26th January 2011 Words: Luke Evans Photos: Chris Sidwells
If you like Boardman bikes, and thousands of Halfords customers clearly do, then the new range of high-end rigs from the British outfit will have you reaching for the battered credit card.
“It’s quite scary”, says Chris Boardman about how much is hanging on his new 20-bike range, badged as Elite SLR and Elite Air, which go public for the first time this spring. Alongside the admittedly pretty hardcore but very sexy road bikes will be top-end time trial and mountain machines.
Offered the chance of an exclusive first peek at the Elite road bikes we jumped at the chance of some face time with the Olympic champion, Tour de France yellow jersey and world hour record holder.
And the cold January drizzle that fell on a midland car park as we got our hands on these new, incredibly light and innovative carbon fibre rigs did nothing to dampen Boardman and Operations Director Andrew Smallwood’s obvious pride in their latest project.
Make no mistake, in the seven years that Boardman bikes have been in existence, 2011 is set to be one of their biggest yet, with the Elite range spearheading a big push into markets beyond the UK and bike sponsorship of the US based United Healthcare pro cycling team putting Boardman bikes in the spotlight as never before.
“We’re really excited about the new range,” says Boardman, “it’s a big step for us but we are the fastest growing bike brand ever and we’ve got to do it. For me it’s like the next race.
“The next 12 months will be a massive learning curve. Going with the UHC team has opened up the US market to us and the team bikes received a good response in the USA. We will also be looking at markets in Australia, western Europe and Japan.”
What’s to like about the Elite road bikes?
- The SLR road bike frame is seriously light at 900 grams (without fork)
- The Air models are super aero and aimed at road and TT riders
- A standard SLR bike with SRAM components weighs less than 15lbs!
- New solution to internal cable routing keeps weight down and makes cable replacement easier
- Super stiff tapered head tubes and cutting edge BB30 bottom brackets
- Carbon fibre monocoque forks keep weight down further
- Elite road bike prices from about £2,000, topping out at (cough) £5k
- 20 bike Elite range will include road, tt and MTB models
See Cycling Active April edition (on sale March 2) for more on the new Boardman bikes