Chris Boardman never raced cyclo-cross during his pro career, telling us that he – understandably – “wanted some time out after a long summer’s racing”. Now that he’s not competing he tells us he likes riding tracks and trails, at the moment using a Boardman Hybrid Pro with a cut-down bar. Well, with a ’cross machine in his range he can now replace the Hybrid with this somewhat more suitable beast.
Ride & equipment: Excellent off-road performance, and comfy on the cobbles too
Sensibly, the Boardman comes with a standard 27.2mm seatpost, and the extra comfort over larger diameter posts is appreciated on bumpy road surfaces.
Although some riders will doubtless buy it for commuting, city streets aren’t really what the Boardman is designed for, though, cobbles or no cobbles. What it’s designed for is being thrown through the woods and down trails with abandon, and the Pro CX wasn’t found wanting.
Around the edge of some football pitches its grasstrack (mud track?) performance and grip was excellent, the Ritchey tyres digging in impressively. The sealed cartridge bearing hubs survived everything the elements could throw at them – which was quite a lot – and they’re straightforward to service. They also coped with roots and rocks without complaint.
SRAM’s lowest priced Rival groupset is at the heart of this bike’s setup. The brakes took a while to bite, but worked without squealing or causing front fork judder. It’s good to see an extra set of cyclo-cross levers so you can still brake when riding on the hoods. We didn’t actually use them that much when riding off-road, but on the (cobbled) road in city trafﬁc, they came into their own.
Frame: Stiff in all the right places, but internal cabling is awkward
Boardman has been quick to pick up on developments like BB30, and the oversized bottom bracket appears on this frame. The rest of the chassis is beautifully ﬁnished with super-neat, smooth welds.
The head tube tapers from 1-1/2in to 1-1/8in for the same reason as the BB30 – adding extra stiffness in a crucial area of the frame. It’s good to see an entirely carbon fork at this price, with only the dropout being metal.
The quality of the look and ﬁnish were enough to wow long-time bike shop mechanic and BikeRadar workshop manager George. He wasn’t so overjoyed with the internal cabling for the rear brake cable – helpful for shouldering the bike but it has no internal channel so changing cables is a tricky process.
The only other criticism was that the bottom bracket shell had picked up a bit of water, which could eventually ﬁnd its way into the bottom bracket bearings. It’s worth emphasising that testing was carried out over some incredibly wet days, but as cyclo-cross is going to be tackled in some atrocious conditions it’s something to bear in mind.