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Boardman Road Team Carbon review

5 Oct 2018
Verdict:

A rock-solid foundation that handles with easy-going, confidence-inspiring security

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,000

This review first appeared in Issue 44 of BikesEtc magazine

Boardman says its Road Team Carbon offers ‘a comfortable riding experience, along with the performance to keep up with your ambition.’

With a C7 carbon frame based on the brand’s SLR Endurance model costing twice as much as this entry-level road bike, on the face of it, it seems to offer the best of both worlds: performance on a budget. 

Buy the Boardman Road Team Carbon bike from Halfords

Frameset

Boardman’s C7 carbon frame is essentially another way of saying it’s made from T700 carbon-fibre, laid up for maximum stiffness where it counts, while keeping the frameset as light as possible.

A positively chunky front end is met by a tapered, flat-topped top tube and an oversized down tube whose shape alters from almost triangular-section tubing at the head tube to ovalised at the bottom bracket.

While we dare say this slab-fronted portion of material at the base of the down tube is doing little for aerodynamic efficiency, it certainly creates a massively stiff area at the BB, encouraging maximal power transfer with minimal losses.

Deep, box-section chainstays compound this impression, while thin, flared seatstays act as dampers to protect the rider’s rump from intrusive vibrations.

One area where the Boardman stands out among similarly priced rivals is that it wears its cables on the outside of the frame.

This might put them in the firing line of road muck, but it does make home servicing easier and keep costs down at Boardman’s end.

Groupset

This is where the compromises have been made in order to present a bike with such a good frameset for this kind of money.

While Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra groupset supplies the shifters, derailleurs and 11-28 cassette, the 50/34 chainset is an FSA Gossamer item.

The weakest link in the groupset chain is the Tektro braking system. It’s not appalling, but we wouldn’t want to rely upon it to safely stop us in an emergency-stop situation…

Finishing kit

Boardman’s own-brand finishing kit is entirely alloy and entirely business-like.

From the suitably-proportioned 400mm compact-drop handlebars and 90mm alloy stem, to the 31.6mm seatpost and workaday Boardman-branded saddle, it all does its job adequately, without ceremony and totally devoid of bling.

But you weren’t expecting that for £1,000, were you?

Wheels

Mavic’s CXP Elite wheelset is a surprisingly decent addition, given its budget nature. While you can pick up a set of rims for £29 each directly from Mavic (yes, £29), they actually put in a solid performance and bear all the hallmarks of wheels that will go the distance.

This durable set of rims will also accept tyre sizes up to 28mm, so you can go wider than the supplied 25c Vittoria Zaffiro Pro rubber which, by the way, is a very decent choice for training in all but icy conditions.

And who really wants to ride on ice?

On the road

The Road Team Carbon is instantly comfortable from the off, and from the moment the pedals make their initial revolutions, it’s obvious that this budget bike offers more than enough bang for your buck.

Steering is direct yet confidence-inspiring, and the package feels fit for anything from an all-dayer to a chaingang.

We could really be on to something here…

Perhaps the most telling characteristic of this bike once you’re in the saddle and underway is that it gives you a really easy time.

The ride is mostly satisfyingly devoid of any road buzz; we encountered some issues with the comfort of the saddle, however – what first felt like a well-cushioned perch soon revealed itself to be a seat too hard for us to endure more than an hour in the saddle (literally) without standing up to give our cheeks a rest.

However, the frame shines as something which really does iron out imperfect roads.

If you’ve a sportive on the horizon – maybe even your first as a road rider – we’d heartily recommend this bike as a damned good tool for the job (if the saddle doesn’t suit you, swap it – it’s a relatively cheap thing to upgrade).

The Road Team Carbon might not be the lightest, but it will propel you up most hills with efficiency, thanks mainly to the ridiculous amount of power you’ll be able to get through the drivetrain.

Where it could do with improvement is in the groupset – 10 speeds are arguably enough, but if this bike was wearing 105 kit rather than mix-and-match FSA/Tiagra equipment, it would not only be lighter but also gel better.

What we’d target first, however, are the brakes. They just don’t inspire confidence.

The Boardman’s endurance-spec geometry comes into its own on long rides, with little fatigue felt by the rider. However, it’ll also hustle with (most of) the best endurance machines.

Even with all the spacers beneath the stem, the front end still felt direct enough to take little more than a nudge to tip into downhill corners, and while the rate of turn is far from instant, there’s an easy-going, confidence-building nature to the way in which the Road Team Carbon navigates the twists and turns of our local country lanes.

That’s its defining characteristic – for the most part, it actually feels like it’s allowing you to be the best rider you can be, and that counts for a lot in this price range, and for the crowd of newcomers to the sport who are queuing up to spend their cash.

Even the CXP wheelset, while obviously pretty hefty, doesn’t let the side down too much. Yes, you could upgrade it for something far lighter, but that would bust your budget.

As a compromise set of wheels, we’d take these over Shimano RS010s any day. Plus, the Vittoria tyres are a safe choice for all-weather riding, longevity and puncture resistance.

In brief, change the brakes and, if you feel the need, change the saddle, and you’d transform an impressive bike into a really impressive bike. 

Buy the Boardman Road Team Carbon bike from Halfords

RATINGS

Frame: Offers a good balance of comfort and stiffness. 10/10 
Components: A well chosen mix of budget-conscious parts. 7/10 
Wheels: CXP wheels are surprisingly good for their low price. 7/10 
The ride: Built for endurance, it'll keep you going in comfort. 8/10 

Verdict: A rock-solid foundation that handles with easy-going, confidence-inspiring security.  

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 540mm 542mm
Seat Tube (ST) 515mm 515mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 378mm
Head Tube (HT) 140mm 140mm
Head Angle (HA) 72.5 72.4
Seat Angle (SA) 73 73
Wheelbase (WB) N/A 988mm
BB drop (BB) 68mm 68mm

Spec

Boardman Road Team Carbon
Frame C7 carbon frame, carbon fork
Groupset Shimano Tiagra
Brakes Tektro R540
Chainset FSA Gossamer, 50/34
Cassette Shimano HG500 (10-speed), 11-28
Bars Boardman, alloy
Stem Boardman, alloy
Seatpost Boardman, alloy, 31.6mm
Wheels Mavic CXP Elite, Vittoria Zafiro Pro 25c tyres
Saddle Boardman Road
Weight 8.68kg (S)
Contact boardman-bikes.com

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