I’m a return to cycling man in my late forties and would appreciate people’s opinion on a choice of new bike. At the moment, I’m undecided between the Boardman SLR 8.9 carbon and a Specialized Allen Elite 2019. I’ve got a Cycle to work voucher and therefore my budget is £1000.

The Boardman has Tiagra and Specialized 105, but should this be the only thing to influence my decision, or should I go carbon and upgrade as and when necessary in the future?

I’ve sat on both and like both. 

Would just like the opinion of experienced cyclist that have made some valuable findings and decisions in the past.


Tim Walker [2 posts] 1 month ago


It all depends on what your priorities are and the type of riding you want to do. I have no experience with either bike so these are just some general musings..

As far as I'm aware, the Allez has mounts for mudguards and racks but the Boardman doesn't. Thi might be important to you or not.

Your upgrade opinions with Tiagra are somewhat limited as it's 10 speed and upgrading an entire groupset is an expensive faff. 

Generally speaking, a high quality alloy frame can match or out perform a mid range carbon frame. 

When choosing a bike I place great importance on how a it feels and how it makes me feel when I test ride it. 

I hope that helps.


Simon E [3863 posts] 1 month ago

I'd agree with everything Tim Walker wrote.

However, I would suggest that, while it's true when he states that "Your upgrade opinions with Tiagra are somewhat limited", I'd not choose a bike on that basis. 10 speed Tiagra is just as capable as 11 speed 105 and doesn't need upgrading.

Although reviews may not the best way to choose (both will be excellent bikes and you should pick the one you like best) both have been tested by road.cc:



VeloUSA [300 posts] 1 month ago

Question for you: What does "I’ve sat on both and like both." Mean? I sat means I rode both? If not get a rough bike fit and go ride. Choose the bike which feels right to your riding style/goals.

hawkinspeter [4227 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
VeloUSA wrote:

Question for you: What does "I’ve sat on both and like both." Mean? I sat means I rode both? If not get a rough bike fit and go ride. Choose the bike which feels right to your riding style/goals.

Better yet, choose the bike that makes you grin more.

kil0ran [1725 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Current edition Tiagra is functionally identical to 105, just minus a gear. And functionally equivalent to Ultegra, just minus a gear and a bit heavier. Long-term running costs are fractionally cheaper for 10-speed vs 11-speed and it's slightly easier to maintain yourself as shifting tolerances are a little wider.

I'm guessing that you won't be racing and if so a compact (50/34 chainrings) will help you get back up to fitness. And likewise you won't miss the extra gear of 105. You can also spec an 11-34 cassette with Tiagra - giving you a very spinny 34/34 for climbing and take the pressure off your knees. On the Boardman that's an at most £30 extra cost plus you can sell the old cassette or keep it as a spare. The equivalent job for the Specialized would set you back about £50 as the cassette and possible replacement chain are more expensive.

Go with the bike that makes you smile more, and don't worry about 10-speed vs 11-speed - in real world terms you won't notice it. As it is, you're not even getting full 105 on the Spesh which closes the gap even further to the Boardman.

Boatsie [537 posts] 1 month ago

I'd go alloy. I smack on mid forties. Started regularly cycling again 3 years past. At least 2 years.
Alloy's easier on the next generations clean up IMO.

IanEdward [353 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

The Specialized has slightly lower gearing as spec (11-32 cassette instead of 11-28).

Boardman sounds like it has a good frame for upgrading, do you anticipate spending lots of money on better parts over time?

Having said that, the Specialized is a really good frame, I'm sometimes tempted to swap the parts off my good bike just to see how light you could build the Specialized!

With guards and some other tweeks, my Specialized has come out at 9.2kg. Stupidly I swapped the stock cranks for some shorter Tiagra cranks which actually added about 200g! 

Overall, I prefer aluminium though, feel like I spend less time chasing creaks on metal frames than on plastic ones!



Boatsie [537 posts] 4 weeks ago

Not knowing your roads, distances.
I was super stoked changing to wider tyres to work commute. The last flat I changed was during heavy rain, cold hands and I ended up walking the bike home, calling the boss and driving the car.. An hour or so late by then.
During summer the thinner tyres are looked at. Depending on mood, if I have energy I'm often rolling at 30kmph on the slight climb (pretty flat) on 10.5kg 23mm compared to 25kmph on 11.9kg 38,32mm (when inflated at 80psi).
But no punctures about 2 years.
Wow that Boardman's light aye. 9kg.
The Specialized Allez also has an 8 speed model. That'd be economical to operate. If not needing the closer ratios to accelerate within packs etc, as a commuter might be handy. Wider spaces to clear chain throws, durable. My mate has either 7 or 8 speed similar to that and he loves it. Yearly operating costs 9500 km (180km weekly), no greesy hands, pays shop to flip cassette, chain wheels, chain when worn, costs him $70 (35quid) yearly. Plus tyres $80ish. 75 quid.
Faster than the fatties but he's come off a couple of times when roads wet I think.
At that price if not 100% on either above you might find an alloy with discs with 8 or more speeds on the rear end. If stays allow 32+ it'd be a very easy flip from cold tyres to summer tyres.
I don't roll anywhere near the speeds of a lot of blokes that pass me yet the other day I was past like I was still by a MTB.  1
You have a healthy budget.. Wide tyres are quite fast when inflated. Obviously not race speeds or pro tours would be fatties yet much similar with leg strengths such as my own.

stucky [43 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like

with the sales at the moment you can pick up an Allez on 105 R7000 for £800. That would be my choice. if both felt comfortable and you like both, maybe a lower price tag will help you make up your mind. Btw, there isn't much of a point in upgrading key components in any of these 2 bikes. If in the future you feel like you should upgrade, a new bike is a much better option (and excuse to buy a new bike). 

Sailorvet [1 post] 4 weeks ago

Thanks everyone for your comments so far. As soon as I feel better, I’ll let you know which one I go for.

TheBillder [45 posts] 3 weeks ago

I was in a similar situation a year back and went for the comfort option, which for me was a Ridley XTrail carbon with 105 mix. No real intention of doing much off road but the bike felt right on a test ride. It's fairly upright, close to a lot of endurance bikes.

Since then I indulged in an aluminium Cannondale CAAD Optimo with Tiagra, wanting a more roadie position. I've fitted the 11-34 cassette to this for climbing (came with 12-28) and it does work with the original chain after some adjustment of the derailleur C screw. The shifting is affected a little and cross-chaining is noisier, but over Wrynose pass recently the extra 2 teeth over the Ridley was very welcome. On the 28t cassette the feel of Tiagra is a bit different to 105. The clicks are more definite and the springs are stronger so it's arguably a bit less silky but the gap is not a big deal at all - and you might well prefer Tiagra. The ratio gaps are a little bigger (and I've worsened them with the new cassette) but either keep your cadence and change speed slightly or get used to a new rhythm.

With these bikes I'm likely to choose the Ridley if the ride is longer as the comfort gap is quite significant - more than I expected. Disc brakes for the wet as well - at least until I can play with different pads on the Cannondale as the stock ones don't seem all that good. The Cannondale gets the nod if the route is steeper or I feel whizzier.

One more thing: I got both my bikes on great deals as run out models. The colours are a bit 5 minutes ago or something. But I have noticed that some of these deals are not quite as time limited as they sometimes imply - my 2018 Ridley still pops up on targeted ads (yay cookies) at even lower prices, tho not in a local shop for test riding. Lots of good bikes out there.