This is the new Boardman Road Pro Disc, and it’s the highlight of the updated Boardman range, which we went to the launch of in Wales a few weeks ago. The reason I say it’s a highlight is because you’re getting a full carbon fibre frameset with Shimano’s latest 105 hydraulic disc brakes, all for £1,499. Talk about a bargain.
The Boardman range is split between the Elite lineup, full of very racy and top-end bikes, and the Performance models, which is where this Road Pro Disc lives. The Performance range also covers cyclocross and hybrid bikes as well as road bikes, and prices extend from £499 to £1,799.
This bike features a brand new frame designed specifically for disc brakes. Pegged as a sporty road bike with an endurance geometry, it is more relaxed than a race bike, but not quite as tall as a typical sportive model. It’s well-proportioned and a looker in this silver paint job.
There’s internally routed cables in the fork and frame and a press-fit bottom bracket. Axles are of the conventional quick release type, no thru-axles here. It’s a shame to see the use of post mount, and not the more modern Flat Mount, for attaching the disc calipers to the frame and fork. This doesn’t make any difference to the actual functionality and performance of the brakes, it’s more about the adoption of the latest standards. And Flat Mount brakes look nicer. But Flat Mount brake calipers are still scarce.
A Shimano 105 5800 11-speed mechanical groupset is combined with an FSA Gossamer Pro chainset, used because the frame has a PR30 bottom bracket and Shimano doesn’t make a chainset with a 30mm axle.
The chainset has our favourite 52-36 chainring configuration, which is a nice balance between the spinny ratios of a compact and the clout of a standard double. There’s a 12-28 cassette out back which should be enough to bail you out on the ascents.
The 105 brake levers operate the new RS505 hydraulic disc brakes, with 160mm rotors front and rear. They use technology first featured in Dura-Ace and Ultegra mechanical shift/hydraulic brake levers, but do introduce a new hood shape that is dividing of opinion.
Like most manufacturers, Boardman keeps the bike on budget by using a lot of own-brand equipment. Nothing wrong with that, and all the kit on this bike looks fit for purpose. There are Boardman-branded aluminium aero shaped rims laced to Shimano hubs with Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 25mm tyres. There is space for 30mm tyres but, in case you're wondering, there are no mudguard eyelets.
A Boardman Alloy handlebar and matching stem are sized accordingly to match the frame size - that means a 120mm stem and 440mm wide bar on this XL bike - while a 31.6mm Boardman Carbon seatpost is topped off with a Prologo New Nago Evo saddle.
The Road Pro Disc is available in just four sizes, 51.5 to 57.5cm. We’ve got the largest size in for Big Dave to test, and it measures up with a 585mm top tube, 195mm head tube, 73-degree seat and head angles, 415mm chainstays and 68mm bottom bracket drop. It weighs 8.78kg (19.4lb).
This is one of the cheapest carbon fibre disc-equipped road bikes we’ve yet had in the office. Boardman as a brand is very competitive on price, and Shimano’s new RS505 hydraulic brake levers make it possible for manufacturers to make a hydraulic disc road bike more affordable than ever previously imagined.
As a result, there isn’t much we’ve previously tested to compare it with. A quick search reveals the new Cannondale CAAD12 Disc 105, which is the same price and has the same Shimano 105 disc brake build kit, but has an aluminium frame. This difference just serves to highlight how good value the Boardman really is.
Another good comparison, though it's pitched more as a comfort and all-road sort of bike, is the Pinnacle Dolomite 5. Like the Cannondale, it has an aluminium frame, but it uses the same RS505 hydraulic disc brakes with a largely 105 drivetrain. The best thing though is the price, it's just £999. It's the cheapest bike we've just tested with proper hydraulic disc brakes.
The bike is being tested now so we can see if it lives up to its promise.
More info on the Boardman at www.boardmanbikes.com
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.