I did promise a full review of my TT bike once i’d ridden it in anger a few times. Last year i used a planet-x stealth which did the job but was starting to look a little bit antiquated next to some of the more modern machines.
The Main Details:
If you’re getting a Boardman it’s worth taking a similar approach to me. Essentially, each frame in the range is the same apart from the very top end one, the 9.8, which has a different carbon layup. All the others are identical, and the aerodynamic properties and design of the 9.8 and the 9.0 are also the same. You are paying for the finishing kit. The 9.0 comes with Aksiums as standard and a SRAM rival groupset. This is fine by me because my intention was to immediately switch it all out and around for the bits i already have. The 9.0 costs around £2000 for the complete bike and the prices for the others in the range increase in stages, topping out at an eye-watering, kidney-exchanging £8000 for the 9.8.
It’s also worth considering that Chris Boardman is the director of research and engineering for British Cycling and therefore fully involved in the process of ‘marginal gains’ over the past decade. His role was to ensure that the gold-medal winning world champions from within the Brailsford group have the best possible equipment. His attention to detail is carried across to this range of bikes.
Why Did I Buy The Air TT?
I was looking for a bike that didn’t break the bank in the first instance. My other requirements were that it had to be very slippery indeed with carefully engineered tube shapes and minimal frontal area. I also wanted hidden brakes and the cabling to be very tidy, with the outers entering the top tube behind the stem where the air is already swirling around. I need the bike to be light; coming in at as close to 8 or so kilos fully built as i could get. The Boardman fulfilled all of these with aplomb. I also was looking for a red bike. This could have been a deal breaker.
What sort of riding do I use it for?
This season i’ve ridden 7 races. With the exception of the very first race which was a loosener, i’ve come either 2nd or 3rd in each one. I have done mostly hilly time trials with varying amounts of climbing. For this reason i need a TT bike that climbs and descends well, feel stable and also corners well. I’ve been on the extensions much more than last season because i feel more confident in the bike’s stability. It rides beautifully well. Climbing on the base bar is also pretty good. It’s worth noting that on my first spin out i took it up Belmont Hill and managed a 4.04 – this might mean nothing to you but it’s quick, trust me, for a TT bike with a set of mavic aksiums.
I’ve set a PB on every single course i’ve ridden so far this year. On the hilly courses i’ve been around 3 minutes quicker on each course. This is a huge leap forwards and is down to a combination of things, clearly increased fitness, but the bike plays a part.
I immediately swapped out the chainset for Rotor Q rings. These look cool and as yet i haven’t noticed any other difference. This is a good thing. I have a hed 3 front wheel and a renn disc on the back with a campag cassette. This meant swapping the SRAM shifters for shimano friction, which then meant i had to swap the rear mech for shimano because of the stupid pull-ratio of SRAM. With these minor modifications the bike was ready to race.
How Does it Ride?
The Boardman rides like a dream. Sometimes, when i’m really pushing a big gear and it’s pan flat, it feels like i’m sat on a guided missile, remorselessly tracking along. I find it much easier to push the big gear and regularly find that i’m in the 54:11. I’m much much lower than last year and thus have a smaller frontal profile. What this means is i’ve managed to adopt a more aerodynamic riding position without any cost to power output. It’s a delight to ride, really, it feels amazing and goes like the clappers. Or as my dad used to say; “it moves like shit off a shovel”. He also used to say “goes like hot snot” but i never really knew why, i mean, if ever afflicted by ‘hot snot’ as an ailment i might be able to check out the worth of this simile. I hope it never happens.
If you’re thinking of getting a new TT bike then i’d heartily recommend the Boardman. You get proven aerodynamics and a pro-level frame, and if you’re canny it’s possible to put it together on a budget, relatively speaking. Lastly – this bike survived a pretty massive crash on Wednesday without a scratch on it. I was battered to pieces. This is a good thing, i think.