January marks the time every year when we reveal the best bikes we've reviewed in the previous year, with the big road.cc Bike of the Year Awards.
In case you many any of the awards, here are all the winning bikes in one handy article. We've got the best Superbike, Sportive and Endurance, Frameset, Cyclocross, Adventure, Road Bike, Commuting, Sub-£1,000 Bike and the biggie, the overall Bike of the Year 2016-17. So without further ado, here the best bikes.
We've linked to the full category awards in the headline, as well as to a retailer in case you want to buy any of these bikes.
The road.cc Superbike of the Year 2016-17 is the Bianchi Oltre XR4, a lightweight race bike that puts in a superb performance. It's agile and mega-stiff with pin-sharp handling, and it's comfortable enough that you can thoroughly enjoy long rides rather than counting down the miles until it's time to get off.
The Bianchi Oltre XR4 really is a superb bike, picking up where its predecessors left off. It's lightweight, reactive and very smooth, and if Bianchi's claims are to be believed, it's highly aerodynamically efficient too. If you have money in your pockets and racing on your mind, this is one of the very best. We reviewed a super high-end version of the Oltre XR4 with a Campagnolo Super Record groupset and Campag’s Bora Ultra 50 Dark wheels. There’s no such thing as a cheap Oltre XR4 but complete bikes start at £4,700.
Fast and sporty with all the practicality and dependability of hydraulic disc brakes, wide tyres and space for full-length mudguards, the carbon fibre Whyte Wessex is a bike that is up to the task of taking on the roughest roads and toughest weather.
Racing aside, it's all the bike you really need for year-round riding in the UK, fast enough for sportives and pacy training runs, comfortable and reliable for grinding out winter miles, and at home on longer commutes. The Whyte Wessex is very much a bike of the moment. It meets the needs of British cyclists wanting a dependable and reliable bike for riding in all weathers, and the equipment is smartly chosen to ensure it delivers brilliant performance and reliability. For many people, this is going to be the perfect British road bike.
3T boasts that the Exploro is the world's first aero gravel bike and it’s an absolute blast to ride. If you have fairly well surfaced, fairly well drained tracks around your way, you're in for a treat. This is a bike that allows you to get your head down and crank the speed up high. That's when the Exploro is at its best – when you're pinning it across rough but firm roads.
The result of the aero shaping, according to 3T, is that at 20mph (32km/h) the Exploro saves 7 watts over a round tube frame with the same tube widths, the same frame details and the same components. The 3T Exploro is never going to have mass market appeal, especially at this price, but this would be a great bike for gravel racing, taking on a gravel/cyclo-cross/multi-surface sportive (there are a few around these days), or just getting away for a fast-paced adventure.
For just under a grand you get a really well-designed aluminium frame with a geometry that is aggressive but not twitchy, and SRAM’s impressive Apex 1 HRD groupset, comprising a 1x drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, all combining to great effect. The Vitus has a good middle ground geometry. It rarely feels compromised in a race and when you're just out riding it's well behaved and easy to ride. The stiff front end (1 1/2in crown race, full carbon fork, thru-axle) gives it a plenty of predictability and the steering response is precise. If you're a podium-botherer then you'll be looking for something a bit lighter and flightier for maximum race response, but if 'cross is something you do for a laugh and to keep fit in the winter, it's more or less perfect.
While the Vitus excels as a dedicated cyclocross race bike if you want to really get into the vibrant race scene spread across the UK, the geometry (slacker head angle and longer wheelbase) means it is suited to general riding, whether that’s riding to the office or blasting around the woods on a muddy Sunday morning. That, with the excellent value for money, makes this the best cyclocross bike we’ve reviewed in the past 12 months.
Specialized came to the adventure bike category early with the Diverge, a bike that has an endurance-focused geometry, space for up to 35mm tyres and disc brakes. It’s a smart looking frame, all swoopy carbon lines and thru-axles at both ends for added wheel security, and fully internally routed cables. With comfort being a factor for bikes intended to be ridden across all sorts of terrain, Specialized integrates its own Zertz elastomer inserts into the frame, fork and seatpost. The latter really does isolate your arse from a lot of road buzz and much more noticeably, gravel vibration, adding greatly to the comfort of the bike, noticeable over the course of a long day in the saddle.
