If there’s one brand that’s consistently scored highly in performance for price terms without resorting to direct retailing it’s Boardman. The sub-£1000 carbon bike is a massively important model for the firm – because it just sneaks into the ‘bike to work’ scheme bracket in the UK.
Boardman has acknowledged practical commuting needs by making the Team Carbon one of only two bikes here that come with mudguard eyes front and rear for more comfortable wet weather riding. It also avoids the fashion for internally routed cables in favour of more easily serviced external wires. The ride position is equally practical. Leave all the headset spacers in and you’ve got a relatively upright, creaking-back friendly position.
There’s way more to the Team Carbon than trudging into work and back though – and if you whip the those headset spacers out the long top tube will tuck you down nicely out of the wind. Classic 73-degree parallel frame angles keep steering engaged and well balanced while a generously long wheelbase creates a naturally stable, bravery boosting descending character.
There’s ample authority in the fork, frame and Mavic wheels to explore the limits of the impressively grippy, confidence swelling Continental Ultra Sport II tyres. Boardman is bang up to date in choosing a ride smoothing, easy rolling 25mm carcass rather than the 23mm size that’s still the most common.
The 25mm Continental Ultra Sport tyres proved to be impressive performers
The frame has plenty of features you’d normally expect to pay more for. The Toray T700 fibre based build wraps in a BB30 bottom bracket to boost stiffness, the rectangular chainstays are usefully stout and there’s a full carbon fork inside the tapered head tube. This means the same solid frame feel is definitely on your side when it comes down to getting your power from the soles of your feet and onto your local Strava segments scoreboard.
Having been impressed with a consistently responsive and eager feeling ride we were surprised when we weighed it. We’ll go for dynamic feel over workshop data every time when drawing conclusions though, and the surprise on the scales didn’t affect the Team Carbon’s positive attitude to scaling hills whether we were spinning tempo or grunting an over ambitious gear.
Where Boardman’s skill and experience of designing and tuning affordable carbon frames really comes in though is the fact it’s stiff and responsive without being uncomfortably rigid. It’s not dead and damped like many discount carbon frames are either and there’s a real sense of vitality between the obviously Fizik-influenced saddle and chubby Continental tyres.
It's not just about the commute – take the Team Carbon out of the comfort zone and it's an authoritative ride
Even the super compact bend bars, which felt weird at first, were soon appreciated for the range of hand positions they packed into a small change of overall body position. Several of our testers had become real fans by the end of the process.
Even a brand with Boardman's buying power is on an extremely tight budget to get such a good frame and fork set equipped for under £1000 – and that does show. The most obvious sacrifice to dip under the four figure mark are the 20-speed Shimano 105/Tiagra gears, as opposed to a full 22-speed 105 drivetrain.
The Tektro brakes are also softer and less powerful than 105 SLR-EV calipers when you’re really hauling them hard heading into a downhill T junction. Spending £400 on the next model up doesn’t get you either of those upgrades anyway though – so if you’re on a strict bike to work budget what you can get for a few quid more is totally immaterial.