Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8


Boardman Fi MTB Comp review


Price as reviewed:

Boardman Fi MTB Comp

The air sprung Suntour Epicon fork is a big plus point, but the narrow handlebar lets the Boardman down

While the Boardman Fi MTB Comp was the only 26in bike in the women specific category our Hardtail of the Year test, you can’t help but compare it to the 29ers. There’s certainly no questioning the quality here: the alloy frame feels responsive, the geometry is first-ride friendly — and it looks good. And, as the only air sprung fork among the women’s bikes, the Suntour Epicon is a real plus point, offering good set-up options for the lighter rider to get the most out of that 100mm travel. With decent width 2.2in Conti Mountain King tyres on Alex rims, the wheels felt solid, rolled well and had good grip. SRAM’s gears and the FSA triple chainset also offer decent functionality while the Avid Elixir 1 brakes were confidence-inspiring and trouble free.

The Boardman Fi MTB Comp gives an enjoyable ride, and I appreciated its quality and attention to detail. But what is it with these narrow bars? I’m not doing a time trial — 630mm is just not wide enough. Yet, as I switched between the four test bikes I could feel my enthusiasm for the Boardman waning in favour of the bigger wheeled bikes. While the 26in wheels immediately felt more familiar, that familiarity quickly gave way to the reality that they can’t carry speed over obstacles in the way the 29ers do.

All in all, the Boardman Fi MTB Comp is a nice bike and the air forks are a good choice. If you prefer 26in wheels, this is the bike for you. But, when it comes down to it, it seems that size really does matter after all, particularly riding a hardtail. The Boardman was left behind by the best 29ers on the trail.

>>> Click here to find out more about geometry with our handy guide

MBR rating: 8

Frame Triple-butted aluminium
Fork Suntour Epicon LOD 100mm
Wheels Formula hubs, Alex DP20 rims, Continental MTN King 2.2in tyres
Drivetrain FSA Alpha Drive chainset, SRAM X5 3×9 shifters and mechs
Brakes Avid Elixir 1
Weight 12.66kg (27.91lb)
Sizes S, M, L
Size tested M

This review appeared as part of MBR’s Hardtail of the Year test in June 2013‘s issue.

On test in our Hardtail of the Year competition:

£600 category
Commencal El Camino 3 29
Fuji Nevada 1.5
KTM Ultra Fun
Lapierre Raid 329
Saracen Mantra Pro
Specialized Rockhopper
Trek 4500 Disc
VooDoo Bizango 29er 

£1000 category
Cannondale Trail SL 29er 2
Canyon Yellowstone AL 6.9
Cube LTD Pro
Giant Talon 29er 1
Marin Palisades Trail 29er
Merida Big Nine TFS 900
Scott Scale 960
Pinnacle Ramin 3

Women’s specific
Boardman Fi MTB Comp
Scott Contessa Scale 920
Specialized Myka Elite Disc
Trek Cali S