Boardman’s new sales path means you can now buy direct, click and collect or walk into a dealer to get your bike. Refining the process means it's now offering its already great-value MTB Team 29er at a frankly ridiculous sub-£700 price despite a £1,000+ level of performance and an original retail price of £850.
Boardman isn’t cutting any chassis corners either. The smooth-welded frame could easily be mistaken for carbon thanks to its invisible joints and gradual-taper shaping. A tapered head tube boosts stiffness and fork compatibility. Subtle curving of the seat tube means you could squeeze a 2.35in tyre in if you wanted a smoother ride, but the seatstays are flattened for compliance anyway.
The rear brake is tucked away from damage inside the chainstays, with external hose routing for easy servicing, and the gear cable is mostly naked too.
While Boardman lists the bottom bracket as a PF30 unit, we were pleased to see an external-bearing set-up for better longevity. It's fitted rack mounts for day-to-day utility or loaded exploring, and there’s a rubber-capped exit hole for a dropper post.
A dropper is the only obvious gap in the spec, because the Team 29er is otherwise sorted if you’re wanting to hit the trails fast with reassuring confidence.
The steel upper legs of the RockShox Recon fork add weight, but it’s impressively smooth, with broad-range compression and rebound damping adjustment. It’s also got a 15mm screw-thru axle for extra stiffness and security.
SRAM’s GX 1x11 gearing is noticeably crisper shifting and lighter than NX, and we’ve never seen it on a bike south of £1,000 before. The FSA Comet crankset looks very neat too, although the three-bolt ring pattern limits spares options.
The bar is slightly narrow at 720mm but you get a short 60mm stem and skinny lock-on grips completing a package that would be outstanding at the original RRP, let alone the current price.
You won’t even think about the price when you’re riding the Boardman. Set the saddle height, pump the fork to the right pressure and everything else just falls into place.
The 432mm reach (large size) and 68.5-degree head angle give a helpful stability boost without making the big front wheel feel barge-like at slow speeds. We’d upgrade to a wider bar for a power-steering feel when pushing the pace on more technical trails, but the short stem keeps it agile and interested anyway, and while it’s certainly not radical, it’s beautifully balanced, poised and problem free.
It’s the same well-sorted story with every other control interaction. The GX shifters and open cable runs give a super-accurate feel, while the Avid DB3 brakes are significantly sharper and better modulated than the other sets here, and stay that way down the longest descents.
The 29er wheels and quality fork smooth out trail trauma, improving speed sustain and grip, and the Conti tyres are trustworthy without making climbs or smoother trails a trudge.
While the fat seatpost can kick your butt at slow speeds, the faster you go, the better the sculpted stays and variable-thickness frame tubes can skim the sharp edges off.
That ‘faster is better’ spiral extends way further into serious terrain than you’d expect too. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a 120mm-forked hardtail that would let you do significantly more at any price without copping for a serious compromise in easy speed and everyday utility manners. And if that isn’t a standout statement for an affordable all-rounder, we don’t know what is!