Boardman/AiR/9.4 – Long Term Test Bike
In the first of our Long Term Test Bike Features we look at Glen’s aero road bike, the Boardman AiR 9.4. Glen runs THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY which provides workshop support for Tribeca Sport in Tunbridge Wells on the Kent and Sussex border. This means he gets to test bikes all over the South-East from home with the Ashdown Forest on his doorstep and the Downs to the South and North providing enough lumps and bumps for world-class training. Here’s what he thinks of his latest wheels…
A decent road bike to clock the miles on has been on my list for a while now. Boardman Elite Series bikes are split into three framesets; The AiR/TT series deals with Time Trial and Triathlon, the SlR is super light and ideal for climbing and the AiR sits somewhere between the two. It’s aerodynamic like the TT, but has road geometry and is still impressively light compared to most of the competition. The great thing is that each frameset remains virtually unchanged through the range, meaning that you can grab yourself a top-class frame and upgrade at your leisure.
The frame itself has been designed with input from Chris Boardman (Olympic gold medallist and Hour record holder), largely using the wind-tunnel to create the perfect aerodynamic tube profiles. It has really nice clean lines – the thinking behind this is that the simplest way of getting from A to B is in a straight line so why complicate things? Internal cable routing helps maintain both efficiency and the look of the bike and the massive box section stays keep everything super stiff on the climbs. A BB30 bottom bracket and tapered head tube again add to the supreme power transfer.
Being a fan of Shimano and Mavic I decided to go with the 9.4 which features Dura-Ace, an FSA SLK light carbon crank, Ritchey finishing kit and a tasty pair of Cosmic Carbon SL’s. Coming from Ultegra I’m massively impressed by just how precise Dura-Ace feels. Likewise the fairly deep section Mavic hoops are incredibly stiff compared to my training wheels. The top spec finishing kit really complements the whole build and there really isn’t anything on the upgrade list! (Apart from Di2 – watch this space!)
I’ve always suffered in the past when the going gets flat – my legs much prefer it when the gradient is up in the high teens! The Boardman counteracts this by providing a much more aerodynamic frame. This means that on the flat and on the downhill’s, I have to do less work to keep it moving and you can actually feel the speed build as you descend. The bike I’m used to would get to terminal velocity just after you ran out of gears, but with the AiR it just keeps getting faster and faster! Scary Fast in fact!
Initially this made me worry about the frames ability to climb, but the super stiff box section stays do a great job of transferring the power to the rear wheel and the whole frame lends itself beautifully to spending long days on the road. Give it the beans and it’s so responsive – It’s completely unlike any other aero road bike I’ve tested and really does seem to have the perfect balance of comfort, efficiency and stiffness. It truly is a work of art!
So far I’ve not changed anything apart from the saddle and the tape and I’ve done about a thousand miles on it, so I’m going to log a few more in and report back. We’ll keep you updated and in the mean time our whole range of bikes are available to test including my AiR and Adrian’s AiR/TT, so drop us a line or pop in to arrange a test ride!