NEW BIKES

£2799.99 > Di2 for less than the rest

Cycling Plus - - CONTENTS -

Board­man’s Elite En­durance SLR 9.4, Rondo Ruut CF1, Van Nicholas Ske­iron, Ad­ven­ture Ostro and Pin­na­cle Arkose 3 ver­sus Norco Search A.

The Elite En­durance SLR is Board­man’s take on a sportive bike, with the em­pha­sis very much on the sport side of sportive. While 73-de­gree an­gles don’t stray far from the norm, a 581mm stack height [ver­ti­cal dis­tance be­tween the cen­tre of the bot­tom bracket and the head-tube] and 394mm reach [horizontal dis­tance be­tween the cen­tre of the bot­tom bracket and the head-tube] on our large, 58cm equiv­a­lent, test bike, mean the SLR is lower than most en­durance ma­chines while main­tain­ing a mid-length reach to the bar.

On the bike that trans­lates to a lower, faster ride po­si­tion, with the stan­dard 100mm stem, with­out feel­ing stretched. The han­dling feels won­der­fully

bal­anced and the bike per­fectly po­si­tioned un­der­neath you. What is also im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent is the lack of mass. With the SLR frame weigh­ing 850g and the com­plete bike just a touch over 7.5kg, the 9.4 is a light ride for the money.

That be­comes clear when the road rises; the ag­ile han­dling and the light weight of the SLR make it a for­mi­da­ble climber. The SLR5 wheels, at just over 1500g a pair, com­pare favourably with wheelsets found on sim­i­larly priced bikes.

The mod­ern, wide al­loy rims are built on to classy sealed car­tridge bear­ing hubs, the same as those on Board­man’s more ex­pen­sive car­bon wheels, us­ing proper butted stain­less steel spokes in a light­weight 20 front, 24 rear setup. The wider al­loy rim shapes the Vit­to­ria Corsa CX graphene-in­fused clincher tyre bril­liantly, mak­ing the most of what is one of the best clincher tyres around, pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent grip, sup­ple­ness and strength. Corsa CXs aren’t cheap by any stan­dards, so to see them as orig­i­nal equip­ment on a bike at this price is an­other feather in the SLR’s cap.

Add in a great sad­dle from Prol­ogo and a car­bon seat­post, and the Board­man looks even bet­ter. Fac­tor in Ul­te­gra Di2 gear­ing with its slick, di­rect and won­der­fully con­sis­tent shifts, plus Ul­te­gra brakes work­ing the al­loy rims per­fectly, me­chan­i­cally there is very lit­tle to fault on the SLR. That in­cludes the price. A sim­i­lar style and sim­i­larly equipped bike from Trek, Can­non­dale, Spe­cial­ized or even on­line spe­cial­ists such as Canyon, would be at least £500 more.

The sharp­ness of the SLR’s han­dling, tak­ing turns tight and mak­ing quick di­rec­tion changes, is won­der­fully ad­dic­tive. We found our­selves look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties to snap the bike into ac­tion, slalom­ing be­tween cat’s eyes and road paint. Any chance to flick the mil­lime­tre-over-a-me­tre wheel­base of the SLR into ac­tion was al­ways a thrill.

The ride feel is firm and con­fi­dently flex-free from side to side, but is never hard or harsh. There’s lit­tle in the way of fa­tigu­ing road vi­bra­tion ei­ther, but you do get a harder ride from the stiff al­loy bar than is ideal, and isn’t helped by the rather soft, thin foam-backed bar tape. An up­grade to bet­ter qual­ity tape, or even chang­ing to a car­bon bar, would make the Board­man sen­sa­tional rather than just bril­liant, and for the money that’s not a bad place to start.

Be­low In­ter­nal ca­ble rout­ing gives a clean look and im­proves air­flow Bot­tom The in­clu­sion of elec­tronic Ul­te­gra Di2 is great for a bike at this price

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