£2799.99 > Di2 for less than the rest
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