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Oct., 27, 2014 — Before Wiggins and Froome, Chris Boardman was the UK’s Tour de France yellow jersey hopeful. Unlike Wiggins and Froome, Boardman had no designs on yellow in Paris. He won three Tour prologues along with Olympic Gold in the pursuit, multiple world championships and famously set multiple hour records in the anything goes era of the ‘90s. An early adopter of power meters, electronic shifting and altitude tents he was called ‘The Professor’. All of this earned him an MBE, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and a position heading up the Secret Squirrel club, the bleeding edge technical department of the world beating British national cycling team.
Retiring from his position at British Cycling, Boardman founded a bike company bearing his name and built a formidable brand in the UK, which he is now bringing to the US in a very serious way. As expected, aero bikes are a big part of his line up, but it’s another bike that is likely to outsell them all, the SLS, an aggressive, performance oriented take on endurance.
Compared to Boardman’s road racer, the SLR, the SLS is slightly taller and longer for a more relaxed position, but compared to a Domane or Roubaix, it is still lower, shorter and all together more aggressive. The large tube diameters and stout rear give it a lively feel and instant response to power with stiffness at the bars that makes it much more precise than your typical endurance platform when the road points down. The seat stays are flattened and slightly bowed to provide some compliance. But don’t be fooled into thinking it has typical endurance comfort, any work the stays do to mitigate impact is largely undone by the huge diameter 31.6mm seat post. It feels like a complaint race bike, not a true endurance platform, great on small, high frequency impacts, but it crashes through bigger impacts, although the specification of 25mm wide Continental tires does help.
The rest of the SLS 9.4 Di2 build is spot on. Unlike so many bikes that pinch pennies with wheels, or off brand brakes and cranks, the SLS 9.4 Di2 is all glorious Ultegra Di2 11 speed. Even the wheels are the highly regarded Ultegra alloy clinchers. This not only improves overall performance, it gives the bike a very unified, handsome appearance. For the aggressive endurance rider it gives up nothing of true value to a full Dura Ace build.
Starting with an 850gram frame, the overall weight of a 58cm is a race-ready 16.3lbs, which is after all the entire point of this bike. The SLS is the endurance bike a man who has dedicated his life to performance should build. It takes the edge off a rough road, not the edge off aggressive power transfer, it gives the rider a relaxed race position, not a sit back and enjoy the scenery position, and we loved every race-ready mile of it.
SLS 9.4 Di2 Price: $4600 Weight: 16.3lbs Build: Full Ultegra Di2 with Boardman Cockpit. More: boardmanbikes.com