Boardman’s MTR is a full-suspension mountain bike designed for all-round trail riding, and the 9.0 model tops the range with an upgraded X9 Alloy frame, 150mm RockShox Pike Select fork with Charger RC damper, and a 145mm Deluxe Select+ shock on the rear.
Boardman MTR 9.0 frame and suspension
The flagship frame features Boardman’s new X9 6066 series alloy. This new platform retains hydroformed tubes – shaped by having oil pumped through them while hot, to expand into moulds – and welds that have been smoothed off to present a clean looking and easier to clean frame.
An internal headset sees bearings drop straight into the 1 1/8in to 1 ½in head tube, and the threaded bottom bracket should please many, as should the external cable routing that’s recessed neatly under the down tube.
The main pivot sits just above the bottom bracket, with the rear pivot of the bike’s Horst-Link suspension system on the chainstay just forward of the rear axle.
A top tube-mounted rocker drives the RockShox Deluxe Select+ rear shock, giving 145mm of rear wheel travel, while a RockShox Pike Select fork offers 150mm of air-sprung travel on the front.
Both the front and rear suspension have externally adjustable low-speed rebound damping and they also share adjustable low-speed compression damping.
Boardman MTR 9.0 geometry
The 66-degree head angle isn’t that slack compared to more progressive bikes, but sits nicely in the same area as a lot of other trail bikes.
Similarly, the 75.5-degree seat tube is steep enough to make pedalling a more pleasant experience, but isn’t the steepest out there. This medium size bike has 455mm of reach, which is the same as last year’s size large, and the chainstays measure 440mm across all sizes.
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.5||75.5||75.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||66||66||66|
|Seat tube (cm)||43||47.5||48|
|Top tube (cm)||61.5||63.8||65.5|
|Head tube (cm)||10||11||12|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.2||4.2||4.2|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||3.3||3.3||3.3|
Boardman MTR 9.0 specifications
Shimano also provides the hubs, which are laced to WTB i30 TCS rims and shod with Maxxis Minion tubeless-ready tyres: a DHF Skinwall Exo TR 29 x 2.5in on the front and a DHR Exo TR 29 x 2.5in on the rear.
My size medium bike (without pedals) weighed 15.36kg.
Boardman MTR 9.0 ride impressions
I was limited to the number of trails I could test the MTR 9.0 on due to lockdown restrictions, however, I still managed to put it through its paces on a range of terrain, and also rode it in on below freezing, solid ground conditions as well as sloppy, rain soaked trails.
Boardman MTR 9.0 climbing performance
Despite being no racing snake, the MTR climbs reasonably well. A lot of this is down to the pedalling position as a result of the relatively steep 75.5-degree seat angle, which puts the rider in a good stance to either sit back and turn the pedals over or lean forwards over the bar into an effort and lay down watts.
I found the shock’s compression circuit firmed the rear end up a little too much, and traction was lost on wet, rocky climbs, but leaving it ‘open’ didn’t produce excessive bobbing until I was grinding at low speeds out of the saddle.
The MTR 9.0’s climbing performance is aided by the range of gears available. A 10-51t cassette pairs well with a 32t chainring for increasing cadences and winching up steep pitches, and it’s only on faster climbs that I found the bike to be less sprightly due to its 15.36kg weight.
While the 2.5in Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR II tyres are an excellent choice, a set of less aggressive tyres would be better for the climbs, but this bike isn’t designed to be a climber and they’re well suited to the bike’s descent-focused credentials, offering impressive grip on the downs.
Boardman MTR 9.0 descending performance
Although perfectly comfortable on rolling trails, the MTR 9.0 comes into its own as the ground drops away. Although I haven’t been able to take it to my favourite steep tech destinations, the planted nature helped on the steeper local trails, hinting at prowess on even tougher terrain.
It’s unfussy, and took everything I threw at it with little indication that its 145mm of rear wheel travel was out of its depth on occasion.
The confidence offered by the solid feel of Shimano’s SLX four-pot brakes goes a long way towards the overall feel of stability, too, and although the Pike has become rather overlooked in RockShox’ lineup, it’s still a reliable fork with enough stiffness to keep most people’s bars pointing in the same direction as their front wheel.
The budget dropper lever is too small and ergonomically flawed – I actually noticed a level of discomfort after a couple of longer rides because operating the lever is not a familiar action. I’d like to see a longer stroke post fitted too, 125mm just isn’t enough travel.
Both ends of the bike seemed to use a lot of travel at recommended sag, so I upped the pressure a little. That helped stop the bike wallowing in corners and going too deep on bigger hits, sitting the bike higher in its travel, although small bump sensitivity was noticeably reduced.
While that may seem like a criticism, the bike rode better overall, and ultimately took very little adjustment to get it feeling balanced.
The tyres were reassuringly predictable and while few tyres will offer grip when the mud is thick enough to clog, in most conditions they hooked up well under braking and gave confidence when cornering.
The 780mm bar had the right shape to keep all our testers happy, and can be cut down readily if it’s too wide for you.
Unfortunately, I found the bottle bosses on the down tube are too far from the bottom bracket, so only a small 500ml bottle will fit. Even then, it’s a fight to get a bottle in and out because it’s a little close to the rear shock.
Boardman MTR 9.0 bottom line
At a hotly contested price point, the Boardman makes a good case for your consideration, with a superb groupset, standout brakes and good suspension.
It rides with a confidence that belies its cost and would be a sensible purchase for any trail rider with an eye on steeper terrain and a budget of around £2,000 to £3,000. It’s not without its flaws, but they’re acceptable short-term and relatively cheap to rectify.
|Weight||15.36kg (M) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||M, L, XL|
|Tyres||Maxxis Minion DHF Skinwall Exo TR 29x2.5 (f), Maxxis Minion DHR Exo TR 29x2.5 (r)|
|Stem||Boardman alloy 50mm|
|Seatpost||Sartori Sorata 2 125mm dropper|
|Rear Shocks||RockShox Deluxe Select+|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano SLX (1x12)|
|Handlebar||Boardman alloy 780mm|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano BB52 Hollowtech 2|
|Frame||X9 series 6066 alloy 145mm (5.71”) travel|
|Fork||RockShox Pike Select, 150mm (5.9”) travel|
|Cranks||Shimano MT511 170mm, 32T|
|Chain||Shimano SLX M7100 12-speed|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX M7100 10-51T|
|Brakes||Shimano SLX, 200/180mm rotors|
|Wheels||WTB i30 TCS Tubeless Ready on Shimano MT400-B (f)/MT510-B (r) hubs|