Boardman SLR 8.6 review – Road bikes – Bikes

Boardman bikes need no introduction. The brainchild of former professional pilot and world record holder Chris Boardman MBE (surely he should be a “Sir” now?), the brand has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2007.

The SLR 8.6 sits at the bottom of Boardman’s extensive road bike lineup, but it still sports a well-appointed triple-butted aluminum frame and full carbon fork (the blades and steerer are carbon, though the pivot is not tapered).

Above the range you have the £800 SLR 8.8 Disc, with an aluminum frame, mechanical disc brakes and upgraded gearing, before moving on to the £1100 carbon fiber Boardman SLR 8.9.

Boardman SLR 8.6 Details and Specs

The Boardman SLR 8.6’s aluminum frame is semi-compact with a slightly angled top tube. It has keyhole profile seatstays for rear end comfort, front and rear fender mounts, as well as mounts for a rear rack.

It’s also the same price as a few years ago without any reduction in component quality which as supply issues and inflation set in the cycling world is becoming more and more rare.

There is a good range of gears for inexperienced road cyclists, provided by the compact crankset and 11-32t cassette.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Unlike nine-speed bikes such as the Wizard Spark 2.7 Disc and Triban RC500 disc brake, which I tested alongside, the Boardman uses eight-speed Shimano Claris with a slight drop from an FSA compact crankset.

Rim brakes are still common on most top bikes for around £500 and that’s what the Boardman SLR 8.6 has here, with Tektro deep-drop calipers.

There were no issues with the bottom bracket, although it’s not as smooth and smooth as Sora and above. The SLR 8.6 even has an advantage over the more expensive carbon fiber Boardman SLR 8.9 – and the 2020 SLR 8.6, which I tested a few years ago – in that it has an 11-32t cassette at wider range, rather than 11 -30t.

Yes, that inevitably means bigger jumps between gears – especially since there are only eight cogs – but that lower rescue gearing has always been welcome on my local hills, many of which are over 10%, and it will be a real boon for less experienced cyclists or returning cyclists.

There is room for 28mm tires – or at least 25mm tires with mudguards.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Braking is decent without being inspirational, and I would definitely recommend switching to cartridge brake blocks when non-cartridge blocks need replacing.

Boardman claims a maximum tire size of 28mm or 25mm with fenders, although I think you might be able to fit tires wider than 25mm with fenders as the clearance is quite generous.

The Boardman SLR rims are tubeless ready, which is nice to see on a bike at such a modest price. The downside to this tubeless compatibility is that the tires are very tight – even removing tires from these rims requires strong hands. (Read our guide on fitting and removing tight tires if this is a problem for you).

The Vittoria Zaffiro tires are comfortable and grippy enough, but an upgrade will unlock more of the bike’s potential.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Vittoria’s Zaffiros are training tires that maximize durability rather than suppleness, but even in their 25mm size they’ve proven to be comfortable and grippy enough that no immediate upgrade is necessary. .

The stem, handlebars and seatpost are the usual standard aluminum own-brand items you’ll find on just about any bike at this price point, and I got on just fine with the Boardman SLR saddle, which has a long pressure relief groove.

The stem and handlebar are self-branded aluminum. The shifters come from Shimano’s eight-speed Claris groupset.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Boardman SLR 8.6 Geometry

Boardman describes the geometry as “endurance” and that’s about right. It’s not sit-and-beg-stand, but the top tube is a bit shorter than, say, the Mango OG 2X8 – as well as a longer wheelbase, shorter head tube and shallower head angle .

All of these will slow down handling and increase stability, making the Boardman a good commuter and long distance bike.

The ability to fit full-length mudguards and a rear rack maximizes its versatility, with the tire size limit being the main drawback, confining it to tarmac and only the less challenging unpaved tracks.

Boardman SLR 8.6 low end

The SLR 8.6 is one of the best road bikes you can buy in this price range.
Russell Burton / Our Media

If you’re looking for a well-priced bike for road riding—commuting, fitness, and maybe the weird weekend—Boardman’s SLR 8.6 is one of the best you can buy at this price.

Claris may be an entry-level group, but it shifts well, braking is pretty good if not exceptional, and the slightly upright endurance geometry and comfort are ideal for day rides.

I would upgrade to a set of the best road bike tires to get the most out of the bike and change the brake pads when they wear out, but the frame and other components are all in good shape. And modest tires and brake shoes are the norm, not the exception at this price.

Finally, Boardman is to be commended for maintaining the same price for the past three years.


Also think…

A little more… Boardman SLR 8.8 Disc

The Boardman SLR 8.8’s triple butted aluminum frame comes with Shimano Tiagra 10 speed including 11-32t cassette and Tektro mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors.

Much more… Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon

Boardman’s SLR 8.9 is one of your cheapest routes in the carbon world – and one of the best bikes you can buy for around £1000. The carbon frame with aero tube profiles is paired with a carbon fork, and the Shimano 105 groupset adds to a great value package.

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