Boardman has built its reputation on offering top-class bikes for mid-range money. With the Signature Series, the company has set about showcasing its very capable frames with a selection of the best components money can buy. Add in exclusive livery for a ride that looks every inch the superbike.
With a parts list that includes an ENVE carbon stem (£250) and bar (£325), Zipp’s 303 Firecrest disc wheels (£2250) and Vittoria Corsa CX tyres (£100), you’re already looking at over £3,000 in parts, before you throw in Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain and BR-R785 hydraulic disc brakes. That price tag starts to seem less daunting.
Thankfully, the chassis all this jewellery hangs from hits the right notes too. My large (58cm) test bike had a 582mm stack and 392mm reach, making it neither overly tall nor overly short. Up on the hoods it’s relaxed enough for pounding out the miles, but when you get down into the drops and give it some beans you’re rewarded with a bike that really wants to give its all.
Parallel 73-degree head and seat angles, and a wheelbase that creeps just over the metre by 6mm, make the Signature nimble when threading through bends.
What also sets the SLR apart is the fine balance between stiffness and smoothness; under sprint efforts the frame is resolutely rigid, aided by the solidity of the 303s held in place by a 15mm front thru-axle and a 12mm rear.
On rolling terrain the Boardman is a fantastic place to be with measured handling and a lovely cosseting ride. On descents the great control offered by the combination of excellent brakes — big 160mm rotors, which are ideal for avoiding unwanted noise, especially for bigger riders — and sticky traction-loaded tyres meant I found myself hunting for opportunities to head downhill.
As impressive as the SLR is at covering ground quickly, it’s as impressive when the road starts to rise thanks to great all-round gearing — 50/34, 11-28 — and the smooth-running, aero-yet-light wheels and tyres, which offer superb traction whatever the conditions. As you can probably tell, I'm seriously impressed with the SLR.
The only negatives are some of the design choices in the chassis. I appreciate the front and rear thru-axles, but the choice of a 15mm up front puts it slightly at odds with what’s fast becoming the industry standard of 12/12, and it does have a 12mm at the rear.
This shouldn’t pose too much of a problem as most top grade wheels offer multi-fit. As the SLR comes with high-flying 303s I can’t foresee you wanting to upgrade too soon anyway.
The same can be said of the brakes, the SLR stays with standard post-mount fittings rather than the new minimal flat-mount standard. The bike comes with range-topping 785 Shimano units, so again you won’t need to upgrade any time soon.