Wheels, Etc: Boardman MX Race

Does Boardman win again with this hybrid of a hybrid?

A A A

Price: £499.99
Frame: Lightweight alloy
Forks: Suntour suspension with hydraulic lockout
Brakes: Avid BB5 Mechanical Disc Brakes
Gearing: Sram X5

Britain's cycling celebrities are cashing in on their heroic exploits with bikes bearing their names. Victoria Pendleton will soon launch her second range of budget women's cycles with Halfords. Evans Cycles will respond in May with its first Hoy road and city bikes developed by Sir Chris.

Both cyclists must play catch-up with Chris Boardman, however, the man credited with kick-starting Britain's bike boom. No British rider had topped the Olympic podium for 72 years before he won gold on the track in 1992. The one-time yellow-jersey wearer later applied his technical expertise as former head of what became known as Team GB's "secret squirrel club".

He now leads research and development at his own bikes company, which also has an exclusive deal with Halfords. First launched in 2007, Boardman Bikes have earned rave reviews for their looks and value, and medals for the pros who ride the elite range.

At the budget end, three new bikes launched last month include a sporty hybrid at £429.99, a red road bike at a penny under £500 and, for the same price the MX Race.

Boardman himself said the MX was his favourite of the three, "because you have the ability to go on tracks and paths and it's a great bike to go to work on." Sadly, I couldn't find time to properly test its off-road chops but went in search of cobbles, potholes and towpaths during a week or so of commuting in London.

First, the looks. A matt-black finish with shiny white forks and perfectly smooth joins in the aluminium frame give the MX the appearance of a bike worth much more than £500. A hybrid of a hybrid, it's the son of a mountain bike and a more traditional road bike. Full-size 700c wheels with relatively slim tyres pair with chunky suspension forks at the front, disc brakes and wide handlebars.

This is not an elegant bike but it is handsome. If Boardman has designed it for commuters fond of occasional off-road forays, how does it ride where it will do most of its miles? Well, compared to purer road-going bikes of a similar price, it's heavy and even with tyres inflated to their maximum it can feel plodding.

A very easy lever at the head of the right fork makes it very easy to lock out the suspension, essential to prevent energy-sapping bouncing on tarmac. The tyres then help to offer reasonable protection to one's seating area from jolts that pass easily through the white race saddle.

The Avid disc brakes are perfectly adequate and almost benefit from be- ing less responsive than those which have almost thrown me over the bars of higher-end mountain bikes.

I didn't get through all of the 27 gears but switching between them was as smooth as you would expect from the entry-level setup, which includes SRAM shifters and an FSA chainset. Despite occasionally feeling I was having to work rather hard with each pedal turn, and any aesthetic concerns about the MX bike, I've always been impressed by Boardman's offerings.

To plump for the MX, you'll want to be sure of the opportunities to take it off road to be satisfied with its on-road performance. Otherwise go for the cheaper hybrid, which has had promising reviews. Either way, there is always the satisfaction that comes with supporting a brand that symbolises so much that is good about the sport.

Suggested Topics
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before