Whenever we test bikes under £1,000 the Boardman Team C (carbon) is always one of the first considerations in the line-up, and for compelling reasons too.
At the heart of the bike is a frame constructed with brand-name Toray fibres, used by such big hitters as Pinarello this is not low-grade stuff, and it also comes with a full carbon fork (almost unheard of at this price), but the real killer sell is just how good the bike feels on the road. The geometry is long, low and the classic road-race angles with sporty (101cm) wheelbase make the bike feel as agile as full-on race machines at multiple times its modest price.
Give the Boardman Team the beans and you're met with a responsive pick-up that’s as direct as William Tell’s arrow. Settle into the compact drop bar and point into a corner and it’ll stick straight to the apex and stay there. The Continental tyres might not be the most expensive in the German rubber specialist's range, but their all-weather grip is good, even if we’d prefer a bigger 25c variant.
The 23’s fitted here feel even narrower when paired with Mavic’s long-standing CXP22 rim. Its testament to just how well the frame rides that the Team doesn’t feel chattery or uncomfortable on poor and broken surfaces, it does ride firmly however and it does feel a bit of a retrograde step to move to 23’s (the last time we tested the Team it had 25’s).
The running gear is predominantly Shimano Tiagra, and aside from its external exiting cable routing on the levers, and lack of a 11th sprocket on the back, it's every bit a match for higher-level Shimano groups. Shifting is pleasingly positive and smooth, and FSA’s Gossamer chainrings have a tooth pattern that’s every bit as reliable in holding and moving the chain as its Shimano equivalent.
The unbranded dual-pivot brakes offer ample power, but they do lack the progressive feel of Shimano’s Tiagra units they replace. The middling-firmness of the pads work well in dry conditions, but in the wet they take a little longer to clear water from the brake surface before sufficiently biting. A softer set of pads would be a big, cost-effective improvement.
On the climbs the Team’s middleweight wheels aren’t nearly as much of an issue as you’d imagine. The hill friendly gearing and superb response of the frame mean the Team’s a real climber's friend and the all-up weight of 8.84kg is one of the lightest on test.
The long Arione-like E4P saddle encourages you to shift your body around, and getting up on the nose to power along on the flat TT style never gets old. Shifting back to use maximum leverage on steep slopes is a similarly positive experience.
The sub-£1,000 price point is obviously a key place to be for Boardman’s retail partners Halfords, so to keep at that prime point they have changed some of the spec from branded components to in-house units, that said the E4P compact drop bar has an excellent shape and is wrapped in thick comfortable tape.
We love that Boardman haven’t just opted for the middle ground on the stem length and we really like that on our 58cm test model they’ve fitted a suitably long 140mm stem, which marks the Team out as a proper racy performance bike that hasn’t been compromised just because its cheaper.
Overall this is a bike that’s tough to beat at this price, and one worthy of keeping hold of to upgrade as it inevitably helps you become a better rider.