Boardman Road Bikes or Not

Steedy Posts: 25
edited June 2011 in Road buying advice

I‘m about to take up road biking, and now at the stage of choosing the bike. I have a budget of between £600 and £800 and will be buying the bike through the Cycle To Work scheme.

After days of online research, shop visits, and forum reviews, i am still unsure as to which bike to go for. Looking at it logically the Boardman Road ‘Race (£650)’ and ‘Comp (£800)’ are serious contenders, but looking at the forums, no one seems to recommend these. This is strange as if you compare all other makes with a similar price, the Boardmans are far superior in terms of spec and components.

Are people put off purely because of Halfords sourcing the bike and the service they give?

I’m thinking of buying one of the two mentioned and getting it built at the local bike shop.

On another note, i have been recommended the ‘Giant Defy 2’ as an alternative. Any other suggestions or should i stick with the ‘Race’ or ‘Comp’?

Any advice would be appreciated.


  • ShutUpLegs
    ShutUpLegs Posts: 3,522
    Take one for a test ride and see if its far superior.

    As for getting your LBS to build it, it should be a case of tightening the handlebars and checking everything is ok. They are usually pre-assembled even if you buy it boxed.
  • hd264
    hd264 Posts: 21

    I was in the exact same position a few months ago, I wanted to take up road cycling (I come from a mountain biking background) and I went for the Giant Defy 2 on the C2W scheme. I didn't actually have the option of Boardman's as our Cyclescheme doesn't include halfords. From my experience so far the Giant Defy 2 is an awesome bike and prob more than I'll need for years to come! It's very light and surprisingly comfortable! (despite that i'm used to riding hardtails...)

    To be honest you can't really go wrong with either of the bikes and the only difference I can see is that the Boardman's are a little bit better value for money (the Boardman Race is comparable spec-wise to the Defy2 and is £650 vs £725 for the Defy 2 - but of course that price difference goes down to less than ~£50 after the C2W voucher is used) but the Giant Defy 2 has a better brand image than the Boardman as lots of people still look down their noses at Halfords bikes - which is unjustified really, I ride a Carrera moutain and it an awesome value bike and have had no problems so far. In terms of how they ride, I think the Boardman is meant to have racier geometry and the Giant Defy more comfortable geometry aimed at sportives, but to be honest for someone who is taking up road biking I doubt we'd be able to tell the difference!

    Oh and btw LBS are not always good! I had a shocker with mine.

    Hope that helps!
  • saintdracula
    saintdracula Posts: 232
    I hope you haven't bought them yet - you can get 10% by paying with Paypal and entering code I think PPBIKE (I think, correct me if wrong)

    yeah they are good bikes. You get SRAM Apex!
  • garrynolan
    garrynolan Posts: 560
    To clarify above - 10% off Boardman bikes if ordered online and using Paypal. Great bikes for the money. If you go for one just get it checked over by your LBS if you have any doubts. Some of their (Halfords) staff are shockingly bad but some are great. Find out if they are qualified and ask for proof! Good luck.
    Visit Ireland - all of it! Cycle in Dublin and know fear!!
  • WisePranker
    WisePranker Posts: 823
    I got the 2011 Road Comp from Halfords but got it checked over by a local mechanic.
    They sorted one or two things out like the gear indexing and checked it over, well worth the £20 it cost!

    So far the bike's been perfect, not missed a beat. It's my first road bike so nothing to compare it with but I'm very happy with it.
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    @ hd264

    Thanks for the excellent advice, however one question, how do you find the Shimano Sora shifters? I think ideally i would prefer either Shimano Tiagra or SRAM APEX?

    I must admit the Giant Defy 2 did impress me when i sat on it in the LBS, however as yet i’ve not tested it yet. I’m planning on doing this at the wknd. It’s a shame Halfords don’t allow test ride as it would have been useful to compare the two. The LBS did suggest the Defy 2 is very comfortable, i wonder how the Boardman bikes are in comparison particularly as you say they are built with a racier geometry.
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    @ WisePranker

    Out of interest what made you decide on the Boardman ‘Comp’? How do you find the racier geometry? Is it comfortable to ride on long distances?
  • prawny
    prawny Posts: 5,439
    The 2011 comp isn't very racy, I've got a 2008 one which is more racy but still comfy. The new comp has much more of a nod to comfort (longer head tube, curvy seat stays) than the old one. I've done 100 mile rides on mine and my thighs have been the source of most pain.

    I think the new Comp is spot on spec wise, the older ones were set up to be just like race bikes but cheap, I think at that price range it makes much more sense going for Apex and mudguard clearance than trying to be a budget racer.

    Personally I wouldn't go for sora and I'd rather have 10 speeds than 9, just for spacing issues. There's a gap on a 9sp 12-25 cassette that I assume wouldn't be on a 10sp. And with Apex if you fancy doing some silly hills you've got a 34/32 bottom gear, which is tiny! My comp has a bottom gear of 36/25 which can be a struggle sometimes, I just haven't got around to doing anything about it yet.
    Saracen Tenet 3 - 2015 - Dead - Replaced with a Hack Frame
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  • niblue
    niblue Posts: 1,387
    When I got my '10 Boardman Team Carbon at Christmas I managed to persuade Halfords not to build it up so they gave me the box un-opened and I set it up myself.

