Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Boardman Team Carbon 2011 Review

Boardman Team Carbon 2011 in action
Since launching his range of road bikes back around 2007, Chris Boardman has created a reputation for building well specced, good value road bikes.  Available exclusively via Halfords, Boardman was the darling of the Cycle to Work scheme fraternity, when it positioned a carbon bike at the magical £999 price point and Boardman continues to extend and develop the range.

Boardman has recently announced their 2011 range, which I've previously posted about here.  The PR people at Halfords asked me to take a look at the 2011 Road Team Carbon model, which comes in at £1299.  I'm pleased to do stuff like this, as I think it gives an additional view to the things you'll read in bike magazines, with a bit less of a technical emphasis.

Boardmans strategy for this bike looks clear.  Go with more branded components for the step up in price.  The 2010 model, launched at £999, but went up to £1299 towards the end of it's life, (I guess to help with the transition to the new model and then to help give a price shout to clear the old models).

Bike fully set-up and ready to ride
What stands out on the new model is that the groupset has been standarised (apart from the chainset) on Shimano 105 and the wheels have been improved to Mavic Aksium.   Both have quality reputations for rock solid reliability amongst roadies, so a good shout there.

The frame now boasts internal cabling routing aswell as a bladed downtube to reduce drag, so it's really on the money in terms of latest tech.  The colour scheme is nice and incorporates some of the latest looks, like painting the inside of the rear chainstays inside of the forks.  It's a visually appealing bike to look at.

Carbon Fork with Mavic Aksium Wheels
 I've run up a quick comparison table below which compares the key upgrades from the 2010 to the 2011 model.

Comparison Chart of 2010 vs. 2011 Model

A Fizic Arione saddle is a good shout and the new BB30 bottom bracket, certainly will add to bike performance and rigidity.  The Boardman designed seatpost absorbed the bumps well.

Fizik Arione with Carbon Post

The main comment I had was about the finish on the frame.  It was patchy and this was picked up on by nearly everyone that looked at the bike.  The previous 2010 model had a gloss finish to it, the 2011 model opting for the new matt black look.  There were obvious blemishes in the frameset, I'm sure that they will iron this out.  See pic below on the toptube, to see what I mean.

Blemishes in Finish
 The Ride

I took the bike out on a hilly sixty miler to test it out.  The route, which incorporated Swiss Hill, a nasty cobbled climb which features in the book - Top 100 climbs - took me out around Cheshire and up some decent drags and a couple of fast descents.  Overall around 2800ft of ascent.

I'm testing an XL size which has a 58.5cm top tube combined with a 130mm stem (full specs/geometry here under the geometry tab).  I'm 6ft 3inches tall and prefer a more relaxed sportive ride position rather than out and out racer, so I'd opt for a shorter stem as the cockpit felt quite large.

Depending on how your knee fits over the crankarm, you could also opt for a straight seat post, rather than the layback one supplied to adjust the cockpit position.  Those that prefer a more aggressive race stance on the bike, will have no complaints.
View from the Saddle

The bike handled really well.  Going up, it felt like the power was transferring easily.  Descending at speed, it was sure and steady.  The Fizik saddle was supportive and comfortable, the Shimano 105 groupset was spot on, each flick of the lever game a snappy response  - up and down the rear cassette and front chainrings.  If you want a little more capacity in the hills, perhaps opt for a 27 tooth rear cassette at some point in the future.  For an intermediate rider with some fitness, the 50/34  and 12/25 gear ratio will be fine.

Shimano 105 Groupset

A full carbon frame/fork/seatpost, Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels, make this a strong value for money bike which you shouldn't ignore.

You won't need to spend money upgrading components with this model - I know a lot of riders that upgraded the Ritchey wheels from the 2010 model -  no need with the Mavics and Conti tyre combination on the 2011 model.  Looking across the market, often manufacturers can short change you on things like wheels and tyres in this price bracket, so I think Boardman have done the right thing to go for a solid wheel in the Mavic Aksium.

The bike is comfortable to ride, gives you good road response and is great on the flat or the hills.  Boardman has read the market right here and developed a very good value for money bike.  The 2011 Boardman Team Carbon should definitely be on your consideration list in this price bracket. 

More Pictures

FSA Gossamer Pro compact

Inside Rear Chainstay Graphics

Continental Ultra Sport Tyres

Top Tube Graphics

1 comment:

  1. just got one im very happy with it, iv do 300miles very nice