Boardman MTR 9.0

Boardman MTR 9.0 review: brilliant or bobbins?

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Barney batters the Boardman MTR 9.0. Boardman’s blingiest bouncy bike, but is this affordable full-sus Brilliant, or bobbins?

Boardman’s MTR 9.0 is the company’s flagship mountain bike. No high-falutin’ DH or Enduro monster, this – the aim of the company is to produce perfect machines for all-out trail riding in the UK. It certainly looks the part.

Boardman MTR 9.0

Boardman’s MTR 9.0 Review – Frame

The MTR 9.0 frame is a new design for Boardman, made of hydro-formed ‘X9’ 6066 alloy, with all the tube welds filed down. Smoooooth. Under the snazzy semi-matte sort of eggshell paint fade, the front triangle is vaguely reminiscent of the first generation Santa Cruz Nomad – there’s a subtle curve to the top tube to accommodate the shock – which the uncharitable might liken (as they did with the Nomad) to a whippet doing a poo. I rather like it though. There’s even room for a water bottle cage – although the Boardman website recommended using a side-entry cage on the smaller sizes. This one, being the XL, had no such mandate directed against it.

Boardman’s MTR 9.0 Review – Geometry

The MTR 9.0 sits pretty much in the middle of ‘modern geometry’ mores. It’s not too long, nor too short. A 66-degree head angle and 75.5-degree seat angle are pretty much bang on for a modern trail bike; seat stays come in at a not-too-long-nor-too-short 440mm, and the XL bike we’ve tested has a 490mm reach, which puts it pretty much at the centre the pack for trail bikes at this size.

The suspension system is the tried-and-tested Horst-link 4-bar that’s been around since the early nineties. And there’s a reason for that. It’s all joined together with some burly looking pivots to a 145mm RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock, with rebound adjustment and a lockout (threshold, they call it), which is hidden away under the top tube.  

Boardman’s MTR 9.0 Review – Spec

Complementing the aforementioned Deluxe Select shock, the MTR 9.0 sports a 150mm Pike Select + fork upfront, complete with a Debonair air spring, and RockShox’s Charger RC damper. Stopping and going are both taken care of with Shimano’s truly excellent SLX 12 speed groupset and 4 pot brakes. The only deviation from SLX is the chainset, a Shimano MT511 170mm model. This is Deore-spec, but aesthetically it fits pretty well here and looks very smart. 

Wheels are Shimano hubs with wide WTB i30TCS rims, shod with Maxxis Minion skin wall rubber – it’s all tubeless ready out of the box; just add fluid and puff. I know skin wall tyres can be divisive, but I think they look great. Everything’s fully Boosted, as you’d probably expect. 

A slim Fizik saddle, held aloft by a Satori Sorata Pro2 dropper post (150mm of drop on this XL and the L, and 125mm on the M and S models) rounds everything off along with a smattering of Boardman-branded components such as stem (45mm), bars (780mm) and grips. 

Honestly, for the cash, it’s an impressive package and flies in the face of other manufacturers at the same price point, who will often specify cheaper forks and lower-level components before tying a bow on it with a blingy rear mech. 

Boardman’s MTR 9.0 Review – Ride 

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, to be honest. The numbers all looked fine – hardly progressive, these days – but then, that’s really not what the bike is all about. Often, at this price point, people aren’t looking for the most out-there shred-sled – they’re looking for a versatile bike, which can perform in a wide variety of conditions. A spot of bimbling one minute, followed by some thoroughly gnarly schralping before some on-the-rivet climbing, and then back to bimbling.

Thankfully, the Boardman absolutely delivers on these front, and more. The initial part of my local loop involves a stout from-the-door tarmac climb – and with sag et al vaguely within the recommended norms, there was impressively little pedal bob, even when I stomped on the pedals like a man in oversized shoes in a field of cockroaches. Experimenting, I flicked on the lockout, and the bike was essentially transformed into a hardtail. I left the lockout off for most of the test if I’m honest. Nice to have in a pinch for long draggy climbs, but rarely necessary – the bike felt pretty spry as it was. It’s not the fastest climbing thing on two wheels, but then neither does it purport to be – and the critical thing is it doesn’t *feel* slow. The enormous 51T cassette sprocket is enough to winch up all but the most vertical of inclines – and I was more than a little glad of it on some of the longer climbs; conversely, the 10T at the other end was more than enough for any more wide-open, spirited descending.

Boardman MTR 9.0

Ah, the descending. The Boardman sits pretty much in the sweet spot from a geometry point of view and coming from a much longer bike, I initially found it snappy – lively, if you will. 66-degree head angles and 75.5-degree seat angles aren’t going to blow any minds, and absolutely nor should they. The bike feels balanced, and on tamer, more sinewy singletrack it feels stable and competent. It sits up well into the initial part of the travel, and (as it does when climbing) there’s no sensation that your efforts are going towards compressing the suspension; it’s all driving you on.

But as with many bikes these days (and rightly too, in my opinion) the fun properly begins when you point the bike downwards. You don’t have to ride right over the front of it to get the most out of the Boardman, although it definitely rewards a little vigour, but on anything up to extreme gnarly tech-fests, the Boardman was a hoot. Even on the spicier stuff, while it wasn’t as capable as more progressive machinery perhaps, it still performed admirably. Set up as I had it at recommended sag, I found the shock was pretty spot-on – bottomless tokens are available to add or remove to tweak the ramp-rate should you desire, but I didn’t feel the need.

