Our full test of Boardman's Endurance ride
Boasting the involvement and know-how of its famous namesake, Boardman Bikes has proliferated over recent years to the point where it now produces eight separate ranges of bikes.
Released in 2016 with a fresher look, the new machines look more purposeful than ever — none more so than the SLR models, which are designed to offer comfort on day-long outings without too much compromise when it comes to fast, focused riding.
This particular model began the year with a £2,699 srp which represented value enough. Since then, and following a price restructure, that has been dropped to an incredibly competitive £1,999.
The SLR’s predominantly white colour scheme doesn’t really do justice to the frame’s clean, sleek lines — or indeed the bike as a whole.
Beyond the paintwork though, the carbon frame is a serious piece of kit that is used as far up the range as the £8,499 flagship model. With a claimed 850g weight, the Superlight moniker is no idle boast, while pressfit BB and tapered headset deal with the stiffness factor.
The SLR tips a hat in the direction of all-day comfort in terms of geometry — as you’d expect, given its ‘Endurance’ tag — but goes little further than that.
The 56cm stack and 39cm reach on our medium bike didn’t make for an aggressive stance, but it was no sit-up-and-beg shopper either.
The spec is where the SLR 9.2 punches well above the weight of its price. Shimano Dura-Ace on a sub-£2 grand bike anyone? Admittedly, you don’t get the whole groupset — far from it — but the shifters and mechs are all there so you know you’re getting pro-level gear changing.
Thankfully, and to its credit, Boardman hasn’t filled in the gaps with budget parts. The brake calipers and the compact (50×34) chainset come from FSA’s premium SLK line. It’s nice-looking kit, and the latter’s chunky carbon four-arm spider really does prove an aesthetic rival for its Dura-Ace counterpart.
Riders might baulk slightly at the wheelset. An in-house item, the Boardman SLR Elite Fives don’t exactly boast the cachet of, say, Mavic Ksyriums, but this bike was never going to feature those at this price anyway. Instead, Boardman has designed these wheels from the ground up, and they come in at an impressive sub-1,600g.
The SLR is finished off nicely with Boardman’s Elite alloy bar and stem up front, coupled with Prologo Nago Evo saddle perched atop a Boardman SLR Carbon 20 seatpost.
It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to hear that this is a rewarding bike to ride. The frame is supremely versatile, the components are among the best money can buy, and the weight is impressively low.
It’s an equation that may not always amount to a brilliant bike but it’s a good place to start, and in the SLR 9.2’s case it really does result in a great-riding package.
As you’d expect from the Endurance moniker, the frame offers all-day comfort without being spaghetti-flexy, and the moderate front end height allows for a racy position when you want it but without that ‘medieval rack’ feeling.
As expected, the Dura-Ace gears performed superbly; a light flick was all that was needed to skip accurately across sprockets and even chainrings.
The revelation, perhaps, were the FSA SLK calipers. Where so many brands struggle to emulate the much lauded performance of Shimano’s high-end items, they’ve met their match here in terms of power and modulation.
At a shade under £2,000, it’s impossible to deny the value of the SLR Endurance 9.2. It was good to start with at £2,699, but with the reduction in price the swingtag becomes one of this bike’s most striking attributes.
In a top trumps of groupsets, the Boardman beats even the equivalently priced Endurace CF from Canyon, whose direct marketing model has made it the brand to beat when it comes to saving the pennies.
A full Dura-Ace groupset would increase its appeal, but would make it less affordable, and aesthetics aside, there’s no real-world disadvantage to the Shimano/FSA combo featured here.
The SLR 9.2 is indubitably a great bike to ride. In terms of value and pure functional ability it’s difficult to fault. It accelerates fast, handles well, stops brilliantly, and yet I couldn’t fall for it. It’s a subjective assessment that some might deem unfair — but surely a two grand best bike is as much an object of desire as a means of transport? It was nothing to do with the Boardman brand name, which some consider rather worthy and unsexy, more to do with what felt like a bit of a jumble of admittedly excellent parts, a staid wheel and tyre combo and a rather unflattering paintjob. If these are things that don’t bother you — or you disagree with me about — I’d say buy this bike.