Bikes that come in under the £500 mark are already extremely popular in the UK, and with the growth of cycle to work schemes and fuel costs, bike sales at this entry level price point are surely set to increase. The £499.99 Boardman MX Race is designed to be a versatile entry level hybrid that combines the best of on- and off-road performance.
The frame looks as though it's been lifted from a mountain bike, with its box-section chainstays and large profile tubing, and the MX Race is equipped with a basic but lockout-equipped suspension fork. The 63mm Suntour unit is definitely more biased towards taking the sting out of kerbs than adding traction on a trail, though.
The SRAM X5 9-speed gearing is more than capable of taking some off-road abuse, and combined with an FSA Dyna Drive triple chainset allows useful ratios for most situations. The MX Race comes with Avid BB5 discs, which shouldn't have a problem slowing down the 14kg (31lb) hybrid.
The 700c wheelset uses 32 spokes in order to cope with potential off-road excursions, while the 37mm Schwalbe Tyrago tyres are usefully treaded to disperse water and muck. The MX Race's geometry has also been selected to add versatility – steep enough for it to be a nifty commuter but slack enough to add stability while descending.
The MX Race is compatible with mudguards and rear racks
Finishing kit is mostly own-brand componentry, which is no bad thing at this price. The cockpit setup is near identical to that of an entry level mountain bike, with thumb shifters, a riser bar and a lengthly but not awkward-looking stem.
The MX Race looks set to be a good option for those who want a decent commuter with (limited) off-road potential or don't fancy a drop bar. However, for many, this bike – and hybrids in general – will always be a compromise.
For more information see www.boardmanbikes.com.