The Boardman Comp is the entry-level model in the new range of bikes that Chris Boardman, former Olympic gold medallist, has brought to the market in collaboration with Bikehut at Halfords. Currently Boardman bikes are available only in the UK and Ireland.
The Boardman uses 7000 series tubing that is vertically ovalised at the head of the down-tube and twists along its length through 90 degrees to where it attaches to the bottom bracket. The black finish is excellent and the attractive diamond-to-round profiled top-tube has a boss underneath for attaching a race number that is mandatory for UCI sanctioned races abroad, and mimics that of bikes used by Chris during his time as a professional. Boardman frames are available in four sizes that are based upon the effective horizontal top-tube dimension ranging from 54-58.5cm.
The Boardman comes with a Ritchey Comp handlebar and stem and the combined weight of the groupset and finishing kit is a cool 745g lighter than the rival Pinnacle Sentinal 1.0, and 554g lighter than the Cube Aerial Comp. Shimano Tiagra is used on the Boardman, together with a 105 rear mech that gives added value and while designed for a 10-speed system, it works well across the 9-speed cassette.
The Truvativ Elita two-piece compact chainset looks like it should be on a bike costing twice the price, although we would like to see the Comp also made available with a triple chainset. The Boardman saddle - made by Velo, was popular among the testers.
The combined weight of the Boardman's tyres, cassette and Ritchey Comp wheels is just 2,920g and they are the only wheels on bikes in this price group to use cartridge bearing hubs, which are generally better quality than traditional ball and cone bearings. The black spokes - 20 front and 24 rear - look good with their aerodynamic elliptical cross section, and remained perfectly true throughout testing. The Continental Ultra Sport tyres are of the cheaper steel-beaded type but the tread grips well wet or dry.
At a recent press launch, Chris Boardman said that his 19.7lb Comp bike was lighter than the Eddy Merckx bike that he started his professional cycling career on back in 1993, and we wouldn't disagree with him. The forks are certainly light, and though we were expecting there to be a point at which they showed their limitations on fast descents, if there was, we never reached it. The Boardman's frame is marginally stiffer than its direct competitors from Cube and Pinnacle and a lighter overall weight than its Specialized rival the Allez Sport. It might not be the liveliest of rides but it scores on composure.
In his prime, Chris Boardman was unbeatable on the short, sharp efforts of a hillclimb and the Comp reflects that with its lightness. While we weren't expecting to break records for frame weight, at this price point the equipment level, wheels spec and low overall weight places it firmly in the best buy category. We'd change the stem for a longer one, but at £599 it's hard for all but the most heavily discounted bikes to beat, and sets a new benchmark.