    As someone who's relatively new to road cycling I think SRAM Apex is a great idea, as the most common complaint from new riders does seem to be that they struggle with the hills. I changed my Boardman to an 11:28 cassette which helped a lot, but having something like 11:32 on the back would be ideal for me, with a 50:34 on the front (my Roubaix is still on 11:25 but I'll change it at some point). My wife's road bike had a triple on but it never really shifted particularily well so I changed that to a compact and an 11:28 but she still struggles with a 34:28 low gear when she's tired.
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    however one question, how do you find the Shimano Sora shifters?

    I have Sora on my tourer and it's fine, done about 7000 miles with no issues at all. It shifts cleanly and positively. I have 105 on my road bike, it's nicer but not a deal breaker. Big difference with Tiagra / 105 is being able to change to a higher gear from the drops. - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
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  • hd264
    hd264 Posts: 21
    Yeah I had a few reservations about the Sora shifters at first because you can't really change the thumb shifters from the drops so I was contemplating the Defy1 (which i think is about £900). But as I'd never ridden a road bike before and I've read that some people actually prefer the Sora shifters I thought I'd give it a go. So far I'm pleasantly surprised because it doesn't really bother me that I can't shift from the drops as I'm on the hoods 80% of the time, making it actually easier to shift! But as I said I'm a newbie to road cycling so perhaps if I start getting into racing then I'll need to start shifting from the drops but then again, if I start racing then I'll get a better bike anyway!

    And the 9 speed gearing seems more than enough for me. It has a compact 50/34 up front and a 12/25 at the rear. Perhaps it's because I'm used to riding mountain bikes but the gears seem to be really closely spaced so you'll always find that perfect gear, the only thing is that you may need a lower gear for really steep hills - but that can be sorted with an 11-28 cassette which I may get in due course...or just get beefier legs!
  • chiark
    chiark Posts: 335
    For no adequately explainable reason, Halfords in the centre of Leeds have the comp at 20% off for this year's model... Might be worth a phonecall?
    Synapse Alloy 105 / Rock Lobster Tig Team Sl
  • Bar Shaker
    Bar Shaker Posts: 2,313
    SRAM Apex with Double Taps is almost as good as Rival... which is as good or slightly better than 105. Leave Sora to the Argos bikes.
    Boardman Elite SLR 9.2S
    Boardman FS Pro
  • Wrath Rob
    Wrath Rob Posts: 2,918
    FWIW, I've had my Boardman for 3.5 years and its still going strong. I've changed a few items along the way like the saddle, wheels and tyres, but its coped well with all year commuting and occastional training rides. Its problably racked up over 10,000 miles now with only routine servicing. Got it for £540 so in terms of £ per mile its doing pretty well!
    FCN3: Titanium Qoroz.
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    Doh, i've just found out that i am not able to use Halfords via the cycle to work scheme (, therefore the Boardman are no longer an option. Looking at the LBS i can use, the following bikes are grabbing my attention. Think i'm now leaning towards a Giant, but the others also seem very good.

    Giant Defy 1 £925
    Giant Defy 2 £725
    Cube Peloton - £849
    Scott Speedster S40 - £799
    Scott Speedster S30 - £899
    Specialized Allez Elite - £799.99 (was £919.99)
    Wilier Escape- £799.99

    Any advice on those bikes would help a graet deal as i now only have a week to decide on the voucher value.
  • tarbot18
    tarbot18 Posts: 531
    Hi the Scott s40 is a lovely bike i have the s50 and love it however have you not considered the cube attempt for a grand. Great spec and had good reviews also the focus cayo if you fancy carbon and 105 spec again a grand and good reviews.
    The family that rides together stays together !

    Boardman Comp 29er 2013

    Whyte T129s 2014 viewtopic.php?f=10017&t=12965414&p=18823801&hilit=whyte+t129s#p18823801

    Road Scott speedster s50 2011
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    Thanks tarbot18, however i don't really want to push to a grand as this is my first road bike. The max i'm willing to go to is £925 for the Defy 1 and that is pushing it. Originally the budget was £800 for the Boardman Comp, but to get a bike of similar spec/components i now need to pay a little more.
  • tarbot18
    tarbot18 Posts: 531
    id say pay a little extra now rather than get a bike get into it and realise you want or need a better bike as er i did doh, look at the spec difference between the likes of the defy1 and the focus cayo and cube attempt and the reviews they ve both had , im just waiting for the bike scheme to come around again now in another year .........
    The family that rides together stays together !

    Boardman Comp 29er 2013

    Whyte T129s 2014 viewtopic.php?f=10017&t=12965414&p=18823801&hilit=whyte+t129s#p18823801

    Road Scott speedster s50 2011
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    You've got me thinking now tarbot18. I must admit i like the idea of having 10 speed as opposed to 9. And as you say, better to pay more now rather than later in terms of upgrading or even buying a new bike.
  • Just to add to the confusion Ash Cycles only wanted £599 for a 2011 Defy 2 - it sounded like a good deal so I bought it - its not arriving until Tuesday though so I cant say if it was a good decision.

    Who knows, they might have given a similar discount on the Defy 1. I had to phone for the discount though as the prices on their site were higher.
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    Good purchase 'thescouselander'. London is a liitle on the far side for a LBS though. ;-)
  • Yeah, not local for me either but they will post the bike for free.
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    Shame, Ash Cycles isn't part the cycle scheme used by my work. The search continues.
  • Steedy
    Steedy Posts: 25
    I've just found another two bikes which have grabbed my attention in a serious way.

    Cube Attempt
    Specialized Secteur Elite

    Out of these two and the Giant Defy 1, which bike do you think i should go for based on experience and knowledge?