Helped by their high street distribution via Halfords in the UK, Boardman Bikes have made quite a name for themselves in just a few years. They're not standing still in 2011. This year they're sponsoring a professional road team, are looking to move into international markets and have introduced some new bikes, including this, their first aero road bike.
Typically for a Boardman bike, the price is exceptionally competitive, your £1,800 landing you a carbon fibre frame, tapered carbon fork and oversized aero seatpost as well as a higher spec than most similarly priced bikes. Shimano Ultegra kit takes care of shifting and braking, and there’s a decent set of Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels.
Maximum aerodynamic efficiency is achieved using a flattened Cervélo-like down tube, carbon aero seatpost and deep aero fork, along with intricately routed internal cabling. And though weight isn’t the most crucial element in producing an aerodynamic road bike, the higher-end kit has enabled Boardman to keep the weight down to a very impressive 7.73kg.
While we haven’t tested the Road Pro in the wind tunnel yet, our Bike Of The Year testers’ perceptions are that this is a serious speed machine that absolutely flies when you put your foot down. This isn’t a bike for tootling along but one for making the most of your all-out efforts, and there are few concessions to anything other than speed in the bike’s make-up.
The huge BB30 bottom bracket cluster and FSA’s stiff, hollow-forged Energy cranks combine to good effect, making sure little of your energy is wasted, while the deep-section down tube keeps the bike feeling remarkably rigid. One racing tester felt the handling was composed and predictable, creating a stable platform from which to accelerate. Helped by the racy Ksyrium Equipes, the Boardman picks up speed quickly, and the slippery frame helps to maintain it.
In addition to the wheels, the rest of the kit is well thought out too. There’s a good quality Boardman bar and stem, and Fizik’s Arione saddle proved popular. Boardman have obviously done their homework before entering the world of aero road bikes, and the Pro Air deserves serious attention. Great frameset, good wheels, light weight, superb acceleration. Not a comfortable ride-all-day bike, but a lightning-fast, uncompromising race bike for the serious cyclist.