Our 2018 off-road.cc Best Buy mountain bike is Boardman's new MTR 8.9. It's not just a good bike for the money; it's a bike that's more than capable of shaming machines double or triple the price. That's the main reason we are advocating this as the Best Buy out there. If you have been following the off-road.cc awards you'll know this is the third award in the lineup alongside Bargain Buy and Benchmark Bike.
This was a two horse race with the Boardman just pipping the Calibre Bossnut to the 'Best Buy' post in the final furlong, read on to find out all about the winner and the runner-up in this category. For all the information on our judging criteria and upcoming awards, you can click here.
Best Buy - Boardman MTR 8.9
Boardman's full suspension bikes previously went under the FS moniker, but as well as being renamed, the frame has been heavily revised and, we think, all improved in 2018. It's a 130mm full susser that manages to deliver the amazing value their full suspension range has always offered, but performance is now a step up thanks to that revised geometry and suspension.
It still uses the same four-bar rear end delivering 130mm of travel, but it's been seriously beefed up to improve stiffness, with new tube profiles throughout the frame. This MTR 8.9 is the highest spec bike in the three-bike range and both it and the next-down MTR 8.8 have a single-ring only wider stance main pivot to help boost that cause as well. Geometry has been tweaked for a longer reach - 455mm for a large - and a slacker head angle than before, though front travel remains the same at 140mm. The seat angle has also been steepened up for improved weight balance when climbing and the cockpit is reasonably modern, with a 50mm stem and 740mm wide bars.
That 455mm reach for the large frame gives you plenty of space to move about on the bike too, so whether you're an experienced rider or more of a novice, you'll have the confidence to push harder. The 14.2kg weight is very good for a bike at this money - especially a full suspension one, so big days pedalling won't leave you any more exhausted than you should be either. It's no flyweight racer, but as a do-it-all machine, it's hugely impressive.
All in all, it's hard to find fault with this bike. It's an absolutely cracking mid-travel trail bike that'll flatter beginners and advanced alike and it's superb value for money, even by the standards of direct-sales bikes. To be honest, the only thing I felt was even slightly lacking compared to many bikes that have cost much, much more than the MTR 8.9 was the lack of a dropper post, but you could still spend a couple of hundred quid on one and still be laughing all the way to the bank - and all the way around the trails. Quite simply, this is a superb bike by any standard and at this money, it's an absolute steal.
Runner up - Calibre Bossnut V2
Our runner up in this category is the Calibre Bossnut V2 and although we tested the women’s version, we've ridden the regular Bossnut V2 as well. Both are pretty much identically specced making each one worthy of the Best Buy award. The Bossnut is a 130mm trail bike from the big retailer Go Outdoors, it's a full suspension mountain bike which brings bounce at both ends to the masses at a very reasonable price and with great performance too.
As well as a functional good looking alloy frame which uses a linkage driven single pivot suspension set up you also get all branded parts including aRockshox Sektor Silver fork (steel legged option), a Monarch R shock and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes.
On flowing trails the Bossnut is a hoot and with the seat manually lowered is quite happy to rip from corner to corner. It’s also a comfortable place to sit out four hours and 60km of cross country miles. Take it somewhere where gravity takes hold and it makes progress like any other pricier trail bike, it might not be as fast or as stable as longer examples, but remember – you’ve got front and back bounce for less than a grand.
This is a bike designed to welcome riders into the sport, to give them a good platform to fall in love with riding bikes and progress to other bikes in the future. As it is the ladies Bossnut V2 is an ideal bike choice for an introduction to mountain biking; it doesn’t cost the earth, the components are well thought out and reliable and the geometry will suit a majority of riders from beginners to those gaining experience. Those riders might choose to fledge from the Calibre nest for their second bike but that’s ok with the brand as it’s a success for them, there is one more person on a bike and that’s cool.
We'll be announcing the off-road.cc Gravel Bike Bargain Buy award next week on Wednesday 26th Dec (yep, Boxing day) so check back then for the update. In the meantime, make sure you take a look at out Bargain Buy mountain bike and our Benchmark mountain bike winners
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