The Boardman Elite SLR/9.0 is, like the Christopher behind it, built with speed in mind. For starters, it’s red and everyone knows that red is the fastest colour, right? Either way, it finished in the top five of our 40 Cycling Plus Bike of the Year 2013 contenders:
Tech ed Warren Rossiter talks through the SLR/9.0
Ride & handling: Flatteringly stable, efficient and climb-friendly
The cherry red paint job means that, from a distance, the SLR/9.0 looks a lot like the AiR/9.0. Close up, it’s a lot different. Whereas the AiR is all about maximising gains through aero touches, the SLR is about lightness of touch.
And while the AiR’s ride errs on the side of hardness, as do a number of aero bikes, the SLR is no brutaliser. It rides with a brilliant efficiency and, yes, although it has the firmest ride at the top table, in context that isn’t a criticism. It isn’t fazed by rougher surfaces and no road buzz reaches your hands or your backside.
In many ways it echoes the Storck Scenero – like the German bike it’s brilliantly efficient and you really feel as if all of your power is being sent to the rear wheel. It’s incredibly flattering as it makes you feel as if you could keep up with Mr B in his pomp.
The low mass of the frame and fork, and the rigid platform, make the SLR one of the best bikes to ascend on, be it out of the saddle honking on the bar or settling in on the long Arione saddle and putting pressure through the pedals.
A number of times testers found themselves flying along the flat towards hills, only to find themselves still climbing on the 50T chainring way after they’d have usually started looking for granny. Not bad considering that the 12-25T cassette is on the racy side of the sportive rider’s range.
The Boardman is especially good at flattery when the roads begin to twist and turn, as it tracks with stability for accurate cornering. And it’s on the right side of sharp for instant corrections to skirt potholes or drain covers.
Frame & equipment: Lightweight and good value
The Elite SLR/9.0 has deep and thick chainstays with fat inner faces
The frame tips the scales just a few grams over the kilo, and is matched to an all-carbon, 390g fork.
Boardman can always be relied on to provide an impressive spec for the money and the 9.0 doesn’t disappoint – Ksyrium Equipes are some of the best wheels around, though we’d upgrade the Zaffiro Pro tyres.
The cockpit is a combination of Ritchey Pro stem and Pro Logic bar, and an own brand carbon seatpost is topped with that excellent Fizik Arione saddle. As well as the colour, the SLR breaks with the norm by speccing a SRAM Force groupset. The snappy action of DoubleTap shifting continues to grow on us and the powerful Force brakes are a favourite.
We’ve got a lot of time for the SLR/9.0. By creating a bike that’s no slouch on the flat, nimble, predictable but exciting in corners, and that simply flies uphill, Boardman has created a giant.