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review

Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc

7
£3,950.00

VERDICT:

7
10
Not the most exciting ride, but great for travelling fast in comfort
Comfortable ride
Good value
Good spec for the money
Bit of fork flex possible
Weight: 
7,950g

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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The Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc Carbon is a good all-rounder road bike, capable of racing but just as at home on the club run, tackling a sportive route, or just getting out for a quick spin around the lanes. It's comfortable, purposeful, and quick – plus it's priced very competitively.

If your budget doesn't stretch to the SLR 9.6 Disc Carbon (or goes a whole lot further), check out our guide to the best road bikes, with prices ranging from £300 to more than £13,000.

The ride

The SLR rides exactly how I was expecting it to after I'd cast my eye over the geometry table. The front end feels a little higher than a true race bike, so when in the hoods or even the drops for that matter, I didn't feel too stretched out or that low.

2023 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - riding 2.jpg

It still felt aero enough, mind, and on flat sections of road into a headwind I could tuck in well enough to reduce drag.

The geometry gives a stable and balanced feel. Even at speed it feels easy to ride, with the front end feeling direct through the bends, with the rear happy to follow.

2023 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - riding 3.jpg

Rough sections of road don't make it feel unsettled, and it just feels planted whether you are cruising along or giving it the beans.

There is plenty of stiffness around the bottom bracket area for sprinting or when climbing hard, and the chunky chainstays keep flex to the rear wheel to an absolute minimum.

2023 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - riding 4.jpg

Boardman has also focused on comfort, with slender seatstays minimising any harshness from the rear end.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - seat tube junction.jpg

It's the same at the front, too: the fork legs are quite slender compared with many other performance road bikes. This gives a supple ride through the handlebar when riding along, but for more spirited efforts there is a small amount flex around the thru-axle mounting, showing itself as a tiny bit of rotor rub when really going for it.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - fork.jpg

Overall, though, the SLR feels quick without necessarily coming across as 'urgent'. It delivers its speed in quite a relaxed manner, as in it never quite feels as quick as your computer screen is showing.

2023 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - riding 6.jpg

It's still a capable racer, though, and because of that lowish weight and the frame stiffness, it certainly responds well to being ridden hard.

Frame and fork

The SLR 9.6 has been around in this guise for quite a few years now, albeit with a couple of little tweaks, like losing the cable-guide entry holes on either side of the down tube to suit the latest wireless shifters from the Ultegra Di2 groupset, which gives a cleaner look to the bike as a whole.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - downtube.jpg

It's still constructed out of Boardman's top-level C10 carbon fibre, a blend of Toray's T800 and T1000 that creates a lighter frame than the grades used for frames lower down the range, without compromising stiffness.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - seat tube detail.jpg

That means an overall weight of 7.95kg (17.5lb) for this medium size, which is respectable when you consider the inclusion of an electronic groupset and deep-section carbon wheels.

Its design has a bit of an aero feel about it, but it's not as sleek as some, with a lot of squared-off tube sections. But things like the hidden seat clamp assembly and the large junction between the head tube, down tube and top tube certainly give a smooth profile.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - seat post bolt.jpg

The hydraulic hosing for the brakes is directed down through the frame and fork, and you even get hidden mudguard mounting points, too, for some added versatility.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - cable routing.jpg

Without the guards you get tyre clearance of 30mm.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - fork clearance.jpg

For the bottom bracket the SLR uses PF30, and while we've seen many brands moving away from this and going back to variations of threaded BBs, the press-fit cups here showed no issues with creaking even after some very wet rides throughout January and February.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - bottom bracket.jpg

Geometry-wise, the SLR sits somewhere between an endurance bike and a race bike.

Five sizes are available, with this medium sitting in the middle. It has a top tube length of 555mm, a seat tube length of 500mm, and a head tube measuring 160mm.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - head tube.jpg

Stack and reach are 563mm and 388mm respectively, which gives a ratio of 1.45; that's racier than some, but the overall position doesn't seem too extreme.

Other dimensions are a wheelbase of 1,002mm, with chainstays of 415mm. The fork length is 373mm, with a rake of 48mm.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - front.jpg

As for the angles, we're looking at 72.5 degrees for the head and 73.5 degrees for the seat tube.

Groupset

The SLR 9.6 is built around a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, the latest R8170 version that we reviewed here.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - lever.jpg

It's arguably the best balance of performance and value in Shimano's electronic groupset line-up, with Liam reckoning that with fast shifting and brilliant brakes it's level with Dura-Ace in terms of performance, but a good chunk of cash cheaper.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - rear mech.jpg

The SLR comes with a 50/34-tooth chainset and an 11-30 12-speed cassette, giving a spread of gears well suited to its all-round nature.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - drivetrain.jpg

The compact chainrings mean plenty of low enough gears for climbing hilly terrain, while the 50x11 highest ratio will still give you plenty of resistance to push against for the steepest of downhills.

