As well as fresh branding and a new logo for 2016, Boardman also has an expanded range of bikes, and among them is this silvery endurance-based number, the Road Pro Carbon.
Based on Boardman’s SLR Endurance platform, its frame uses what the company refers to as ‘C7 carbon fibre’, made from strong but compliant fibres from the Japanese company Toray, one of the most respected names in carbon.
Appropriately, the molten chrome paint finish makes the frame tubes seemingly flow into each other, and is so shiny you can see your face in it. The 18cm tapered head tube on our 55.5cm test bike’s frame is ideal for its distance-riding intentions, while the down tube’s profile resembles a truncated pyramid and the seat-tube morphs from round at the top to square at the bottom bracket for added rigidity. In fact, flat faces feature on all sides of the chunky BB30 bottom bracket area, with deep, straight rectangular chainstays keeping the rear wheel firmly in check.
Forgot your mirror? No problem…
The Road Pro’s monostay divides into slim, flattened seatstays that curve both vertically and laterally to soften the ride, but the frame eschews a 27.2mm carbon post for a 31.8mm item. The aesthetics are tied together with bright green flashes on the frame, rims, bar, stem, seatpost and saddle to pleasing overall effect.
The spec sheet is well appointed. It’s based around Shimano 105 derailleurs and cassette, with the new 105-level RS505 hydraulic levers and hydraulic discs. FSA’s new four-arm Gossamer Pro crankset is particularly impressive – it has big 30mm axle, yet is lighter than the Ultegra version, making for a much-improved strength-to-weight ratio. With performance to match it represents great value.
Nothing equals hydraulic disc brakes for stopping power and precise control
The Boardman makes light of its near-9kg mass, rolling eagerly with a positive feel and keen acceleration. Those direct chainstays deliver an undoubted feeling of connection, which manifests itself in brisk progress. The front end is no slouch either, feeling solid when heaving uphill, sprinting or cornering.
Firm ride quality
With 52/36 chainrings and an 11-28 cassette the gearing is equally well suited to spinning up long climbs, Sunday cruising or epic descents while avoiding wide ratio jumps – though on seriously steep gradients you might find yourself yearning for a 32t cog. Shifting is faultless, and the hoods of Shimano’s RS505 hydraulic levers offer the same familial feel, with a useful forward hand position for flatland hammering.
In terms of comfort, the Boardman soaks up most rough stuff well but it’s firmer than some endurance machines, with big hits noticeable if not overly sharp. We didn’t feel it was cause for concern, though, and the excellent Prologo saddle is a real comfort bonus.
The Boardman's ride is firm but not uncomfortable, and it feels pleasingly brisk
Own-branded wheels aren’t always the best, and we didn’t expect much from the Boardman Aero Profile Discs. Their 22mm wide, 25mm tall alloy rims built three-cross onto small-flange disc hubs means long spokes – and lots of them.
They’re by no means taut or aggressive, but give a good account of themselves, with a reasonably lively ride devoid of the energy-sapping feel found in some. Vittoria’s 25mm Rubino Pro tyres have a slick centre section and siped shoulders, and gave us cornering confidence in mud-covered lanes.
If you’re looking for an endurance bike with clean backside potential, it’s worth noting that there’s no mudguard provision. On the plus side, however, the braking is superb – as ever, hydraulic disc brakes provide consistent feel and always-reliable stopping power, whatever local filth you’re riding through. And being discs, if you do upgrade the wheelset, your shiny new rims won’t get ground away.