By Simon Smythe published
Boardman has added to its premium 9 series range with the all-new, full carbon, Shimano GRX-equipped, ADV 9.0 adventure bike, which will retail at £1,700.
The original ADV 9.0 was released in 2018 and it was a very different animal, a “650b singletrack brawler,” in the words of Matt Dowler, Boardman product manager, with 50mm tyres built around an alloy frame. It was clearly aimed at tackling more rugged terrain – but possibly strayed too far into mtb territory.
“We loved smashing round forests and mtb trail centres on the original ADV 9.0,” said Dowler, “but to be honest, our MHT hardtails are a better option for most people when things get that rough off-road. It wasn’t exactly fast on the tarmac either, so for 2021 it was back to the drawing board, taking what we’d learnt with the old 9.0 to recalibrate the new version for versatility and real-world multi-use fun.”
High-modulus carbon, bigger wheels
The two most obvious changes are in frame material and wheel size. The new 9 series bike uses Boardman’s high-modulus C10 carbon lay-up in a frame with a painted weight of 990g (medium) with a 420g carbon fork. The 650b wheels and 50mm tyres of its predecessor have been replaced with 700C and 38mm multi-terrain tyres, intended to supply as much efficiency on the road as off it.
The Boardman team say the profiles of the flattened, bow-curved seatstays combine with a D-shaped lower seat tube to allow for a small degree of vertical flex at the rear axle and saddle, absorbing bumps and broken surfaces.
As well as compliance, improving pedalling efficiency was also high on the wish list, and the 9.0 uses a substantially oversized bottom bracket.
Balanced frame geometry
The frame geometry is designed to balance the need for stability and control on loose surfaces without compromising too much on speed on the tarmac sections, which are part of any UK gravel adventure. Slack head angles, long top tubes and a low bottom bracket aim to deliver stability, but also supply an efficient road position. Shortened stems across the sizes ensure handling remains on the agile side of neutral.
Shimano GRX 2x11 groupset
The ADV 9.0 uses Shimano’s GRX groupset in a 2x11 RX600/RX810 set up. With a 46/30 tooth chainset and an 11-32 tooth cassette, there’s the same low gear as a 1X option, but with a much higher top end for fast gravel and road efforts. It also offers smaller gaps between gears, handy on a mixed-use bike or when loaded with kit. The 160mm rotors front and rear provide plenty of stopping power and modulation.
Tubeless-ready own-brand rims
The wheels are Boardman’s own, built to a custom specification with 28H sealed-bearing thru-axle hubs front and rear and Sapim Race spokes laced to alloy rims with a 20mm internal width. The rims come taped ready for a tubeless set-up, with valves supplied in the box, so all the customer has to do is add sealant. The tyres themselves are 700x38C Panaracer GravelKing SKs, which are specced to strike a balance between low rolling resistance on smooth surfaces and high grip on looser terrain.
The cockpit is all alloy, with stems starting at 80mm on the small, and increasing by 10mm increments to 110mm on the XL. A 6° flared handlebar starts at 400mm wide, going up to 440mm. Boardman says everything on this bike is chosen for its ability to mix duties, in this case technical control in the drops without compromising in-line aerodynamic efficiency on the faster road sections.
Boardman soft-touch tape and a wide Prologo Akero AGX saddle complete the contact points.
James Ryan, Boardman brand and design manager said: “For our new flagship adventure model, we wanted the bike to do two things. First and foremost to deliver against its original brief to create a bike that blends speed, comfort and control across almost any surface. Secondly, to demonstrate and further reinforce what Boardman stands for as a brand, by delivering exceptional performance and quality that you would usually expect to see coming with a much bigger price tag."
The size large ADV 9.0 (suitable for riders 181cm-189cm) is available now from Halfords and Tredz, with small, medium and extra large stock landing in December.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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