The last Boardman bike I rode, a slick matt silver Team Carbon Fi, has been superseded by the women’s SLR range, first launched in 2019. The SLR has always set its goals on being “light, stiff, and comfortable” – a difficult trio to get right. However, like the Team Carbon before it, the SLR does manage to tick these boxes very well. Though ownership has passed on, Boardman is famous for having constructed its own wind tunnel at the Boardman Performance Centre. This frame has been aero optimised, and there are clear nods to drag reduction – such as the squarer, deeper tubing, dropped seat stays and hidden Seatpost clamp.
The SLR 8.9 certainly offers a streamlined feel, which is accentuated by a stiff bottom bracket. Certainly, when riding it I found that pushing through the pedals the transmission felt very efficient and the SLR 8.9 is responsive when going along a straight flat section of road.
While the dynamics of the bike aren’t quite in time trial territory you could get away with using the SLR 8.9 on your local 10-mile event, especially on a sporting course where dips and dives in the road can make a road bike a more natural choice.
The set-up was designed following extensive testing and research done at the former Boardman Performance centre. The bike was constructed using data from fittings by lead bike fit specialist, Bianca Broadbent. Designers used the numbers from hundreds of bike fits to finesse the geometry and the contact points. I note that the headset angle of the 2021 SLR is slightly shallower compared with the Team Carbon, and a steeper seat angle on the smaller sizes. These adjustments give rise to a shorter reach to the handlebars, and therefore a more upright position, meaning less strain in the lower back area when doing long rides such as cyclosportives. That said, with a stack and reach of 520mm/376mm on the size small, this is still a relatively racey geometry. It’s not a million miles off the 517mm/383mm of the pro-ready Specialized Tarmac SL7 in a comparable size 52, as an example. I didn’t feel overly stretched out at all on this frame, and there was plenty of compliance built-in. I can see it being a happy companion for a long sportive.
Clearance has been an area of focus with the SLR 8.9. With wider tyres increasing in popularity, the brand has ensured this model can accommodate 28mm tyres, and the decreased head angle mentioned above allows decent toe clearance when the SLR 8.9 is fitted with mudguards.
The cables are neatly tucked away, diving into the frame at the downtube. However, they’re not tidied into the handlebar itself as per some very high end, integrated bikes – this might look a little bit messier, but it does make maintenance considerably easier.
The two-piece bar and stem are also easier to work with and make adjusting these components much more user friendly, too. Featuring a standard diameter 27.2mm seatpost also makes replacement easy should you choose to make a swap at a later date.
The SLR includes some good quality components for its price point, notably having a full carbon fibre frame and forks with the Shimano 105 groupset. It has a neat finish with internally routed cables and cool paintwork if looking stylish is your thing. Finally, the frame is specially designed to be versatile enough to ride the SLR 8.9 in different settings while providing comfort.