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We’ve been patiently (OK not so patiently) waiting for a women’s specific bike to come out of the successful Boardman stable for quite some time, and here it is. So, was it worth the wait? Well, in a nutshell, yes.
First thing you notice about this bike is that it’s rather pretty. Strangely though, not in an out and out girlie way. The predominantly white paintjob, with flashes of hot pink and black would by no means offend even the most macho of male palates, and the overall look is of a sporty and attractive bike. It certainly looks a lot more expensive than its very reasonable £499.99 price tag. The ‘world champion’ rainbow banding might be a little over the top on a hybrid though, and the white handgrips won’t stay that way for longer than a week or so.
Setting the look of the bike aside, the Hybrid Comp Fi is just what it says it is: a hybrid, and in the true sense of the word. A sporty road geometry frame is matched up with flat bars, bar ends, SRAM mountain bike drive-train and transmission and mechanical disc brakes. The result is a bike that’s a true all-rounder, suitable for year round training rides, urban duties, commuting, light touring and general fitness riding. The only thing it’s not suited to is off-roading.
Riding the Hybrid Comp Fi is definitely far from a chore. Whilst it’s not a super light racing machine, it’s no heavyweight either, and there’s rarely a feeling of hauling excess baggage along. It climbs beautifully, with an easy, stable, comfortable riding position, whether in the saddle or out of it, and the addition of the bar ends makes shifting your grip position for climbs a doddle.
It’s a reasonably sure-footed descender, although not as nippy on corners as perhaps it could be. It’s mainly on the flat that the Hybrid Comp disappoints slightly, but perhaps that’s a perception issue to a certain degree. It looks and feels so sporty and climbs so well that it’s a little surprising when there’s a slightly lack of oomph when you put your foot down on the flat. But, given the weight penalty and extra drag of the mountain bike drive train, the beefy 700c wheels and tyres and the disc brakes, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that it takes a while to get up to speed, and seems to prefer to potter along at a more sedate pace. It has the looks of an urban warrior, but the temperament of a girl guide – sporty, but sensible and well behaved.
The transmission runs smoothly and with no fuss, whilst the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes are reliably effective. They're well suited to those who prefer the light touch and stopping power of mountain bike brakes without the hassle of maintaining and adjusting hydraulics. The saddle isn’t the most comfortable, but isn’t actually bad. Saddles are an extremely personal component anyway, and it’s virtually impossible to please everyone. Fixtures for two bottle cages make the bike useful for longer rides.
Ultimately, for £499.99 it’s incredibly good value, especially if you’re looking for a ‘go to’ bike to grab from the shed for most riding purposes. It’s ideal for those getting into sportier cycling or wanting to get fit, or as a general purpose machine. It would also make a great winter bike to keep fitness levels ticking over.
Good all rounder and excellent value for the money.
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Make and model: Boardman Hybrid Comp Fi
Size tested: M
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Lightweight double-butted aluminium frame
Straight blade aluminium fork
SRAM X5 rear mech
SR FD950 front mech
SRAM 18 speed shifters
Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes
Truvativ Touro 48/34T compact chainset
Lightweight double wall alloy wheel rims
Ritchey stem, bars, bar ends and seatpost
MAXXIS Detonator tyres
Cboardman women's specific saddle with Cro-Mo rails
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?
"We've taken the experience of World-class riders, coupled with my own experience to create a specific range for females who enjoy cycling- at every level. Combining World-class frame design with female specific geometry, superior materials and components results in a bike which feels natural to ride, is comfortable and offers excellent pergormance at every level." Chris Boardman, Director of R&D, Boardman Bikes.
Works for me!
Hybrid bike, suited to training rides, fitness riding, recreational riding, commuting and general purpose.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Well built frame and fork and the finish is fine.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Lightweight aluminium makes the bike strong and responsive, and ideal for winter training.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Female specific geometry.
The size small I had for review (54cm) was perfectly set up for me at 5ft 5 inches and was a really comfortable fit and riding position.
Fork is very straight, but doesn't transmit too much road buzz.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Really well considered geometry. Height and reach spot on for my height.
In comparison with other bikes of this size I have tried it felt more even and less 'tiny'. Well balanced and not just miniaturized.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very comfortable to ride.
Ride was unchallenging, but sporty enough to be useful as a year round fitness bike.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Good and stiff at bottom bracket and didn't feel at all over stiff or over flexible in the wrong places.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer was a little lacklustre, but not bad.
Reasonably efficient ride.
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 steering. Relaxed to ride.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Climbs superbly and comfortably.
Descends fine. Stable and reliable in descent.
On the flat a little disappointing in the speed stakes, feeling a little sluggish, but perfectly acceptable ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Saddle would need to be changed probably, as very personal choice. The one supplied is not at all bad though.
Good bar position for riding comfort. Frame geometry spot on.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Aluminium frame good and stiff. Wouldn't change.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Fairly heavy wheels and tyres coupled with meatier drivetrain make this a bit more ponderous, but the trade off is that it's straightforward, a laid back all rounder and easy to grab for a quick ride.
So I would probably only change to slightly lighter wheels, if that.
Little bit sluggish
Not especially quick from a standing start
Not really designed for sprinting
Stable and confidence inspiring.
Good and stable.
Fine, great for in town manoeuvring and junctions.
A little ungainly, but pretty tight on corners.
Really great for climbing.
Straightforward, reliable and smooth.
Easy to take care of and should last well.
Some weight penalty but not disastrous.
Not the lightest but solid and confidence inspiring
Should last well.
Firm but comfortable ride.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Worked well in all conditions I encountered, including wet roads. Good grip and deft and sporty enough for urban riding.
Excellent brakes. Good stopping power with sensitivity.
Should last well.
Do add extra weight but not too heavy.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Mechanical disc brakes ideal for female riders, allowing good stopping power without having to haul on the levers, but without the hassle or weight penalty of hydraulics.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, a lot.
Would you consider buying the bike? Definitely.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? In a heartbeat. Especially one looking to get into cycling for fitness.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
Not the lightest, or the speediest but a really good value, great looking 'go to' bike for all sorts of riding.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.