Boardman’s SLR chassis is split into two camps. This top-end 9-series bike uses the C10 carbon frame and fork, which at 900g (frame) and 350g (fork) is super-svelte. The more affordable 8-series uses Boardman’s cheaper C7 blend and has the same great looks but carries more weight.
That you can get what is a properly high-end chassis with a sub-kilo frame, with a fork this light too, is impressive stuff, and makes the SLR 9.2 the lightest of the bikes I had on test, which also included the Planet X Pro Carbon Ultegra, Sensa Giulia G3 Evo Ultegra and Tifosi Scalare Disc 105.
Boardman SLR 9.2 Disc frame and kit
As a nod to founder Chris Boardman’s legendary career, the aero carbon seatpost has a standard 20mm offset but the head flips to zero offset, meaning you can steepen the seat angle and add clip-on TT bars, thus transforming the SLR into a usable time-trial bike.
Boardman hasn’t gone all-out racer with the SLR, thankfully, keeping hidden mudguard mounts and generous tyre clearances, so this bike is definitely an option for more regular roadies too.
The SLR’s geometry is smart. My size large frame is effectively a 57cm and it has a low stack of 584mm, which suggests a racy ride position and a reach that’s a little shorter at 391mm. This creates a lower, more aerodynamic ride position but one that’s not stretched out.
Want to go longer? You could switch out the 100mm stem (to a 120mm one like on the Sensa). The SLR’s geometry delivers a wonderfully balanced feel. The reaction to steering inputs is swift enough for fast turns and mid-corner corrections but never spills into nervousness. It makes for a very capable descender too.
Boardman SLR 9.2 Disc geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||73.5||73.5||73||73|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||72||72.5||73||73|
|Seat tube (cm)||47||48.5||50||52.5||54.5|
|Top tube (cm)||52.5||54||55.5||57||58.5|
|Head tube (cm)||12||14||16||18||19.5|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.8||4.8||4.8||4.5||4.5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6.5||6.8||6.8||6.8||6.8|
Boardman SLR 9.2 Disc ride impressions
Out of the saddle and sprinting right on the limit I could induce a little twist in the frame just behind the head tube, but bear in mind that I’m quite tall and heavy. At the bottom bracket and through the chainstays it remained resolutely unmoving.
At first glance the wheels look pretty middle-of-the-road: 30mm aero-shaped, tubeless-ready alloy rims, yet they surprised me by tipping the scales at only 1,550g a pair – that’s even lighter than Planet X’s upgrade carbon wheels.
The internal 19mm rim width suits sub-30mm tyres, and the SLR 9.2 has 28s fitted. These come in the form of Vittoria’s new graphene-infused version of the workhorse Rubino.
In the past I thought the Rubino to be just okay – a relatively robust middleweight with decent dry grip but sketchy in the wet. That’s now reset with the Rubino Pro Graphene 2.0s.
Yes, they’re still middleweight, relatively tough tyres, but the Achilles heel of wet grip has gone – most likely thanks to a combination of the textured tread and extra flexibility of the graphene-infused material.
These road-ready tyres inspire confidence on damp roads that are littered with leafy detritus, while the compliance adds to overall comfort, complementing a frameset that provides a vibration-smoothing ride.
The back end offers a little more softening than the front, and that’s with a saddle that didn’t impress me all that much – it’s comfortable enough but it’s a little ‘squishy’ and the shape is a bit flat and narrow.
The one small chink in the SLR’s armour is its handlebar. The slender aluminium tubing is quite stiff, which is at odds with the bike’s accomplished, smooth ride.
A lot of the time this can be tuned out with a combination of great tyres (check) and good bar tape (not so much). Although it’s nicely all-weather textured, the tape has been stretched to within an inch of its life so it provides little comfort in the drops or on the tops. But this a small quibble on what is undoubtedly one of 2021’s best-value road bikes.
How we tested
When it comes to performance road bikes, it’s very easy to be blinded into thinking you need to buy a pro-peloton bike with glamorous cutting-edge design and top-of-the-line components.
For most of us, bikes like that are simply out of reach and, in reality, you really don’t need to spend huge amounts to get a great performing bike straight out of the box – one that you’ll cherish and even want to upgrade further down the line.
So we’ve selected four bikes costing between £1,999 and £2,600, a far more achievable budget for many of us, and put them to the test on our local roads.
Also on test
- Planet X Pro Carbon Ultegra
- Sensa Giulia G3 Evo Ultegra
- Tifosi Scalare Disc 105
|Available sizes||XS, S ,M, L, XL|
|Tyres||Vittoria Rubino Pro Graphene 2.0 28c|
|Stem||Boardman Elite alloy 100mm|
|Shifter||Shimano Ultegra R8020|
|Seatpost||Boardman SLR carbon|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Ultegra R8000|
|Handlebar||Boardman Elite alloy 420mm|
|Bottom bracket||FSA PF30|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Ultegra R8000|
|Cranks||Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000 50/34|
|Cassette||Shimano 105 11-30|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra R8070 flat-mount hydraulic disc|
|Wheels||Alex RXD3 Alloy|