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Review : Boardman SLR 9.8

The Bike

Boardman’s latest SLR road bike, which stands for “Superlight Racing” is no exaggeration or gimmick. First timers who get to hold the bike will be amazed by how ridiculously light it is. Perhaps what comes as no surprise is the major weight saving from the frame alone: the full carbon monocoque SLR frame weighs a feather light 798g for a medium size, an impressive reduction of 100g from its predecessor. 

Despite the weight-weenie pleasing frame statistics, the Boardman SLR frame has no rider weight limit unlike other brands, which usually indicate the rider weight limit for their superlight frames. The minimal paint finish also helps in reducing overall grams for the frame. Full internal cable routing also means that there will be no problems should the rider decide to upgrade to an electronic drive train in future.

The test model for this review, however, had some modifications to the original kit that came stock with the bike. Stock Boardman Elite Carbon 30mm clincher hoops were swapped out for a pair of Zipp 202 Firecrest carbon clinchers, matched with a pair of superfast Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires. The original Boardman Carbon seat post and Fizik Arione saddle were replaced with a Zipp SL Speed Carbon seat post and carbon railed San Marco Aspide Superleggera + Open saddle.

Full SRAM Red 22 Groupset on the SLR 9.8

Full SRAM Red 22 Groupset on the SLR 9.8

Equipped with SRAM’s top-of-the range Red 22 mechanical group set, the SLR 9.8 is way under the UCI legal weight limit of 6.8kg but it should not be much of an issue for weekend warriors, those with enjoy long round-island rides or even the occasional racer.

The Ride

Geometry-wise, the SLR 9.8 felt very similar to the SLS 9.8 (the latter has a slightly higher head tube). However, that’s probably where the similarity ends. The SLR is snappy and responsive with every pedal input: chunky box-section tubes help ensure no energy is lost when the power is laid down.

The Zippy (pun intended) 202s is a great match with the SLR, perfect for climbing with a weight at just shy of 1400g while the 32mm rim depth still offers some aerodynamic advantage. The SLR is truly designed for the rigors of bunch racing, responsive enough for any kinds of surges or accelerations the rider throws at it. Climbing enthusiasts will find the SLR a joy to ride given its excellent balance of low weight, high stiffness and good handling.

One thing to note though is the rather delicate-looking seat clamp so riders and mechanics should proceed with caution when adjusting the seat post and tightening the clamp.

Conclusion

Although Boardman may not have the pedigree of other more established bike brands, the performance of the SLR is top-notch, perhaps even more superior than some of the competitor bikes in the same category. Brand snobs may not apply but if you are a rider who is concerned about quality and performance, the Boardman SLR 9.8 definitely delivers the goods.

If you are a climbing specialist, the Boardman SLR is one of those bikes that should rank high on your list, given its combination of low weight, high stiffness and excellent handling characteristics.

Pros
-High performance climbing machine
– A good mix of low weight, high stiffness and good handling

Cons
-May not appeal to the brand conscious
-Fragile-looking seat clamp

Overall
-A serious contender in the race-ready category of climbing specific road bikes

Boardman SLR 9.8 3
This review originally appeared in Spin Asia Issue 37.

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