Boardman ADV 8.6 Review

Boardman ADV 8.6 review
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The Boardman ADV 8.6 Review represents a strategic extension of Boardman’s well-regarded approach to offering high-value, competitively priced bicycles into the ever-growing gravel riding sector. This model stands out for its comprehensive features, despite the potential drawbacks of its external cabling system in muddy conditions.

A Closer Look at the Boardman ADV 8.6

As the entry point into Boardman’s gravel bike lineup, the ADV 8.6 doesn’t skimp on essentials, despite its more accessible price point. Its alloy frame provides a sturdy yet lightweight foundation, complemented by a suite of components tailored for gravel riding. Among these are low-gearing options for challenging terrains and tubeless-ready wheels and tyres for a smoother, more puncture-resistant ride. The ADV 8.6 caters to a broad audience, with men’s and women’s versions available in four and three sizes, respectively, ensuring a good fit for a wide range of riders.

GBP £750.00 RRP 

Pack shot of the Boardman ADV 8.6 road bike
Credit: David Caudery / Immediate Media. Boardman ADV 8.6 Review

Specifications and Features

The spec sheet of the ADV 8.6 highlights its readiness to tackle both the unpredictable nature of gravel paths and the demands of long-distance riding. Although it is the range’s entry-level model, it does not fall short in delivering performance and comfort. The choice of tubeless-ready components underscores Boardman’s commitment to providing riders with the latest in cycling technology, even at lower price points.

Comparing Within the Range

Moving up from ADV 8.6, the ADV 8.9 model introduces a gravel-specific groupset and hydraulic braking, marking a significant upgrade in terms of both performance and price. This jump reflects a nearly 50% increase in cost but also a notable leap in capabilities, particularly for those who prioritize braking performance in varied conditions.

The top-tier offerings in Boardman’s gravel range, the ADV 9.0 models, bring even more to the adventurous rider. With options featuring either a Shimano GRX 11-speed groupset or SRAM Rival AXS XPLR, these bikes cater to high-performance enthusiasts seeking the ultimate in gravel riding technology. Additionally, Boardman embraces the growing trend of electric-assist bicycles with the ADV8.9E, a Fazua-powered e-gravel bike, expanding the range’s appeal to include riders looking for a bit of extra support on their adventures.

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Boardman ADV 8.6 Review

4BiKE Review

The ADV 8.6 is the less expensive sibling of our budget Bike of the Year, the Boardman ADV 8.9, with Boardman describing the 8.6 as its ‘entry-level adventure bike.

The attractive 6061 aluminium frame is paired with a tapered full-carbon fork, a 9-speed Shimano Sora, a tubeless-ready wheelset and wide-ranging gears with a very low 32×34 pairing.

The frame is triple-butted – the tube walls have three different thicknesses to keep weight down while maximising strength at the welded ends. The welds are very neatly smoothed apart from around the bottom bracket area, where they’re bulkier and less aesthetically pleasing.

The big oversized down tube and the forks 1⅛ to 1½in tapered steerer are there to maximise control and stability, though the oversized 31.6mm diameter Seatpost is a bit of a surprise. All the rage a few years ago, these have largely disappeared in favour of 27.2mm posts or brand-specific D-profile seat posts.

Boardman ADV saddle sitting on Boardman seatpost on the Boardman ADV 8.6 road bike
Credit: David Caudery / Immediate Media. Boardman ADV 8.6 Review

There was some concern that the extra stiffness would be felt through the saddle, but my fears were unfounded. Thanks to the extra cushion of air offered by the wide Schwalbe tires, there was no excessive firmness, even when running them at their maximum tyre pressure.

Boardman ADV 8.6 kit

The tyres are a good choice too. Despite their 38mm width and the off-road grip offered by the knobbly tread, they don’t steal much from your speed on the tarmac. Yes, they’re going to be a little slower than slicker, narrower tyres but unless you’re chasing personal bests or Strava segments, the extra comfort over poor roads and grip on gravel trails is a more-than-reasonable pay-off.

The gearing is similar to the Pinnacle Laterite, also on the test, but with an even wider range and a bottom gear that’s slightly lower. This helps both on hills and on steeper off-road sections.

Boardman alloy bar on the Boardman ADV 8.6 road bike
Boardman ADV 8.6 Review/ The wide flare at the end of the bar provides great control. David Caudery / Immediate Media

The Boardman’s handlebar also comes into its own when you swap the tarmac for the trail. Nominally 44cm wide, it actually measures around 41cm centre-to-centre at the lever hoods before flaring out to 50cm at the ends of the drops. It’s a very effective shape and offers great control.

The reasonably narrow hoods keep your shoulders narrow and fairly aero on the road, while the flared drops come into their own off-road. You can hammer along trails quickly and confidently with a good grip on most surfaces, at least in the dry.

Boardman ADV 8.6 geometry

The Boardman ADV 8.6 is celebrated for delivering an exceptionally enjoyable riding experience, a testament to its meticulously designed geometry that strikes a harmonious balance between fun and stability. The bike’s geometry is a cornerstone of its performance, crafted to cater to both the thrill-seekers and the endurance riders venturing into the realm of gravel riding.

A Dive into the Design

At the heart of the Boardman ADV 8.6’s geometry is a slightly shallow 71.5-degree seat angle. This design choice, somewhat less aggressive than those found on more race-oriented bikes, plays a pivotal role in moderating the bike’s steering response. The result is a machine that offers riders a more relaxed handling dynamic, ideal for navigating the varied terrains and challenges that define gravel riding.