As far as the braking goes, the SLR is fitted with a 160mm rotor at the front and 140mm at the rear. Ultgera's braking power is very impressive, so this setup works perfectly for a bike of this weight and design.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - rear dsic brake.jpg

Finishing kit

The rest of the kit is all Boardman-branded stuff. Nothing overly flash, but it all does a good job.

The alloy stem is 100mm in length on this medium bike, and it's paired with an aluminium handlebar. This has a compact shape, although the radius of the drops isn't quite as tight as the majority of handlebars, so the bottom part of the drop doesn't sit parallel with the road the way I prefer.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - drop bar.jpg

The handlebar diameter is quite narrow, too, which isn't great for comfort on long rides, especially if, like me, you tend not to wear padded gloves.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - stem.jpg

The saddle is lengthy compared with the short-nosed offerings that seem to be in vogue at the moment. It does mean you get plenty room to slide fore and aft for climbing and comfort, though.

Wheels and tyres

For the wheels, the SLR gets a rather posh set of Alexrims ALX 845D Carbons, which have a 45mm-deep rim – a proper bonus for those who want speed over light weight.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - rim.jpg

The rims are tubeless compatible if you want to go down that route, and the overall performance is impressive. I found them to be stiff enough for very hard efforts and they give an aero benefit when you are travelling at more than 20mph.

The tyres are 28mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0s which, as the name suggests, come with graphene integrated into the compound to improve durability along with providing good rolling resistance and grip.

2022 Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc - tyre.jpg

They are a good set of tyres for a standard spec list, and I found their performance impressive on the cold roads of winter. They were robust enough to cope with all of the rain and the associated flints, grit and hedge cuttings found on the back lanes.

Value

The SLR 9.6 is priced at £3,950 (currently discounted to £3,550) which, considering the Ultegra Di2 groupset and deep-section wheels, is competitive.

The Merida Scultura 9000 uses Merida's lightest carbon fibre grade and it comes with the same Ultegra Di2 groupset. The wheels are deep section too – a set of bling Reynolds Aero 46DBs fitted with Continental GP5000 tyres. It costs £5,950.

I recently tested the Scultura Limited and was impressed overall. It comes with the slightly heavier CF3 grade frame than the Scultura 9000, and a Shimano 105 mechanical groupset, for £3,000. You do get some deep-section wheels – 45mm deep in this case.

A few months back I reviewed the Tifosi Auriga Disc in a Campagnolo Chorus build for £3,499. It's an aero-ish bike and feels a bit more edgy than the Boardman, but performance is similar.

A similarly built Auriga with an Ultegra Di2 groupset is £3,799, although you are only getting a set of Vision Team 30 wheels, which are heavy and don't offer a huge amount in terms of aerodynamics. Also, the frame is made from a mix of T700 and T800 carbon fibre, so it sits in line with Boardman's lower level framesets.

Conclusion

Overall, the Boardman is a good bike. I wouldn't say it excels anywhere in particular, but if you are after a fast road bike that is easy to ride and very easy to live with, this is definitely one to consider. It's fast enough to race on should you want to, but I'd say it's aimed more at the fast club rider or those who like to ride solo with a mix of speed and comfort.

Verdict

Not the most exciting ride, but great for travelling fast in comfort

road.cc test report

Make and model: Boardman SLR 9.6 Disc

Size tested: Medium, 55.5cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Bottom Bracket: FSA PF30 to Shimano BB

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150

Brakes: Shimano Ultegra R8170 Disc Brakes 160/140mm RT-MT800 Rotors

Cassette: Shimano Ultegra R8100 12 speed - 11-30

Shifter: Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8170 2x12

Chain: Shimano CN-M8100

Cranks: Shimano Ultegra R8100 50/34t

Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150

Saddle: Boardman SLR with Pressure Relief

Seat Post: Boardman SLR Carbon 0-20mm adjustable offset

Stem: Boardman Elite Alloy

Handlebar: Boardman Elite Alloy

Handlebar Tape: Boardman Soft-grip

Headset: FSA No.42

Wheelset: Alexrims ALX 845D Carbon, 45mm Profile - Thru-Axle Front and Rear

Tyre: Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 - 28mm

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, "The SLR range are perfect all-round road bikes. They feature a lightweight frame design and carbon lay up which offers a fantastic blend of power transfer and comfort and has been aero-optimised to deliver race winning speed. This is combined with a geometry which encourages long days exploring without sitting up tall in the wind. The SLR 9.6 is visually stunning, with the looks to keep up with its rapid performance."

