As regards digital integration, Boardman make a bold move straight away, putting the battery in a unique position on top of the offside chainstay. It’s a relatively low-drag site but it does collect a lot of gunk from the rear tyre, and removal for recharging is a little awkward. However, a little bit of battery faff aside, there’s no doubting that the frame and fit is absolutely classic rock solid race bike.
Highs: Impressively stiff, light, responsive and accurate frame with a classic racer-style ride
Lows: Flexy cranks, relatively heavy wheels and slippery tyres are obvious when you push the pace
Buy if: You want a confident handling, hard driving yet lightweight chassis with excellent upgrade potential
The generous stem makes it a relatively large-feeling 56cm sample. The low bottom bracket also adds extra surefootedness to the 73-degree parallel angles and 99cm wheelbase, giving it an unshakably stable feel at speed.
The stretched position and low head tube create an instantly aggressive riding character too, but the Ritchey handlebar, skinny seatstays, carbon seatpost and Fizik Arione saddle also mean that it’s a viable option for full-day siege rides, not just short and brutal skirmishing.
The fsa energy chainset is less stiff than ultegra’s: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
The FSA Energy chainset is less stiff than Ultegra’s
The consistently oversized monocoque mainframe has a precision and poise that’s carried through to the road by the stiffness of the triangulated section of the inward tapered fork legs, letting you maintain speed deep into corners or down twisty descents with confidence.
In the damp that’s tempered significantly by the noticeably slippery-when-wet Mavic tyres, which also require vigilence to stop spinning on steep, wet climbs. We had no performance issues with the Shimano 105 brakes, although they, like the 105 cassette, are a lower spec compared with complete Ultegra.
Having tested the same frame previously, we know that the full bottom bracket width down tube, BB30 axle and big box-section chainstays make a super-stiff power transfer structure.
But the effect of the cranks and wheels is really noticeable on the road compared with the cheaper but lighter wheeled AiR/9.0 that was a top five choice in the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year test.
Flex in the fat-axled but skinny-armed FSA chainset and the relatively heavy Aksium wheel package definitely dulled acceleration response and the ability to grunt a big gear.
Own-brand bar and stem but it’s named kit elsewhere: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
Own-brand bar and stem but it’s named kit elsewhere
The sub-kilo frame and reasonable overall weight mean the Boardman is still no slouch when the road heads upwards, or someone declares the next village sign a sprint finish.
It’s still one of the best bikes around if you’re dead set on Di2, but it really deserves better wheels and an upgraded chainset to really shine, and if you’re after more of a bargain or more performance we’d definitely choose a Boardman with conventional shifting.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.