Boardman SLR 9.2 £2599

Powerful road bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

Boardman’s SLR 9.2 is a racer’s bike: seriously light, but stiff enough to put every watt where you want it, and superbly stable to make sure you can concentrate all your effort on going forward.

Ride & handling: Unashamedly powerful and fast

Some bikes can be coy about their character at first, some wear their hearts on their sleeves, and others – like the Boardman SLR 9.2 – shove it right in your face.

The stiffness of the Boardman is very obvious straight away, rattling along the road at low speeds like the bark and staccato crackle of a Group B Audi Quattro exhaust on tick-over. 

The brooding power transfer benefits are clear even when you’re just tickling the cranks around gently in traffic, and as soon as you hit the first hill or open road section, that power potential positively explodes into life underneath you.

The frame, wheels and cockpit seem to stiffen and solidify like stress putty the more muscle you put into them, and the SLR sprints with an inspirationally savage acceleration curve. You’ll certainly need to learn how to tap up through the gears quickly if you don’t want to be left spinning as the bike snarls forward.

While compact rings are rapidly becoming the default choice for anything but full-on aero bikes, the full-size rings of the SLR are the best option for maximising its performance. 

The Boardman is so good at getting power down and keeping speed high that we rarely realised we were riding significantly bigger gears than normal. It’s equally impressive up climbs too, heading skywards with lung-and-leg flattering speed whether you’re stamping a high torque or spinning tempo.

What’s really impressive about the SLR is how stable and surefooted it is when you’re twisting yourself out of shape trying to get every last sinew and muscle fibre into the sprint mix. Even smashing out blurred leg, max rev interval sessions on full metal rollers, the Boardman SLR 9.2 stays totally composed. 

On the road it feels so secure it’s like it’s on rails. Flood debris, grit heaps, potholes like bomb sites, rivers running down gutters and deep ponds in every dip; the Boardman saw it all during testing but didn’t flinch or panic once.

The frame is unforgiving and sharp at low speeds, but the faster you go, the more it softens the blows. The generously sized, premium carcass Vittoria tyres underline it with supple and compliant contact patches, making a subtle but significant difference that we can best describe as exciting crackle rather than exhausting clatter. 

We also tried it with fatter width 25c tyres and they gave a significant improvement in smoothness without affecting speed, although you’ll have to be wary of very tight clearances on gravelly surfaces.

Overall, the Boardman is a thoroughly impressive package. Racers will love it but slower peddlers better look elsewhere.

Frame & equipment: Built for power rather than aerodynamics

If you’re looking for a road bike with an aero edge then you definitely want to be looking at Boardman’s excellent AiR bikes, not this one, because the SLR is a proper box kite. That’s because the big, square, thin-wall, high modulus carbon main tubes are all about very low weight and very high stiffness.

Power and precision are carried through the critical sections like the tapered head tube, one-piece BB30 and big chainstay moulding and the round section seat tube, which are all shaped and sized for working hard, not wind tunnel efficiency.

An oversized BB30 crank axle maximises power delivery

Where aero and aggression can work together, they do, with tapered aero blades on the fork, neatly sheathed internal cable routing and profiled stays. There are five size options, from XS to XL, to cater for most riders and the fairly stretched ride position with aggressively low head tube suits the bike’s personality perfectly.

Boardman have evened out the Shimano/SRAM debate and fitted a full set of SRAM Force componentry. The front shifting isn’t as accurate or reliable as Shimano, but it’s significantly lighter than its Shimano Ultegra counterpart and the crisp and clear rear shifts are easy to hear in race situations. 

The chainset gets full-size rings for maximum speed and an oversized BB30 axle. The crank arm lengths are specific to each frame size as is the stem length.

Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels come with the standard build and Boardman have chosen Vittoria’s Open Corsa CX tyres for a supple ride and blistering speed in all weathers.

The Ritchey handlebars feel particularly good when you’re down in the drops and pushing hard and the Ritchey carbon seatpost sucks some sting out of the road to make things a bit more comfortable.

This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, available on Zinio.

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