Stand on any British street corner today and you’ll probably see more Boardman Teams than any other carbon bike. Boardman Bikes has only been going a decade or so, but in that time the Boardman Team has probably introduced more British riders to the joys of a carbon road bike than any other — back in 2008 Nicole Cooke rode to Olympic Gold in Beijing on a bike with a very similar frame.
- The Boardman Team Carbon is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The Team frame is still a real beaut, made from T700 carbon from Toray, one of the world’s biggest names when it comes to top-grade carbon fibre. There’s a big and beefy bottom bracket shell, with press-fit bottom bracket and deep chainstays. And it’s matched by a full-carbon fork, too. No aluminium steerer for Boardman.
The geometry is just about spot on for a road bike at this price, it’s slightly racier than an endurance machine with a stretched head tube, and a little more laid back than the racier bikes in Boardman’s range.
It makes for a bike that you can commute on swiftly through city traffic, the practicality aided by front and rear mudguard fittings, or you can take it out for longer weekend adventures; fit fenders and you’ve got your year-round training bike too. And at well under 9kg it’s light.
Shimano Tiagra is 10-speed compared with the 11-speed 105 you’ll find on some similarly priced road bikes, but the performance is more-or-less identical. There are bigger jumps between gears, but nothing that trips you up, and even the three-tooth move to the lowest gear is handled smoothly.
Boardman has trimmed costs in a few areas, and there’s an FSA chainset and Tektro rather than Shimano brakes. The former is fine, and pairs with the BB30 bottom bracket with its 30mm diameter spindle, though the Tektro brakes lack the fine feathering control that better brakes offer. I’d swap to a softer-compound pad when they wear out.
The Mavic wheels look distinctly old-school these days, and with their 24/28-spoke count they add to a weight that holds back the Team’s climbing and acceleration prowess, while their retro narrow profile does nothing to boost the width of the 25mm Vittoria tyres. I can’t fault them on their toughness, though.
The rest of the kit is Boardman-branded and all par for the course, basic aluminium post, stem and a compact drop bar; I got on with the saddle, though it’s an easy change if you find it too firm.
And talking of firm, one area where Boardman’s Team design is showing its age is the seatpost. Forget 27.2mm diameter (or even slimmer on Cannondale and Giant), Boardman has stuck to an oversize 31.6mm post, and this is something you really can feel through your backside. I hope it will go on a slimming diet the next time the Team gets a redesign. In the mean-time you could consider fitting a more flexible carbon post or use an adaptor and fit a slimmer 27.2mm post.
This might make it seem like I'm a little down on the Boardman. Far from it — I'm a big fan. I’d like to see a slimmer seatpost and would appreciate a 30- or 32-tooth sprocket. I’m part of a generation of ageing cyclists for whom lower gears are a necessity.
Tiagra has the option of an 11-32 cassette; wider gaps and bigger jumps, yes, but a higher top and, particularly, lower bottom gear are well worth the trade-off. I can’t imagine many riders running out of wooomph at the top, but a 30- or 32-tooth sprocket will help both older and less experienced riders up steeper or longer climbs.
One of the best things about Boardman Bikes compared with many of the top £1,000 bikes, is its widespread availability. You can buy it from Halfords or Cycle Republic stores and unlike an internet purchase this comes with a free six-week service.
And coming from Halfords there's a chance it’ll be on offer too. List price is £1,000, but as I’m writing this both men’s and women’s models are priced at £800. That is a bona fide steal for a bike with a quality frame and Olympic heritage, and allows you to upgrade tyres, buy a decent pair of pedals and shoes and still get change from your grand.