During four-and-a-bit minutes of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics Chris Boardman changed the face of British cycling. The former furniture maker has been responsible for our nation’s success on the velodrome’s boards and, later, through his own brand of bikes and as a cycling activist, has popularised road cycling.
He started his eponymous brand more than a decade ago (selling it to Halfords a while back), and the star has long been the Team Carbon, a genuine game-changer that brought carbon to a whole new generation of wannabe roadies.
There are inevitable compromises to bring in a bike at this price with a quality carbon frame from Toray. Even Halfords' buying power can’t get you 11-speed Shimano 105, though 10-speed Tiagra with an FSA chainset works well and the Tektro cartridge brakes are okay, though nowhere near on a par with the 105 on some bikes such as the Pinnacle Laterite 3 and Ribble R872.
As this could be your only bike, the frame majors on practicality too. There are fittings for a rear rack, and mountings and clearances for front and rear mudguards, which brings year-round commuting and day-to-day riding into its remit. External cable routing may be less elegant than internal, but it keeps manufacturing costs down and makes DIY servicing easier.
The geometry isn’t as aggressive as Boardman’s SLR race bike but it’s not totally laidback either, taking its cues from the Endurance SLR, which means a 15mm taller head tube and 10mm more stack. This is enough to take a little strain off your lower back, but not so much to translate to a meandering, sit-up-and-beg riding position.
Frame angles through all its sizes are based pretty much around 73-degree parallel; very old school, very reassuring and decently sharp, with chunky tubes, oversize bottom bracket shell and press-fit bottom bracket offering great power transfer.
The weight is very good for the price, it’s comfortable enough for cranking out hard miles, stiff enough for sprinting and climbing, and controlled for safe and assured descending, the tapered, carbon fork handling impeccably.
It can be a close-run thing at this price whether to go for entry-level carbon or high-grade aluminium, but this frame rises above the entry-level carbon tag, offering bump-smoothing cushioning that aluminium just can’t match, even with a 31.6mm seatpost.
The Team Carbon is comfortable, but you’d get a little more ‘give’ from a slimmer 27.2mm seatpost. It’s far from a deal breaker and we’d be in no hurry to upgrade to carbon, but 31.6mm is now a rare-ish sight on a bike aimed at the newer cyclist. When the Mavic wheels and Vittoria tyres reach the end of the road, I’d consider upgrading both for an even more rewarding ride.
However, as specced this Boardman makes a fantastic first road bike for sportives, fitness riding and fast commuting, and the clearance for mudguards make it a superb option for a winter trainer. The Boardman has the advantage of a shop setup and free six-week check too.