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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Well made, very well-specced and comfortable road shoes at a very good price
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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
They size up a little big.
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
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.
About the tester
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,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!