You'll need to take the Boardman SLR Endurance Disc 9.0's name with a pinch of salt as this is no slackened off race bike for those who want a comfortable and relaxed ride. Sharing virtually the same geometry as the SLR Race models, the Endurance Disc absolutely flies – although if going long is your thing you might find the frame a little punishing.
Last year we chose the Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR as our bike of the year thanks to the way it handled and its all-round ability to get on with the job.
The SLR Endurance shares a lot of that DNA which means it gives you that little grin on your face when you ride it hard or string together a couple of bends on a high-speed technical descent, although because of the slightly higher front end and longer chainstays to accommodate the wider dropout width required for disc brakes (135mm over 130mm), and therefore a longer wheelbase, the Endurance is a little less direct in its handling and the speed with which it changes direction.
The SLR Endurance is also carrying a little bit of extra weight compared with the Pro Carbon SLR, which just blunts the acceleration and climbing a touch but it is so, so close that these things are easily forgiven, especially considering the less aggressive intent of the SLR Endurance.
The head tube on the Endurance Disc is 160mm long on this medium model, which is still quite low so you can get yourself down into a reasonable tuck for tapping out the miles on the flat and tick the miles off at a rapid pace.
Weirdly, the Boardman doesn't always feel that fast; it's not one of those bikes that bombards you with feedback from the road, though neither is it mute. You get the basic information, if you know what I mean.
The numbers on the Garmin tell a different story, though, with the average pace I could knock out right up there with the lighter, much more expensive Simplon Pavo Granfondo Disc.
When it comes to the handling, the SLR Endurance has the same tube angles as the SLR Race, 73.5 degrees at the seat and 73 degrees at the head, so things are pretty tight through the corners. The steering is quick without ever getting anywhere near twitchy, which gives the Boardman a certain level of predictability regardless of the conditions, and gives you, the rider, confidence that you aren't all of sudden going to find yourself out of control.
Frame and fork
Boardman names its frames according to the grades of carbon used. The Pro Carbon SLR was a C8, for instance, the SLR Endurance is C10, its highest grade and a mix of high modulus carbon fibres according to Boardman.
It is a very stiff frame, especially at the bottom bracket area thanks to the oversized down tube and chunky chainstays to resist the pedalling forces. The tapered head tube, 1 1/8 to 1 1/2in diameters, tightens up the front end a little under steering and helps resist heavy braking forces from the discs.
For comfort Boardman has slimmed down the seatstays to promote some give, taking out the worst of the road buzz, and it works to a degree. The SLR Endurance doesn't bang and crash through road imperfections, but if you want a cossetting ride you might find it a little on the harsh side.
With such high levels of stiffness this bike is one of the most firm and unforgiving I have ridden of its style. Endurance bikes are normally aimed at those who want something a little softer and less aggressive than a race bike, and the Boardman really blurs the lines.
Of course you can play about with tyre pressures, bar tape and the like to enhance the comfort should you so wish, and the SLR Endurance certainly has clearance for up to 28mm tyres.
The bike is available in a rim-braked version too, but the Disc has had a few upgrades to deal with the added stresses of slowing down. Boardman took design cues from its mountain bike and cyclo-cross frames and claims that by making small structural changes to where the brake callipers mount and where the tubes join, it could accommodate the added stiffness without a huge increase in weight.
The fork legs, for example, are much beefier on the disc brake version, although it is still much slimmer than that found on its cyclo-cross bikes. Boardman, like many others, has adopted thru-axles for use with the discs although while many are going 12mm front and rear, Boardman has chosen 15mm for the fork and 12mm on the frame at the rear.
As with most carbon frames these days, the SLR Endurance has full internal cabling and hoses for a clean and uncluttered look. Thankfully, the cables seem to have been kept away from the tube walls as you don't get any rattling when riding on rough surfaces.
On the whole the frame looks and feels to be very well built, with a decent finish. If you wanted to build it up yourself, it's also available to buy as a frameset (frame, fork and headset) for £1,149.99.
The entire Elite SLR Endurance range uses the same frameset with just the number, 9.0 in this case, denoting where it lives in the pecking order. This is actually the entry level option at £1,999.99, specced with a mostly Shimano Ultegra groupset and hydraulic disc brakes – a pretty decent build for the money. The Giant Defy Advanced 3, a very similar bike we've recently tested, costs the same for an Ultegra/hydro build, while the earlier mentioned Ribble Gran Fondo Disc would come in at £1,696 plus delivery.
The highlight of the Boardman is the hydraulic disc brakes. I'm a big fan of the Shimano ST-RS685 levers paired with RS785 callipers, and while the overall braking power might not exceed that of Ultegra dual-pivot callipers, the discs offer you so much more reliability in all weather conditions and are beautifully progressive and easy to modulate.
As I mentioned, though, there is an Ultegra rim brake option for £1,699.99 if you aren't a fan of discs.
