It looks great, it's well priced, and it rides beautifully — the Boardman Performance Comp is a fine road bike for almost everybody. Add a bit of judicious upgrading, and you've got a bike for life.
Slightly over-geared on some climbs compared to similar bikes
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Boardman Bikes' products need no introduction, and most people who swing a leg over one have only good things to say about the products — the blend of sensible geometry, tube shapes, spec, and pricing seemingly able to tick almost everyone’s boxes.
One thing we would never have said about Boardman bikes, though, is that they broke new ground in terms of appearance. But with the Boardman Performance Comp that prejudice has to be re-evaluated. This bike looks absolutely stunning. The finish is officially called 'fluid platinum', and combined with the rather cool decals, it is visually amazing. No matter how it rides, Boardman has one of the best-looking bikes at this price point.
Boardman bikes: the range explained
Get away from the blinging colour, though, and there’s more to be impressed by. There’s a splosh of through-frame cable routing for the rear brake. There’s a nice selection of rounded tubes. And particular highlights in terms of aesthetics are the areas where tubes meet: the junctions at the head tube and seat tube top are as fine a bit of bike building as you’ll find on any mass-produced aluminium cycle.
Ready for anything
But enough ogling, let’s get riding and the Boardman seems eager to please from the off. The frame is a lively little number, urging to push on at speed from the start. It’s very responsive too, both in terms of direction changes and reacting to effort input. On smooth and flat surfaces it’s as cool as you like, but even over less impressive surfaces it feels more forgiving than most similar bikes.
Hit a hill, though, and things change just a little. The Boardman’s 28t rear sprocket is big, but it doesn’t offer quite as much ‘sit and spin’ potential on the steepest stuff as bikes with a 32-tooth option. That’s possibly more noticeable because the rest of the bike is so eager and you feel you should be pushing on, while other bikes at this price point seem suited to sitting up and spinning. It goes to show the tooth fairy isn’t the only one who has to pay for lost teeth.
That climbing confusion wasn’t helped by the Vittoria Zaffiro tyres. We tested the Boardman Performance Comp on a cool, damp — but not raining — day, with a little bit of road moisture under the treeline. While other tyres wouldn’t miss a beat, the Vittorias span out and lost traction. Meanwhile the total weight of 9.7kg isn’t a problem, but it’s not exactly anything to write home about either.
Show and go
However, let’s not focus too much on those complaints, because the rest of the bike lives up to the incredible visuals. The Shimano Sora nine-speed gearset is certainly efficient enough, and you get nine sprockets at the back to play with. The Tektro brakes are a jump ahead of unbranded stoppers specced on many bikes costing the same, meaning you can really get your head down without worry when the road drops. Indeed, the overall feeling of the bike is one of being happy at speed.
This is a grown-up bike — it is going to appeal to people who have been riding for years, not just newbies. There’s enough ability in the frame for experienced riders to really test their bike control skills and push a little further than many rivals would allow. In fact, don’t look at the price and assume this will be a fine winter or second bike — it’s a fine bike for all year round.
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