Boardman Road Sport review

Do sharp looks mean sharp performance from Boardman?

Our rating 
2.5 out of 5 star rating 2.5
GBP £500.00 RRP | AUD $1,499.00

Our review

Promising componentry and classy-looking frame are undermined by a harsh road feel
Buy if, You want a well-specced, pro-looking bike with a firm ride feel
Pros: Good new Claris and Mavic rim spec for the money, room for bigger tyres
Cons: Surprisingly harsh and jarring ride quality for a triple-butted frame and carbon fork
Skip to view product specifications

Boardman is often regarded as the benchmark of bargain price performance for good reason. There’s a lot to like about the Road Sport in cosmetic and componentry terms , but ride quality was surprisingly unforgiving compared to previous X7 alloy bikes we’ve tested from the brand.

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Kit is good for the money, starting with the latest Shimano Claris gear shifters. The tops of the levers are also totally covered like posh shifters rather than having a beginner-friendly gear indicator window, so the whole setup looks more pro.

Shifting is good, although not quite as good as the older side-exit type. The FSA Tempo cranks are par for the course at this price, with separate arms bolting onto an old-school style square taper bottom bracket, which isn’t the stiffest system but is generally very durable.

Boardman has gone for a slightly tighter 11-28 rather than 11-32 set of ratios on the rear cog cassette. This means really steep hills will be more of a grunt to get up, but the jumps between the last few gears are smaller for maintaining a more consistent pedalling rhythm (cadence) on intermediate terrain.

High-quality Mavic rims are a nice touch on a £500 bike
High-quality Mavic rims are a nice touch on a £500 bike
Philip Sowels / Immediate Media

If you’re heading into the hills regularly I’d upgrade the moulded brake pads to a slide-in style cartridge pad design for more controlled and powerful braking. The Boardman comes in nearly a pound under its claimed weight (420g to be precise), which certainly helps on climbs or when accelerating.

The similarly light wheels are based on the classic CXP-22 rims from French wheel legend Mavic, which is a great bit of quality spec on a bike under £500.

Vittoria Zaffiro 25mm tyres are proven tyres, although like many cheaper tyres they need care in wet, cold and greasy conditions. There’s room for bigger 28mm tyres in the frame and fork, which I’d definitely recommend given the current ride character of the Sport.

Boardman has delivered a clean looking frame with semi-smoothed welds
Boardman has delivered a clean looking frame with semi-smoothed welds
Philip Sowels / Immediate Media

Having been really impressed with the compliance of similar X7 triple-butted tubeset frames on bikes such as the Boardman CX Comp I was expecting a real treat on the Sport, especially considering the super-thin seatstays that end in a flat leaf spring-style wishbone behind the seat tube.

The chainstays have a thick rectangular profile and the head tube fits neatly with the V top tube, while the deep oval to flat oval down tube is structurally stout. The seatpost is also a large diameter 31.6mm pipe.

The ride is harsh, though
The ride is harsh, though
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Add a big shouldered, straight taper carbon-legged fork and really thin bar tape and the ride is harsh and jarring, particularly through the bar and front end. Some testers even said it felt like there was no tyre on the front wheel!

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The harshness isn’t repaid in a particularly lively or ferocious feel through the pedals either so while it’s light and gets the job done when it needs to it doesn’t pop with enthusiasm. It’s a real shame because the semi-smooth welded frame certainly looks good, and with mudguard and rack mounts it’s potentially a useful all-rounder.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Road Sport
Brand Boardman

Available Sizes 51.5cm 53cm 55.5cm 57.5cm
Rear Wheel Weight 1960
Frame size tested 53cm
Wheelbase (cm) 100
Top Tube (cm) 55
Seat Tube (cm) 53
Chainstays (cm) 41.5
Wheelset Mavic CXP-22N rims, alloy hubs
Weight (kg) 10.13
Trail 5.2
Stem Boardman
Shifters Shimano Claris 2x8
Seatpost Boardman
Seat Angle 74
Saddle Boardman Road
Rear Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro, 25mm
Bottom Bracket FSA cartridge
Rear Derailleur Shimano Claris
Headset Type FSA No.10
Head Angle 73
Handlebar Boardman
Front Wheel Weight 1440
Front Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro, 25mm
Front Derailleur Shimano Claris
Frame Material Triple-butted X7 alloy
Fork Offset 5
Fork Carbon legs, straight alloy steerer
Cranks FSA Tempo 50/34
Chain KMC Z72
Cassette Shimano HG50 11-28
Brakes Tektro deep drop dual-pivot
All measurements for frame size tested 53cm