Many American fans of professional cycling know the name Chris Boardman. The humble Englishman won a world time trial title, set the hour record three times and won three Tour de France prologues, among other victories. In other words, the man knew how to go fast. In 2007, Boardman, former pro triathlete Alan Ingarfield, and CEO Sarah Mooney launched the Boardman brand of bikes, which has been growing quickly in the UK. Now, Boardman is coming to the US with three top-end bikes: a time trial model, an aero road machine, and a superlight road bikes. Each of the three come in multiple price models.
An unconventional aero look
As a time trial specialist, Boardman was always particularly interested in improving his gear, capturing every bit of what are now referred to as marginal gains. After his racing career, he consulted with Team Great Britain for two Olympic cycles, including the last Games in London. Eagle-eyed race fans may have noticed that the bikes Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins rode in London were not their stock team bikes.
In the past few years, bike makers have unleashed a host of aero bikes and dramatically shaped time trial/triathlon machines. Boardman's bikes don't look quite as elongated as many, but Boardman contends the bikes are actually more aerodynamic than most in real-world conditions.
Chris Boardman has spent his professional career refining aerodynamics and performance
Cervélo staked an early claim with aero frame design, said Boardman North American sales director Fletch Newland, and the Canadian company optimized for yaw angles of between 7 and 12 degrees. Boardman has gone a different route.
"Where historically, much of the rest of the industry has been designing their bikes based on what was deemed to be 'real world' riding conditions up to 12.5 degrees of yaw, research suggests a different reality," Newland said. "Due to highly variable wind speeds and riding conditions, we feel 12.5 degrees is too low and therefore our aero tube profiles have been optimized to 20 degrees of yaw making them faster and more stable in what are actually 'real world' riding conditions."
Triathlon and aero
Boardman has enjoyed some high-profile success in triathlon recently with the Bronlee brothers in Olympic competition and Pete Jacobs at the Ironman world championships.
"Alan spotted the Bronlees back in the day, and put them on Boardman before it was even a brand," said Boardman director of operations Andy Smallwood.
The AiR TT comes in four models, each with the same Ironman-winning frame shape
Jacobs signed with Boardman in 2011, and his bike split at Kona improved by a whopping 14 minutes. Smallwood acknowledged that physiological improvements and conditions obviously affect performance, but pointed out that the Boardman Jacobs rode was certainly not lacking in aerodynamic performance. Jacobs won the 2012 Ironman world championships in Kona on an Air TT, which is now available for sale in the US.
Pricing, weights - and the rest of the line
Boardman has two ranges of bikes: Performance ($600-$2,000) and Elite ($2,600-$12,000). And while all these bikes — plus mountain bikes — are sold in the UK, Boardman is only bringing in the three models of top-end Elite bikes to North America for the time being.
Boardman is offering two different road models, the AiR Road and the SLR, and the time trial/triathlon bike, the AiR TT. Within each of those lines are multiple models, each made from the same mold. The top model in each line has a lighter carbon, while the other four have the same carbon but with different parts and paint.
The SLR frame weighs less than 900g, according to Boardman
The Elite AiR TT 9.0 bike, for example, retails for $2,600, using the same tube profile as the $11,000 AiR TT 9.8 that that won Ironman under Jacobs.
Each of the frames is made with a monocoque front triangle that is bonded to the one-piece bottom bracket/chainstays piece, and monocoque seatstays .
The SLR bike, which ranges from $2,700 to $7,700 depending on build, is built up from a claimed sub-900g frame. The AiR aero road frame weighs a claimed 1,110g and the AiR TT frame comes in around 1,250g, according to Boardman.
The frames are built for either mechanical or electric groups, and are available separately as well for between $2,100 and $2,600.
BikeRadar has reviewed a number of Boardman bikes. Read Boardman bike reviews here.