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Boardman SLR 9.2 Disc - Cycling Plus


Boardman has always been a brand that upsets the apple cart with a range of technically advanced designs that are also very well priced. The latest generation of bike from Boardman uses knowledge learned from previous SLR designs, as well as the current cutting-edge thinking from the biggest brands – all wrapped up in a package that, while it is the cheapest on test, is not the cheapest equipped.

The C10 SLR frameset used here blends a mix of modulus fibres. The stiffest carbon is reserved for the oversize bottom bracket and head-tube to aid with power transfer and handling. The chassis has a purposeful look to it, blending a Kammtail-shaped down-tube and seat-tube like the Tifosi, Ribble and Dolan. A Kammtail shape is a tube with a truncated airfoil; its shape ‘cheats’ the air into believing that the tail is still there (which is very aerodynamic) so it acts in a controlled manner and doesn’t create a disruptive ‘wake’ like a round tube would, which means more aero drag. These aero tubes are in contrast with chunky, squared tapered chainstays and a square profile top-tube.

The fork is wide-legged but very slender in profile and this, along with the dramatically dropped seat stays, gives the SLR a bit of a BMC air about it. With a claimed weight of just 900g for the frame, the C10 SLR is competitively light. Boardman should be congratulated for including so much tech at the price, but we congratulate them more for taking all of this CFD-derived aero trickery and smart, carbon consideration, yet still thinking about the end-user. You see, the SLR has a smart trick up its sleeve: hidden mudguard mounts both front and rear. Chris hasn’t forgotten the pain of being a cyclist in the British winter.

For the money, the 9.2 is extremely well equipped. When you look at bikes around the two grand mark, it’s pretty much Shimano 105 across the board. On the 9.2, however, you get full-fat, unadulterated Ultegra – and that even includes the premium Ice Tech disc rotors (in our preferred 160mm front and 140mm rear combination). Add in that a classy Fizik Antares saddle, Vittoria Rubino Pro 28c tyres and some decent own-brand wheels in the form of the SLR Elite 5’s; both rolled smoothly and felt light throughout our testing and didn’t give me a moment of drama. I don’t doubt the sub 1700g claimed raw weigh for these hoops as the SLR tips the scales at an impressively light (for the money) 8.45kg on my large test bike, making it the second lightest bike on test.

On the road, the SLR has plenty of character. The stack is low (584mm) and the reach in long (391mm). With proven racy angles of parallel 73 degrees and a short wheelbase of just 6mm over the meter, it’s a sharp, nimble companion. Get out of the saddle and sprint, and the SLR responds with a rigid, unforgiving response with n side-to-side flex when you’re really hammering. That also proves itself when you start to climb, sitting in and spinning on the well-chosen gearing (50/34, 11-30) feels positive, but get out of the saddle to up your pace and cadence and the SLR responds with real vigour.

Like most of its rivals here (bar the smooth steel Genesis), the SLR is a firm ride. Over broken surfaces, it can be a little ‘choppy’, but here Boardman has been clever in speccing 28c tyres, which you can run race firm and get the benefit of low rolling resistance. When the road surface remains rough, you can drop the Psi a little and enjoy plenty more comfort. I do have a few niggles. The chunky box section chainstays, which are asymmetric, meant that I occasionally scrubbed the heel of my shoe, slightly polishing the chainstay finish. I found the alloy bar a little firm and slim with the nicely sticky rubbery bar tape a touch on the thin side. But these are very minor niggles with what is a good-value bike at the performance end of the endurance spectrum.

VERDICT

“Boardman should be congratulated for including so much tech at this price” “Boardman’s reputation for value and performance continues.” - It’s quick to turn and accelerate, and it doesn’t beat you up over big distances… and it’s good value.

4.5/5

GROUP TEST WINNER

“It’s been a struggle to pick a champ in this test. But needs must, and a winner has to be chosen so the keeper of the gong this issue is Boardman’s SLR 9.2 Disc. It balances everything this tester like about a bike: it’s quick to turn and accelerate, and it doesn’t beat you up over big distances and, most importantly, it’s damn good value to boot.

In a world of tech-laden bikes from the new world that puts Europe’s heritage in racing in the background, it’s easy to forget the here in the UK we still have a buzzing bike scene. What’s most encouraging, however, is just how good this collection of British bikes is. In the tester’s humble opinion, these five are good enough to take on bikes from the biggest brands the world over; and in these uncertain times, that’s a real positive.

Cycling Plus Magazine August 2019