Wednesday, 5 October 2016

New Bike - Boardman Team Carbon Review

09/10/2016 - Having owned a Carrera Virtuoso since 2013 it was time for an upgrade. Now don't get me wrong the Carrera has been a brilliant first "proper" road bike. Three years of faultless riding, triathlons, sportives and some long rides where it's never let me down and always performed has given me a lot of respect for the Carrera. If you have a limited budget I think you'd find it hard to find a nicer bike for the money.All that aside I wanted to move to carbon and the Cycle2work scheme meant I had a £1000 to spend so the Carrera was going to be relegated to a winter hack.

Carrera - sweet first ride
So what to buy. Well the £1000 budget was going to limit the field if I was going to go for carbon, and I was because I wanted carbon damn it! I had a few weeks after applying for the vouchers to look for something. The bike I fancied, a Specialised Roubaix, was well outside my budget and there was no way I was going to be given permission by the sensible one in my marriage to spend more than £1000. In the end based on a whole list of things from looks, components, availability and of course price I eventually narrowed it to two bikes. A Boardman Team Carbon or a Focus Cayo Tiagra. After a lot of googling the Boardman was coming out on top in the review stakes and coupled with the very upgrade-able frame and that the price had dropped at Halfords to £799 it was a clear winner.

New Boardman Team Carbon
Decision made, voucher received it was off to Halfords. I ordered the bike, spent the difference (£200) on accessories and left a happy man. Two days later I get the call to pick the bike and accessories up. Best not go into the collection process as it's an hour of my life that I'll not get back unlike the £1000 that was incorrectly charged to my Connect card which I did get back only after it had put my account into the red. Anyway got the bike home, popped off the supplied caged pedals and put on my Shimano SPL's, adjusted the seat height, removed the wheel reflectors, pooped on my new Lezyne lights and gave it a kiss. Sadly the first ride would have to wait as I was off to Birmingham for the weekend.

Eventually it became first ride day, well evening. Kitted out in my new gear (|Boardman jacket, Boradman Helmet, Boradman gloves - went a bit Boardman crazy) I set off. First thing I noticed was the geometry, knees much closer to the handlebars than on the Carrera and I felt taller on the bike. It really suited me being in the drops, which is where I prefer to be so that was good. Second thing I noticed was that it was jumping out of gear. Another Halfords set-up success. So off the bike,a quick visual and the rear deraillier looks miss-aligned so give the adjuster a quarter turn. Better but still not quite there so another quarter turn. That seems much better but a few miles down the road it's obvious it needs a bit more. Another quarter turn seems to have it. After 25 miles it still not perfect. So next day off out again, still not quite right so another 1/4 turn on the adjuster and bang, I've found the sweet spot. Off I ride for another 25 miles of faultless gear changes.

So after 50 miles of cycling what's my feeling on the bike?


The pictures don't do it justice. It looks class in the flesh. I was not sure if I'd like it until I saw it for real and I know looks are subjective but I love it. 


Seems to fit me especially when down in the drops, comfortable from the get go and after a medium distance ride.


Well the Carrera had Sora gearing which to be honest are OK as long as you look after them but the Tiagra's were definitely smoother (once correctly set-up) and very confidence inspiring - I like them.


Very good if a little sharp, I'll change the pads to a softer compound as I feel that will give me more progressive braking. 


Compared to the Carrera, which is in no way a heavy bike, for someone with my limited experience it feels it's as light as a feather. From review and speaking to friends who are much, much more experienced at this sort of thing than me it's a frame that will allow me to upgrade the components when and if I want to.


This is where I really found the biggest difference between the Boardman and the Carrera. The ride was so much more comfortable on the Boardman, the frame softening the bumps in the road and giving a much less jarring ride than the Carrera on poor roads. 

The Boardman's lightness and the gearing making climbs considerably easier and it accelerates much quicker than the Carrera. This showed itself when at the end of the first ride, without trying and the initial gearing issues, I'd stuck 1 mph on my normal average for a gentle ride out. I also pushed it on one climb and one straight as comparisons and in both cases I set PB's that blew my previous PB's for the same sections on the Carrera. 

One thing though is that it is much "twitchier" than the Carrera. Any body movements on the bike translated into a much bigger effect on the bike than the Carrera - I nearly veered off the road and rode into a bush just because I looked down at the chain. I'm over cooking it in the corners at the moment as well as the Boardman steers in so much quicker than the Carrera. I'll get there.


I love it. I bought it as an upgrade to the Carrera and it is. Now for the money the Carrera is a cracking little bike but the Boardman feels like an upgrade in every department. The only other bike I have to compare it with is the Cannondale I rented in France which I rode for 4 days in the Alps. The Boardman is better. I can only see me upgrading it over the years not replacing it and I can't wait to do some serious miles on it and show it off to my mates, most of which really could not give a shit.

I just need a hybrid now, and a cyclocross and and mountain bike and ...............

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