Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boardman SLR 9.0 review

Boardman's new entry-level SLR model boasts a semi-compact monocoque frame and full-carbon fork with a tapered steerer that comes from the same mould as the pro-level 9.8. The 9.0 only differs in the carbon layup around the bottom bracket, as the higher spec version has increased stiffness. 

  • Highs: The SLR delivers a no-nonsense, performance-orientated frame with a great value component package
  • Lows: We could hear some cable rattle on rougher roads
  • Buy if: You like a firm and responsive ride from a bike that craves speed

Chris Boardman believes that the most efficient way of connecting two points on a bike is with a straight line, so there's no superfluous shaping here – and tube profiles focus on performance rather than aesthetics. Internal cables run through carbon inner guides that have stainless steel elbows, to prevent abrasion. 

The seatstays are flat and straight, and the box section chainstays about as deep, thick and widely set as they could be, only stepping down in size for the carbon dropouts. Boardman’s own carbon seatpost has quite a lot of setback, and supports a Fizik Arione, still one of our favourite saddles. The Ritchey cockpit is very secure, with a good ergo drop to the bar.

Even with a 53/39-tooth chainset, the SLR climbs tidily in the big ring, such is the power transfer of the frame and wheels. Mavic’s Ksyrium Equipe wheels accelerate fast, and the Vittoria Zaffiro pro tyres give decent feel and consistent grip. The SRAM Force drivetrain performs perfectly and the lower-spec brake callipers don’t lack braking power.

With no concessions to curves, the Boardman has a directness and efficiency that'll please riders wanting to press on. Over rough roads it tracks confidently, but is unapologetically firm. Bigger hits are taken care of and there's no interfering road buzz, just a very communicative frame. The handling and riding position are very balanced, the SLR a bike you can feel a part of and get involved with, building confidence quickly.

Cornering is accurate and the bike holds a line well, but is stable enough for mid corner changes to not cause palpitations. Our large machine’s 16cm head tube gives options for the racer to get a low tuck, or a less aggressive position without too many spacers. The SLR 9.0’s lower stiffness around its bottom bracket won’t concern most of us, as there’s no noticeable flex there, and it didn’t affect our enjoyment. 

Boardman slr 9.0:

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

Source: Road Bikes & Gear

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