11 January 2012

One Year Later: My review of the 2010 Boardman Road Comp fi

It's hard to believe it, but exactly one year ago today I brought home my Boardman Road Comp fi from Halfords (at the time, Halfords was the exclusive retailer of Boardman bikes). It was a 2010 model, purchased at a steep discount, and it was my first road bike, so I will admit I don't have much to compare it to. That said, I thought I'd record how it has served me over the past 2,850 kilometers.

The Boardman in the early days.
Overall, this has been a great entry-level road bike for me. It has survived short rides and long ones; day rides and night; rain, cold, heat, and wind; two clipless moments; and a fair few accidental excursions onto surfaces that cannot by referred to as 'roads'! I'm thrilled with it. But I have had to make a few alterations to make it perfect...

Initial Changes
There were a few things on the bike that we changed almost immediately (and when I say "we", I mean Alberto!):
  • Pedals: The bike came with some generic plastic pedals, but we decided to switch them out for some clipless pedals as part of the whole now-you're-a-real-cyclist thing. 
  • Saddle: The saddle that came with the bike was absolutely unrideable. Just sitting on the saddle to practice clipping in and out was painful after a few minutes, and after my first 30km ride in Richmond Park, I knew I would need a change. It's not just me--every time I meet a fellow Boardman rider, male or female, we inevitably have a conversation about how awful the saddle was. After much research, I settled on the Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow saddle that I have already reviewed.
  • Spacers: Alberto noticed that there were't enough spacers on the steering tube, resulting in the headset being loose. This might have to do with the way the bike was assembled at Halford's, we'll never know. Since spacers are pretty cheap, we just bought a new set and replaced them. It was a shame, because I liked the subtle pattern on the original spacers better than the plain black ones we replaced them with. 
Further Changes
After going on several longer rides, a few more changes became necessary:
  • Brake pads: From the beginning, I never felt comfortable braking on this bike. At first, I thought it might be because I wasn't used to drop handlebars. We tried changing the angle of the handlebars so that I could squeeze the brakes better, but this only had a minimal effect. Even in the drops, I couldn't really come to a quick stop. Eventually we decided to buy some brake pads for wet conditions. This made a big difference, but I still can't really do an emergency stop, or stop myself completely on a steep downhill, unless I ride in the drops. As a result, I tend to ride in the drops whenever we're in London traffic or going down even the slightest of hills. Alberto thinks it might be down to my rims, which are pretty thin. I still think it might be because I have small hands! Either way, I've developed a system that works for me. 
  • Tires: The original tires were Continental Ultrasport, which were fine for the first 750km; no punctures at all. Then, between 750 and 1000km, I got three or four punctures in short succession (including the puncture from hell, let's not talk about it!). We replaced them with Continental Gatorskins, and I don't want to jinx myself by announcing how many punctures I've had on them so far--let's just say it is less than one.
After a wet ride!
Ultimately, none of the issues I've had with the Boardman have been significant and I've been happy with the solutions that we have devised. The bike was good value for money, so I don't mind having to make a few, relatively inexpensive, changes. I understand that the 2011/2012 model has even better specs (and is a bit pricier to match). It still seems to be a great value, like all Boardman bikes--I predict Boardman will be inching up the market share even more over the next few years. 

PS: In case it isn't obvious, we don't get paid for our reviews and we only review products we have bought ourselves unless otherwise stated!

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