Stability Meets Enjoyment

The ADV 8.6 further enhances its stability through a combination of a longish wheelbase and a dropped bottom bracket. These elements work in concert to lower the bike’s center of gravity, providing a planted feel on loose surfaces without compromising the overall agility of the bike. This stable but responsive handling characteristic ensures that the Boardman maintains its playful demeanor, encouraging riders to explore and engage with the terrain.

The Riding Experience

What stands out about the Boardman ADV 8.6 is how its geometry influences the riding experience. The bike’s design invites confidence on descents and precision on technical sections, all while keeping the ride comfortable for longer adventures. It’s a geometry that doesn’t just accommodate a wide range of riding styles; it actively enhances them, making every ride not just a journey, but an exploration of what’s possible on two wheels.

The Boardman ADV 8.6 exemplifies how thoughtful geometry can elevate the gravel biking experience, blending stability and fun in a package that’s accessible to a broad spectrum of riders. Whether you’re weaving through tight trails or embarking on expansive gravel roads, the ADV 8.6 promises a ride that’s as rewarding as it is enjoyable.

Seat angle (degrees)7473.57373
Head angle (degrees)717171.571.5
Chainstay (mm)430430430430
Seat tube (mm)515530555575
Top tube (mm)535555570585
Head tube (mm)130150170185
Fork offset (mm)50505050
Bottom bracket drop (mm)70707070
Stack (mm)554573596608
Reach (mm)376385393399
Crank length (mm)170170172.5175
Stem length (mm)808090100
Handlebar width (mm)420440440460

Boardman ADV 8.6 ride impressions

The brakes are the one area where the ADV 8.6 loses a little lustre. Whereas Boardman’s ADV 8.9 has Shimano’s excellent hydraulic disc brakes, the ADV 8.6 has to make do with Tektro MD-C510 cable-actuated disc brakes – and it really is a case of making do.

They take a fair few rides to bed in and require more effort to pull the levers, and while you wouldn’t expect hydraulics at this price, I’d prefer Tektro’s dual-piston mechanical Spyres.

When you pull the lever on a dual-piston setup, this pulls just one of the callipers against the disc rotor; on dual-piston brakes, both callipers are pulled towards the rotor for better braking and more even brake-pad wear.

Male cyclist in blue top riding the Boardman ADV 8.6 road bike
Boardman ADV 8.6 Review/Russell Burton / Immediate Media


The 8.6 is nearly equal to the 8.9 when it comes to enjoyment, though. The tyres are a good compromise for the needs of road and off-road riding, and it’s also comfortable. While the absence of thru-axles means you can induce a tiny amount of brake rub if you try, this isn’t really an issue.

But I would have liked better brakes because it’s about the only criticism I can level at the ADV 8.6, which would make a great commuter-cum-fitness-cum-gravel-riding all-rounder. Tough, comfortable, and with great control, Boardman’s ADV 8.6 covers a lot of bases. It’s bags of fun too.

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Boardman ADV 8.6 review

Product Specifications


PriceGBP £750.00
Weight10.83kg (L)


Available sizesS, M, L, XL
HeadsetFSA Orbit C-40 ACB, integrated
TyresSchwalbe G-One Allround TLE Addix 700x38c
StemBoardman alloy 31.8mm
ShifterShimano Sora
SeatpostBoardman alloy 31.6mm
SaddleBoardman ADV
Rear derailleurShimano Sora
HandlebarBoardman alloy 31.8mm, 70mm reach, 120mm drop
Bottom bracketFSA Cartridge 68×110.5mm
Front derailleurShimano Sora
FrameTriple-butted 6061 X7 aluminium, smooth welds
ForkC7 full carbon with tapered steerer
CranksFSA Vero Pro
ChainKMC Z9
CassetteShimano HG400 11-34
BrakesTektro MD-C511 cable discs, 160mm rotors
WheelsBoardman ADV asymmetric Tubeless-ready rims, Formula CX-20 front hub, Formula CX-22 rear

The Boardman ADV 8.6 serves as a gateway into the world of gravel riding, offering an impressive blend of performance features at a price point that’s hard to overlook. Despite its position as the entry-level model in Boardman’s gravel lineup, the ADV 8.6 stands out for its responsive frame and well-balanced ride position, paired with the modern convenience of tubeless-ready wheels and tyres. Here’s a closer look at what makes this bike a compelling option for riders and where it leaves room for improvement.

Reasons to Buy the Boardman ADV 8.6:

+ Responsive Frame: The Boardman ADV 8.6 features a frame that responds eagerly to rider input, translating effort into motion efficiently and offering a lively ride experience.

+ Well-Balanced Ride Position: This gravel bike is designed with a ride position that strikes a perfect balance between comfort for long distances and aggressiveness for performance, making it suitable for a wide range of gravel riding activities.

+ Tubeless-Ready Wheels and Tyres: With tubeless-ready wheels and tyres, the ADV 8.6 provides riders the advantage of lower tire pressures for increased traction and comfort, as well as reduced risk of punctures.

Reasons to Avoid:

Slightly Bumpy Ride on Rougher Terrain: Due to its taut frame, riders may experience a less forgiving ride on rough terrain, as the bike can transmit more surface irregularities to the rider.

Exposed Gear Cables Prone to Contamination: The bike’s gear cables are not fully sheathed, which can lead to contamination from mud and water, potentially affecting shifting performance over time.

Despite its entry-level position in Boardman’s gravel range and its attractive sub-£1,000 price point, the Boardman ADV 8.6 demonstrates a thoughtful balance of features and performance. The bike’s efficiency and bonus features like tubeless-ready components make it a compelling choice, though improvements in cable protection could enhance its long-term reliability and performance on more challenging terrains.

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