With its low weight and gift of a kit list, the Boardman is a total bargain for faster cross-country use. However, its rattly ride meant it was left trailing on harder hitting technical sections, and limited tyre space makes that hard to fix.
Ride & handling: Laps up trail centre loops but can be ‘trying’ on technical trails
You can't fault the Boardman on acceleration. Even on smooth surfaces where the Continental Speed King growl and drag slightly, minimal weight means it leaves its price rivals for dust every time the pace picks up.
It’s similarly dominant on long, non-technical climbs too, where the tight frame and quick gears fairly ﬂy skywards. If you spend a lot of the summer with a race number on your bars, picking the Pro is a complete no-brainer.
The mid-width bar and neutral geometry mean it’s vice-free and responsive when the trees thicken and the corners tighten. In fact it’ll skip and thread through smooth singletrack as fast as anything else at this price range, with that lethal acceleration kick waiting to make gaps whenever you get the chance.
On rougher trails and beneath more technically aggressive riders the Boardman begins to struggle. High tyre pressures are vital to stop the skinny, fragile treads pinch puncturing; that means they skip and chatter rather than driving and gripping, and the wheels are ﬂexy. There’s not much tyre space for anything much bigger too so it’s not a wise choice for rocky areas.
Frame & equipment: Slick featherweight chassis with great spec; an unbeatable £1,000 race bike
Despite the barely believable spec list the butted and hydroformed frame is still totally up to date, with an inset headset, carbon-fibre-esque smoothed welds and a skinny seat tube to add some ﬂex and comfort to the sit zone.
The astonishing lack of mass in this sub-24lb bike is mostly due to a carefully dieted £1,500 kit list at a £1,000 cost. The SRAM X.0 rear mech is a spec highlight, with the Stylo chainset and SRAM X.9 shifters providing crisp and immediate connections. The Avid Elixir brakes even get carbon blades while Ritchey components are always light.
RockShox’s Reba SL fork is not only comparatively light but potentially one of the most composed at this price, but it’s the lightweight wheels and skinny Continental Speed King tyres that spin up to speed quickly and dominate feel of the Boardman on the trail.
Normally skinny tyres wouldn’t be a massive problem, especially when you’re getting such an astonishing bargain with the rest of the bike. Unfortunately there’s not much room for anything bigger in the Boardman so you’ll have to go tougher and more tacky rather than larger to improve ground connection.