Boardman Team FS 27.5 review

Evolution puts Boardman back into a benchmark position

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0
GBP £999.00 RRP

Our review

Superbly sorted new frame and suspension setup makes the Boardman an unbeatable sub-£1000 bargain
Buy if, You want a bargain full-sus trail bike that's – at least – the equal of any other at this level on the market
Pros: Brilliantly redesigned suspension, all-round trail riding ability, capable fork and decent kit
Cons: For the price, we haven't found anything yet
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The latest evolution in Boardman’s long-running, high-value full-suspension series doesn’t look much different. But it’s brought the ride and performance bang up to date for all-round trail duties.

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At first glance the hanging driver linkage suspension layout and the smooth-welded, triple-butted frame are identical to the old FS Team 650b, just with a different paint job. But according to Boardman’s ultra experienced designer almost every tube shape, forging and the detailed suspension architecture have been changed.

That’s most noticeable at the ends of the bike. While you still get a QR rear axle (only the £1499 Pro FS gets a 142x12mm axle) it’s stiffer on the trail thanks to larger pivots and bearing shafts, new rear stays and a shorter, stiffer forged shock linkage that pivots on bearings mounted directly into the top tube.

Sorted suspension

The reworked suspension combines impressive small-bump sensitivity with cornering and pedalling stability, even with the two-position damper open. The rear end stiffness and improved spring curve is also noticeable when it takes a wallop, so you can set the shock up to a ballpark pressure and then forget about it.

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The reworked suspension combines excellent small-bump sensitivity with improved ability when it comes to bigger hits:

The reworked suspension combines excellent small-bump sensitivity with improved ability when it comes to bigger hits

The fact we’re talking about the suspension feel in such depth rather than just being surprised the rear end moved in a vaguely acceptable manner or the damper didn’t explode, shows just how far budget suspension bikes have come recently.

The 650b Boardman is the most sorted sub-£1000 suspension setup we’ve ridden though, improving climbing traction and descending confidence while still feeling efficient under power even in high torque/low rev grunt-climb situations. It’s relatively light compared with its full-suspension competition and never felt conspicuously lardy on the ups.

Fronting it

It certainly doesn’t suffer compromise on the kit front either, and while the SRAM GX 2×10 gearing is roughly on par with the competition, the RockShox Sektor RL complete with 15mm Maxle thru-axle is the best you’ll get at this price in terms of smoothness, consistent damping and tracking stiffness.

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There’s no shortage of descending confidence either:

There’s no shortage of descending confidence

The new frame is based around a long 630mm top tube and short 55mm stem setup that’s the new gold standard for mixing high speed/rough terrain stability with responsive front wheel reactions to juggle traction and nail the tightest lines.

The head angle and 740mm bar are well judged to add confidence and control without making the front end flop around on steep climbs or clipping every passing tree, completing an outstanding package.

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The 68.5-degree head angle, 740mm bar and 55mm make a well-judged combo:
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The 68.5-degree head angle, 740mm bar and 55mm make a well-judged combo

Product Specifications

Product

Name Team FS 27.5
Brand Boardman

Available Sizes S M L
Rear Hub 9mm QR - 32 Hole
Top Tube (in) 24.8
Seat Tube (in) 19.02
Chainstays (in) 16.93
Shifters SRAM GX
Seatpost Boardman - 31.6mm
Seat Angle 73
Saddle Boardman MTB
Rims Mavic XM319 - 32 Hole
Rear Tyre Continental X-King
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch R Air Shock
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX
Bottom Bracket FSA Mega Exo MTB
Headset Type FSA
Head Angle 68.5
Handlebar Boardman - 740mm with 25mm rise
Front Tyre Continental X-King
Front Hub QR15mm - 32 Hole
Front Derailleur SRAM GX
Frame Material Triple butted X7 Alloy with smooth Welds
Cranks FSA Comet Mega Exo
Chain KMC X10 - 38/24
Cassette SRAM PG-1020, 11-36T
Brakes Avid DB1 Hydraulic disc - Rotors 170mm (F), 160mm (R)
Frame size tested L