BOARDMAN Team Carbon 2010, £999.99, www.boardmanbikes.com
Those of you who follow product development will know that Boardman — owned by Olympic and triple World Champion, and World Record holder, Chris Boardman MBE — teamed up with Halfords a few years ago to launch a range of bikes. Boardman is a separate company to Halfords (a common misconception) reponsible for designing and producing the bikes, while the retail giant retains an exclusive distribution deal for the brand. The range has been almost universally lauded since its debut, so here we decided to test the sub-£1k Team Carbon which sneaks into the picture for most Cycle2Work schemes.
Straight from the box you notice three things: its weight, looks and frame detailing. But as weight-watchers salivate over the meagre 8kg (medium size) and aesthetes nod admiringly at its sleek lines, the tech-savvy will appreciate what really makes this bike special: the frameset. Constructed from an ultra-light unidirectional carbon fibre monocoque — and twinned with a matching fork — it features oversized box-section chainstays, aerodynamically-shaped down-tube and oversized bottom bracket; it’s stiff (where it matters), responsive and cuts through wind like the Batmobile. Put the hammer down and it accelerates beautifully and effortlessly; you get a jump on everyone from the lights.
Those with a keen eye will notice the tapered head-tube, hiding a tapered fork steerer and 1.5in lower headset bearing, which not only strengthens that whole area but provides crisp, positive steering. It truly is a classy piece of kit — hardly surprising as it’s essentially the same frame that Nicole Cooke rode to Olympic gold in Beijing.
There’s little skimping on the components package either. Other than the chain and cassette, the entire transmission comes from the SRAM Rival stable, Ritchey supplies the finishing kit (minus the saddle) and Continental the race treads. The gearing is more than sufficient for the London area, indeed you’ll only find yourself slipping out of the big ring if you live in the hilllier boroughs.
On long outings there’s so much compliance in the frame that your body doesn’t feel like it’s been through the grinder afterwards, making it a great choice for sportive newbies as well as commuters. It’s so nimble that bunny-hopping over unseen road debris or hazards is a cinch.
Very rarely do you find a bike that you’ll want to leave wholly untweaked, but my only changes have been purely for personal preference — swapping to a slightly shorter stem and firmer saddle — so it’s hard to recommend this bike highly enough. With Boardman’s B56 ‘secret squirrel’ project promising further refinement to the range, and considering there’s a standard two-year warranty on all frames, it’s a lot more bike than you should rightfully expect for this money. If we gave ratings, it would get top marks.