AiR TT 9.8

Th is kona win­ner isn’t board­man’s very lat­est tt bike but th e ride’s st ill fresh

Triathlon Plus - - Aero Road Bikes - Board­man­bikes.com

he only proven Iron­man win­ner here, the quiet, ef­fi­cient longdis­tance speed of Board­man’s AiR 9.8TT is an out­stand­ing op­tion for any level of ath­lete. To high­light their frame­set- only op­tion, Board­man sent us a cus­tom build based on SRAM’s 22-speed Force set-up rather than a com­plete bike from their four-strong range.

Frame and fork

While the AiR/ TT has been su­per­seded by the TTE frame with its in­te­grated front end and stem it’s still one of our bench­mark bikes for easy, ef­fi­cient speed. The most dis­tinc­tive el­e­ment is the front fork which uses a broad crown to com­pletely hide the Tek­tro V-brakes from air­flow. It cer­tainly looks clean too although even a con­ven­tional wheel can only be re­moved if you de­flate the tyre, which is a right pain, and fit­ting a fat rim needs care. The rear brake is tucked un­der the chain­stay too, but that’s not re­stric­tive even with short rear-fac­ing dropouts. The short head-tube means it’s re­ally easy to get low while the seat­post clamp is flush fit­ted with a rub­ber grom­met seal­ing the top. An over­sized BB30 bot­tom bracket, ta­pered head-tube and deep chain­stays keep things stiff at all the im­por­tant points while a flat top-tube and skinny stays feed in flex where it’s wel­come.

The kit

Our bike was built up to show what kind of ma­chine your lo­cal Board­man Elite dealer could put to­gether on the frame-only op­tion. SRAM Force is light, pos­i­tive and we love the broad R2C levers, but de­spite the BB30 axle the car­bon chain­set doesn’t feel as stiff as Ul­te­gra. The Vi­sion cock­pit is comfy, but heavy com­pared to bolted rather than tele­scopic ex­ten­sions. There are more aero wheels than the Mav­ics for sim­i­lar money too but the Conti tyres are our all-round favourites.

The ride

The Board­man is no­tice­ably smoother and qui­eter on the road straight away, with the rougher sec­tions of our test loop feel­ing more muted through all con­tact points. The sub­tly sprung Vi­sion com­pos­ite arm pads help in a tuck, but there’s none of the chat­ter through the ped­als that rigid ma­chines trans­mit.

Even as speed in­creases – which it does very eas­ily – there’s a real quiet­ness about the bike that ac­tu­ally feels slow un­til you re­alise there’s a lot more noise rush­ing through your hel­met vents than you’d ex­pect. Test­ing time splits and GPS checks con­firmed the hel­met noise as the true in­di­ca­tor not the bike quiet­ness and the Board­man cruised as fast as the other bikes. There’s a slight sense of flex from the SRAM Force cranks com­pared to the so­lid­ity of Ul­te­gra and it doesn’t feel quite as di­rect through the ped­als as the stiffest bikes here. There’s no wheel rub out of the sad­dle though and it holds trac­tion re­ally well when climb­ing on bro­ken sur­faces. Once you’ve got your head around the almost dis­ap­point­ing lack of speed sen­sa­tion, the smooth­ness pays big­ger and big­ger div­i­dends the fur­ther and longer you ride.

The nat­u­ral rid­ing po­si­tion of the AiR TT am­pli­fies the aero­dy­namic gain of the frame too. The rel­a­tively long and low (for its seat-tube length) po­si­tion of the Board­man shouldn’t sur­prise those rid­ers who re­mem­ber the way Chris Board­man rode. If you’re in any doubt, get onto Google images and find the shots of him scream­ing round track bank­ing or record­ing the fastest ever open­ing stage of the Tour De France with his knees pretty much skimming

(Spec shown not as tested) Size tested: M

Board­man’s bikes are great value, but its frame op­tions mean you can build your per­fect bike at a good price too

The AiR 9.8 TT still uses a con­ven­tional stem but it’s low enough for easy speed po­si­tion­ing

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