Boardman launch three sub-£500 bikes

A road bike, a hybrid, and a multi-surface bike... all at Cycle to Work scheme prices

by Mat Brett   November 26, 2012  

Boardman Bikes have added three new entry-level models to their Performance Series line-up, all priced below £500. The immediate impression is that they offer outstanding value for money; they certainly don’t look like £500 bikes.

Boardman have come up with the new bikes primarily to cater for users of the government’s Cycle to Work Scheme – although, obviously, the new models are available to anyone. Most employers set the top retail value of a bike available through Cycle to Work at £1,000 but some set a different limit, often £500.

Boardman Road Sport

The new road bike (main pic) is the Boardman Road Sport which is built around a 7005 double-butted aluminium frame. The drivetrain is mostly Shimano 2300 with an FSA Tempo compact chainet. 

The shifters use a thumb-opertated lever rather than one tucked in behind the brake lever, and an optical display on the top of each one tells you which gear combo you’re in. The rims are from Mavic and the braking comes courtesy of Tektro dual-pivot brakes.

The Road Sport comes in a slightly more relaxed, sportive-friendly geometry than a full-on race bike; the top tube is a little shorter and the head tube is a little longer. You get mounts for mudguards – that’s the same on all the new bikes – and there’s enough clearance that you can fit them easily enough. The complete bike weighs 10.8kg (23.8lb)

You get all this for £499.99 which seems like astonishing value to us – as long as the impressive spec sheet translates into an equally good ride. Although we had a look at all three of these bikes when we went down to Boardman’s unveiling in London last month, we’ve not actually ridden any of them.

Andy Smallwood, Operations Director at Boardman Bikes, said at the launch, “We’ve taken all the learning from our higher end models that have been so well received in the market and filtered it down to a product which we feel gives the consumer the best possible value and the best possible performance, but without any of the compromises usually associated with this price point.

“The tube profiles have been very specifically designed for the intended purpose. So the down tube, for example, is semi-aero profile so you get a slight aero benefit and a stiffness benefit while also reducing weight. The rear stays are exactly the same as you’d see on our £1,000 bike.

“You’ve also got the mudguard eyes and increased clearance underneath both the front and rear brakes to make the bike versatile for all-round use. It’s a very credible, no-compromise package.”

Boardman MX Race

The Boardman MX Race is designed for both on and off-road riding. It comes with a lightweight double-butted aluminium frame, 700c wheels and Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes for good stopping power in all kinds of weather.

The shifters and mechs are SRAM X5 while the Suntour NEX HLO suspension fork offers 63mm of travel. You get a hydraulic lockout for when you’re on the road.

Like the Road Sport, the MX Race is priced at £499.99 – and that’s arguably even better value.

“I think this is the most exciting of the three bikes,” said Andy Smallwood. “This is our first foray into the multicross, multisurface type of bike. It takes the key elements of a hybrid bike – a fast, aggressive urban road bike – but it also combines that with key elements of a mountain bike – so you have a more relaxed and controlled geometry and a suspension fork.

“It’s a bike designed for riding to work, riding for leisure, off-road, on-road… it’s a highly versatile do-anything bike, and it looks great.”

Boardman Hybrid Race

As well as commuting, the Boardman Hybrid Race is intended for leisure riding, and at £429.99 it’s £70 cheaper than the other two.

The Hybrid Race is built around a double-butted 7005 aluminium frame a rigid alloy fork. The drivetrain is 9-speed Shimano Acera with a compact chainset and Avid Single Digit 3 V-brakes take care of the stopping.

Andy Smallwood said, “The tube profiles are more aggressively shaped than those of the road bike with more of a strength and stiffness angle to them, because this bike is likely to get thrown around a bit more. We wanted a more bombproof, urban-style bike, but with seatstays designed for comfort. It’s great for urban rides but if you wanted to venture out onto towpaths or get out into the hills it covers every eventuality.”

None of the new models looks like an entry-level bike to us. You get lock-on grips on both the MX Race and the Hybrid Race, for example, and each of the bikes gets a saddle with cromo rails. Double-pass welds that are then filled give a smooth look and add to the air of quality. That’s not something that’ll affect the ride feel but it would clearly be cheaper for Boardman not to do it.

“We wanted to offer bikes in the £500 range but we would’t do that until we were sure about the quality of the product,” said Chris Boardman at the launch. “The MX Race is a particular favourite of mine because you have the ability to go on tracks and paths and it’s a great bike to go to work on. It hits a perfect niche.”

These new Performance Series bikes will be available from over 200 selected Halfords superstores and at www.halfords.com from Wednesday 12 December. You can pre-order now.

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The MX looks a tidy bike for just general riding / commuting, but would have been better with a rigid fork IMO. But, whats with the 'race' moniker?

