Boardman Bikes have developed a reputation for offering plenty of bang for your buck but this, the Pro Carbon SLR, looks – on paper – superb value for money even by the British brand’s standards.
The Pro Carbon SLR is the top-of-the-range machine in the new Performance Series range of bikes sold through Halfords. Step up a level and you have the Elite Series, revamped for model year 2014 and available through Boardman’s independent dealer network.
The Pro Carbon SLR takes its inspiration from the existing SLR – that stands for Superlight Racing – and combines an aggressive frame with a Shimano Ultegra groupset for £1,799.99.
The frame, available in ‘pearlescent white’ only, is made from Toray T700 carbon fibre for a claimed weight of 980g. A carbon fibre fork slots into the 1-1/8″-1-1/2″ tapered headtube and all cables run internally.
The Pro Carbon SLR shares the box-section downtube – optimised, Boardman say, for “lightweight, stiffness and strength” – and oversized chainstays and PressFit bottom bracket – “for maximised power transfer and strength” – of the SLR 9.2 which impressed us when reviewed in September 2012.
We called the SLR 9.2 “an incredibly efficient machine for the rider willing to sacrifice some comfort for speed”. Boardman say the Pro Carbon SLR’s narrow seatstays have been designed to build some comfort into the back end and we’ll see whether that’s the case.
The biggest clue as to the Pro Carbon SLR’s intended use is the aggressive geometry. In short, it’s low and aggressive, with our medium sample having a 55.5cm toptube and a tiny 14cm headtube. Matching 73 degree head and seattube angles also contribute to the racy geometry.
It’s the most aggressive geometry of bikes in the Performance Series range. Step down a level and the Shimano 105-equipped Pro Carbon in a corresponding size adds 2cm to the headtube, as does the all-new Superlight Sportive frame platform in the upscale Elite Series collection.
Back to the Pro Carbon SLR, however. The frame wears Shimano’s full, 11-speed Ultegra groupset in its entirety: shifters, front mech, rear mech, brakes, chainset, cassette, chain – and wheels. Top marks to Boardman for including the full groupset, with no concessions, at this price.
The wheels in themselves are an impressive addition to the spec sheet: tubeless-compatible with a wide-flange hub for improved stiffness, tool-free adjustment, a 1,640g claimed weight and, we hope, Shimano’s dependable build quality. The wheels are wrapped in Continental’s 23mm Ultra Sport tyres and we expect an early change to a racier rubber to be a worthwhile upgrade.
The chainset and cassette also give a clear hint as to the Pro Carbon SLR’s race-ready persona, with a ‘standard’ 50-39t chainset combined with an aggressive 11-25t cassette for a rider with a fast mind and strong legs.
Otherwise, Boardman’s own-brand E4P finishing kit – that’s Engineered for Performance in marketing speak – completes the build. It’s standard stuff, with an aluminium handlebar (42cm wide on our medium test bike) and stem (11cm long), and a carbon fibre seatpost. A Fizik Ardea saddle completes the build for an all-up claimed weight of 7.55kg.
We’ll be riding the Boardman Pro Carbon SLR over the weeks ahead so check back for a full review.