Great-value finishing kit rounds off a well-built carbon frame to make Boardman's Fi a refreshingly racy women's ride.
Ride & handling: Fast, confidence enhancing and surprisingly comfortable
It's refreshing to ﬁnd a complete bike designed with women in mind which is so obviously aimed at going fast – don’t worry though, they haven’t forgotten the pink.
As soon as we left the house we found ourselves immediately ignoring our own advice on warming up properly, and sprinting for the nearest sign and then the next one, each time with a huge grin on our faces.
The anatomical drop gave us several good hand positions and the thick bar tape helped dampen vibrations from the road, but it was right on the edge of being too thick for small hands.
The short head tube enabled us to get a low aerodynamic position. When riding low on the drops we found we could quickly build up a good speed on the ﬂat and then hold it quite comfortably – this is aided in part by the semi-aero rims of the Ritchey Pro wheels.
The handling is spot-on, letting us conﬁdently take corners we’ve previously backed off from and inspiring us to push that little bit more. The carbon frame and fork work well to absorb the worst of the road buzz, even with the stiff frame.
The light weight of this bike became apparent as soon as the road went upwards. Okay, there are a lot of lighter bikes out there on the market but very few come close to the sub-£1,000 price tag, keeping it below the upper threshold for the UK's Cycle to Work scheme.
For those of you who are comfortable in an aggressive road position you’ll also ﬁnd the Road Team Carbon equally suited to long rides; we’ve happily completed rides of 100-plus miles on it.
The only real downside, depending on how stretched out you like your road position, is if you're much below 5ft 3in you may struggle to ﬁt the smallest of the two frame sizes on offer.
Chassis: Lightweight carbon frame and forks, with aggressive geometry
There was much excitement when we heard Chris Boardman was adding a series of female-speciﬁc bikes to this year’s range to go with his already well-respected men’s range and so far the line-up hasn’t disappointed.
At the top of the range for women, the Road Team Comp has an Ultralight carbon ﬁbre monocoque frame and fork. Weight isn’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to speed, but the bladed forks, seatstays and ﬂattened down tube all translate into a fast ride.
Following this theme, the back brake cable is routed internally through the top tube for aerodynamics and aesthetics. Unusually, both gear cables have been routed though the head tube, which decreases the degree of curvature in the cable routing (tight cable bends can lead to slow or sticky gear shifting).
It also stops cables rubbing away the paint on the sides of the head tube. The beefy bottom bracket area and square chainstays let you put the power down without a hint of ﬂex.
Equipment: Quality spec, with SRAM Rival and Ritchey finishing kit
Specced with the SRAM Rival groupset, Ritchey Pro wheels and Ritchey ﬁnishing kit, you get some decent kit for your money. Having been long-standing Shimano and Campagnolo groupset users we were pleasantly surprised to see just how quickly the SRAM shifting mechanism became second nature.
All gear changes are achieved using the inner paddle (a short throw moves the chain to a smaller chainring or sprocket, and a long throw moves the chain in the opposite direction) and shifting is positive and efﬁcient.
Both the reach of the SRAM shift paddle and brake lever can be incrementally adjusted independent of one another to bring them closer to the bars – a really good feature for women with small hands.
From an aesthetic point of view it’s nice to see white hoods to match the white bar tape and frame; how long it will stay white is another matter. The Tektro R580 caliper brakes, though not as powerful as some higher-end models, gave adequate stopping power. We found the Boardman own-brand saddle perfectly comfortable, even on long rides.