The Boardman ADV 8.9 is out with our man Stu at the moment so you can expect a review on road.cc soon, but here’s a sneak peek at what you can expect.
Boardman reckons that the ADV 8.9 could be the best value bike it has ever produced. That’s really saying something because Boardman usually packs in a lot of value.
You’ll probably realise that the ‘ADV’ is short for ‘adventure’. Some brands don’t like to use the term ‘gravel bike’ because we don’t have a whole lot of gravel in the UK, but we’re not short of bridleways, tracks, forest roads, towpaths… and this bike is designed to handle it all.
You get a triple-butted 6061 aluminium frame with hidden welds and a full carbon fork with a tapered steerer tube (1 /8in up top, 1 1/2in down below) for front-end stiffness. Both wheels are held in place by 12mm thru-axles rather than traditional quick-release skewers.
Boardman says that mountain bikes have inspired the geometry of the ADV 8.9, hence a long top tube, a slack head tube angle, and a short stem. Stu has a medium-sized model, with a 55.5cm top tube, a 71° head tube angle, and an 80mm stem. A similarly sized road bike would have a head tube angle that’s a couple of degrees steeper and a stem that’s maybe 20mm longer.
The idea is to provide comfort, control, and plenty of confidence when riding on loose surfaces without compromising efficiency when you’re on the road. Several other brands have taken a similar approach with their gravel/adventure bikes and had great success – Merida, for example, and Specialized.
The ADV 8.9 is built up with a mostly Shimano GRX gravel-specific groupset, although the chainset is an FSA Omega Adventure with 48/32T chainrings matched up to an 11-36T cassette. The GRX in question is entry-level RX400, which is a 10-speed system with mechanical shifting, roughly equivalent to Shimano Tiagra on the road.
The rear derailleur uses Shimano's Shadow RD+ technology which is designed to stabilise the chain on rough terrain by minimising unnecessary derailleur arm movement. The idea is that this helps keep the chain from coming off, reduces the potential for slapping on the chainstays, and maintains the shifting performance.
A GRX derailleur sits further underneath the cassette than a traditional road derailleur so it is less exposed and vulnerable to damage by undergrowth and stones.
You get hydraulic disc brakes fitted to a Boardman alloy bar with a 6° flare. In other words, the bar is angled outwards so that the drops are wider than the tops, that extra width giving you more control on fast descents and technical sections. If you’ve not tried one, you’ll be amazed at the difference a flared bar can make when things get bumpy.
Both the Boardman ADV wheels and the Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres (700x38 – there's space for much wider tyres) are tubeless ready so you can set them up with liquid sealant inside to plug any punctures that come your way and run low air pressures to keep things comfortable on broken surfaces without the risk of pinch flats.
The Boardman ADV 8.9 comes with mounts for mudguards and a pannier rack, so you could use it for everything from commuting to a few nights in the back of beyond.
We’re excited to find out what Stu thinks of this one because it looks like a lot of bike for the £1,100.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.