The Boardman ADV 8.8 is keenly priced, but we’ve often found that bikes from Boardman punch above their weight. Putting together a build to suit any budget requires trade-offs and at this price it takes attention to what makes a bike work well to avoid producing a dud.
There are several interesting component choices intended to reduce cost in one area so that better equipment can be used in another. For example, a full carbon fork, which will increase front-end stiffness and make for more responsive handling, is a reasonably expensive choice.
However, the fork comes with quick-release dropouts: a cheaper option than the disc-brake optimal bolt-thru option. Quick-release wheels aren’t as stiff as bolt-thru arrangements but are easier to remove.
Using a threaded square-taper bottom bracket and cranks also frees up cash to allow Shimano Sora shifting components. Square-taper setups are sealed units with no outboard bearings and spares are easily available, but they usually require a little more routine maintenance than more expensive alternatives.
It’s difficult to see what has been sacrificed to fit high-quality 40mm Schwalbe G-One tyres, but they are a welcome addition nevertheless.
The fork is tapered, has internal routing for the brake line and mudguard mounts, suggesting versatility. The headset is the increasingly common internal type, while the rear brake hose and external gear cables will please those who like to work on their own bikes.
The rear end has both mudguard and pannier rack eyelets, opening up commuting and touring/adventure riding as not just viable options, but potential primary reasons to buy this bike. Two bottle mounts inside the front triangle are fairly common, and they’re far enough out of the way to fit a good size frame bag.
Boardman ADV 8.8 geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||73.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||72|
|Seat tube (cm)||47.7|
|Top tube (cm)||54.3|
|Fork offset (cm)||5.15|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||27.4|
Boardman ADV 8.8 ride impressions
While not quite the same geometry as its CXR cyclocross (CX) bike, Boardman has borrowed heavily from it to create a bike that is playful and sprightly, but not as twitchy as a CX race bike. It’s happy to be taken as far as you’re happy to go off road, and it’s ready to go fast on tarmac, too.
On the road it’s a reliable, engaging yet predictable ride. Accelerating hard out of the saddle the rear-end feels stiff enough and were it not for the slightest of audible drags from the front brake you’d be convinced the fork was matching it.
The brakes themselves are reasonably powerful once bedded in – I’ve ridden the TRP Spyres on a few different bikes and while not matching hydraulic brakes for absolute power, they’re consistently good at slowing down in most situations.
While less adjustment is required than most cable-operated disc brakes, the twin ‘pistons’ do require a little adjustment from time to time because they have a habit of creeping slightly.
Shimano’s Sora groupset is a staple in this price range; it’s precise, feels great and benefits from the trickle-down effect that allows lower-tier equipment to benefit from technology tested on previous generations of more expensive kit.
One of our testers has even commented that Sora reminds him of the old 9-speed Dura Ace from two decades ago.
The gear range is wide enough to allow fairly steep pitches to be tackled off road, while leaving plenty of top-end for high-speed jinks in sportives, commuting while running late, or even road racing if the feeling takes you.
The own-brand alloy rims stayed true and dent-free despite my often less than careful riding on some local bridleways. Bars, stem, seatpost and saddle are all own-brand, and I had no complaints about any of them. The slightly flared bars offer a comfortable hood position.
Boardman ADV 8.8 overall
This bike is a versatile, fun investment that will handle the commute as readily as it will take you off on weekend multi-surface blasts. While not a full touring bike, it’s forgiving enough to take you bikepacking too.
How we tested
We tested four bikes costing roughly £1,000 that on paper offer levels of versatility that will make them astute purchases for those looking for a bike that’s fit for more than one purpose.
Also on test
- Marin Gestalt
- Whyte Dorset
- Pinnacle Arkose D2
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Headset||FSA Orbit C-40|
|Tyres||Schwalbe G-One All round RG 700x40mm|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Sora|
|Bottom bracket||FSA Powerpro|
|Frame||Triple-butted 6061 X7 aluminium|
|Fork||C7 carbon with tapered steerer|
|Cranks||FSA Vero Pro, 48/32t|
|Cassette||Shimano HG-400S 11-32|
|Brakes||TRP Spyre-C mechanical discs|
|Wheels||Boardman ADV Tubeless Ready rims, Formula CX20 (F) CX22 (R) hubs|