Boardman was an early adopter of the gravel genre. The original ADV was a triple-butted aluminium machine with mountain bike-derived 650b wheels and an attitude that was all about getting rough and ready in the dirt.
This new ADV 9.0 is a rather more refined affair that is, we are happy to report, still very much up for getting down and dirty.
Boardman ADV 9.0 frame and geometry
The jewel in the crown is the premium C10 carbon frame, tipping the scales at 990g, and the light 420g gravel fork.
That’s light for gravel – in fact, it’s a weight that’s respectable for a road bike and makes the Boardman the second lightest in our gravel Bike of the Year test (the Pearson Off Grid is 70g leaner) despite the cheapest price tag and the provision for guards, extra bottle bosses and a top tube bento box set of mounts
With 38c tyres fitted, the 50mm fork offset gives a relaxed trail figure of 65mm (a combination of head tube angle and fork offset, this measure is the tyre’s contact point ‘trailing’ behind the steering axis. A small trail makes for a fast handling bike, while more trail slows down the steering response).
|Seat angle (degrees)||73||73||73||73|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||71.5||71.5||71.5|
|Seat tube (cm)||50||52.5||54||56|
|Top tube (cm)||53.5||55.5||57.2||59|
|Head tube (cm)||12||14||16||18|
|Fork offset (cm)||5||5||5||5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||7.3||7.3||7.3||7.3|
Boardman ADV 9.0 ride impressions
The ADV’s charms far outweigh its relatively modest price. The chassis is tightly stiff and highly responsive, and the 38c Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres are impressive: compliant and grippy off road, fast-rolling (for gravel treads) on tarmac, and also tubeless-ready (the wheels are tubeless compatible too).
According to Boardman, the ADV’s wheelset was built to be tough and the 1,950g overall weight certainly bears that out.
The 20mm wide (internally), asymmetrically-shaped rims are designed to equal out braking and drivetrain forces, and are a great width for the GravelKings.
Though the bike doesn’t come set up tubeless, coming pre-taped with tubeless compatible tape and a set of tubeless valves included is the next best thing. Just add sealant and fit the valves and you’ll get more tyre pressure adjustment, eliminate pinch-punctures and save a little weight, plus gain a couple of spare tubes.
The 2x double chainring at the front won’t please hardcore gravelistas, but for real-world usability 22-speed is still the best (and that’s speaking as a 1x gravel devotee).
The bike has Shimano’s top mechanical gravel GRX810 mechs front and rear, with GRX600 shifters (basically a mix of 105/Ultegra equivalent).
The ‘adventure’ gearing of a 46/30-tooth chaining combination might see die-hard roadies scoff at being under-geared for the asphalt, but I never found myself wanting more. And the 30/32 lightest gear combo will keep the pedals turning on the most severe slopes when others would be reduced to walking.
Shifting is crisp and accurate. I did get a little cable stretch after a few successive days riding and the front mech did start to rub, but that was easily adjusted out.
Stopping duties, handled by Tiagra-equivalent GRX400 brakes, are smooth and powerful, with the basic RT30 disc rotors staying free of screeches, even in the mud.
Off road, this Boardman rides with a thrilling urgency – it’s responsive and rapid yet handles bumps and ruts with a stability that keeps you tracking true.
The ADV 9.0 is largely finished with own-brand components. The simple alloy stem is stiff and well finished, though I did occasionally catch a knee on the stem’s sharp rear and pronounced bolt fixtures.
The Prologo Akero AGX saddle is nicely shaped, has generous padding and happily matches the bike’s colourway. I can’t say it’d be my first choice but I certainly wouldn’t be looking to change it anytime soon.
Boardman ADV 9.0 bottom line
I’ve ridden some brilliant cheap gravel bikes but nothing comes close to the considerable chops of the Boardman ADV 9.0. For that reason, it is the winner of our 2021 Best Value Bike of the Year category.
And not forgetting Muc-Off, for its help keeping the bikes washed and lubed throughout testing.
Road Bike of the Year 2021 contenders
Thirty-two of the best bikes ridden and rated…
- ARC8 Escapee
- Basso Venta 105 Disc
- BMC Roadmachine TWO
- BMC Teammachine SLR TWO
- Boardman ADV 8.9
- Boardman ADV 9.0
- Boardman SLR 8.9 105
- Boardman SLR 9.4 AXS (winner)
- Cannondale SuperSix EVO
- Cannondale Topstone Lefty 1
- Cervélo Caledonia-5
- Cinelli King Zydeco
- Genesis CDA 30
- Giant Contend AR 3
- Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1
- Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc
- Lapierre Xelius SL 5.0
- Orbea Avant H60-D
- Orbea Orca M20
- Pearson Off Grid
- Planet X London Road SRAM Apex 1 Disc
- Ribble CGR Ti Pro
- Ribble Endurance 725 Base
- Ribble Endurance Ti Disc
- Rondo HVRT CF1
- Sensa Giulia GF
- Specialized Roubaix Sport
- Specialized S-Works Aethos
- Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
- Trek Domane AL 5
- Van Rysel EDR AF
- Vitus Zenium Tiagra
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||Shimano GRX400 hydraulic disc|
|Cranks||Shimano GRX 46/30|
|Front derailleur||Shimano GRX|
|Handlebar||Boardman alloy 6 flare|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano GRX|
|Saddle||Prologo Akero AGX|
|Seatpost||Boardman 27.2 alloy|
|Tyres||Panaracer Gravel King SK 38mm tubeless ready|
|Wheels||Boardman ADV Tubeless ready|