road.cc's top products of 2012
The best cycling kit, components and accessories we've reviewed over the past year
2012 has been a busy year, and road.cc has reviewed more products than ever before. Our team is out riding all year round in all weathers, logging thousand of miles to put the latest products through a thorough test.
There have been some really excellent products this year, and here are the ones that top scored across a wide variety of categories, we've selected our pick of the year to reflect the wide range of cycing we try to cover - so there should be something of interest no matter what type of road riding you do.
Some of our top picks were run very close indeed where that's happened we've counted back the scores and argued about it - product testing at the end of the day also being a matter of opinion… That being the case we also asked our reviewers to tell us what their favourite cycling products of the year were not just the ones they reviewed. You can read their choices straight after the main event first though let's read about some winners…
If you're looking for a saddle for life, or at least a very long time. One to mould to your er, personal countours that'll only get better over time and that'll look great on a touring bike, or a retro steed, or indeed whatever you want to put it on. Then look no further than the phenomenally good value Aire Leather saddle. Give it time and it'll be your friend for life, or at least a very long time.
If you were watching closely, you may have spotted a pair of natty yellow Bont's gracing the feet of a certain B Wiggins in July this year. Wiggins no doubt likes their customisability and stiffness, and these less expensive Bont A-Three road shoes perform just as well as his top end ones, albeit for a few grams more.
Prologo Scratch Pro Ti 1.4 £99.99
The Prologo Scratch saddle is the most comfortable saddle I have ever tested. It has a traditional rounded profile that proves to be comfortable no matter how long the ride. And it's the same saddle that Sir Chris Hoy uses, too. If it's good enough for him...
Lezyne CNC Chain Rod £29.99
Lezyne make some excellent workshop tools and this CNC chain whip is certainly a first-class option.
It's the law in the world of cycling that you have to like Chris King stuff. If you don't, you're not In The Know. That's the way it works. Unlike lots of the nonsense that masquerades as truth, this one is grounded in reality. In my experience, Chris King components are superbly engineered, better still they work too.
Ride Bib Tights with insert £34.99
Ride are a new brand, but going by these bib-tights they do darn good kit at a very reasonable price.
Tern Tool £35.99
Multi tools that are genuinely capable of fettling the entire fleet are rare. Cue the Tern Tool. Originally conceived for the brand's own range of bikes, it's comprehensive enough for road, tourer, mountain bike, tandem - the list goes on.
Active turbo trainers are becoming more widespread; trainers which provide data feedback to the user. Minoura have approached things slightly differently, with their Live Training System that integrates via iPhone with their existing trainers to provide power readings.
Ortlieb Office Bag QL3 £120.00
The Ortlieb Office Bag QL3 is the latest incarnation of Ortlieb's waterproof briefcase pannier. What's changed from the QL2 bag is the attachment system: it's still quick-release but the hooks are recessed, so the briefcase looks more businesslike when you're off the bike. Or as Ortlieb put it: 'Flat mounting elements ensure smooth back side.' Yep.
The Castelli Diluvio 16 overshoes are warm and a touch taller than usual, and they do a good job of keeping water out.
Bontrager Aeolus 3 D3 wheels £1999.98
Bontrager's shallowest Aeolus D3 wheels combine impressive aerodynamics with a reasonable weight and predictable handling, making them an excellent all-conditions option.
Ass Savers Smart Ass £5.00
The posterior is right up there when it comes to bits you want to keep dry, yet there's a certain type of cyclist that doesn't want to burden their bike with a proper mudguard. Enter the Ass Saver. It's a tiny little bit of folding plastic that slots in underneath your saddle. When it's dry, it hides away underneath; when it's wet, it unfolds to provide a wedge-shaped bit of bum protection from spray arcing from the top of your back wheel.
Vulpine's Merino Button Jersey - there's men's and women's versions fall in to that growing category of tops with cycling specfic features that work off the bike too mainly because they don't look like cycling tops. Most of them of them like the Vulpine are made from merino wool it's niff neutralising properties helping avoid any embarrassing social situations. withis soft and comfy with good cycle-specific features, although it's subtle enough not to look too out of place off the bike. When it came to merino tops Vulpine scored a 1, 2 with the men's Vulpine Merino Button Jersey coming in behind the women's version
Schwalbe Durano tyre £32.99
We tested a farir few road tyres this year and although there wasn't one outstanding one there were some definite good 'uns, two make our year end list and first up is Schwalbe's Durano, grippy, durable and fairly light, a very good all-round performance training tyre. Our fave race tyre (just) coming up, in the meantime honourable mentions also go to the Bontrager R3 a race day tyre for less then the price of the Duranos, the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX (Mat liked them), and if your'e of the tubular persuasion the Kenda Super Domestiques.
Arundel Dual Seat Bag £15.00
Well priced, hard wearing minimalist saddle bag that you can look at as an extra jersey pocket.
The Prendas Ciclismo Belgian-style Winter Hat is exactly what it says: a Belgian-style hat, made in Italy, designed to protect your head from the elements with a soft and insulating fabric.
Garmin Edge 200 £129.99
If you're the kind of person that likes to log your miles, but you're not the kind of person that analyses their heart rate zones after every ride, then the Garmin Edge 200 is for you. It's a super-simple GPS unit that has a fairly basic data set but makes keeping track of your mileage totals a piece of cake.
