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Boardman Team Carbon review

Boardman Team Carbon frame
16 Sep 2015
Verdict:

A stalwart of the commuter but eight years after its initial launch is the £1000 Boardman Team Carbon still competitive?

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1000
For 
Frame worth holding onto and upgrading
Against 
Not terribly exciting to ride

When Boardman bikes launched in 2007, its range of great value, well-specced road bikes, available exclusively through Halfords, struck an immediate chord with the cycling public. With a competitive offering at the £1,000 point and a distribution network that happened to be one of the biggest Cycle2Work providers, it didn’t take long for Boardman bikes to become a regular feature on British roads. Eight years later, is that £1,000 bike still the steal it once was?

Frame

Boardman, the rider, was an early proponent of carbon fibre (who can forget his Lotus superbike from the 1992 Olympics?) so it’s no surprise to see the black stuff being used in the Team Carbon, at a price where aluminium is still the default. The frame is a full carbon monocoque, designed in the UK and manufactured in Asia. It uses the same geometry and comes out of the same mould as the more expensive Pro Carbon, using the same branded T700 uni-directional carbon fibre from Japanese giant Toray – the only difference we can see is that the gear cables on the Team run externally. Boardman describes the Team Carbon as having ‘sportive geometry’, which is meaningless; fortunately we found a comfortable position immediately, simply setting the saddle and bar height, and hitting the road. There was no need for lengthy sessions sliding the saddle fore/aft or mucking about with headset spacers – at 5ft 10in (178cm), the medium felt great. The frame does a good of damping road vibrations and is impressively light. It doesn’t leap out as being especially stiff, but neither is it flexible. We’d happily use more expensive components on this frame, and we’d happily use it for a broad range of applications, from commuting and winter miles (it takes mudguards) to sportives and mid-week circuit racing.

Components

Boardman Team Carbon groupset

It’s no surprise to find own brand finishing kit on a bike at this price. The Boardman saddle, seatpost, bars and stem are all appropriately sized and comfortable. We have concerns about the longevity of the saddle, but that’s a small thing. Boardman specs a 10-speed drivetrain on the Team Carbon, made up of a mix of Tiagra and 105 components. Shifting gear on the Tiagra levers is wonderfully smooth and the 12-28 cassette provides a good, wide range. Braking isn’t as good – from the hoods the lever shape is a little sharp, and combined with the deep-drop Tektro calipers (which allow space for mudguards), power isn’t great when compared to the 105-equipped bikes here. From the drops, where you’d need the most braking power, it’s fine – the extra leverage works wonders.

Wheels

Boardman Team Carbon wheels

We continued our recent run of bad luck with Conti tyres, puncturing the rear 25mm Ultra Sports on our last ride thanks to a gash that went all the way through the tread. Up till then, the tyres had worked well on wet, winter roads, with no complaints about grip. The wheel package itself is clearly built to hit a price point but Mavic’s CXP22 rims are a great choice and provide a reliable braking surface, while there was no reason to question the non-branded hubs – they spun freely for the duration of the test and the freehub never skipped a beat. With 32 spokes in the rear and 28 in the front (laced radially) these should remain decent training wheels for some time, while being an easy place to upgrade and save weight.

The ride

January isn’t a great time to be testing bikes – permanently wet roads, high winds and perpetual darkness are no one’s idea of a good time. That’s where bikes like this get used, though – on daily commutes, wet winter training weekends, summer sportives and year-round long rides. In effect, everywhere, all of the time, whatever the conditions. The Boardman Team Carbon certainly never felt uncomfortable or nervous on wet, rough roads, which bodes well for summer when conditions should (hopefully) be better. Our only issue was with the brakes – from the hoods, power is lacking, so descending in the drops is a definite advantage. Fortunately, the shallow drop bars are very comfortable. At 8.5kg the Boardman actually weighs a 100g less than the claimed weight on the website. Which is nice. On the road, it’s a solid, reliable-feeling bike that is easy to get used to. Despite being a cheaper grade of carbon than the more expensive bikes in the Boardman range, the Team does a great job of absorbing road vibration and providing a solid pedalling platform. That said, it’s at the expense of being an exciting bike – it doesn’t encourage you to sprint up every climb or see just how fast you can go down a big descent. It’s not about the bike here, it’s about you and the Team Carbon gives the impression that it will happily accept whatever you choose to throw at it, be that a 10-minute power sprint or a gentle ride to the office and back. With a great frame and a good fit, it’s worth holding onto and upgrading as well.

Frame - The carbon-fibre is light and damps down vibration - 7/10

Components - Mostly own-brand, but the Shimano gears stand out - 6/10

Wheels - Up-branded hubs and Mavic CXP-22 rims combine well - 6/10

The ride - Solid and unflashy, but better brakes would help - 8/10

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 555mm 555mm
Seat Tube (ST) 530mm 530mm
Down Tube (DT) 600mm
Fork Length (FL) 378mm
Head Tube (HT) 160mm 160mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 72.6
Seat Angle (SA) 73 72.7
Wheelbase (WB) 996mm
BB Drop (BB) 68 68

Spec

Boardman Team Carbon
Frame Toray T700 uni-directional carbon, full carbon fork
Groupset Shimano Tiagra/105, 10 speed
Brakes Tektro R540 dual-pivot
Chainset FSA Gossamer Compact, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Tiagra, 12-28
Bars Boardman E4P
Stem Boardman E4P
Seatpost Boardman E4P, 31.6mm
Wheels Mavic CXP-22S, 28/32
Tyres Continental Ultra Sport II, 25c
Saddle Boardman E4P
Contact halfords.com

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