If this is an ‘entry level’ carbon bike then I can only dream of how one of the high-end, top spec carbon machines must perform. I could be dreaming for some time too, as the Boardman Team Carbon is my first taste of carbon.
I have been riding predominantly fixed, ranging from a Cinelli Vigorelli track bike to much heavier steel steed, so after clipping into the Boardman for the first time, it felt like a different beast. On first inspection the Team Carbon isn’t lacking in the looks department, with the aero downtube and clean lines complemented by splash of colour on the inside of the forks and the chainstays, providing an interesting contrast against the matt black finish.
Aside from the obvious differences – 20 gears and a freewheel – the bike feels so responsive in comparison to anything else I have ever ridden in the past and, at 18.2 lbs, holds its own for anyone looking for an ‘out of the box’ carbon ride in this price range. After a handful of laps of Regents Park – a popular training ground for London cyclists – and a weekend excursion in Norfolk, the Team Carbon offers a stiff, stable and, most importantly, confidence-inspiring ride, while the Shimano 105 groupset helped ease my conversion from fixed.
One of the greatest pleasures of riding fixed has been the simplicity and smoothness you get from a single-geared bike – and this is something that has put me off riding road bikes in the past. However, my experience on the Boardman has been nothing of the clattering cassette and cables that I feared. Instead, it’s still super smooth and quiet, with no rattles or snags to be heard. In fact, the sharp braking and swift gear changes bring a new dimension to my riding.
Riding clipless, however, is another matter, although I haven’t made the graceful sideways descent to the Tarmac at the lights yet – but I have had a couple of close calls that evoke that hot feeling you get before your about to make a complete idiot of yourself in front of a crowded pedestrian crossing.
The Team Carbon comes with a £300 price hike on last year’s model, which sees it move out of reach of the Cycle to Work scheme at £1,299.99. Is it worth the extra money? Yes, you end up with a lot more bike for your cash, with an improved spec that includes a Mavic Aksium wheelset, Continental Ultra Sport tyres, Fizik Arione perch, internal cable routing and an FSA Gossamer Pro compact chainset with BB30.
All in all, the Team Carbon, which retails exclusively through Halfords, has made my transition from fixie skidder to a road bike aficionado a breeze and I have, so far at least, enjoyed every mile of it. For someone like me, dipping their toe into road riding, it makes for an ideal companion.