The fork works with the shock beautifully – as you’d expect, given that they’re pretty much designed to complement each other. Much has been written elsewhere about the Pike platform, of course – suffice it to say that it’s still an excellent piece of kit. Both fork and shock offer rebound adjustment, although the Deluxe’s compression settings amount to ‘open’ or ‘locked out’. Which, to be honest, was fine. I like ’em perky. As I’ve mentioned, I rarely used the Deluxe lockout. But the fork was plenty stiff, and once I’d tweaked the pressures to my liking (you get fork volume reducers included too if you want to change the spring ramp-rate) bigger hits were dispatched with aplomb, and trail chatter was also readily swallowed. I’ve heard internet grumblings about a lack of adjustment on the Charger RC damper – but there was plenty of rebound and slow speed compression tweakage on offer for me.

Boardman MTR 9.0

I’m extremely impressed with the latest SLX drivetrain. Loads of range; smooth and reliable shifts, snazzy looks and seemingly reliable, too (caveat – I’ve not spent huge amounts of time on them). I admit I missed the multiple down-shifting of Shimano’s higher-end offerings – it’s only available on XT and XTR shifters – but this is hardly a deal-breaker.

The 4-pot brakes were absolutely superb too. Once they’d bedded in they offered enormous amounts of power, with none of the awful lever flex that plagued some of the big S’s older brakes. I didn’t encounter any wandering bite points when riding, either. Just super smooth, quiet, beautifully modulated stopping. They were ace. 

Slightly less ace was the dropper post if I’m honest. Oh, it’s a very small thing, and yes, it performed perfectly during the test so I really shouldn’t grumble, but 6’4” me on the XL frame had to run the 150mm seatpost at the very top of its length, so when I dropped it there was still a good chunk poking out of the frame. Yes, it was fine, and yes, I have pretty long legs (around 35in inside leg), but it’s worth considering swapping out if you have legs like those of a rack-stretched giraffe. I didn’t like the post lever either if I’m honest. In fact, the post and the saddle were the only things I’d consider upgrading off the bat.

Boardman MTR 9.0

The saddle? Yep. Bottoms are remarkably personal things, and saddles are very much not a ‘one-size fits all’ deal. So it’s entirely possible that you’ll get on fine with the Fizik Taiga. If so, I’ll assume you have an arse that’s substantially perter and apricot-like than mine. Personally my rear-end more closely resembles a paper bag full of mouldy peaches draped over a washing line, so it felt like every time I sat down on the Fizik, the saddle was trying to widen the gap between my left leg and my right. This wasn’t the very comfiest. It looks good, though. 

On a brighter note, though, the tyres – Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 on the front, and DHR on the rear – are an excellent choice. There’s plenty of grip on offer, helped by those lovely wide WTB rims, although I tend to prefer the feel of the tyres when you run them tubeless (they come with tubes fitted out of the box, as many bikes do). Converting them is simple, of course – just remove the tubes, install the included valves, plug in some tubeless sealant and away you go. Lower possible pressures mean more grip, a less wooden feel thanks to more sidewall compliance and (almost) an end to punctures. Win!  And I *do* like tan sidewalls, yes I do. I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think they look awesome. And if you hate them that much, then by all means attack them with a permanent marker pen.

Things I liked: 

  • Impressive suspension system
  • Excellent component package
  • Fun-for-all trail geometry

Things I’d change:

  • Seatpost could’ve done with being a little longer with more drop
  • Awful seatpost lever
  • Razorblade saddle


Boardman MTR 9.0

This is perhaps the best trail bike, with the best spec, that I’ve ridden at this price point. It feels wonderfully nippy, it climbs well, with minimal bob, and it descends beautifully. I didn’t get on with the saddle, no – and I’d probably look to change out the seatpost sooner rather than later – but that doesn’t get away from the fact that I’d ride this as my sole bike in a heartbeat, even with the £200 price-hike compared to the beginning of the year (which has happened pretty much across the board, and for which we have to thank component supply chain issues – yay!)

Bloody well done. Boardman. This is one hell of a bike.

Review Info

Brand: Boardman
Product: MTR 9.0
From: Boardman Bikes
Price: £2200
Tested: by Barney for

Barney Marsh takes the word ‘career’ literally, veering wildly across the road of his life, as thoroughly in control as a goldfish on the dashboard of a motorhome. He’s been, with varying degrees of success, a scientist, teacher, shop assistant, binman and, for one memorable day, a hospital laundry worker. These days, he’s a dad, husband, guitarist, and writer, also with varying degrees of success. He sometimes takes photographs. Some of them are acceptable. Occasionally he rides bikes to cast the rest of his life into sharp relief. Or just to ride through puddles. Sometimes he writes about them. Bikes, not puddles. He is a writer of rongs, a stealer of souls and a polisher of turds. He isn’t nearly as clever or as funny as he thinks he is.

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  • This topic has 41 replies, 30 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Caher.
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  • Boardman MTR 9.0 review: brilliant or bobbins?
  • Caher
    Full Member

    Did anyone buy one of these – as this is scratching an itch with me?
    I’d probably have to change the seatpost by all accounts.

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