The Road Team Carbon continues the theme of fun and exhilarating bikes delivered by Boardman that also manage to offer excellent value for money. You can't argue with the performance or kit from this entry-level racer, and the frame is so good it'll be well worth upgrading the parts as and when you can.
Using Boardman's C7 grade carbon fibre, the Road Team Carbon (I'll just call it the Team from now on) isn't as outright stiff as the recently tested Boardman SLR Endurance Disc or the CXR 9.4, both of which use the top level C10 grade. It's only a tiny amount of difference, but anyway the little extra give in the tubes and junctions gives it a bit of zing about it, and actually makes the Team more involving to ride.
I described the SLR Endurance Disc as having a bit of a muted ride, not really giving a whole lot of feedback to the rider, though it was quick. The Team is a different beast altogether, feeling buzzy and exciting because you are involved with everything: the feeling of the changing road surface underneath you, or the way it skips over the bumps, leaving the ground slightly under really heavy braking on a rough descent... It all adds to the feeling of being at one with or part of the bike.
You want to keep pushing it harder and harder, despite knowing that at some point it could go pear-shaped; you want to find that limit so you then know how far you can push it the next time.
The Team shares the same geometry as the SLR Endurance, which means the handling is quick but never feels twitchy, so should your tyres break traction slightly front or rear it's really easy to keep control. It's very reassuring, especially if you aren't the most confident of bike handlers and find yourself in a bit of trouble.
The Team isn't quite as racy as its big brother in Boardman's performance range, the Pro Carbon SLR, which was our bike of the year a couple of years back. But consider the Team as a stepping stone, something to hone your skills on before you maybe consider racing.
It's not all about speed, speed, speed though. As I mentioned, the Team shares the same geometry as the SLR Endurance – although that doesn't exactly put you in a sit up and beg position; the SLR Endurance models are pretty much the most racy 'sportive' bikes on the market. They and the Team have a stack to reach ratio of just 1.44 in medium. (Race bikes are 1.4 or below; endurance bikes are around 1.55.)
The Team is a good bike to tap out a quick ride on – well, you might want to change that saddle first. I really didn't get on with its firm padding or the shape (or lack of).
Saddle changed, I did a few three to four-hour rides on the Team and it was ideal for covering all sorts of terrain at a decent lick.
The frame uses a press-fit bottom bracket, which means the frame can be wider at this point because the bearing cups, as you have no doubt guessed, are pressed into the frame rather than screwed in with the bearings left externally.
The bottom bracket shell is larger in diameter too, to accept the cups, so this means you get a meaty old frame in this area, with large chainstays and down tube to match.
This makes for a stiff bottom half of the frame to resist pedalling forces when really going for it, either on the flat or when climbing. In fact the only thing that stops the Boardman from whipping up the hills are the heavy Mavic CXP-Elite wheels. They are pretty retro looking on a bike like this, not just because of their 28/32 spoke lacing front and rear bur also their width. While virtually every wheel rim these days has widened to at least 24mm externally, the Mavics are a mere 20mm, which gives the 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tyres an actual width of 24mm.
They are solid wheels though, and would make for a great training set or for winter use, plus the tyres are pretty robust and grippy as well.
Trying out the Deda Elementi SL38 carbon wheelset I was also testing on the Boardman made a massive difference to how the bike climbed and accelerated. Obviously most people aren't going to fit a £1,300 wheelset to a £1,000 bike, but it does highlight how upgradable this frame is.
The SL38s are wider at 26mm too, with the 25mm Schwalbe tyres stretching out to 27mm, which did make the clearance look a little bit tight. The Team will actually take full mudguards too, with mounts front and rear, so if you're going to fit some you'll need to take that into account when choosing new wheels/tyres.
Steering and braking are both helped by the tapered head tube and matching fork steerer. The larger diameter lower section increases the cross-sectional area, resulting in a slightly stiffer front end, and the fork legs and crown are also increased in size to match.
I've mentioned how the handling isn't twitchy but it is still quick enough to carve a smooth line through the bends, and while it isn't quite as sharp as the racier Pro Carbon SLR, as long as things aren't overly technical or you want to really smash it through a chicane, you won't be left wanting.
Stop and go
One thing that will stop you taking too many risks on the descents, though, are the brakes. The Tektro R540 callipers feel pretty spongy, especially when you really haul on them hard. The pads have quite a hard compound, with a very on/off feel; you don't get any sort of feedback to know whether to feather the brakes a touch or when to adjust the pressure on the lever. It certainly made me give way more thought to my stopping distances, especially in the wet.
Shimano's Tiagra 4700 groupset is a lovely bit of kit, basically 105 5800 missing a click, Tiagra being 10-speed rather than 11-speed. The only really noticeable difference was that the downshift on the rear mech wasn't quite as crisp as the more expensive groupsets, but that's it.
