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Boardman Air Signature

New owners for Boardman Bikes means new wind-tunnels, new teams and new models. Start with the Boardman Air Signature.

Boardman Air Signature
James Spender
3 Feb 2016

'Rob Hayles won the National Road Race on what was basically a 1,400 quid Boardman,’ chuckles Boardman Bikes’ marketing manager, Jamie Mitchell. ‘It was a beautiful bike for the money though, full Ritchey WCS finishing kit and everything.’

That win was back in 2008 and since then Boardman has added a plethora of other titles to its bikes’ palmares, including Olympic golds for Nicole Cooke in Beijing and triathlete Alistair Brownlee in London. However, by its own admission, the brand’s progress from keenly priced all-rounder to high-end thoroughbred had stalled, until a recent high-profile takeover.

‘I think as a brand we lost our way a bit, getting too bogged down with the day-to-day and forgetting that we were all in this because we loved bikes,’ says Mitchell. ‘So when Halfords came along and bought us 14 months ago it was great. It gave us financial backing and breathing space to rip apart the brand and rebuild it.’ 

The result is a range of bikes that’s almost unrecognisable from previous years, including the addition of the titanium-framed SLR Endurance (also available in carbon and with discs), custom colour options and a redesigned Boardman logo. 

The Air Signature (pictured here) shares the same frame as last year’s model, however along with the top-drawer Enve components and facelift it gets a new fully integrated fork, and what Boardman calls ‘Aerodynamic Surface Trips’.

Boardman Air Signature frame

‘Basically the surface trips are specially shaped pieces of translucent tape that sit on the fork legs, under the down tube and in front of the seat tube,’ says Mitchell. ‘They disrupt the boundary layer of airflow so it’s cleaner coming off that section – like minimisng the wake behind a boat. In real terms we’ve found it equates to a six watt saving, or a 23 second gain over one hour.’

This kind of detailed pursuit for speed is what set Boardman the man apart for a number of years, so it might not come as too much of a surprise to hear that Boardman the brand isn’t stopping there. Not only will it be sponsoring a pro women’s team next year, it will also be building its very own wind-tunnel.

‘We’ve got the rider roster sorted for the team, which we hope to able to announce officially in early 2016. We’re also really excited about our wind-tunnel. I never thought I’d be able to say that when I joined the company five years ago! It’s in the advanced stages of planning and will be dedicated to bicycles. So unlike other wind-tunnels used in the industry, borrowed from F1 say, we won’t have to time-share, meaning we’ll be able to not only use it for research and design purposes, but also for teams and, most importantly, our customers. People will be able to explore aero, test equipment and play with their positions on the bike, and we’re even looking at packages where you can book in with Chris. He’s always wanted his own tunnel, so it will be great to have him a the helm.’

We suspect Rob Hayles wishes he was still riding professionally now. 

Look out for a full review soon!

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