then the Boardman SLR 8.8 is a close runner-up. 10-speed Shimano Tiagra components and disc brakes are very welcome at this price point, and the ride from the 6061 aluminium frame and carbon fork ain't bad either.
With things like triple butting and slender tube profiles where it matters, the SLR 8.8 gives a great ride feel. It's firm, and as stiff as it needs to be, while taking the edge off the high-frequency buzz coming up from the surface of the road. It makes the Boardman feel like a much more expensive bike when you're riding it.
Like many entry-level road bikes the SLR 8.8 a little weighty at 10.4kg for a medium on our scales,but the great spec and ride feel more makes up for this when you're paying well under a grand.