Review: Boardman ADV 8.6 gravel bike
reviewed 14 Dec 2023 by Phil Hall






A sub-£1000 gravel bike

Well spec'd for the price

Aluminium frame with carbon fork

What is it?

If you haven't been paying attention to the cycling world for the last couple of years, you'll have missed out on the explosion in gravel bikes. In essence they're drop handlebar road bikes with chunkier tyres that means you can happily ride over unpaved tracks. While they haven't got the same off-road credentials as a mountain bike, they're nimbler and suited to a much broader range of terrain. 

That brings us to the Boardman ADV 8.6. Boardman's built up a bit of a reputation for delivering well-spec'd and designed bikes that are very competitively priced and the ADV 8.6 is the British brand's entry-level gravel bike.

Coming in at £825, it certainly looks attractively priced compared to more established brands. What's more impressive is some of the kit they've used, with Shimano Sora shifters, as well as front and rear derailleurs. Look at some pricier rivals such as the Specialized Diverge 5 E5 and you'll find it kitted out with Shimano's cheaper Claris derailleurs and shifters. The only cost-cutting is the Tektro MD-C510 cable-actuated disc brakes, rather than the more responsive hydraulic disc brakes on Boardman's ADV 8.9.  

At this price point you get a triple butted aluminium frame and a carbon fork - if you want a lightweight carbon frame, you'll have to find another £1050 for the Boardman ADV 9.0 (though you're not just paying for the lighter frame, but better components all round). That said, the Boardman doesn't feel too heavy at 10.5kg.

The ADV 8.6 is equipped with Schwalbe's G-One Allround TLE tyres with a width of 38mm - their tread pattern is designed to deliver a mix of off-road grip without compromising on-road speed too much. 

What's it like?

Jumping on the ADV 8.6 for the first time and if you're used to a road bike, you'll really notice the more relaxed geometry of the frame. The wheelbase is pretty long - longer than a typical road bike - and as a result it feels less twitchy and more relaxed. 

The handlebars are relatively narrow - at least on the lever hoods, and like many other gravel bikes, the drops flare outwards. It makes for a really comfortable riding position, whether you're trying to keep things pretty aero on the road, or zipping along gravel paths. Added to this, the saddle is pretty comfy too. 

While some gravel bikes prefer a 1x system, the ADV 8.6 has a 48/32 chainset on the front and 11-34 9 speed cassette on the rear. While pricier models in the range 10 or 11 speed set-ups, some rivals from other brands only offer an 8 speed configuration. 

Riding some of my local climbs and the gearing was more than adequate, and it's a similar story for most off-roading we did as well, though for those really steep gravel climbs you might find you can't go low enough for some elevations. 

The Boardman ADV 8.6 accelerates nicely and it doesn't feel too compromised on the road, with the tyres rolling really well on tarmac and delivering plenty of grip once off the road. For really slippery stuff you might want something with a bit more grip, but these tyres get the balance pretty spot on. 

The only grumble is the mechanical disc brakes - they're not as responsive as hydraulic disc brakes, but for this price point it's unreasonable to expect to see this pricer braking system. 

Should I buy one?

I was intrigued to see what the Boardman ADV 8.6 would be like, but it's surpassed my expectations. I've covered a couple of hundred miles on it so far and enjoyed every ride. It's comfortable, rides well and most of all makes riding fun. 

Depending on how much you're planning to ride it, we'd be tempted to splash out a bit more on the slightly better specified ADV 8.9, but if you're looking for an affordable all-rounder then the Boardman ADV 8.6 is a great buy.

Pros Decent set of components for the price Comfortable, relaxed ride Off-road versatility
Cons Brakes could be better


Frame: Triple butted aluminium
Fork: C7 carbon
Cranks: FSA Velo Pro 48/32t
Front derailleur: Shimano Sora, double
Rear derailleur: Shimano Sora, 9 speed
Shifter: Shimano Sora, 9 speed
Brakes: Tektro MD-C510
Cassette: Shimano HG400, 11-34
Wheelset: Boardman ADV Tubeless Ready
Tyre: Schwalbe G-One Allround TLE
Weight: Approx. 10.5kg

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