If you want to gallop flat out over big miles the thoroughbred Boardman is first past the post

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Boardman MTB Pro 29

Weight:
Weight:

Pros:

  • So fast we had to check it didn’t have a secret motor

Cons:

  • Geometry could be a bit less racy. Only three sizes

Product:

Boardman MTB Pro 29 (2016) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£999.99

While many brands have abandoned their 29ers for the safer option of 27.5in wheels, Boardman has stuck to its guns.

Both the 29er models in Boardman’s hardtail range come with cutting-edge single-ring drivetrains and RockShox forks hung on a stunning aluminium frame.

Buy now: Boardman Mountain Bike Pro 29er from Halfords for £800

>>> The best cheap road bikes ridden and rated

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As you might expect from a brand that was founded by gold-medal winning Olympian Chris Boardman, the MTB Pro 29 is built for speed.

Most race-inspired hardtails at this price miss the mark, either by being too heavy or too twitchy and nervous, but the MTB Pro hits the bullseye.

>>> Boardman reveals 2016 mountain bike range

At just over 26lb, it is by far the lightest bike here, meaning it responds to every pedal stroke with an urgency and enthusiasm unmatched in this category.

Quick up to speed, it also maintained momentum brilliantly, thanks to the rollover talents of the 29in wheels and the excellent RockShox Reba RLT. The smoothest fork in this category, its 15mm thru-axle kept it stiff, while the RLT damping was both supple and supportive.

The swift, stealthy Boardman made barely a sound thanks to the superb 1×11 SRAM GX wide-range drivetrain.

We found ourselves out of the saddle, sprinting everywhere, as though there was a chequered flag at the end of every ride.

>>> Hardtail of the Year 2016: £500-£1,000 (VIDEO)

If you want to gallop flat out over big miles, and are not interested in seeking out the most challenging trails, the thoroughbred Boardman is first past the post.

Buy now: Boardman Mountain Bike Pro 29er from Halfords for £800

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Details

Frame:Triple-butted X9 aluminium
Fork:RockShox Reba RLT, 120mm travel
Wheels:Alloy hubs, Mavic XM319 rims, Continental X-King 29x2.2in tyres
Drivetrain:SRAM GX 1000 chainset, GX shifter and r-mech
Brakes:SRAM Guide
Weight:11.88kg (26.2lb)
Sizes:S, M, L
Size tested:L
Contact:boardmanbikes.com
  • Marcus Taylor

    Update: This bike is now only £749 at Halfords!!
    I’m running a 2.0 Continental Race King front tire with a Schwalbe Rocket Ron 1.35 cyclocross tire in the rear. Bars are chopped to 24 inch and the stem has been flipped to lower them. Bike is way faster, quicker steering but a bit twitchy as grip not as high as with the Nobby Nicks. No need for 27.5 wheels, got some handmade 29ers on the way with XT hubs and Halo rims, plus some carbon handlebars. I did run some 26 inch riser carbon bars but the riding position wasn’t as good as with the flats.
    I really love this bike and will possibly look at upgrading the shifters later, I have an XT cassette on the way for the new wheels. Deore kit definitely isn’t as good as I’m used to on my older bikes but to get a bike with XT gear would cost twice as much. Shifters, mechs and cassettes are relatively cheap unless you go full XTR. Cranks and front chain rings don’t make that much difference in my experience, I have a deore crankset on one of my old bikes and notice no difference between that and XT on another bike so will stick with the stock FSA crank for now.
    Everyone moans about Boardman saddles but I think it might be my favourite, fits me really well and looks pretty light too.
    Can’t recommend this bike enough, I did a club race with it completely standard and didn’t get lapped by the leaders for the first time ever. Hopefully be able to keep them in sight a bit longer next time out when I should have the new wheels.
    Clutch is what makes changing down gears harder but when I turned it off I had massive slap on the frame and dropped the chain so it needs to stay on for anything other than road use really.
    Current setup with pedals weighs 12.5KG, it is a 18 inch medium frame.

  • Marcus Taylor

    I just bought this Boardman to replace my 13 year old Bianchi hard tail. The handling out of the box with fork air pressure adjusted and 40psi in each tire gave stability that both of my 26ers can only dream of. Turning was a little slower on really technical and potentially dangerous bits which made it a bit slower on those sections. The next day I pumped the rear up settling on 50psi as comfortable enough to ride with no loss of grip and dropped the front to 35psi for more confidence in tight turns. It worked, the bike was a bit faster everywhere and could match the Bianchi on tight technical sections.
    I’m going to play with different wheels and tires which will have me flying faster than ever before on any track once I’ve put the time in.
    I noticed someone below was asking if it is suitable for a beginner, this thing is a dodle to ride compared to every bike I’ve tried up until now. A beginner is unlikely to get it near it’s limits, I race and I’ve only had the odd slide where my other bikes are kicking out front and rear all the time.
    I’m looking to quicken the steering up a bit with some 27.5 wheels for some of my favourite trails as I think it is a bit of a barge as standard.
    The only problem I can see your wife having is holding the massively wide 28 inch handlebars which have seen me mm’s away from clipping trees. I thought the 26 inch bars on my Rockrider were over the top as the Bianchi’s are only 21.5 inch. I’m going to cut them down to 25 inches. They are also at a strange angle so I might replace them.
    The only other slight problem I had was with the gear shift, after a 2 hour plus ride my hands got a bit cold and numb making it really hard to change down gears. My other bikes have higher spec XTR shifters which are easier to use but then they were more expensive, higher spec bikes in their day.
    Overall I think the Boardman Hard Tail 29er is the best value bike of it’s kind currently available for the price in the UK at £849 from Halfords. Join British cycling like I did and get 10% off that.

  • Simon Kelly

    Thanks Danny!

  • Danny Milner

    Hi Simon,
    Ideally, we’d like the head angle slackened in isolation, because the bottom bracket is about the right height already. So yes, you could add 120mm fork, but it would raise the BB. The obvious fix would be an angle adjust headset, but i don’t think any will fit because it has an integrated headset.
    You could fit a shorter stem, and indeed a lower stem, with a wider bar, and that would definitely help. But it wouldn’t solve the underlying problem.
    Ultimately, it would be a great race bike, but not ideal for a complete novice. Those two roles are kinda at odds, so you may have to compromise in one area.

  • Simon Kelly

    Another great review, very helpful. Getting ready to buy this one but am concerned about its handling characteristics. You say its a geometry tweak away from perfection. Any tweaks which I could make? Wider bar, shorter stem. Are there options to lower the front end by moving headtube spacers? What about 120mm fork to slacken the head angle? Any suggestions yourselves? I am buying this as an entry level trail bike for my wife (a complete novice) doubling as an entry level to XC racing for me. Do you feel the bike will satisfy this combo of requirements?