Boardman’s Performance Series bikes are exclusive to Halfords, and the way that Boardman has set up this part of their business with Halfords' warehousing, ordering and delivery, the brand can compete with online giants such as Canyon, Rose and Ribble.
For the relatively affordable sum of £1,799, Boardman has delivered a bike with a full Ultegra 11-speed groupset, matched to high quality Ultegra wheels and top that off with a Fi'zi:k saddle, Continental tyres, and a carbon post.
The Pro Carbon SLR has the same frame design as their Elite series SLR, except it uses a more modest carbon fibre than the Elite. The Performance frame is just shy of 1kg though, so it's still an exceptionally light chassis for the price.
It's an aggressive, racy shape too, with parallel 73-degree head and seat angles, and short 405mm chainstays, which make for a tight wheelbase in relation to our medium bike's 55.5cm top tube.
A 73-degree head angle helps give the Pro C SLR a racy feel
The shallow, 140mm head tube puts you in a low, more aero ride position and contributes to a snappy, reactive bike that's more than adept at rapid direction changes.
The shifting, braking and wheels match – and in some cases, surpass – all the other Bike of the Year contenders in pure performance terms. Ultrega's new Dura-Ace-style are stunning, powerful, controllable and with very little neutral lever travel before they act.
Even during the torrential rain that we faced in the last hour-and-a-half of our long-distance test ride, we never lost confidence in the braking. Plenty of that is down to the Ultegra units, the quality of the brake surface on the Ultegra rims contributes a great deal too. Gear shifts are quick, responsive and noiseless.
Spend £1,500 to £2,000 on a bike and you should expect it to come with Shimano 105, SRAM Rival or Campagnolo Veloce – Ultegra for that price is even better
Add in decent Continental Ultra Sport tyres and there is little to fault here, although the 53/39 chainset and 11-25 cassette occasionally felt a little restrictive on prolonged climbs.
The Pro C SLR proved comfortable enough – it's not super smooth but it was never jarring, even on the very worst surfaces. The slender aluminium bar does suffer a little buzz over gravel-topped tarmac but swapping to a carbon bar would cure that – and still give change from £2,000. If you’re a budding crit or circuit racer looking for a bike to offer a decent advantage, there’s nothing else we’d change. The Pro C SLR offers spectacular value.