Boardman Road Comp review£699.99

Lightweight race-inspired ride

BikeRadar score4/5

Boardman bikes have made such an impact on the market and won so many magazine tests that it’s hard to believe that they’ve only been around since 2008. The Comp doesn't ride like an entry-level bike – in fact, we’d say it performs like a bike £200-300 more expensive than it actually is – and can't fail to impress with its quick response and superb spec.

Ride & handling: Speedy and exciting; climbs well and accelerates fast

The Boardman Comp is a lively, exciting setup, and that’s partly down to the weight. Hitting the scales at a very reasonable 19.4lb (8.8kg, without pedals), it doesn’t need much persuasion to buckle down to some serious acceleration. Okay, no £700 bike can compete with a true lightweight for speed, but when it’s time to step on the gas to impress your ride-mates, the Boardman is fast to respond.

Ritchey’s anatomic handlebars provide comfortable handholds on the drops when you want to get your body low for cruising at high speed, and a good amount of backward sweep allows you  to alter your grip without feeling that you’re going to slip off the ends.

Boardman’s own saddle has enough flex in the hull to keep the ride smooth, while the carbon fork blades work hard to damp out most road vibration up front. Some might prefer the more back-friendly position provided by a higher front end, but we found it perfectly comfortable.

If you really struggle on the hills you might bemoan the Boardman’s lack of ultra-low gears, but the overall bike weight makes that unlikely – and if it’s really a problem, you could fit a smaller chainring easily enough anyway. With impressive stiffness in both the frame and wheels, the bike transfers power efficiently, even when you get out of the saddle, helping to make this a good climber.

Downhill the Comp proves itself to be a calm and composed descender that’s unfazed by tight turns or rapid changes of direction. The Continental tyres provide good grip whether it’s wet or dry and you can rely on the Tektro dual pivot brakes to pull it out of the bag when you need them.

The Boardman may not have sensible additions like mounts for fitting mudguards or a rack, but it's a whole lot of fun – and, to us, that's what it's all about.

Chassis: Light and stiff frame makes for a punchy performance for the price

The Comp is built around a double-butted aluminium alloy frame with smooth welds all round and a neat gloss black finish. Although not especially large in today’s world of oversized carbon, the down tube – which starts out as teardrop profile at the head tube junction, before gradually shifting its axis – reaches a good way across the bottom bracket to hold it firmly in place.

The top tube is a diamond profile, while out back there’s just a hint of an arc in the seatstays before they head out to join the dead-straight chainstays at the rear dropouts. The hourglass head tube is fairly short – 170mm on our large frame. Even with 30mm of headset spacers fitted, that makes for quite a low and aggressive ride position that’s ideal for racing. If you want a more relaxed setup for training you can always flip the stem for a bit more height.

The carbon-legged fork matches the frame perfectly, and although it has an alloy steerer hidden away inside the frame –  as they all do at this price point – it’s reasonably light without sacrificing much stiffness.

Equipment: Solid components throughout without any glaring weaknesses

Pretty much every road bike out there at around this price is powered by Shimano, so it’s just a question of which of the ranges from the Japanese giant you get. Boardman spec a front mech and levers from the mid-level Tiagra groupset with a 105 upgrade at the rear mech – great value on a bike of this price.

Tiagra is solid stuff, the levers providing a broad, comfortable platform when you’re riding on the hoods and effortless fingertip shifting up and down the nine-speed cassette. Little gear indicators on the top are handy for riders with less experience, and you can get shims to adjust the levers inward if you struggle with reach.

The Truvativ Elita chainset is a compact, giving you a lower range of gears than a traditional design, although the inner chainring is 36-tooth rather than the more usual 34T. Still, with a 12-25T cassette at the rear, you should get up the climbs comfortably.

The Ritchey DS Pro wheels use decent sealed-bearing hubs and medium-depth rims, and they stayed true throughout testing, while Conti’s Ultra Sport tyres provided good grip in both wet and dry conditions.

Deep drop bars give you plenty of room to move your hands backwards: deep drop bars give you plenty of room to move your hands backwards
Deep drop bars give you plenty of room to move your hands backwards: deep drop bars give you plenty of room to move your hands backwards

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