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [360 posts]
26th November 2012 - 10:27

like this
Like (24)

This is quite interesting, cause it shows that even Halfords' brands are starting to struggle on price.

The road bike looks good, but the frame is basic and the fork looks like alu or even steel. For £100 more you can have a bike from a major brand with similar kit but a much better frame and a full carbon fork.

The multi-sport bike is actually pretty poor value. Check out a couple of major brands and you can find something similar with Hydraulic disc brakes, adjustable stem, sus-seatpost, and arguably a better frame, for exactly the same price as the boardman.

Kit wise the hybrid race looks better, and the kit compares very well to others, but I suspect the frame isn't as good as some at an equivalent price

posted by joules1975 [69 posts]
26th November 2012 - 10:32

like this
Like (17)

Look good for the money.

No simple way to fit a rack to the Road Sport in these pics though. Is it a prototype frame?

Exercising my rights by taking them cycling

posted by pedalingparamedic [86 posts]
26th November 2012 - 10:37

like this
Like (20)

The road bike looks good for a winter trainer. Hybrid looks a winner for commute involving canal paths etc.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3079 posts]
26th November 2012 - 11:32

like this
Like (17)

Bit disappointed that the MX Race doesn't come with an air fork. Seeing as it'll be going up against the Voodoo Hoodoo in Halfords, Voodoo remains the clear winner on spec... Having said that, if they did a version with rigid carbon forks instead I'd be very tempted.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [814 posts]
26th November 2012 - 13:02

like this
Like (22)

Specailized Allez has a ally fork this yr too and £50 more. So is a hydro formed frame and Axis wheels worth the extra?

I suspect Boardman is doing better volume of sales in Halfords to offer these prices but would these specs hold up in LBS?

posted by Nzlucas [89 posts]
26th November 2012 - 14:36

like this
Like (17)

Compared to lbs? Ok, but not exactly outstanding as you'd perhaps expect. Can only compare to the brands I have in my shop, but suspect other big brands will be similar.

First off, so you don't think i'm too biased against the boardmans, Hybrid race looks pretty good.

Merida do two bikes that are better than the Road sport and similar value. The race lite 900 and ride lite 90 are £100 more than the boardman, but give you a much better 6066 alu frame and a full carbon fork (inc steerer), rather than the basic frame and alu or steel fork (can't see which) on the boardman. Only downside for Merida bikes is lack of rack/mudguard mounts).

Meanwhile, merida do the crossway 100-d which is far better than mx race. Crossway has 6066 frame, hydraulic disc brakes, adjustable ahead stem and a sus seat post. Rest of the spec pretty similar.

posted by joules1975 [69 posts]
26th November 2012 - 22:38

like this
Like (24)

the road bike - if you want a winter trainer, you'd be better off with a carrera virtuoso. Which it looks suspiciously like, only in red.

the hybrid looks pretty though.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [586 posts]
27th November 2012 - 8:58

like this
Like (23)

These look pretty good value to me.
I love the fact Boardman have stuck to the high level frames with the smooth finished joints even at these price points - they look top class.

The Merida Race lite 900 is a great bike, and looks like it offers great value - but its £100 more - at £500 thats a lot - pretty sure Boardman have a better specc'd bike at that price too.
Personally I wouldnt touch the Crossway 100-d - the fork does not have any damping and the lockout is mechanical - at least the Boardman above has hydraulic damping and lockout.

I love the red !

posted by the badger [3 posts]
28th November 2012 - 13:06

like this
Like (21)

joules1975 wrote:
Merida do two bikes that are better than the Road sport and similar value. The race lite 900 and ride lite 90 are £100 more than the boardman, but give you a much better 6066 alu frame and a full carbon fork (inc steerer), rather than the basic frame and alu or steel fork (can't see which) on the boardman. Only downside for Merida bikes is lack of rack/mudguard mounts).

Better? Shopping by numbers isn't the way to choose a bike, but isn't 7005 grade aluminium a higher grade than 6066.

Giant's Defy 5 compact and the cheapest Allez are £550 with Shimano 2300 too, there's plenty of choice. Boardman's MTB and road range have had lots of very favourable feedback despite reservations about some of Halfords' spannermen.

I cannot understand why any manufacturer doesn't include rack mounts and enough clearance for muddies on a £500 bike. There's no benefit to fitting brakes with sod-all clearance, brands just cut themselves off from a sizeable market segment at every price point.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1940 posts]
28th November 2012 - 14:54

like this
Like (19)

B'Twin Triban 3 is superior to the Boardman sport in all respects and is £200.00 Cheaper! Surprise

posted by Stefano1970 [11 posts]
16th January 2013 - 12:42

like this
Like (18)

7005 is not really better than 6066. A bit harder and therefore more brittle. The actual design and quality of frmae build makes the difference, not the type of alloy used.

posted by Stefano1970 [11 posts]
30th January 2013 - 14:52

like this
Like (18)