Review: Boardman SPORT/e Road

17 June 2014

“A proper Boardman, it makes a great entry-level road bike for youth circuit racing”


Boardman SPORT/e Road




10.3 kg / 22.7 lbs (without pedals)


Halfords –

About the Bike

Boardman’s junior road bike is an aluminium-framed 700c-wheel scaled-down version of its adult road bikes. A children’s bike should always be bought according to the rider’s size though, not age, but consider that it typically suits children aged nine to twelve. You can watch our video of it in action.

Note that the SPORT/e Road’s design and components make it an out-and-out road bike, not a dual-purpose cyclocross/road bike.


Geometry and Bike Fit

Actual top tube (centre-to-centre)


Horizontal “virtual” top tube (centre-to-centre)


Seat tube (centre-to-centre)


Seat tube (centre-to-top)


Crank length


Handlebar width (centre-to-centre)


Handlebar stem (centre-to-centre)


The frame has a “semi-compact” geometry with a sloping top tube which allows a decent amount of stand-over height for small riders. The best way to gauge modern road bike sizing is to look at the top tube length rather than the traditional seat tube measurement. As a comparison, the Boardman is about the same size as a Formeula 700 Road, and a little longer than an Islabikes Luath 700S.

The cranks are slightly longer than we would have liked – we would have preferred 160mm cranks for riders of a bike this size rather than the 165mm cranks fitted.

The handlebars are well-proportioned for small riders – narrow, shallow drop, and short forward throw as you would expect. The bars are attached with a short stem, and together they combine to place the body in a very good riding position. The brake levers on our test bike were mounted a little low on the bars so you might want to reposition them slightly (see our detailed riding position video for more information). Not many people realise that the Shimano Tourney brake levers are reach-adjustable. If you buy one of these bikes make sure the reach is adjusted for small hands.

The saddle is both shorter and narrower than adult saddles, as you would hope.

Overall the SPORT/e Road’s geometry and bike fit gets a good pass mark from us.



The SPORT/e Road weighed in at 10.3 kg (22.7 lbs) without pedals. How you view that depends on what you’re comparing with:-

  • an Islabikes Luath weighs quite a lot less at 9.8 kg, but that costs £500.
  • Boardman’s own adult Road Sport model weighs 10.9 kg at £450, albeit with more weight due to a larger frame than the junior model. A bike’s weight is a larger proportion of a child’s bodyweight than an adult’s weight of course.
  • and the Carrera Zelos Junior that we tested recently weighs 10.2 kg at just £250, although this has smaller (and therefore lighter) 650c-sized wheels.

So we think the bike’s weight is reasonable for its price. We’d love to see Boardman bring out a superlight Team or Pro version of the bike one day too.


Frame and Forks

Boardman has always prided itself on the smooth welds on the aluminium frames of its adult bikes – they look so good that it’s easy to mistake their aluminium frames for carbon. The welds are hand-finished on each frame.

The same feature has cascaded down to the SPORT/e Road, and it does make the bike look very sleek.

The frame itself looks very similar to the adult Boardman Road Sport Ltd Edition with a similar yellow, black and white colour scheme. Like the adult range, the junior bike’s frame tubes are all shaped individually for strength and stiffness rather than simple cylinders. Everything looks very grown-up.

The fork has aluminium blades and a cro-moly steerer tube – standard kit on bikes like this.

The frame has braze-ons for a single bottle cage and, sensibly, for mudguards and a rear carrier too.






Wheels and Tyres

The front wheel is radially spoked which gives it a slightly exotic look. The Boardman branded E4P rims are good quality and the quick-release hubs are straightforward, workmanlike units.

The rear hub is threaded to take a traditional screw-on 7-speed freewheel though. We would much rather have seen a freehub and cassette instead (i.e. where the freewheel mechanism is integrated into the hub itself). A traditional hub and screw-on freewheel makes it very difficult to alter the gearing, upgrade the rear wheel, or even borrow a spare rear wheel if needed. It’s an area where cost saving has presumably driven the specification.

The 700x23c tyres are unbranded but they rolled well and gave good grip in wet and dry. There’s enough frame and fork clearance to fit 25mm tyres instead if preferred.






The bike has a double chainset with 48/34T chainrings. It’s a two-piece unit with aluminium crank arms and a steel spider. There’s a 7-speed 14-28T Shimano screw-on freewheel. That gives a range of gears (expressed in traditional inches) from 32” to 90”. That’s a low enough gear for any hill that the typical rider of this bike would encounter, and a ratio at the top end that is more than sufficient for such young riders who should be spinning the pedals anyway rather than grinding big gears.

