The Boardman SLR 9.2 is a quality endurance machine that incorporates a range of aero features to help cut through the air. These make it feel fast, although the disc brake version, for an extra £300, adds extra tyre width and mudguard mounts and might be a better option for all-season riding.
Aero features in an all-day riding bike
Quality ride: comfortable while still engaging
Narrower gear range than Ultegra can accommodate
Worth considering the disc-brake version
By Paul Norman
Boardman’s SLR range packs aero features in an endurance machine
It may look like an aero bike but the Boardman SLR 9.2 is actually part of Boardman’s endurance range. But with its own wind tunnel, Boardman has been able to hone the aerodynamics of the SLR range during the latest bike’s two year development programme making it fast and comfortable, and earning it a spot on our Editor's Choice list.
So the Boardman SLR 9.2 gets the truncated aerofoil tube profiles, aero section seatpost and dropped seatstays you’d expect to find on an aero bike, although Boardman has aimed for a bike that’s comfortable for all day riding.
The Boardman SLR 9 range starts off with the £1,500 SLR 9.0, with a lower grade carbon in its frame, and goes up to the £5,900 SLR 9.8 Disc, currently shown kitted out with 11-speed SRAM Red eTap HRD and Zipp 202 Firecrest wheels.
The SLR 9.2 Disc adds Ultegra disc brakes to the rim braked SLR 9.2 we’re testing here for a price increase to £2,300. Boardman also sells a women’s version of the SLR 9.2 and 9.2 Disc, with a Fizik Luce women’s saddle, narrower bar and shorter stem and cranks.
Below the SLR 9 series, Boardman sells 11 bikes in the lower-priced SLR 8 range in carbon and alloy with prices from £550, so there is a wide range of endurance bikes in the SLR stable with a broad price range.
Boardman SLR 9.2 spec
Boardman has kitted out the SLR 9.2 with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset. It provides the quality shifting that you’d expect on a bike at this price point. It has a compact 50/34 chainset, although that’s coupled to an 11-28 cassette. So you don’t get quite the range for steep hills that the latest iteration of Ultegra can accommodate – you can go up to 30 teeth with the short cage mech as fitted or 34 for the longer mech variant.
The SLR 9.2 comes with 25mm tyres, although the frame has plenty of clearance for wider tyres, with the disc brake SLR 9.2 coming specced with 28mm rubber. As usual, it’s the rim brake calipers that limit how wide a tyre can be fitted easily.
Boardman’s SLR Elite Seven wheels are robust but fairly low budget and alloy rimmed, with quite a shallow section. That makes them stable in gusty conditions, but means that you don’t garner the full benefits from the frameset’s aero features – they’re a good all-rounder training wheelset but ripe for an upgrade to something deeper and flashier.
They have round section straight pull spokes, laced radially on all but the rear wheel drive side, where they are laced two-crossed for better power transfer. They do come tubeless ready, although the Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres fitted are not designed to be run tubeless.
The cockpit is Boardman brand alloy, with a comfortable bar profile and wrapped with squishy, grippy tape.
Riding the Boardman SLR 9.2
The Boardman SLR 9.2 gives an engaging ride that’s stable without being too plush. With its light weight – 7.28kg is very reasonable for a bike at this price point – it climbed well through the ups and downs of the Chilterns and I did not feel the want of the lower gears that Ultegra can accommodate. On the flat, the aero features add an edge of speed to the ride and that’s true on descents too, with the steering feeling precise, without being edgy.
On a rainy ride, I felt the absence of disc brakes though, as the majority of bikes we are now testing come with them. Rim brakes mean that you need to ride that bit more cautiously, to ensure that you can control your speed in town and on descents in the wet. I also found that I was slipping the 25mm tyres slightly in the damp, something that I wouldn’t expect with the 28mm tyres fitted to the disc brake version of the SLR 9.2. But the Rubino Pro tyres feel fast in the dry and there’s some tread at the sides of the slick central section to keep any slip under control.
There’s a bit of road vibration transmitted through the rear triangle, although the skinny fork blades do a good job of soaking up road imperfections at the front end.
Boardman’s geometry is spot-on for a more racy endurance ride too. In contrast to some endurance bikes, you don’t feel too upright. It’s not so stretched out that it’s uncomfortable over longer rides, but you can still get low for faster riding into headwinds and good weight distribution when descending. There are plenty of spacers, which we slammed, so you can raise the bars by up to 3cm if you wish.
There’s also a good amount of extension of the carbon seatpost due to the sloping top tube, and you can swap the head position to give 0mm, 10mm or 20mm offset to fine tune your riding position.
Another aero feature: the seatpost clamp is recessed into the top tube, out of the wind, although to prevent slippage the bolt needs cranking up above the 6-8Nm recommended, or you need to use some carbon paste. And Boardman fits a quality Fizik Antares saddle. It’s a flat design that’s part way between the racier Arione and the more curvy Aliante and is a comfortable, if quite firm perch.
The Boardman SLR 9.2 gives you a well designed frameset with a light weight and a quality spec. It’s nice to see a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with neither the brakes nor the chainset swapped out, coupled to a name brand saddle on a carbon seatpost.
As tends to be the case in bikes at this price point, it’s the wheels that are robust and good for training miles but merit a swap out for a best day set to up the Boardman’s performance.
But for all-weather riding, we’d seriously consider finding the £300 extra for the disc brake version. With the more assured braking which discs give in mixed conditions, wider tyres which can be run at lower pressure and mudguard fixtures, it’s set up to go the distance come rain or shine.
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