Gearing-wise, the cassette is 11-speed with an 11-28t range of sprockets, and while it has been 'down-specced' to Shimano 105, there is no effect on shifting performance.
Paired with this is a 50/34t compact chainset, provided by FSA rather than Shimano. We used to see this a lot as a way to cut costs, but the Gossamer does look a very nice chainset indeed, and the shifting, although marginally not quite as crisp as Ultegra, still performs pretty impressively.
The wheels are Boardman's own SLR Elite Fives. These are strong, arrived true and remained so throughout the test period. They have a 28mm-deep disc-specific rim, with 28 spokes front and rear.
They roll pretty well too, but while they aren't as heavy as the Mavic Aksiums we see on a lot of bikes at this price, they still are a little on the weighty side. If you really want the Boardman to fly then a nice lightweight set would really unleash the bike's acceleration and climbing potential.
The tyres, Vittoria Rubino Pros in a 25mm width, are pretty good performers. Rolling resistance is okay as are the grip levels, but I'd definitely change them for something lighter and stickier from the likes of Schwalbe to give a bit more excitement in the bends. I did suffer my first puncture of the year on them too.
Apart from the Prologo Naga saddle, which I liked very much indeed, Boardman provides its own finishing kit: a carbon fibre seatpost that was easy to adjust and didn't slip in the frame, plus the aluminium alloy stem and handlebar. Both function as well as you need, and with subtle Boardman logos they actually look pretty smart too. The compact-style bar gives plenty of opportunities for moving your hands around as well.
On the whole I found the Elite SLR Endurance Disc 9.0 a very nice bike to ride. My initial impressions were that it was too stiff for the endurance moniker, but the more I rode it, the more I 'got' the way it covers that grey area between a race machine and a relaxed sportive style ride.
Impressive bike that blurs the lines between endurance and race
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman SLR Endurance Disc 9.0
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.
Boardman lists these details:
Boardman SLR Endurance Disc, C10 Carbon, 12mm Thru-Axle
Boardman SLR Endurance Disc, Carbon, Carbon Tapered Steerer, 15mm Thru-Axle
FSA Gossamer Pro
Shimano Hydraulic (BR-RS785)
Shimano Hydraulic (BR-RS785)
Shimano 105, 11-28
FSA Team Issue
Prologo Nago Evo 141
Boardman Elite SLR Carbon Twenty
Boardman Elite Alloy - 6° rise
Boardman Elite Alloy
Pedals not included
Boardman SLR Elite Five Disc
Boardman Straight-pull, 28H, 15mm front /12mm rear thru-axles
Stainless Steel, Butted
28mm deep disc-specific profile, Clincher
Vittoria Rubino Pro (25C)
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: "With the same high modulus frame found throughout the range, the 9.0 offers exceptional value with its Ultegra groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and lightweight SLR Elite Five wheelset. Low maintenance for winter riding, Endurance geometry for long summer days and great braking all year through, the SLR Endurance Disc 9.0 will support you on every ride."
The geometry and handling of the Boardman certainly inspires you to go for a long ride, as long as you can cope with the frame stiffness.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The overall quality and paint job looks pretty good indeed.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Boardman's C10 Carbon uses ultra high modulus fibres in key areas of the frame and fork, boosting stiffness while reducing overall frame weight. A tapered, full carbon fork with a 1 1/2 inch lower headset bearing increases stiffness and steering precision.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Compared with its SLR Race models the Endurance is slightly taller at the front and has a longer wheelbase, but it is surprisingly close to most bikes of this style.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack is 560mm and reach 389mm on this medium sized model, which is a longer and lower position than both the Ribble Gran Fondo Disc and Canyon's Endurace.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For a bike of this style the Boardman is right on the stiffness borderline for a comfortable ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is impressive, especially at the front end.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer and delivery is very much like a full-on race bike.
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? Responsive without being overly twitchy.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The SLR Endurance uses the same head and seat angles as the SLR Race and pretty similar geometry throughout, which means that this one handles with the same poise and precision as many race bikes.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I really liked the shape and padding of the Prologo saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels felt stiff under hard acceleration...
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
...but those wheels are quite heavy, which just took the zing off hard efforts.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
With the competitive pricing of the major brands, it's getting rarer to see chainsets from other manufacturers such as FSA; saying that, though, the Gossamer used here looks cool and offers impressive shifting.
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?
Solid and stiff performers, but for a boost to the bike's overall responsiveness I'd switch them for something lighter.
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?
The Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres are decent enough performers. They roll okay and seem pretty grippy, though I did pick up a couple of punctures over the test period.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
As we see on most bikes of this price, the components like the handlebar and stem are basic aluminium alloy options which do the job without being flash.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The SLR Endurance is the ideal bike if you want a slightly taller head tube over a race bike while retaining all of the other geometry for a quick and slightly aggressive ride. It compares well on price too against the competition.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
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.