Wheels, Etc: Boardman MX Race
Does Boardman win again with this hybrid of a hybrid?
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.
Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars
Greenham Reach: The families trying to prove that compact, ecological farms can make a living
Come fly with me: Britain's passion for birds of prey
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
A spotter's guide to a wild orchid summer
- 1 'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
- 2 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 3 Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of revenge porn
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...
£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...