The Road Pro Carbon SLR, a new bike launched in 2016, scoops the coveted top spot. Boardman Bikes have built up a decent reputation for well designed and good value road bikes over the years, and nowhere is this better expressed than in the excellent Road Pro Carbon SLR.
Boardman's designers have played a blinder when it comes to the handling and geometry. The head tube and seat tube angles mirror each other at 73 degrees, and with a top tube length of 55.5cm and head tube at 14cm, the riding position is long and low and pretty aggressive. The facts and figures pretty much mimic that of the Bianchi Specialissima, a pro peloton-ready speed machine, so the SLR certainly isn't going to disappoint you in the bunch. Don't go thinking it's all about out and out speed, though. The Boardman is happy to cruise for hours on end – cruise quickly mind, thanks to its minimal weight – but you don't ntheed to be on the rivet to make it perform. Century rides are well within its remit thanks to its overall comfort levels, and you could even upgrade the 25m standard tyres to some squidgy 28s to soften the blow a little more. The SLR certainly makes a rapid sportive machine.
What defines a commuting bike? It's whatever you want a commuting bike to be and that all depends on the nature of your commute and other factors. If you want a speed commuter with a comfortable ride, the control from disc brakes and elements protection from road spray, the Whyte Wessex is an ideal "super commuter".
As a package, it comes together really well. It's very much a bike of the moment. It meets the needs of British cyclists wanting a dependable and reliable bike for riding in all weathers, and the equipment is smartly chosen to ensure it delivers brilliant performance and reliability. If you want a bike for daily commuting and also want a bike that you can enjoy on the weekend, the Wessex is an outstandingly good bike. And that’s why it’s our Commuter Bike of the Year.
The B'Twin Triban 540 is a real joy to ride, with an incredible spec at a price point that’s so low it had us double-checking that we’d got it right. B'Twin bikes always do well when it comes to affordability, but as well as good value for money is the simple fact that they're really nice bikes to ride, and well equipped and designed.
With a triple-butted aluminium frame, it feels fast, comfortable and responsive, without much of the buzzy feeling you sometimes get from aluminium. The carbon fork also effectively absorbs bumps in the road. There's little to complain about, comfort-wise. It has front and rear rack and mudguard mounts, so you can load it up for weekend tours or all-year-round commuting. The Mavic Aksium One wheels are fitted with 25mm Hutchinson Equinox tyres which roll well and offer a decent amount of grip. When they do wear out, the frame has enough clearance for 32mm tyres (without mudguards) – which would increase comfort further.
Overall, this is a great buy for those new to road bikes and those looking to their next cycling challenge. And Decathlon offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, fork, stem and handlebar.
Picking just one bike from the many we have reviewed in the past year, it's no easy task, but the Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR went ahead and made a case for itself by first winning the Road Bike of the Year award and fought off all contenders to take the overall gong as well.
It really is a very good bike. When you combine the top level ride and handling, decent equipment and finishing kit, and the price, it just all adds up to offer a complete package. Whether you’re new to cycling or looking for an upgrade, the Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR ticks all the boxes.
It’s hard to find fault with the Boardman, and believe us we tried to find one. It’s a high-quality carbon fibre frame and fork with a spot on geometry that provides a pretty racy position, ideal for tucking in fast for some rapid pedalling action. It’s not going to disappoint you whether, in a sportive or race bunch, that’s for sure. The frame is well appointed, with a SRAM Force 22 groupset that is light and easy to use, and it’s finished off with the excellent Mavic Ksyrium wheels and decent finishing kit. It’s a good price at £1,799, but it’s currently discounted to £1,619 which makes it an even better buy, leaving you a couple of hundred quid to spend on some new clothing to go with your new bike, or just leave in the bank.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.