This article first appeared on Bikeradar.com
Boardman Bikes launched its 2011 range in London last week and the big news is the new Elite Series, comprising the AiR (Aerodynamic Racing) and SLR (Superlight Racing) road bikes and EM (Elite Mountain) mountain bikes.
We were shown six bikes from the Boardman Elite Series, all with full carbon fibre frames: the aero AiR 9.4 with Shimano Dura-Ace and deep carbon wheels (£3,299.99); AiR 9.2 with Shimano Ultegra and semi-deep carbon wheels (£2,299.99); the 6.4kg SLR 9.4 with SRAM Red (£3,299.99); SLR 9.2 with SRAM Force (£2,499.99); EM1.5 hardtail mountain bike with SRAM XX (£3,499.99); and the EM1.0 trail bike with SRAM X0 (£2,499.99).
All very competitive prices for range topping-bikes – something for which Boardman is already well known. The £1,799 Road Pro Carbon, which we previewed recently and is based on the aero road frame, will be part of the Boardman Performance Series.
There will also be more additions to the Elite Series, although prices have yet to be confirmed: the AiR/9.8 with SRAM Red and Zipp 404 wheels (ridden by pro triathletes Alistair and Johnny Brownlee), AiR/9.0 with Shimano Ultegra and Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels (available only outside the UK), AiR/TT revamped time trial machine, SLR/9.8 with SRAM Red and Zipp 202 (which promises to be even lighter than the SLR/9.4), SLR/9.0 with SRAM Force and Ksyrium Equipe wheels (also non-UK), and the EM/1.7 mountain bike with SRAM XX and a Rock Shox SID World Cup XX fork.
The Elite Series will be sold in the UK via selected (less than a dozen) Halfords stores and a handful of independent bike dealers, who are currently being finalised. They'll be available in summer 2011 and we'll post more details when we have them.
Boardman Bikes is also sponsoring the United HealthCare presented by Maxxis pro road team in the US with a view to expanding into that market. At the time of their UK launch, prices and distribution were being confirmed but again, we'll have details when they're finalised.
The AiR (Aerodynamic Racing) frame was born out of the successful AiR time trial frame, and has been a couple of years in development. The smooth, rounded tube shapes have been designed to work in what Andy Smallwood, director of operations, terms "real world road use". That is, up to 20 degrees of yaw (effective wind angle to the rider). Thus it's a frame that's suited to road racing, time trials and triathlons.
There's no high weight penalty for the aero frame either: a size L is said to weigh just 2.65lb (1,200g) and complete bikes weigh between 16.2lb (7.35kg) and 16.5lb (7.5kg). A tapered head tube should help with the front end handling, all the cable routing is internal, and the fork is optimised to work with deep section wheels: the inside is flat to help reduce turbulence while the outside is curved to improve airflow.
As with the other Elite Series frames, the bottom bracket and chainstays are a one-piece design, which Boardman says – based on finite element analysis – will improve stiffness in that area. The chainstays are box section, tapering sharply at the end to help overcome a key stress area. Both the AiR 9.4 (Shimano Dura-Ace) and 9.2 (Shimano Ultegra) are well specced, and the addition of cboardman branded 50mm carbon wheels to the 9.4 is a nice touch. The 9.2 features Mavic Cosmics, although cboardman stickers feature heavily.
At less than 2lb (900g) The SLR (Superlight Racing) frame is the lean brother to the AiR. The frame shaping is markedly different, with a box section down tube to increase overall strength. These frames don't come with a rider weight limit – something that Smallwood was keen to stress, pardon the pun. The SLR is built for hard road racing.
The SLR 9.4, kitted out with SRAM Red and cboardman 35mm carbon tubular wheels (1,100g a set), tipped the scales at 6.37kg (14lb) for a size L – well under the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg. But racers under UCI rules need not be too concerned: once there's a set of pedals on it, a computer and maybe a few feathers, it should sneak up to the weight limit. The SLR 9.2, with SRAM Force, is somewhat heavier at 15.7lb (7.1kg), but it's also £800 cheaper.
The two mountain bikes in the Elite Series range are both cross-country hardtails. They're primarily aimed at the racing market, especially the EM 1.5 but the lower-end EM 1.0 will appeal to more trail riders. The frames feature big box section chainstays and down tube for strength and stiffness, internal cable routing to keep things clean, a tapered steerer, BB30 oversize bottom bracket shell, a chainstay mounted rear disc brake and a direct mount front mech.
The EM 1.5 is equipped with SRAM XX gears and brakes, a RockShox SID XX fork and cboardman EM carbon wheels. That adds up to a light 20lb (9.1kg) cross-country racer. It's also the priciest bike in the entire Elite Series, at £3,499.99. The EM 1.0 is a couple of pounds heavier but £1,000 cheaper. That means SRAM X0 instead of XX, and Mavic XM317 rims on Formula cartridge hubs. It can be raced, of course, but should also appeal to fast trail riders, who don't want to be lugging a heavy machine around.