Fresh in for testing from Boardman is the brand new 2021 MTR 8.9. For 2021 it's had a pretty serious overhaul seeing a bump up in travel, a considerable geometry tweak, and an updated kit list. Read on for all of the juicy details.
First Look: 2021 Boardman MTR 8.9 | A nicely priced all-rounder for UK trails, by Liam Mercer
For 2021, Boardman has aimed to create a bike that's not only capable of pinning the gnarliest of trails that the UK has to offer but a bike that's also great fun on mellower tracks without becoming a burden.
To achieve this, the whole range gets more travel at the rear, having been increased to 145mm of squish while the top three bikes in the range (the 8.8, 8.9, and 9.0) get a 10mm extension to their forks, which now offer 150mm of travel to complement.
The MTR's geometry has had quite the change too with all bikes getting a 66° head angle, a 75.5° seat tube angle, and a 440mm chainstay. All sizes have had their reaches respectfully stretched as well with the small frame getting a 440mm measurement, a medium now sees a 455mm reach with the large getting 475mm and the extra-large benefitting from a 490mm reach.
Fresh on this year's bikes are 29" wheels across the range which of course will please some, or encourage big wheel naysayers to give them a go.
Something that hasn't changed with this year which fans of the MTR will like, is that it's still built around that four-bar suspension platform.
Before we get onto our test bike, it'll be rude not to mention the new kid on the block, the MTR 9.0, which knocks the 8.9 off the top spot as the flagship bike at a crisp £2,000.
Not only does it get that super sexy paint job, but it gets an upgraded X9 alloy frame with hidden welds and a RockShox Pike Select fork. It's graced with a Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain with matching SLX four-pot brakes and it gets WTB STi30 rims laced to Shimano hubs. Those wheels are then wrapped with a 2.5" Maxxis Minion DHF at the front with a 2.4" DHR II at the back. A nice bonus from Boardman is that tubeless valves are included with this bike, so all you'll need is a bottle of sealant to go tubeless.
There are two more bikes in the range but we an overview which will tell you everything you need to know about Boardman's whole range in serious detail. Click here for that.
Now onto our test bike. We actually tested an MTR 8.9 back in 2018 and it scored a beasty five stars (see the review here). Our tester said that it's an, "absolutely superb trail bike that hits way above its modest price tag." It also won our Best Buy award that year, so that leaves are our test bike with some mighty shoes to fill.
Fast forward four years and the 2021 model gets a very different look. The MTR now rolls on 29" wheels and of course has that extra suspension, although this bike has seen a £100 price increase to £1,700. In comparison to that 2018 model, this one is kitted with a dropper post and a 12-speed drivetrain so the value is still very respectable.
On the subject of the kit, this bike gets a RockShox 35 Gold RL which is one of the brand's more budget-friendly offerings but it comes with the same 35mm stanchions that you'll find on a pike. So hopefully, that should mean we get comparable stiffness, especially as it's a thru-axle equipped model. It's a simple fork too, only getting compression and rebound adjustment so it's great for any rookie suspension fettlers.
At the rear, there's a RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock which gets a handy lockout and a rebound adjustment.
SRAM has got the drivetrain sorted on the MTR 8.9 with an NX Eagle 12-speed set up and that 11-50t cassette paired with a 32t chainring. The brakes also come from SRAM and here we have a pair of Level T's. While they're not the all-singing, all-dancing spendier models with all of the adjustment, Boardman has cleverly kitted this bike out with four-pot calipers at both ends of the bike. They should give the bike a welcome boost in braking power.
The MTR 8.9 rolls on a pair of Boardman's own Boost 29er Tubeless Ready wheels which have a 30mm internal width. Those wheels are then shod with a Maxxis Minion DHF at the front with a DHR II at the rear and both of those come in the 2.3" width and with EXO casings. It's worth noting that those rims aren't taped so that's something you'll need to sort before going tubeless. You'll also have to source your own tubeless compatible valves and sealant before experiencing the true joy of a tubeless set-up.
As for the cockpit, it's bang up to date with a 780mm wide bar and 45mm stem.
The bike also comes with a dropper post. The one here is the Satori Sorata Pro and on this large frame, it comes with 150mm of drop. That'll be the same for the extra-large frame but on the small and medium frame, you'll get a 125mm drop.
Then Boardman finishes the rest of the bike off with an own-brand saddle and grips.
That's it for this first look at the Boardman MTR 8.9. All that's left is to give it a good blast for a full review coming soon Be sure to keep an eye on the site for that one.
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