The Boardman Urban Pro Ltd is a very capable fast commuter with a high spec level and a responsive ride. It's light and comfortable enough for much, much longer outings than just the trip to work and would be a great sportive or Audax tool for riders who prefer the flats to the drops. Aside from a few niggles, it comes highly recommended.
The Urban Pro Ltd is a new bike in Boardman's range for 2009, sitting above the other hybrids and nudging under the £1k bike to work cap. For the extra £200 you'll shell out over the Pro there's plenty of upgrades. For a start it's a new frame: A super butted Aluminium offering with neatly filled and rounded welds. We thought it was Carbon the first time we saw it, and it's definitely a great looking bike. Hanging off it is a SRAM/Truvativ drivetrain, Ritchey OCR wheels and a full ship's complement of the excellent Ritchey Pro finishing kit. A set of Carbon-levered Avid Elixir R brakes take care of the stopping.
That's a very decent spec for your grand, and the result is a very light bike indeed, the lightest disc equipped bike, at 9.4kg (20.7lb), that we've seen thus far. The light weight of the bike is evident from the off. It feels perhaps a touch less quick than you'd expect as the wheels and tyres aren't the lightest, but certainly compares favourably with other £1k hybrids I've ridden, some of which sneak under the 20lb mark.
The frame is stiff but not at the expense of the ride, which is excellent. There's a bit of spring when you put the power down, not noticeable flex but just a bit of liveliness which is very welcome on a bike of this type. The large air chambers of the Maxxis Detonator tyres help with the comfort levels, and the saddle isn't bad either although I'd expect to see a carbon 'post on a bike costing a grand.
Climbing on the Urban Pro Ltd is a fuss-free affair, with the low overall weight mitigating against the slight weight penalty of the discs. The Ritchey WCS bar ends add negligible weight but a useful extra hand position. Going downhill the neutral steering means that the bike is well planted but I wasn't that impressed with the Avid Elixir R brakes – they're short on modulation on a bike of this type meaning that you have to be careful when you're braking, especially when you're out of the saddle. They're certainly no match for Shimano's new SLX units in terms of feel, Carbon levers or no.
The Urban Pro Ltd is best on longer rides, not because it isn't well behaved on a short commute but rather because it's such an assured ride that you'll be itching to widen your horizons a bit. The position is more stretched than some hybrids meaning that it's a slightly faster position which might not suit if you're commuting with a backpack. If you're looking for a machine to eat a few miles at the weekend or maybe try the odd Sportive or Audax than it's certainly a viable alternative to a fast tourer.
The drivetrain was with one major exception (see below) very well behaved, and the SRAM Double Tap flat bar shifters are brilliant. They use a similar action to the STI levers; although I like the road groupsets I think this is the best application of the system. They have a great feel and although they take some getting used to it's second nature after a few rides. The only criticism I'd make is that the release trigger is a bit light, so sometimes you can nudge the chain down a cog if your thumb is resting on the paddle and you hit a bump.
We had a few niggles with our test bike, the most serious being a loose bolt in the Truvativ Rouleur crankset that worked itself out after about 100 miles. The result was a bent inner chainring and a big scratch on the chainstay where the chainring rubbed before I worked out what the odd noise was. It's not something that I'd necessarily blame Boardman for but I'd be seriously hacked off if I'd paid out of my own pocket. Less serious but also annoying is the fact that the disc brake cable clips have all gone missing. I've replaced them with Velcro straps, but the clips really need to be stronger. There's no sign of the brake judder that plagued the 2008 bikes though, which is possibly down to the redesigned stays.
There's much to like about the Urban Pro Ltd, most importantly the fact that the excellent frame gives a lovely ride, and you're getting a lot of quality kit for your money. It's not without its faults but it's a versatile machine over any distance, and well worth a look.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman Urban Pro Ltd
Size tested: L
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Ultralight super butted Alu
Fork: Lightweight carbon fibre with alloy steerer
Headset: Semi integrated cartridge bearing
Spacers: Full carbon 4x5mm, 1x10mm
Stem: Ritchey Pro OS 31.8mm
Handlebars: Ritchey Pro Flat OS 31.8mm
Bar End: Ritchey WCS
Seatpost: Ritchey Pro 27.2mm
Saddle: cboardman, Cro-Mo rails
Brakes: Avid Elixir R carbon hydraulic disc brakes, 160mm rotors
Shifters: SRAM Rival Double tap 10 speed
Rear Mech: SRAM Rival
Front Mech: SRAM Rival
Cassette: Shimano CS-5600 12-27T
Chain: Shimano CN-5600
Chainset: Truvativ Rouleur Carbon compact 50x36T
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP
Rims: Ritchey Pro disc rims
Hubs: Sealed bearings
Spokes: Stainless steel double butted black
Tyres: Maxxis Detonator 700x28c
Pedals: Alloy body, steel cage, toe clips & straps
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?
The Urban Pro Ltd is a lightweight fast commuter that tips the scales at only 20.6lb, so it's a super lightweight for a disc-equipped bike. For urban commutes to anything up t a century ride.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very nicely finished triple butted frame, the filled welds are reminiscent of the Cannondale frames of old. The finish is smooth and tough.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
the 61.5cm effective top tube makes it more stretched out than some of its rivals for a slightly lower position. 73/73 angles.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It felt quite spacious and slightly more stretched than most hybrids but was very comfy
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The ride quality is generally excellent, the frame is more lively than most hybrids and the wheel and 28mm tyre combo smooth out the bumps too
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too felxible?
Everything felt sturdy and there's no discernible flex
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is very good, there's a bit of spring but it's a nice feeling bike to put the hammer down on.
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? neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike is very well behaved, best on longer rides where the lower position and neutral handling combine with the light weight to make it a capable cruiser
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, shame about the minor niggles
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, it's a good performer for the money
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 100kg
I usually ride: Schwinn Moab, urbanised with 700cs My best bike is: Trek 1.5 with upgrades
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.