With a 12-28 cassette you get a decent spread of gears when matched to the 50/34 chainset up front, although spending most of my time on 11-speed I did miss the 11-tooth sprocket. The jumps between gears at the rear are two teeth for the majority of the sprockets, with only the top few having a three-tooth jump, so you never really find yourself between gears.
It's a shame not to see a Tiagra crankset for a complete look, but Boardman has obviously gone with the FSA Gossamer because it is BB30, which means it uses a 30mm axle for added stiffness over a standard 24mm that Shimano uses. It is possible to use a Shimano crankset in BB30s by way of adaptors, but it kind of negates the claimed benefits of the larger axle.
The finishing kit is all Boardman branded and it's simple and effective stuff, and alloy throughout. The bar has a compact drop allowing plenty of hand options, and when paired with the reasonably tall 160m head tube gives even the least flexible of riders the chance to get into the drops.
Boardman seems to have gone with 31.6mm seatposts throughout its range and it does make for a firm rear end, especially on a bike that is quite tight anyway. I didn't have any overall comfort issues (apart from that saddle), but if you did you could reduce the seat tube diameter with something like a USE shim and swap the seatpost for a 27.2mm one.
A thousand pounds is a very competitive price point, seeing frames of varying materials. I'm a big metal fan and normally at this price point I'd take an aluminium alloy frame over cheap carbon, but Boardman has shown here that a good carbon frame can be delivered at this price point. Obvious cost savings have been made with the wheels, brakes and that saddle, but they are all things you can tweak and upgrade for minimal outlay.
Ribble's Gran Fondo (we tested the Disc version here) could be a competitor, and with a similar build comes in at £1,145.99, although the Boardman Team has a sportier ride plus possibly wins on comfort ever so slightly.
A thorn in its side could be the Specialized Allez E5 Sport, with the 2017 model being very good indeed, even though you drop another gear going 9-speed with a Sora groupset, and it's an alloy frame, if that bothers you.
For 2018 the Spesh has had a makeover (which we are currently testing), with a new frame and a price increase by £50 to £799.99, which is still quite a bargain if you can cope with the gaps in the gearing.
Overall the Boardman Team is a decent build with a very good frameset at its heart. With a lighter set of wheels and probably an upgrade to those brakes you could so easily race this bike right up through the ranks.
A decently specced semi-race bike with a very good frameset at its heart
road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman Road Team Carbon
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
C7 Full Carbon
Full Carbon with Tapered Steerer
FSA No.42 w/ 15mm Standard Top Cap
Tektro R540 Dual Pivot Calliper Brakes
Tektro R540 Dual Pivot Calliper Brakes
Shimano CS-HG500-10, 12-28T
Boardman Road Saddle
Boardman Alloy, 31.6mm
Boardman Alloy Drop Bar
Mavic CXP-Elite 28/32 Hole
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 700x25c
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Boardman says: "The Road Team Carbon is based around our SLR Endurance C7 carbon frame and fork providing unparalleled power transfer, comfort and handling. Specced with the all-new smooth and precise Shimano Tiagra gearset, powerful Tektro dual pivot brakes and fast rolling Vittoria tyres, the Road Team carbon provides a comfortable ride experience, along with the performance to keep up with your ambition."
A near race ready bike for a very sensible price.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork use Boardman's C7 grade carbon fibre, which is slightly less refined than its top-end high-modulus C10 grade, though it doesn't detract from the ride.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry actually matches that of Boardman's SLR Endurance range, which is ideal at this price point as a lot of new riders don't want a bike that is very twitchy or quick handling. Though the Team is no slouch either.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
This size model has a stack to reach ratio of 1.44 which is still quite race-orientated.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the ride quality was pretty good, with a little bit of give in the frame compared to the super-stiff top-end framesets.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, there was no issue with the stiffness levels of the Team at all; it's exactly where I'd expect it to be for a bike of this type.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
The frame is very good at transferring power without much in the way of flex.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively without being twitchy.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Team is a very fun bike to ride, having quick handling without it being a handful.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
For me, getting rid of the saddle: it's too firm and the wrong shape.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The alloy finishing kit is pretty stiff and ideal for this kind of bike.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
An upgrade to lighter wheels makes a massive difference to the ride.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Tiagra setup is what you'd expect at this price point and it works very well.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
The wheels aren't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but their weight does affect the ride of the excellent frame.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
Decent performers for the money but as with the wheels, the frame deserves better.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
An all-alloy setup, which is expected at this level.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, I was very impressed with the frameset.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
At the heart of this bike is a very good carbon fibre frameset which is ripe for upgrades. It's great to see a bike for a grand that has very similar attributes to the Pro Carbon SLR but with a more relaxed attitude for those who don't want a racer.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.