Boardman SLR/9.0S review£2,699.99

Ultegra Di2 version of SLR frame

BikeRadar score4/5

As regards digital integration, Boardman make a bold move straight away, putting the battery in a unique position on top of the offside chainstay. It’s a relatively low-drag site but it does collect a lot of gunk from the rear tyre, and removal for recharging is a little awkward. However, a little bit of battery faff aside, there’s no doubting that the frame and fit is absolutely classic rock solid race bike.

    The generous stem makes it a relatively large-feeling 56cm sample. The low bottom bracket also adds extra surefootedness to the 73-degree parallel angles and 99cm wheelbase, giving it an unshakably stable feel at speed.

    The stretched position and low head tube create an instantly aggressive riding character too, but the Ritchey handlebar, skinny seatstays, carbon seatpost and Fizik Arione saddle also mean that it’s a viable option for full-day siege rides, not just short and brutal skirmishing.

    The FSA Energy chainset is less stiff than Ultegra’s

    The consistently oversized monocoque mainframe has a precision and poise that’s carried through to the road by the stiffness of the triangulated section of the inward tapered fork legs, letting you maintain speed deep into corners or down twisty descents with confidence.

    In the damp that’s tempered significantly by the noticeably slippery-when-wet Mavictyres, which also require vigilence to stop spinning on steep, wet climbs. We had no performance issues with the Shimano 105 brakes, although they, like the 105 cassette, are a lower spec compared with complete Ultegra.

    Having tested the same frame previously, we know that the full bottom bracket width down tube, BB30 axle and big box-section chainstays make a super-stiff power transfer structure.

    But the effect of the cranks and wheels is really noticeable on the road compared with the cheaper but lighter wheeled AiR/9.0 that was a top five choice in the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year test.

    Flex in the fat-axled but skinny-armed FSA chainset and the relatively heavy Aksium wheel package definitely dulled acceleration response and the ability to grunt a big gear.

    Own-brand bar and stem but it’s named kit elsewhere:
    Own-brand bar and stem but it’s named kit elsewhere:

    Own-brand bar and stem but it’s named kit elsewhere

    The sub-kilo frame and reasonable overall weight mean the Boardman is still no slouch when the road heads upwards, or someone declares the next village sign a sprint finish. 

    It’s still one of the best bikes around if you’re dead set on Di2, but it really deserves better wheels and an upgraded chainset to really shine, and if you’re after more of a bargain or more performance we’d definitely choose a Boardman with conventional shifting.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

    Guy Kesteven

    Freelance Writer, UK
    Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
    • Age: 45
    • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
    • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
    • Waist: 76cm / 30in
    • Chest: 91cm / 36in
    • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
    • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
    • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
    • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
    • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
    • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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