The ongoing battle for women's cycling wages on. While we fight at the top to gain more media exposure for women in sports, we're also at the grass-roots wading our way through ill-fitting clothing and unsuitable kit in order to comfortably ride our bikes.
Fortunately, our slowly winning side has some formidable forces like the Breeze Network who are working tirelessly to promote women's cycling with organised rides and events. Along with big brand names producing incredible riding kit, we also have a wider variety of female specific bikes on the market too.
While no woman - or only bionic ones - can pick up a pro bike and become a champion in record time, we all need to start somewhere. That entry level bike is just that, it's your ticket into the wonderful word of cycling, and just so you know, it's a one-way ticket.
Boardman MX Comp Hybrid Bike
Boardman bikes have undergone some serious re-banding over the past 12 months. The brain child of British Olympian, Chris Boardman, was taken over by Halfords and given an new identity - along with some shiny new bike builds.
Amongst their extensive range of women's specific bikes, is the MX Comp hybrid bike for women. With short travel front suspension and a more up-right geometry, the MX Comp is designed to see you to and from work, via the off-road gravel paths and coastal routes as well.
- Frame: Triple Butted X7 alloy
- Forks: SR Suntour NCX D LO - 63mm travel
- Cassette: SRAM, PG-1030, 10-SPD, 11-36T
- Chainset: SRAM VIA Centro power spline, 48/32T
- Front/Rear Brake: Avid DB-1 Hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors
- Tyres: Schwalbe Tyrago Kevlar Guard
- Gear Shifters: SRAM SL-Via Centro 2x10 Triggers
- Weight: 13.2kg
- RRP: £599
The attractive frame is constructed from triple butted aluminium which is lightweight, durable and strong. Rather than being a clunky piece of metal as you would expect on most other entry-level bikes, the MX Comp has delicate features, smooth welding and a bright glossy finish.
If you're looking at getting into cycling from afresh, or returning to the saddle from some time-off, then this is ideal. The 2x10 drive-train offers you a wide range of 20 gears to help sail you up those climbs, and offer enough resistance when you want to pedal that little bit harder.
The MX Comp comes complete with a full SRAM drive-train and shifters, while the Avid brake system provides responsive stopping power through its hydraulic disc brakes
Schwalbe's Tyrango tyres are fast rolling, offering enough grip and traction when you need it most.
The Suntour forks offer 63mm of travel which will help dampen the effects of riding over rough and uneven terrain. A great feature of these forks is the open/lock dial on the right hand side which allows you to "open" the fork completely to allow suspension movement, or "lock" the fork which stiffens the suspension altogether. The use of this will play an important role depending on the terrain your riding on. As a general rule, you'll benefit from locking out the suspension on flat, smooth roads, and open the suspension on more gravel, bumpy roads.
The finishing touches to the bike include a female specific comfort saddle and narrower width handlebars. So with it all built up from the box and ready to go, how did the MX Comp fair on the roads?
How did the MX Comp ride?
Sadly, it wasn't love at first sit.
Coming from a background of slack geometry mountain bikes, and super light road bikes, the Boardman looked and felt all wrong. The first thing to notice is how tall the front end of the bike really is.
The head angle puts the front wheel right under the bike, and the tall stack on the headset has your body in a very upright position. However, the placement of the handlebars can be adjusted by swapping around the spacers on the headset. For a women's urban adventure bike such as this, I would have expected a slacker head angle and lower standover height for comfort and ease of mounting/dismounting.
However, once I have actually set off pedalling and made a few trips around town on the MX Comp, something in me began to change...
First of all, this is a very comfortable bike. While the more upright riding position isn't something I would have expected on a hybrid bike, it feels quite natural without any strain or irritation to my lower back - a common problem I get from riding.
The SRAM gears shifted smoothly with minimal stress on the levers, and the Avid brakes were responsive with a very controlled stopping power. The Schwalbe's Tyrango tyres offer enough traction for the road and gravel paths under all weather and surface conditions. With their tread pattern and design, these really are some smooth fast rolling tyres.
The 600mm handle bars are an ideal width for supporting a strong body frame on the bike, but they're also narrow enough to comfortably manoeuvre through traffic on the roads.
Taking the MX Comp out on some more pitted gravel paths, the 63mm of suspension really came in handy to smooth out some of that impact. The fork dial on the side was in easy reach, and quick to use whilst riding as well.
The Boardman MX Comp has really grown on me. It's comfortable for short trips around town, and the more adventurous longer rides with more challenging terrain.
For an entry level bike, £600 is a very reasonable price tag, especially when you consider the SRAM/Avid groupset and Schwalbe tyres that adorn the high-quality alloy frame. What I particularly like about this build is that the frame is future-proof. It's built to be solid, durable and long-lasting, which means you can always upgrade, replace and swap components, but you won't need to invest in another frame for years to come.
If you are using this bike for commuting, travelling and trips to the shops, there are pannier mounts on the frame, along with mudguard mounts as well.
Available in sizes: 40cm - 45cm - 48cm
If you're looking for something more road or mountain specific, you can find the full range of Boardman Bikes here.
The Boardman MX Comp is a comfortable and ideal hybrid bike for women. It'll get you around town and take you further afield too with it's solid built frame, and reliable components.
The Boardman brand have been creating some stunning new bikes for the women's market, and we've been very impressed by what we've seen and ridden so far. We can't wait to see more from them.
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