more than capable for this particular application.

T800 combines high tensile strength with low weight and being unidirectional that strength can be added to the frame where it is needed most such as around the bottom bracket – the Pro's bottom bracket is an elegant looking affair -not chunky but with a deep junction between that broad down tube and the round seat tube and flatter boxier sectioned chainstays building plenty of torsional rigidity. This is a bike that Boardman has designed to allow you to get your power down quickly.

Frame details include the rear brake cable being internally routed through the top tube and the cabling for the front and rear mechs passing through the headtube and then taking a more standard external route along the bottom of the down tube.

Other manufactures will tell you that the reason Boardman bikes are such good value is that they don't have an R&D department, they simply follow the latest developments from those that do. That may be so but Boardman certainly wouldn't be alone in that. R&D department or not no doubt Chris Boardman has access to British Cycling's equivalent of Area 51. It's also the case that if you can combine a good knowledge of bike design and performance with the fact that the big bike factories essentially keep pattern books for building every bit of a frame allowing you to have a bit of 'this' and a smattering of 'that' you can build a bike that will deliver cutting edge levels of performance at a very competitive price indeed.

As it happens our Pro Carbon is parked up next to a Cervelo S3 and there are some interesting similarities: yes, the Cervelo's down tube is even deeper than the Boardman's and its seat tube more elliptical but where they all come together around the bottom bracket area is jolly similar on both bikes… the Cerverlo too has external cable routing through the top tube – the cabe enters at the bottom of the tube and exits at the top, the reverse of the Boardman, but then so is the profile of the top tube.

We'll talk more about the ride qualities in the full test, but for now let's have a quick look at the rest of the spec – that after all the main reason Boardman are able to offer a bike with a frame of this pedigree for such a relatively small amount of money.

Drivetrain is courtesy of SRAM using their Force 10spd front and rear mechs plus shifters, pulling a SRAM S900 53-39 carbon chainset, the bottom bracket is SRAM's too the 12-25 rear cassette and chain are Shimano and stopping is taken care of by Tektro's Ultralight R740 brakes.

The headset is by FSA and comes with a generous stack of carbon spacers. The fork is Boardman's own brand and as mentioned earlier is a monocoque affair made from the same unidirectional carbon fibre as the frame. It's a fairly deep bladed affair which looks like it should ride plenty stiff and track over pretty much anything the road can throw at it.

Wheels are Ritchey WCS semi-deep rims, 16 hole at the front and 24 at the back, on Ritchey hubs laced up with double butted stainless steeel spokes – we had issues with our front wheel straight from the box with a couple of spokes being looser than we'd have liked. Tyres are Continental Ultra Race with a wire bead, more from the budget end of the Conti range, but certainly not budget tyres and okay for a bike at this price point. That said if you wanted to drop weight from the Carbon Pro the wheels would be the obvious first place to look to do it.

The rest of the finishing kit, is all by Ritchey: Ritchey Pro handlebars and WCS stem and seatpost, the saddle is an Arionesque own brand affair.

Look out for a full test soon.

 

9 user comments

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I've never been sure about Boardman bikes. They seem too good to be true! Plus having to use Bikehut is not ideal. Sounds a great deal though

posted by othello [279 posts]
23rd July 2009 - 12:43

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a friend of mine bought the fixed/single speed, and for 500 notes its very good.

he also blacked out the 'cbo' on the down tube with gaffer tape and it now reads 'ardman'.

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posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
23rd July 2009 - 14:09

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Buy it from Halfords then take it to your LBS for a set up if you need to ... shouldn't cost too much and the money you save over a similar specced bike makes it all worthwhile!!

posted by Andy_P [3 posts]
23rd July 2009 - 22:05

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Hi Tony,

Thank you for a great review on our bike today. I would like to pick up on a point raised about whether Boardman bikes invest in R and D and to let your readers know that the team at Boardman are heavily involved in the development of new and exciting products. We see the investment of time and money in to new products as critical to the development of our brand. Please see further details below.

Best regards,

Alan Ingarfield
CEO Boardman Bikes Ltd

Continuous research and Development is fundamental to Boardman Bikes. The Boardman R&D department is headed up by Chris with input from chief engineer Dimitris Katsanis and a team of bike specialists and designers - we also use our sponsored pro riders (including Rob Hayles and Ed Clancy) and
world-class triathletes (including Alistair Brownlee & Rasmus Henning) who are riding our products week in and week out - giving important feedback to
inform the new models. The Road PRO Carbon RP was specifically developed to enable riders to gain the best performance from their ride - as proven by
Nicole Cooke with Olympic Gold and World Championship titles before the bike was made available to the public. The AiR/TT/1 is designed to be as
aerodynamically efficient as possible - Rasmus Henning won Ironman China earlier this year (I was supporting Rasmus at the race and it was 42 degrees during the bike/run!!) setting the fastest bike split time by miles! (He rode so fast, the feed station was not set up when he reached
it!). The bike was designed by our chief engineer Dimitris Katsanis
(designer of the GB track bikes) around aerodynamic principles and maximum power transfer to enable pure performance for the rider.

Through our exclusive retail partner here in the UK, we are able to offer
our superior quality bikes at competitive prices, something which other more
established brands might not be able to achieve.

posted by alan@boardmanbi... [1 posts]
24th July 2009 - 14:44

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I still don't think you can beat the original, dura ace equipped boardman pro [model 1 series]. Mine performs like a dream and gives me the incentive to try likewise. Having said that, i'm desperately saving for my next boardman, but the pro carbon does sound nice.....

bob

posted by rebel9307 [8 posts]
31st July 2009 - 23:08

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Like Andy_P and othello have said, nice bike, shame it has to pass through the hands of Halfords mechanics. Although I'm told that you can request to buy your bike in a box (at least, you can at my local Halfords) so you can then take it to your LBS to get it built properly.

: P

posted by Pierre [79 posts]
5th August 2009 - 9:42

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What's the problem with using Bikehut? Some very good mechanics I know started out there. Plus, if you don't know enough about bikes to check your own over and set it up, maybe you would be better buying an Apollo anyway.

Bloomin' ignorant snobs.

posted by monsterkitten [1 posts]
13th August 2009 - 21:54

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Yeah I'm sure there are some good mechanics at Bikehut, but not all Halfords branches have a bikehut plus if you employee as many mechanics as Halfords do your are going to have a fair few duffers in there too.

I'm sure there is a lot of snobbery involved with people's attitude to Halfords but by the same token there's no smoke without fire. You don't get a bad reputation by doing good work do you?

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posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
13th August 2009 - 22:28

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Anyone know anything about the Halfords in Cambridge. I know some bikeshops in the area I could use instead but it would save money if Halfords were good. I'm very interested in this bike but have been out of serious cycling for a long time.

posted by Alan Tullett [1432 posts]
1st April 2011 - 17:01

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