Boardman HT Pro Cycle Magazine Review
At any given price, a 26-inch wheel hardtail should have a better specification than a full suspension bike or a hardtail 29er. When that price is ‘under £1,000’, where one poor component choice can tip the balance on a bike’s performance, there’s a strong case for choosing an uncompromised, 26er hardtail – like this Boardman HT Pro.
The frame looks like carbon fibre but in fact it’s hydroformed aluminium with the welds smoothed over. It says ‘cross country geometry’ on the seat tube, yet while it is a lightweight, racy bike, it has a 120mm-travel fork and a slacker head angle than you’d expect. That yields a generous trail figure and gives the bike a trail-bike-like line-holding ability while descending. The high, wide bar emphasises this, and the HT Pro handles just fine on technical trail centre black routes. It helps that it has an excellent fork for a £1,000 bike: a Rockshox Reba RL. That’s smooth and controlled, and you can set the positive and negative air springs precisely to your weight and preference. Its tapered steerer means it has a bigger (1.5in) lower headset race, which should reduce steering flex and lengthen bearing life.
Manufacturers often have to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ when specifying their bikes. Not here. The drivetrain is the XT-equivalent Sram X9 throughout. More cable pull means it’s more tolerant of grime and cable stretch than Shimano’s gearing, although shifts never feel as crisp. A 27/40 double chainset is married to a 12-36 cassette. The range is ample, and the big step between chainrings isn’t as pronounced as the roadie’s compact double. It saves a little weight and it eliminates the sluggish downshift from middle to inner rings that you often suffer with triples on sudden climbs.
The BB30 bottom bracket gets rid of the bb cups and uses a thicker (30mm) axle. it should be lighter and stiffer, but I don’t like the idea of press fit bearings any more than integrated headsets, which this bike also has. If longevity is an issue, replacements are readily available. The bottom bracket itself is a bit low, improving cornering stability at speed at the cost of more rock, rut or root strikes when pedalling.
Any shortcomings are minor, however. Given its low weight, high spec, and sure handling, the Boardman HT Pro is a steal at £1,000. You could easily spend £200-£300 more on a bike of this quality.