Ever since we tested the stunning value Boardman Comp FS, we’ve wanted to get the Pro version in to see if the better shock sorts the ride and creates a pocket money trail rocket. It does, and the kit is unbelievable for the pricetag, delivering outstanding weight and performance dividends to create a genuinely great trail bike at a cost where others simply can’t compete.
Ride & handling: Well balanced in almost every detail, and great value
With an exceptional spec for the money, the complete weight of the Boardman is up with many £2,000 trail bikes. That translates to easy and permanently enthusiastic acceleration, and efﬁcient and rapid climbing, which the rear suspension does nothing to dampen.
While Horst linkage suspension designs are often prone to pedalling squat and a slightly sluggish feel, the RockShox Monarch shock has a distinctly terse feel. This initial stiffness is just right for screening out pedal bob, but the back end still sucks up rollers, rocks or drops alike in a very controlled and succinct fashion. Switching to the Floodgate compression platform or full lockout mode stiffens things even further, but to be honest we never felt the need.
Up front, the RockShox Reba fork gives equally capable and controlled danger damping unless you push it right to the ragged edge. Boardman even spec the super-stiff Maxle Lite 20mm screw-though axle version of the fork for outstanding steering precision.
Benchmark seat and head tube angles for stable 5in travel trail performance plus a full-width riser bar mean the Pro FS feels poised, keen and very capable whatever you’re doing. The low weight means excellent all-round agility when you’re ﬂicking and popping it through technical sections.
If we’re being really picky, the low bottom bracket means occasional toe taps and chainring grinds and it’s not the stiffest feeling frame at the rear end either, but that only intrudes when it smears rather than slices up a root or off-camber section. Sticking on larger tyres would go a long way to offset both issues, adding some lift under the belly.
Frame: Sorted take on a classic four-bar suspension layout, but rear end could be stiffer
The frame may not be revolutionary but it’s totally sorted, with some impressive detailing. The concave head tube hides an internal headset to keep the front end low and aggressive, and the top and down tubes are hydroformed to maximise stiffness and strength while looking ﬂy.
Touches like the combined rocker pivot mount and front mech cable stop are neat, and smoothed weld main junctions look classy too.
The rear end is a classic four-bar FSR/Horst Link arrangement with chainstay-mounted pivots and asymmetric chainstays for chain clearance. The upper rocker linkage plates are forged and machined with a double bolt brace at the rear to bolster stiffness.
A forward facing seat slot keeps out crap and there’s loads of mudroom and a conventional bottle mount too. Like we said: it’s totally sorted.
Equipment: Unbelievable overall kit package, although wider tyres would add more control
While the chassis of the Pro FS is certainly a decent baseline, it’s the remarkable kit buffet Boardman supply that will attract most initial attention. It not only reads like the spec of a top value £2,000 bike, but it rides like one too.
The RockShox suspension works really well at either end and Avid’s new Elixir R brakes offer standout stopping control. You even get the carbon ﬁbre lever versions.
Super-accurate and positive-feeling SRAM X.0 and X.9 gears are turned through a shiny Truvativ Stylo chainset. Ritchey supply the lightweight rims as well as the ﬁnishing kit, and you even get a titanium-railed version of the usefully long Boardman saddle for easy weight shifts.
In fact, the only upgrades we could suggest are bigger tyres for more lift and protection, although the skinny SKs ﬁtted are well worth keeping for mudplugging.