Recently we told you about Boardman's new Elite bikes and what do you know, they've only gone and revamped their Performance range too. We snuck over the border to misty Wales to have a look at the new bikes. They cover road, hybrid and cyclo-cross and there's now a time trial bike too with prices from £499 to £1,799. Our top picks are the £1,499 Road Pro Carbon, the £999 CX Team and the £1,799 Road Pro SLR but there's plenty for everyone in the new range
Boardman work on a two-year product cycle, so these are the bikes you'll be seeing in Halfords until about this time in 2018: Boardman is now fully owned by Halfords after the chain, who have been Boardman's retail partner from the off, bought the company from the original investors in 2014. There's some really good-looking bikes in the range: let's take a look at some of the highlights, and also what's been happening behind the scenes at Boardman since the buy-out.
There's a lot of value in the Boardman range, but this is probably the pick in terms of bangs for your buck. The Road Pro is a new platform and very much a disc road bike, rather than a gravel bike or an all-rounder. The C7 Carbon frame has a fairly sporty geometry - Boardman describe it as 'endurance' not quite as aggressive as an all out race bike, but not as upright as a classic sportive geometry. It's a bike intended to deliver all day comfort while riding at a decent clip. All cables and hoses are internally routed, including through the carbon fork.
We've got a review of the 105 hydraulic brakes coming up, but again it's a case of Shimano trickling down the tech at some pace The ST-505 levers here are matched with existing Ultegra-level BR-785 callipers. Boardman seem to be caught slightly between two stalls as regards disc mounts with this release. Some frames, such as the Hybrid Pro and and the Road Comp, have switched to flat mount, although both those bikes are using an adaptor to fit existing post-mount brakes. The Road Pro, however, is still post mount at the rear; all the bikes have post-mount forks except the Road Comp which has moved to flat mount. We were told that a move to flat mounts will most likely be a running change on the Road Pro when supplies of the new-fangled flat mount calliper become more readily available. We'd expect the other models to follow suit.
The Road Pro uses Shimano ICE-Tech rotors and centerlock hubs laced to Boardman-branded mid-section alloy rims that look a lot like Velocity Ailerons to us (and that would be no bad thing). They're shod with Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres in a 25mm width. The bike looks like it's happily take a 28mm; it's a pity there are no mudguard mounts though.
The 105 hydraulic levers pull 105 derailleurs front and rear. You don't get Shimano's chainset but you do get FSA's new Gossamer Pro instead, which is certainly a step up from the last incarnation with its four-arm design. It runs on a press-fit bottom bracket. That Gossamer Pro chainset is a 52-36 pushing a 12-28 cassette so it should get you up and down most things.
the Road Pro is one of two bikes we brought back with us for testing, after giving them a go up the Gospel Pass while at the launch. look out for a review soon.
And the other bike we brought back is…
Boardman's Elite range starts with the £1,899 SLR Endurance 9.0 but to be honest we'd be hard pushed to look beyond the Road Pro SLR for that kind of money. Okay, we're sort of comparing apples with pears here - as its name suggests the SLR Endurance 9.0 is an endurance machine whereas as the Road Pro SLR is all about performance.
For £100 less than the Endurance 9.0 the Road Pro SLR gives you a full carbon frame and fork, a full SRAM Force groupset with a 52-36 chainset and 11-28 cassette - as opposed to a Shimano Ultegra/105 mix with an FSA chainset on the Endurance 9.0. Other highlights are Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels, a carbon seatpost and a good-quality Prologo saddle. It's got 'privateer racer' written all over it. And it looks splendid in the silver metallic finish, as does the Road Pro below it. It's definitely a performance bike at a very reasonable price. The frameset comes out of the same mould as Boardman's Elite SLR Race, and that frameset costs £1,399 on its own, although obviously it's a higher grade of carbon and subsqequently lighter.
Also, it's defo a full on race bike in terms of tyre and mudguard clearances. There's no mudguard mounts, and you might get a Conti or Rubino 28mm on there, but we'd be doubtful if something like a Schwalbe 28mm would fit.
We brought a Road Pro SLR back with us for testing, so watch out for a review of that one soon.