The chainrings don’t look easily interchangeable though and the 7-speed freewheel can’t be changed like a 8-speed cassette can be, so if you’re going to be using the bike for youth circuit racing you’ll need to calculate the allowable gear ratios from those already provided – don’t expect to change the rings or sprockets to specifically suit your particular age group’s gear restriction.

We’ve used the Shimano Tourney 7-speed integrated brake levers/shifters on plenty of other bikes before and they always change gear positively and with minimal effort. Their only downside is that shifting to a smaller sprocket or chainring is done with a thumb-lever from the brake hoods, rather than by a lever nestling behind the main brake lever (like all the more expensive Shimano STI models like Claris, 105, Ultegra, etc.). Riders can use a thumb-lever very easily when riding on the hoods, but they can’t change gear with it when holding the drops of the bars.

The front derailleur is another component from the Shimano Tourney range and does its job without fuss. It’s great to see a Shimano Claris rear derailleur on the bike though. Claris sets the standard for quality, and the same rear mech can also be found on youth bikes like the Hoy Cammo which costs £250 more than the Boardman.








Dual-pivot brake callipers are supplied by Tektro. It’s easy to see why Tektro is almost ubiquitous on bikes in the £250 to £500 bracket – the brakes are stiff and light.

As mentioned above, the Shimano Tourney brake levers are reach adjustable for small hands via a small screw on the brake hood.




Boardman’s adult bikes always have a finishing kit of own-branded components, and the junior bike is no different with its junior specific components labelled “E4P”. The styling of the handlebar stem, saddle, and seat-pin matches the rest of the bike nicely.

The handlebars are proportionally sized, and the short A-head stem is good quality.

Bear in mind when setting your saddle that the seatpost’s saddle clamp has a very long “layback”, so you will probably need to clamp the saddle towards the rear of its rails to put it in the right position. Again, see our comprehensive riding position videos to set the saddle position properly for a young rider.








Our three testers perform well in Under 12 circuit racing and they also do a fair amount of riding on the public roads, so they were well-qualified to put the Boardman through its paces.

In short, the bike performed very well: it tracked very well when leaned over hard in fast corners, it seemed stiff when attacking hard or climbing out of the saddle, and it cruised along smoothly when ridden more gently.

The Boardman would be right at home in youth road racing and it would make a great entry-level bike in circuit races.


Service and Support

Like all Boardman bikes (apart from the very high-end Elite series) the SPORT/e Road is sold exclusively by Halfords online and in its stores. That means the bike can be seen and tried for size in-store nationwide, and that will appeal to many of the parents who are likely to buy this bike.

Halfords has done well in the last few years to largely overturn what undoubtedly used to be a poor public perception of its cycle operation. In particular, customers buying Boardman’s adult bikes have had high expectations, and we suspect this has driven the improvements in service and support. Nevertheless, the company is so large and such a favourite target that it is always going to be easy to find reports of poor customer service. But the tide turned quite a while ago, and buying the SPORT/e Road from Halfords is likely to be as positive as buying a quality children’s bike from any other supplier.

Boardman Bikes itself has just been bought by Halfords, but we don’t expect that to reduce its commitment. Chris Boardman himself is the Executive Chairman and he also heads up R&D, and we expect the brand to continue to operate quite independently of the wider Halfords business. We certainly can’t see Boardman’s pride in its bikes & brand being reduced, so customers are likely to be well looked after if they need after-sales support.


Value for Money and Resale

At £350 the SPORT/e Road is good value but perhaps not outstanding. But when you take into account the regular Halfords discounts and offers, plus the 10% British Cycling members’ discount, we think the actual purchase price could be as low as £290 if you buy at the right moment. And that would make it excellent value indeed.

Resale is difficult to predict. Low-volume, specialist bikes like Islabikes famously retain a very high percentage of their purchase price. Higher-volume, cheaper road bikes from bigger brands don’t have the same resale value. However, any quality children’s bike that has been well looked after will always find a buyer easily.



Young riders will find the Boardman fast and comfortable to ride. It looks great, performs well, and is good value for money (excellent value, in fact, if bought wisely – see above).

That value makes it a great entry-level bike for youth circuit racing, and we’re sure that we’ll see plenty of Boardman junior road bikes on start-lines all around the UK. It’s a great buy for parents not prepared to spend £450/500 for the established brands. If your child is interested in cyclocross in the winter too, though, bear in mind that they would need a second bike for that.

It’s likely, though, that most of the bikes sold will be used for the simple enjoyment of cycling, not racing, and for that the Boardman is a very good choice indeed.

+ value for money
+ design
+ proportional sizing
– freewheel not freehub/cassette limits gearing flexibility
– cranks slightly too long


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Review: Boardman SPORT/e Road

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