If you asked me for recommendations on a bike under £1,000 – I would list this Boardman Team Carbon in my top five. Its lively ride and respectable spec means you get a lot of bike for your money – and if that’s not enough the paint job should push you over the edge.
The Team Carbon has been a part of the Boardman stable since the early days of the brand, and its remained at the Cycle to Work comfortable price point of £999. The frame geometry on the standard bike hasn’t changed since Nicole Cooke raced to Olympic glory on it in 2008, though the women’s model has seen a few tiny tweaks.
For just under the £1k mark, you’re never going to get a bike with the best of the best spec, but the Boardman comes with a couple of sparkling touches that set it apart.
The team carbon is designed to be a sportive or endurance ride – and it certainly provides the comfort and spring of a bike that you could spend all day on. The C7 carbon frame works alongside a full carbon fork with tapered steerer to absorb the bumps of our Great British roads, whilst the super skinny seatstays also contribute to dampen out unwanted vibrations.
However, what I love the most about this bike is that the oversized downtube runs into a chunky bottom backet and chainstay layout, all of which accumulates to provide a lively ride that feels like it wouldn’t be too out of place in a crit race. The handling is sure and every corner feels like it’s begging to be taken just a little faster on this machine, and the same ‘ride it like you stole it’ sensitivity comes into play when descending.
At £999, it’s not surprising that this isn’t the lightest bike in the stable – but it’s also not heavy for its price point. The wide bottom bracket means there’s plenty of stiffness when climbing – and of course if this is your first road bike it will feel like it’s floating up the hills.
To make the bike female specific, the geometry has been tweaked with a shorter top tube, and narrower bars have been added. I’m all for a narrower cockpit, and the 40cm shallow drop handlebars suited me fine. I also found myself getting rather accustomed to the extra padding on the bar tape which felt great on longer winter ambles.
Unfortunately, however, Boardman committed a cardinal sin in my book by fitting the bike with a 50mm stem alongside a women’s saddle with no cut out. I’ll leave the saddle debate untouched, as bottoms are all unique, but the short stem was the first thing I changed, swapping it for a 100mm version. This immediately altered the ride of the bike, and in my opinion improved it, allowing me to get lower over the handlebars and enjoy the fantastic handling the frame and fork allowed for. If I’d change a thing, it’s that I’d make the bike more stretched out, but that’s not on everyone’s wish list and would take away from some of the comfortable, endurance element.