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review

Boardman Carbon Cycle Shoes

9
£85.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Well made, very well-specced and comfortable road shoes at a very good price
Carbon sole is impressive at this price
Fine adjustment is easy
Supple upper aids comfort
Some sole flex from hard efforts
Weight: 
624g
road.cc Recommends

This product has been selected to feature in road.cc recommends. That means it's not just scored well, but we think it stands out as special. Go to road.cc recommends

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Boardman has delivered an absolute belter of a spec list for the sub-£100 price tag on their latest Carbon Cycle Shoes. They offer decent stiffness, are well vented and the upper gives a supple feel for comfort too – plus the adjustment of the ratchet dials allows you to tweak them on the fly.

It's quite rare to see a full carbon fibre sole on an £85 shoe, most coming with some kind of nylon offering, or a carbon-reinforced nylon at the very best. These lack the overall stiffness required for riding hard.

The full carbon job found here isn't the stiffest I've used, showing a little bit of flex when climbing hard out of the saddle or mashing the pedals in a sprint. For 95% of the time the sole is absolutely fine though, coping with the majority of scenarios it's likely to find itself in.

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Performance is also helped by the retention system, provided by Atop. It's a dial system that tightens a cable evenly across the top of your foot, similar to Boa and the like.

Cheaper shoes tend to use one dial with a Velcro strap at the toes, so again it's good to see Boardman showing no signs of penny-pinching and speccing twin dials.

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - dials.jpg

The dials pull the soft and supple synthetic upper smoothly around your foot with a uniform pressure. On long or short rides, I never felt any hot spots and, should your feet swell or shrink due to the weather conditions, a quick tweak on the dials while in the saddle is easy.

For venting you get plenty of holes all around the upper, and a mesh section above the toe box. There are also vents on the sole positioned for airflow under the foot – cold air in at the front, warm air out the back.

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - toe.jpg

Breathability is good, and I found them fine on all but the hottest of summer days. The lack of many mesh sections will allow you wear them deeper into autumn/winter without having to resort to overshoes, though.

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - instep.jpg

The Boardmans are a pretty roomy fit. These are a EUR 44/UK 9.5, which should be about a half size too small for me, but I had plenty of wriggle room for my toes and they were spot on length wise.

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - fronts.jpg

Overall quality is high as well. The upper is pulled taut where it meets the sole and around the reinforced toe box, without the material having ruckled – you are left with a smooth finish all around. The upper seems to be standing up to scuffs and scratches, too.

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - side.jpg

The sole comes complete with a rough texture to hold your cleats in place and there are plenty of markings for alignment. It's three-bolt cleat options only though – no option for two-bolt SPDs.

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - sole toe.jpg

The heel bumper is quite pronounced which aids walking, and it's replaceable thanks to being screwed into position rather than riveted. You see what I mean about it being a lot of shoe for the money, so how do they fare against the competition?

2021 Boardman Carbon Cycles Shoes - sole heel.jpg

The recently tested Bontrager Circuit shoes got a good review from Alex. For their £129.99 price tag you are getting a single Boa system with Velcro strap and a carbon-reinforced glass fibre/nylon blend for the sole.

> 24 of the best performance road cycling shoes - get faster with light, stiff shoes

I was impressed with the Van Rysel RR 900 carbon road shoes when I tested them, and spec wise they are very similar to the Boardmans: a full carbon sole, twin Atop dials and a soft synthetic upper. They'll also set you back £129.99.

The dhb Aeron Carbon road shoe has a list price of £120 and, again, offers a full carbon sole, single Atop dial and twin Velcro straps. They are currently available for £80, so about the same as the Boardman pair at full price.

Conclusion

Boardman has continued the theme of delivering uncomplicated, high quality products for very sensible money. The most powerful riders may find the sole a little flexy, but for the majority of us they're going to fit the bill for all kind of riding styles.

Verdict

Well made, very well-specced and comfortable road shoes at a very good price

road.cc test report

Make and model: Boardman Carbon Cycle Shoes

Size tested: 44

Tell us what the product is for

Boardman says, "The Boardman Carbon Cycle Shoes offer all day comfort and performance. The ultra stiff carbon outsole provides excellent power transfer to enable you to put in the miles. Using a dual dial tightening system they are easy to adjust on the go, and an integrated heel grip will prevent slipping."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

3-bolt cleat system

Ultra light carbon outsole

Dual dial tightening system for on the go adjustment

Synthetic leather upper with vented panels

Integrated heel grip to prevent slipping

Colour: Grey

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
8/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
7/10

They size up a little big.

Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

The upper remains scuff free and is easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

A high perfomance road shoe for all but the most powerful riders out there.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Comfortable upper.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Sole a bit flexible for very hard efforts.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They are much better value than many shoes with a similar spec.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

At £120 these would be very good in spec and performance, but the fact Boardman delivers all of this for two-thirds of that price is very impressive indeed. The price is the main driver behind the 4.5 stars.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 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,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment

8 comments

Avatar
Ian miller | 2 years ago
0 likes

Agree, these are great shoes on the face of it- the trouble is that they use Atop dials which have a kevlar string lace and it does break over time.....and Atops customer services is non existent. I managed to get one replacement, once, for another pair of carbon soled shoes- they are unfortunately now in the bin as it was impossible to get another lace which is ridiculous. I actually found them more comfortable than boa but at least boa provide spares. The shoes weren't Boardman by the way buy I looked at these and ended up paying more for exactly this reason

Avatar
OnYerBike | 2 years ago
1 like

Do the dials let you incrementally loosen as well as tighten, or are they the sort that you can tighten incrementally, but then have to fully release to untighten?  

Avatar
Sriracha replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
0 likes

It looks, from the Atop blurb, like they tighten and loosen by twisting in opposite directions. Like it says, don't pull, so I guess there is no quick release, but there is both loosen and tighten.
http://www.atop-team.com/atop_reel_knob_lacing_system/features_en.php

Avatar
Ian miller replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
0 likes

Yes, turn in reverse to open, pretty simple to do though

Avatar
ibr17xvii replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
0 likes

OnYerBike wrote:

Do the dials let you incrementally loosen as well as tighten, or are they the sort that you can tighten incrementally, but then have to fully release to untighten?  

The latter I believe.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
1 like

They are lovely and an amazing price.   I wish they had included a 2 bolt option like thier lower range road shoe does because with the addition that and of a couple of toe studs they would be the business for Gravel as well.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
1 like

Secret_squirrel wrote:

They are lovely and an amazing price.   I wish they had included a 2 bolt option like thier lower range road shoe does because with the addition that and of a couple of toe studs they would be the business for Gravel as well.

Second that, as someone who uses SPDs rather than SPD-SLs on the commuter (lots of stopping in London traffic, safer to put one's foot down in SPDs, also got fed up with replacing SPD-SL cleats every couple of months) but loves the stiffness - and the look - of race shoes it would be great if more manufacturers could offer a two-bolt fixing as well.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
2 likes

Yeah - the price. Just goes to show how much of a rip off much of the competition is.

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