Thursday, 13 November 2014

Get on board with Boardman Air 9.8

Some of you may have already known that I recently purchased a new road bike. It all started with a friendly group ride from Hulu Langat, doing the infamous Bukit Hantu and Genting Peres climbs. I mentioned to the gang that I wanted to get myself a road bike, mainly because I'll be riding in groups more often and the road bike seemed to be a more appropriate way to go. One of the guys, also affectionately known Captain Yip, kindly offered to take me to Hee Hong Cycle, located in Ampang and the sole distributor of Boardman bikes in Malaysia.

After much negotiating, though Captain Yip, I scored myself a Boardman Air 9.8 at an awesome, awesome price. I chose to go downwards in the specs, to keep the costs low. Apart from the frame and the wheels, the rest of the components, including the saddle, headset and handlebars actually came from the stock Air 9.2. Not top of the range but more than enough for my group training rides. The wheels were Fulcrum 7s and the frame was of course, the 9.8. I committed to purchase on the spot and would collect the bike the next day. I was pretty excited as the last time I owned a roadie was more than 5 years ago!

When the complete bike was built, I was stunned by it's beauty...

Of course... for photo taking purposes, I had to include the carbon race wheels!
The new Air 9.8 made some improvements on the previous models. Cables are now neatly tucked behind the headset on the top tube as opposed to being on the head tube. The wide but slim profile of the fork and redesigned seat stays aim to reduce turbulent airflow between the frame and the rotating wheel. The brakes are well hidden as well, with the front being all concealed inside the fork and the rear being underneath the chain stays. Topped off with a redeveloped more aerodynamic seatpost, it's no wonder that the Air 9.8 is the bike choice of the Brownlee brothers, both dominating triathlon in the Olympics and the ITU world circuit.

The Air 9.8 comes under the top end Elite series. Boardman offers a wide range of bikes in their Performance series as well.
Look mum, no brakes! So well hidden that you could barely see them!
Rear view of the bike... hopefully, a view that I can get more and more of my competitors to look at... hahaha
Front view... for the photographers on the race course
Many of you would know that I have been a loyal user of Felt bicycles in the past few years. Unfortunately, my Felt DA1 had a cracked frame while being transported on plane. Hee Hong Cycle was willing to trade it in as part of this purchase. Opportunities like these don't come everyday, hence the move to Boardman. The Felt bike brand was pioneered by Jim Felt. Like Jim Felt, Chris Boardman is passionate about his bikes and has taken a holistic approach to the design and redevelopment of his bikes. Being an Olympic and Triple World Champion, the guy really knows his stuff!

Likewise, Hee Hong Cycle is a family owned business and has been in operation for over 30 years. Siang, who took over the business from his father is very helpful and has great attention to detail. He was very open to negotiations on this purchase. Thanks Siang and Captain Yip for making this happen!

Recent studies show that a glass of wine before a ride can drastically improve performance... not substantiated though. Photo credit - Johnny Lee
I've only had two rides with the bike so far. One of it was a 90km ride under pouring rain. Though I'm still getting used to the more upright position of the road bike, it did feel very comfortable. It handled very well through the corners and descends. Yet, stiff and responsive in acceleration and steady efforts. This is not surprising, as the bike design was put through many hours of wind tunnel tests. Aero road bikes are designed for triathlons, especially for draft legal races. They are slightly heavier than the standard road bikes but much more aerodynamic. If I dare say, the Boardman Air 9.8 is one of the best aero road bike on the market!

We had some professional race car drivers riding with us that day. One was on a Boardman. The other, most likely wished he had one too! Photo credit - Rupert Chen
I look forward to putting in many more rides into this bike. And oh... remember I said that I traded in my Felt DA1? I'm still in need of a tri bike for my triathlon races. Hence, I have more news to share... in posts to come, watch this space!


CheapRunnerMike said...

Such a beautiful bike...
The Brownlees have been doing their part in building the Boardman reputation, but don't forget that Pete Jacobs won Kona on his Boardman just a couple years ago too!

Kevin Siah said...

Thanks Mike! Yes, Pete Jacobs won Kona in the 9.8 TT. He then raced 2013 with a prototype TTE. The mass produced TTE is much cleaner.