Boardman SLR 9.8 review£2,995.00

SLR stands for Superlight Racing, which sounds ideal. But is it?

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Boardman’s premier non-aero road bike is available as a frameset-only or custom build option. The custom price includes a bike fit, with the final cost dependent on your component choices.

Our model, put together for us by one of Boardman’s independent bike shops, takes the extraordinarily light (798g) high modulus carbon frameset and adds a SRAM Force 22 groupset,  Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheels and Boardman and Fizik finishing kit.

    The complete bike weight is a UCI-busting 6.72kg (the international cycling union’s minimum is 6.8kg), living up to the frameset’s Superlight Racing tag, in mass at least. But we wanted to examine another acronym featured on the frame, DRC – Dynamic Ride Concept…

    With Boardman’s trademark straight, boxy tubes, the SLR looks purposeful, and lives up to that from the first pedal strokes. Central to this is the Press-Fit 30 bottom bracket, with oversized down tube and giant chainstays that retain a beefy cross-section until slimming dramatically at the dropouts, all braced by a taut upper half. The result is true fast-twitch response, where every input at any velocity just piles on more and more speed. It’s the sort of responsiveness that’s ideal for the endless small accelerations and surges of bunched racing, and over the course of a race will save you energy for the finish.

    A 14cm head tube and 55.5cm top tube give an aggressive position:
    A 14cm head tube and 55.5cm top tube give an aggressive position:

    A 14cm head tube and 55.5cm top tube give an aggressive position

    Equally complicit in the SLR’s performance are the Ksyrium wheels, which are light, stiff and eager to accelerate. Mavic’s 23mm Yksion Pro tyres have a narrower section than some 23mm tyres, but display great traction and cornering grip in most conditions – just don’t expect an armchair ride. Together with the svelte outswept fork, the Boardman has eye-of-a-needle cornering accuracy, and true seat of your pants control, needing only minor weight shifts to make line adjustments.

    The slr's handling is eye-of-a-needle sharp:
    The slr's handling is eye-of-a-needle sharp:

    The SLR's handling is eye-of-a-needle sharp

    SRAM’s Force 22 groupset includes a carbon crank, yaw-action front mech, improved hood shaping and the ability to use all 11 sprockets in either chainring, which increases flexibility in a race situation and removes the potential for cross-chaining damage. Weight, feel and function are very close to SRAM Red, and we’re big fans of the positive shifting and fine brakes.

    With a custom build you can specify your preferred finishing kit, but we found the Boardman Elite components and Fizik Arione saddle well up to the task, with good vibration reduction, good ergonomics and a solid-feeling bar when sprinting. In all, the SLR 9.8 is a stunning race-ready package for the price, and when a bike’s this good, why pay more?

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine – the manual for the modern road cyclist. Try your first five issues for £5 when you subscribe today.
    • Discipline: Road
    • Location: Bristol, UK

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