Very comfortable merino wool base layer that's good for winter touring or commuting, and for faster training rides as long as you don't stop for long. We were also big fans of dhb's Corefit Long Sleeve Base Layer a superb bit of kit for £27.99.
Respro Hi-viz Ankle Bands £15.99
Respro Hi-viz ankle bands are just brilliantly simple safety aids made from dual sided, washable neoprene that fit in a flash around the ankles, doubling as handy trouser-clips into the bargain.
The name might suggest a cyclocross tyre but the the Vittoria's Open Corsa isn actually a cracking road tyre with a supple feel and good all-round grip. It's not the hardiest through a thorny winter but it's definitely one to consider for you good bike reckoned Dave when he tested them earlier this year.
Vulpine Softshell £160.00
Two of our three top scoring jackets this year came from the higher ends of the on/of the bike stylish technical jacket for the man about town although both are easily good enough for trips further afield too. In the cycling but smart category new kids on the block Vulpine, walks off with honours - just - for their Vulpine Softshell that just pips the very lovely indeed Rapha City Rain Jacket. The Vulpine boasts, lots of clever design details, an excellent cut for on the bike… and magnets, it got more points overall from Vecchiojo who tested them both but it's got to be said the Rapha got a 10 for performance. Mind you, it does cost £60 more… it does look cool though.
Moon Meteor front light £49.99
The Moon Meteor front light might only have half the output of the Moon XP500 we reviewed recently, but it punches well above its weight and costs half as much - it came out top of the pile in our commuter lights, a gnat's whisker ahead of the Lezyne Macro Drive front light - which also got an overall 9 out of 10 rating is super-versatile and costs just a fiver more… we had a lot of arguments about this one.
WD40 Specialist fact acting degreaser will gobble through anything remotely lube based it comes into contact with.
Saris Bones 2 £125.00
The Saris Bones 2 isn't just the best looking bike carrier, it's also one of the best at actually doing the job. It's the kind of rack that braces on the back of your car and secures with a strap and hook arrangement. As a rack for transportation to events or holidays, it's ideal. Fitting the rack is dead easy with barely any need to glance at the instructions. Once fitted you just drop your bike onto the struts and secure it with a couple of straps over the top tube. A third strap goes round the seat tube and prevents the bike from swaying back and forth. It's an innovative design that looks cool and works brilliantly.
Saving the best 'til last, the item that scored more highly than any other this year. Indeed it got only the second ever five star review in the entire history road.cc…( and we're pretty sure the first one lost half a star with the passage of time). Time will be kinder to this collection of stories by 14 of the world's best cycling journalists, edited by Ellis Bacon and Lionel Birnie, thoroughly deserved its top rating.
road.cc Team picks
Here's some of the products we've enjoyed using this year, some we've reviewed, some are are our own, and some we just found in the office cupboard…
Mat Brett - tech ed
I'll go with the Bont Vaypor shoes I tested back in February. They're lightweight, the soles are mega stiff and the fit is excellent.
Vecchiojo - head of whimsy
Because it was the most worn item of the year; the Vulpine Softshell Jacket (check it out above in our awards selection). Smart enough to be worn just like a normal jacket but technical enough and cut well enough to happily be worn on the bike, and then worn once you get there without looking like a bikey twat. (Sniffs) Could really do with a wash now.
And again, not tested, but on the basis of being worn more than anything else, blame the weather, some Mavic Cyclone gloves, lightweight, well fitting softshell gloves that seem to keep my hands warm and comfortable in this permanent wet Autumn we're living in. A surprise hit.
The Specialized Ruby for being an excellent all rounder and superbly comfortable sportive bike. Gore's Bike Wear Path Active Convertible Trousers for comfort and everyday wearability. Anything by Dashing Tweeds or Vespertine (review coming soon) for sheer creative use of reflective technology. Dhb's bib tights for value for money and cold weather performance.
The Moon Meteor (see our awards list) is probably what's impressed me most. Considering the price it puts out a huge amount of usable light and is very reassuring to ride with.
Otherwise, I was impressed with the new Minoura Spacegrip. It's a sad thing to get excited about, but the original was a complete horror to fit and could reduce grown men to tears. The new version offers all the benefits of the old one, but has a simple adjustable clip that means it's dead easy to fit and remove.
Hope District + rear light - super bright, up to 200 hours battery life and top notch build quality. Expensive but works day after day without fail, oh yeah- its British too.
Dave Atkinson - web guy
Tern multi tool: packs a surprising amount of functions – including a usable pedal and axle nut spanner – into a tiny package. My tool of choice now for when I don't have a bag.
Supernova E3 Pro 2 dynamo lighting system – if you want to fit lights and never worry about them ever again, these are the ones to go for. Okay they ain't cheap, but feel the quality.
Minoura RS5000 workstand – this has been out in the garden in all weathers for four years now and it's still going strong. A great piece of kit.
Tony Farrelly - editor
Muc off Dirty Work Wipes, not the most glamorous product, but if you've got lots of dirty bikes to clean (or just the one) indoors where you can't use water then these are a godsend. I love 'em. You can give a properly dirty bike a decent clean with one little wipe and make it sparkling with two.
They cut through road grime and are small enough so that you can use them to floss less accessible bits of your bike like the insides of chainstays. Shaun reckoned they were hard on your hands when he tested them way back when but I find them pretty good for hand cleaning too.
Look out for road.cc's Bikes of the Year coming soon