Talk to Chris himself about which of the Boardman performance bikes he's most excited about and it's this one. "After 40 years riding the same roads round where I live it had got a bit boring", he told us, "and getting out on mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes really gave me a new angle on my local area. Now more than often I'll ride a bike like this." The CX team looks like a lot of bike for the money: you get a triple butted alloy frame, carbon fork, SRAM Rival Hydraulic 1x11 groupset, Mavic disc rims and race-ready Schwalbe tyres for under a grand. The bike uses SRAM's super wide 10-42 cassette to eke the maximum range out of the 44T front chainring. That gives you enough gears to get up the really steep stuff without sacrificing much top-end speed.
The bike's set up for 'cross but stick a set of big-chamber slicks and mudguards on (and a rack will fit too) and you've got a really nicely specced commuter or all-purpose bike. We can't help thinking Boardman have missed a trick by not speccing it like that in the first place: looking at bikes such as the Jamis Renegade, Raleigh Roker and the like it's certainly the trend and more people will be using a bike like this for general use than they will for racing.
Boardman sold its first bike in 2007 when the Tour came to London and within a year they'd picked up an Olympic gold medal: the first carbon bike that Boardman designed helped Nicole Cooke to an Olympic Road Race win. The bikes have had plenty of of futher success, most notably with the Brownlee brothers in triathlon, and Pete Jacobs winning the Hawaii Ironman.
From the off Boardman has been a brand that looks to offer really good value for money. The very same mould that was used for Nicole Cooke's bike was also the basis of Boardman's first sub-£1000 full carbon road bike, and they still offer that bike in the range today: The Team Carbon.
Brands trying to hit the sub-£1k price point have been helped enormously by the fact that Shimano have been been doing some serious trickling down of late. The newest incarnation of the Tiagra groupset – this bike gets the shifters and mechs, with brake callipers by Tektro and an FSA chainset – is a really high quality transmission. A few years back you needed to buy the next groupset up, 105, to get comparable performance. A few years before that you needed Ultegra. Groupsets have come a long way in the time Boardman has been established. You're getting near-race performance from Tiagra these days.
But it's a practical bike as well. It's got a full complement of mudguard mounts so you can keep yourself and your riding buddies spatter-free through the winter, and you get dependable high-spoke-count wheels with Mavic CXP rims, and four-seasons-friendly Zaffiro Pro folding tyres. Cables are externally routed for ease of maintenance, with the exception of the rear brake cable that runs through the top tube.
The Road Team Carbon is also available in a women's version with tweaked geometry and a different saddle and bar setup, at the same price.
Designed to appeal to the clock-basher or triathlete on a budget the Team TT is the other new model in the new Performance range. Boardman have already made a name for themselves amongst triathletes and testers with their elite TTE range of bikes. The Road Team TT is all about finding out if there is an appetite for a bike that bridges the gap between buying a set of clip-on bars for your (possibly) aero road bike and shelling out a few grand for something like a TTE. We reckon their probably is.
The Team TT's alloy frame has smoothed welds that give it an almost carbon look, and an aero fork and seatpost help to cut through the air. The rear brake is situated under the bottom bracket for a further aero advantage. You get a SRAM Apex 2x10 transmission with a 53-39 chainset for getting you up to maximum velocity, a Vsison Trimax cockpit with aero extensions and an ISM Adamo TT saddle. While that saddle will very much say 'triathlon' to many Boardman have tried to ensure that the Team TT will work for both road time triallists and triathletes by ensuring there is enough adjustability to allow for either the more stretched out TT riding position or the classic over the bottom bracket triathlon position.
In theory the Road Team TT's sub-£1,000 price tag means you could buy one on the cycle to work scheme. You'd get to work fast.
Those were our stand-out bikes from the launch but there's plenty more. And in the pursuit of completeness, here they all are:
The cheapest Boardman road bike gets an X7 triple-butted alloy frame and a Claris 8-speed transmission. You still get a carbon-bladed fork, Mavic rims and Vittoria tyres, even on the bottom rung.
The next bike up in the road range is a disc-braked bike, using Tektro's Spyre mechanical callipers. Given that we reckon they're about the best mechanical discs you can get, and often we see bikes at this price with brakes at least one rung down from that, it's a real plus. Also a plus is the Sora groupset with an 11-30 cassette for tackling the steep stuff. You get a carbon-bladed fork too, and mudguard and rack mounts.
