Product Reviews February 4, 2011

Bike Reviews - Boardman's Comp Hybrid

Okay, let’s get this out of the way at the outset. I am a fair-weather cyclist in the most literal sense.

The idea of cycling in driving rain and oncoming wind fills me with horror, as does the maintenance of the bike after its been splashed in mud/chalk and whatever detritus it has picked up during my short jaunts.

All that said, I do quite like a quick blast on a bike from time to time. Plus, when you work full time and have small kids, you tend to need to get out for some exercise every now and then.

My current bike is a 15 year old Scott MTB. It cost around 400 quid so was above entry level at the time but is no feat of modern engineering. It has no suspension and the old rubber blocks that are supposed to be the brakes (unless its wet in which case they do nothing but squeak) are the same ones it had when I bought it. It hadn’t seen a huge amount of road recently although a few years ago I used to use it for a few months each year to commute 16 miles a day when the day was fine.

Last summer, I decided to start cycling to work again, and thoroughly enjoyed it, in particular when I was leaving all the traffic behind between Ovingdean and Rottingdean, yet I found it difficult due to one or more of the following reasons;

The bike is past its prime

I am past my prime

All of the above.

To be fair, the bike has always been a tad on the small side, which doesn’t help my ride. The seat and handle bars are on the highest setting and when I recently tried adjusting the seat up by a mere centimetre it fell out of the frame. 

My employer offers the ‘cycle to work’ scheme, which in simple terms involves leasing a new bike of your choice for a year, and at the end of the term you can buy the bike based on a pre-determined ‘fair market value’.  The scheme seems to vary from employer to employer but essentially you can buy the bike in monthly instalments out of your gross salary – so achieving a 20 to 40% discount depending on your income tax band. I decided this sounded like a bargain so bought a ‘voucher’ for a bike up to the value of £500 which I have used to buy a Boardman Comp hybrid. It’s probably not as cool as a proper road-bike, or as sexy as a mountain-bike, but it’s fairly light and fairly sturdy if you do want a ride over few rough tracks. This doesn’t mean a great deal to me but for those in the know; it has SRAM X5 gears, Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes and a Ritchey finishing kit. 

Despite being an aforementioned fair weather cyclist, I braved the “sub zero” temperatures to collect it on Saturday. 

 Early impressions were great – felt solid, responsive and gear changes were smooth and precise. I wasn’t too happy about the toe clips, as I wear normal trainers and found it difficult engaging my foot whilst trying to move with the traffic, but these are easy to remove.

After about a mile and a half, the ride started becoming bumpy and I started to worry that the cycle was proving quite unforgiving on a poor surface. This worried me as I had toyed with an MTB with shocks and was wondering if the thin wheels were the problem

The good news; it wasn’t the road surface causing the problem. The bad news was that I had managed to get a puncture in the rear tyre, and having only just picked the bike up, I had no spare tube, or any tools whatsoever.

Fortunately for me, my wife, who had taken me to collect the bike, was not far ahead so she came back and rescued me, but this cut short my inaugural ride and my promised review and commentary on what a joy the bike is. 

On advice from bikebritain I am ordering a couple of spare tubes, some better tyres, and a saddle bag to keep it all in. 

So there you have it, my review is more of a short tale of woe, but I haven’t been put off and I’m looking forward to getting the bike back on the road.

That is of course if the weather remains fair....

Words, Punctures and Thumbnail Image - Dave Francis

Registered No. 6993486

38 Salisbury Road
West Sussex
BN11 1RD