The Boardman Urban Pro is very much the archetypal sporty town bike, with 9-speed double gearing, carbon forks and hydraulic discs.
This is a well balanced package, but it’s somewhat compromised by the fact that its £200 cheaper sibling – the Boardman Urban Team – is almost as capable. And it has the rear brake from hell.
Ride & handling: versatile, light & right at home in the streets
The Boardman feels much more stretched out than the otherwise comparable Cinelli Cinelli Bootleg Hoy Hoy Rats. It’s still capable of mixing with the city traffic but better suited to slightly longer journeys.
The long wheelbase, and alternative hand position offered by the bar ends, make big rides much more comfortable, and the wheels, though not the lightest, roll well.
Out of the saddle the frame feels more compliant than the Cinelli, and though it doesn’t spring away from the lights in quite the same way, overall it’s a bit more civilised.
Of the round-town bikes we’ve tested recently, it’s the one that lends itself to the most uses. With a rack it’ll easily cope with light touring (though the cheaper Urban Team has better wheels for that task).
You could commute on it with little fuss, and at under 23lb it’s light enough to be out on the road all day.
It’s biggest downside is the rear brake. There’s no doubt that Avid Juicy Hydraulics are fine units, but the rear brake has resonated badly on all of the three Boardman urban bikes we’ve tested to date, and it doesn’t seem to be improving over time.
This is a serious concern, especially if it’s an issue with the frame mechanics rather than the brake unit itself.
Time will tell if this is just a bad batch of Avid units or a more serious flaw in the design. But overall, the Urban Pro is an accomplished bike.
Frame: aluminium/carbon mix
The Boardman has a compact feel, like the Cinelli that we keep coming back to as a point of comparison, but the position is more stretched with the longest top-tube of our four recent city-bikes.
It’s an aluminium/carbon frame and fork configuration, the Boardman’s slightly lighter butted frame and heavier fork making the total frame/fork weight about the same as the Cinelli.
The tubes are nicely proportioned, with an unusual flattened top-tube and ovalised down-tube.
There are two sets of bottle bosses and front and rear mudguard mounts. Top rack mounts are included but you’ll have to take your guards off – there’s only one mount at the dropout.
Equipment: good kit & welcome wide gear range
A SRAM X-9 transmission adorns the Boardman Urban Pro, and mated with a Truvativ Elita chainset and 11-32 cassette it gives a usefully wide range of gears here. The shifting performance is good too.
The rest of the finishing kit is mostly Ritchey branded, and the inclusion of bar ends is a welcome one. The stem and bar are stiff and purposeful, and the saddle is very comfy.
As mentioned above, the back brake was a bit alarming.
Wheels: disappointingly heavy
The Boardman’s wheels are a bit of a disappointment, mainly because they’re not as light as they look. The unusual spoking pattern of the Xero Lite wheels places each pair of nipples side by side in the rim. That leaves long unsupported spans between spoke pairs and the only way to make a stiff wheel with this design is to use a very rigid – hence heavy – rim.
On the plus side, though, they’re well built, and stiffer than you might expect fo rthe number of spokes.
The Maxxis Detonator 700x28c tyres are a good compromise between speed and comfort, with a little more emphasis on the speed.