Given that the similarly-priced Road Comp gets a carbon/alloy fork and Spyre brakes, the CX Comp feels like a bit of an ugly duckling with its metal fork and Lyra stoppers. Both that and the Hybrid Team look like a better bet at this price point.
Such is the ubiquity of disc brakes in mountain biking that even a £499 hybrid can afford decent hydraulic anchors these days. Tektro's Auriga brakes are excellent for the money and you get a 2x9 Acera drivetrain with an 11-34T cassette for tackling the steep stuff. All Boardman's hybrids come with mudguard eyelets and rack mounts making them ideal for commuting or even a spot of light touring or trekking. They all sport Zaffiro Rigid 32mm tyres so comfort shouldn't be an issue. No surprise then that Boardman sell a lot of hybrids and expect to sell a lot of this new range too.
The Team version of the hybrid gets an upgrade to a full-carbon fork and Tiagra transmission and hydraulic discs from Shimano. The X7 triple butted frame is the same though
Topping out the hybrid range at just under £1,000, the Pro uses the same SRAM Rival 1x11 setup as the CX team, except with a flat bar shifter. You get the same whopping 10-42T cassette and the Pro, like all the hybrid range, has reflective sidewall tyres for a bit of extra visibility about town.
Also in the Performance range are the MX bikes, which combine an alloy frame and suspension fork for a more upright riding position. There's a £499 MX Sport and a £599 MX Comp build available in both men's and women's builds.
The new branding is bold, as are the bike designs and colour schemes. The old Boardman logo actually said CBoardman but now the C has subtly moved into the B - did you spot it? Anyway, Andrew Smallwood, Boardman's managing director, told us that the new branding reflects the fact that while Chris is still an integral part of Boardman, increasingly it's about the team of people around him.
The new logo and branding are part of a wider look at the company that's taken place since the change of ownership. "We realised that everybody had a slightly different view because we'd been so busy, just heads down, building bikes, that we hadn't stopped to think where we wanted to get to", said Chris. "We took the time straight after the sale to think about some things. What does the brand stand for? What do we we want to be going forward? a lot of corporate navel-gazing, basically. What came back was quite suprising.
"It wasn't what I expected: I thought we'd be talking about high technology, the cutting edge. But that was a very small part of what everyone was saying, it was more like a given in the background: to make the starting line you have to be doing those kinds of things. But everyone leant forward and got interested when we started to talk about 'cross bikes, and going out riding at the weekend, riding to work... that was what they were passionate about. I realised that now I ride mostly 'cross bikes and mountain bikes: my relationship with cycling had changed as well. And I thought I'd be the person that wanted to talk about all the science and aerodynamics; I am still interested in that but nowadays it's not the type of riding I do.
In the end we decided that we weren't going to have a specific thing that we wanted to achieve, but more a guiding principle: we'll only make bikes that we can genuinely be proud of, and we'll only make bikes that we want to ride. We all ride, and we want to be out there with you. In the end it was as simple as that."
Talking of performance, we got to chat a bit more about Boardman's performance centre that they're aiming to build in the Midlands this year, exact location to be confirmed. And we were very pleased to hear that it's not primarily going to be designed to help Boardman churn out new bikes but for normal people to help themselves get a performance boost.
"The bit that excites me is that we're not building a facility and a wind tunnel just for us to use, as a business, to make products", Chris said at the launch. "We're building it primarily for you: for the public. Anyone will be able to come along and for a very resaonable price book themselves an hour in the wind tunnel and go and explore for themselves.
"We're not going to tell you which is the best product, we're going to let you find out. And I think that's very true to our core philosophy of being out there with you. I was saying before that the type of bike riding I do now is very different. This place will let you go and explore your own riding, as far as you want to go: whether that's getting ready for a sportive and getting your physiology tested, or whether it's aerodynamics, exploring it to the nth degree. We'll be one of our own biggest clients, but really we're building it for the customers."
For more on Boardman's performance and Elite ranges head over to www.boardmanbikes.com
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.