If you are one of those who want to start in gravel and are looking for an economic model, the Boardman brand has an interesting option. This is the new ADV 8.9 2021 that stands out for mounting the new Shimano GRX groupset.
Below I detail the key aspects of this model and I encourage you to participate with your comments.
As the manufacturer describes, the Boardman ADV 8.9 2021 is based on a model under a triple-butted (6061) aluminum frame with concealed welds. If you look at their welds, these, like the model from the previous year, are presented in a polished way. It is appreciated, because many bicycles of the same aluminum material, have their joints very visible. And we are talking about respectable brands like Trek or Specialized, who could do better about it.
«The Boardman ADV 8.9 2021 is based on a triple butted (6061) aluminum frame with concealed welds»
To all this, this gravel option comes with a tapered carbon fork and with a straight cut that gives the set quite modernity. Maybe what I miss is that it does not have added grommets for the installation of bikepacking accessories. However, I do not see it as essential either because if we want to install cargo, there are solutions on the market through adjustment straps, which we can install where we need them.
«This gravel bike comes with a tapered carbon fork and a straight cut that makes the set quite modern»
One of the things that has not changed in this new model is that the wiring is presented externally. From my point of view, it is not so essential unless you are very purist.
Regarding its geometry, it presents a smooth sloping or fall of the upper tube. This type of design allows us to drive a little more relaxed and the user will have a more vertical position, which means that they can spend hours in it comfortably. The bottom bracket is lower than usual, making the bicycle much more stable in somewhat complicated conditions.
If we focus on the tubes of the frame, these practically do not have round shapes. For example, the top tube is somewhat flattened or rectangular. The bottom tube is very thick and widens as it joins the bike’s bottom bracket. As for the seatstays that are presented, they are short, but are not dropped like in many new models. Furthermore, these are not straight but have certain curvatures to mitigate the possible vibrations produced by the irregular terrain.
Another point that strikes me about seatstays is their shape. They closely resemble the seatstays of steel bicycles, as they are not straight but curved at the top and aligned to the wheels.
«If we focus on the tubes of the frame, these practically do not have round shapes. For example, the top tube is somewhat flattened or rectangular»
One of the aspects that I like compared to the previous version, is that it now offers us locks based on through axles. As I always add, it is a solution that I like because it gives me greater security and is more comfortable when you must remove or adjust the wheels.
Another interesting thing is that this model can be a good option as a bicycle to face long trips. In other words, it is possible to install fenders or a rear luggage rack. However, one point to note is that the bike lacks additional welding to install a third bottle cage. This is a must on a gravel bike.
Finally, in terms of sizes you have SM, MD, LG, and XL that cover most sizes of users.
As we have previously indicated, the Boardman offers us this time the new specific group for gravel from Shimano that is the GRX. Specifically, the RX400 level has been chosen. It is the cheapest and simplest series in the GRX range and stands out for being a 10-speed transmission. It should be remembered that the RX400 only works with a double chainring. The rest of the higher level GRX groups can be assembled with both, a single and double chainring solution.
This transmission can be compared to a Shimano Tiagra. The difference is that GRX is a set to be used basically off-road. However, it works correctly on the road.
Specifically, a 48 / 32t chainring was combined with an 11 / 36t cassette. Not bad, because we usually see 11 / 34t cassette.
«The Boardman ADV 8.9 comes with a 48 / 32t chainring paired with an 11 / 36t cassette »
Handlebar, stem and seatpost are made of aluminum and are provided by the brand itself. The saddle is also standard, and I do not know the specific model.
As for the brakes they are hydraulic. They are the Shimano GRX from the same RX400 group. Therefore, the type of braking is much more efficient compared to mechanical brakes.
Wheels and tires
The wheels are also provided by the brand itself and are the Boardman ADV ready to mount tubeless tires, which is a good feature. The tires are specific for gravel: the Schwalbe G-One Speed 38c for 700 wheels. They are tires with micro knobs that allow you to roll on multiple surfaces and, at the same time, roll with some agility on less rough or asphalt roads.
The Boardman ADV 8.9 2021 is surprising in terms of its price and performance. In addition, it has a fairly modern aluminum frame with tubes with different shapes and that can be equipped with fenders or a rear rack.
It comes equipped with the Shimano GRX 10-speed and hydraulic brakes. This group allows you to circulate on multiple surfaces. Its weight is average at this bike level: 10.5 kg, which you can improve by adding better quality components.
It is an ideal bike to start in gravel or as a versatile bike option for daily use.
- Model: Boardman ADV 8.9 2021
- Modality: Gravel for any type of terrain.
- Frame: Aluminum.
- Fork: Carbon.
- Groupset: Shimano GRX RX400 10 speed.
- Brakes: Hydraulic.
- Chainring: Dual 48 / 32t
- Cassette: 11 / 36t.
- Components: Aluminum.
- Tires: Schwalbe G-One 700c x 38mm.
- Wheels: Boardman ADV.
- Weight: 10.5 kg.
Its official price is € 1,091 (Approx. US$ 1,225)
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