The SLR 9.6 is very much a race style road bike, but without too much of an extreme position. Hidden mudguard mounting points give extra versatility as well.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

This is the top model in Boardman's carbon road range. The line-up begins with a rim-braked SLR 8.9, and there's a disc version too. They are priced at £1,200 and £1,750 respectively.

The SLR 9.4 sits below the 9.6 at £2,850.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The quality looks and feels to be very good throughout.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

The frame and fork are both C10 Carbon.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The geometry table shows that this is a race-inspired bike, although without too extreme a position.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

I've mentioned the stack and reach figures in the review, and they are typical for a race-orientated road bike of this size.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yes. The overall ride quality is very good. The carbon frame isn't harsh and there is some forgiveness in the fork legs for a smooth ride.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

The width of the bottom bracket junction allows for large chainstays and a wider down tube for plenty of stiffness when sprinting or climbing. There is a bit of flex at the fork legs when sprinting very hard, though.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Power transfer of the stiff frame and an overall weight that is relatively light means that the SLR feels efficent when you ask it to get a move on.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? On the quick side of neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The handling is well balanced, being positive and direct without being so quick that it becomes twitchy.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The handlebar tape was quite thin, and the handlebar diameter is narrow, so it isn't the plushest front end.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

I was impressed with the stiffness of the carbon wheels when riding hard out of the saddle.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

The compact chainset paired to the 12-speed cassette gives a large spread of gears, especially good for climbing.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset is a top performer both in terms of the gear changes and the power of the braking system.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10

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?

The 45mm-deep wheels bring an aero bonus to the frame, and they felt stiff under hard efforts.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10

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?

A good all-rounder set of tyres that will cope with winter use as well as being ideal for the summer.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Either side of the stem clamp the handlebar diameter is quite narrow, which means it isn't as comfortable as larger ones I have ridden.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

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

The SLR 9.6 is £3,950 (currently discounted to £3,550), which, considering the Ultegra Di2 groupset and deep-section wheels, is competitive.

Merida's Scultura 9000 uses its lightest carbon fibre grade and comes with the same Ultegra Di2 groupset. The wheels are deep section too, but it costs £5,950. I recently tested the Scultura Limited and was impressed overall. It comes with the slightly heavier CF3 grade frame than the Scultura 9000 and a Shimano 105 mechanical groupset for £3,000. You do get some deep-section wheels – 45mm deep in this case.

A few months back I reviewed the Tifosi Auriga Disc in a Campagnolo Chorus build for £3,499. It's an aero-ish bike that feels a bit more edgy than the Boardman, but performance is similar. A similarly built Auriga with an Ultegra Di2 groupset is £3,799, although you are only getting a set of Vision Team 30 wheels, which are heavy and don't offer a huge amount in terms of aerodynamics. Also, the frame is made from a mix of T700 and T800 carbon fibre, so it sits in line with Boardman's lower level framesets.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Boardman SLR 9.6 is a good all-rounder, and it's well specced for the money. It's good in terms of ride quality and comfort, too. The whole package lacks a bit of excitement, but that might suit you.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 44  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!

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2 comments

Avatar
gpfreegard | 4 months ago
0 likes

I have a 2020 version of the bike, can't fault it apart from the saddle rail clamp. Have done 20k (miles), and my second clamp has failed. Unfortunately Halfords haven't been able to get hold of a replacement, been waiting since the start of Feb 2024. And now have cancelled the order. This part is also on the SLR 9.4, 9.8 and the Air versions, some of which are still available for sale. So now I have had to bodge it to keep me going for the time being, until I decide whether to get a new frame (not Boardman) which has a standard type of seat post.

Have tried to escalate this with Halfords but nothing has happened. The part is only £15, so a £3.5k (new price) bike is now possibly on the way to tip, via Halfords, just to the lack of spares  2

Avatar
Tikoloshe | 11 months ago
0 likes

Stu, sorry big ask but I've had an aero bike die on warranty and I've got one of these on order with 10% off. What bugs me is the Giant tcr ultegra di2 is £300 cheaper but comes with pr2 wheels, so the overall best buy looks like the boardman with the deep carbons but as far as I can tell, that fork hasn't changed since it's first incarnation and is still flexy under stress - I wouldn't expect that at a bike costing this much. I'm basically looking at something di2 in the 3k territory to be a do it all training in the hills and race bike for long haul tri (aero ideal)
A caad13 with a free hollowgram wheel upgrade at £2300 is very very tempting, but the price for an alu bike with 105 mechanical is a joke tbh.

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