Looking for an upgrade? Here's a roundup of the best cycling parts and accessories we've tested in the last 12 months

Before we get too stuck into testing the latest 2015 products and components, let’s stop for a moment to take a look back at the best stuff we tested last year. This year we’ve compiled a list of the best upgrade components for your bicycle, and a separate list of the best upgrades for you, the cyclist. 

You might not agree with our lists, but that’s fine. Product testing is largely a matter of opinion, but these are the products that scored top across a variety of categories. So without further ado...

Shimano 105 5800 11-speed groupset £590

Shimano’s 105 groupset has always offered serious value for money, and the latest 500 upgrade introduced 11-speed and other features trickled down from the more expensive Ultegra and Dura-Ace. The update has made it the best 105 groupset ever produced, and really, unless you’re a weight weenie, it’s hard to make a case for choosing one of Shimano’s more expensive groupsets, it’s that good.

Shifting is light and precise, the lever bodies are more compact than before, the new brakes are more powerful, the new chainsets use a single bolt circle diameter for easier chainring changes, and the new look front mech creates much sweeter front shifting. Plus, Shimano offer a choice of 11-speed 11-32, 11-28 and 12-25 cassettes that will suit most people, from racers to grimpeurs.

Read the review | Buy it here

Brooks Cambium C17 saddle £105

“Wonderfully comfortable fusion of classic ideas and modern materials,” is how John summed up the Brooks Cambium C17 saddle. Brooks are known for traditional leather saddles, but the Cambium takes the well-loved ‘hammock’ shape of a leather saddle, and builds it with very modern materials, most prominently an upper material that doesn’t need breaking in like a Brooks leather saddle, so it’s comfortable out of the box.

Read the review | Buy it here

Spin Koppenberg MAX25 25mm Wide Fat Boy clincher wheels £549

What most impressed about Spin’s Koppenberg MAX25 25mm Wide Fat Boy clincher wheels was their combination of a decent weight (1,540g) durable hub bearings, fast engaging freehub, and a 25mm wide rim with an internal width of nearly 20mm, much wider than most rims. Stick a 23mm tyre on and it expands to above 25mm width, giving you the benefits of a wider tyre, that is, a bigger volume for running lower pressures, without adding the weight of a wider tyre. The wheels are tough, ideal for daily commuting, racing and sportives, and offer plenty of performance for an attractive price.

Read the review | Find out more

Michelin Pro 4 Grip tyres £41.99

We get a lot of weather in the UK, and a tyre that copes with whatever comes your way while also offering good speed and puncture protection can make a big difference to the ride. The Michelin Pro 4 Grip tyres use a rubber compound that provides plenty of traction in the rain and a puncture belt to keep flats at bay. Both features combine to make this a great winter tyre, which is light and speedy enough to be used even when it’s not raining. 

Read the review | Buy it here

Spada Wheels Stiletto wheels £699

Costing £699 and weighing just 1,290g, the Spada Stiletto wheels are impressively light for the money. You can really feel weight in the wheels when riding, a light set of wheels therefore can have a big influence on the ride quality. Despite their low weight, they’re marketed for regular use by the Italian company and we found them to live up to that claim, being sturdy enough to be used everyday without flinching.

Read the review | Buy it here

TRP Spyre SLC mechanical disc brakes £89.99

Disc brake road bikes are sweeping through the cycling world with more frame, wheel and disc brake options all the time. The TRP Spyre has been around for a few years, this SLC version being the best yet, and it's substantially cheaper than a hydraulic disc brake. The updated SLC brakes are a significant improvement over the regular Spyres, backed up with great reliability, a clear bite point and plenty of modulation. Pad life is excellent too.

Read the review | Find out more

SRAM Force 22 groupset £1124.99

SRAM’s Force groupset is on a similar level to Shimano Ultegra, but it’s a fair bit lighter (about 200g) making it a good option for anyone wanting to build a lightweight bike. The unique DoubleTap shifting system is easy to use and provides extremely clean gear changes, and with their Zero-Loss Technology there’s no free lever travel, so gear changes are immediate. The brakes are very good and the latest front derailleur is really easy to setup and works well, with no trim positions or multiple shifts needed. Force is a top performing groupset available at a great price (as low as £600 if you shop around). 

Read the review | Buy it here

Schwalbe One V-Guard tyres £44.99

Schwalbe reckon this is the fastest tyre they’ve ever manufactured, and while we don’t have the testing rigs to test that claim accurately, in the real world against other fast tyres, the One V-Guard tyres certainly impressed. Not only are they startlingly rapid in all conditions, but the rubber compound is hard-wearing and the puncture protection strip under the tread really works. They’re available in a range of widths up to 28mm, and in clincher, tubular and tubeless versions.

Buy them here

Fabric Scoop Flat Pro saddle From £40

The Fabric Scoop saddle is a familiar shape (it’s the same as the Charge Scoop) but it’s now available in a range of widths and curves so you can get the right saddle for your riding style and preference. It’s the sort of shape that works really well for a lot of people, most of the road.cc team getting on famously with the shape. The new design is sleek, with a waterproof and durable microfibre cover moulded to a one-piece base. Very clean. Different base and rail materials mean there are options priced from £40 to £160.

Buy it here

Shimano BR-R785 road hydraulic discs £499.99

The biggest development in the road cycling market lately has been is the rise of disc brakes. The Shimano BR-R785 is the first of a new generation of road-specific hydraulic disc brakes, and Shimano have put their extensive mountain bike disc brake knowledge to excellent use, because these brakes are stunning. They’re a genuine improvement in braking power and control. If you’re looking to upgrade from mechanical disc brakes to hydraulics, these are the current benchmark option.

Buy them here.

Challenge Strada Bianca 700C 30mm tyres £48

There’s a real trend towards wider tyres and the Challenge Strada Bianca comes in a whopping 30mm. It’s named after the white gravel roads of Tuscany and is a brilliant all-rounder with a decent turn of speed from the handmade 260TPI carcass and herringbone tread. You can run them at low pressures, down to 70-80psi is good. Better puncture protection than the similar Challenge Paris-Roubaix tyre makes them better suited to UK winter cycling.

Buy them here.

Vision Metron 40 Tubular wheels £1,499

Wheels contribute massively to the performance of a road bike, so a good set of wheels is a good investment to make. If you want to go fast, these Vision Metron 40 Tubular wheels have been raced victoriously on the professional circuit and in our hands proved commendably quick. A 40mm deep carbon fibre rim with a 25.4mm wide profile and a rounded rim shape echoing a Zipp Firecrest, they’re fast in a range of conditions and stable in blustery crosswinds. They’re light too, with a weight of just 1,332g. 

Buy them here

Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset £925

“Shimano's 11-speed Ultegra 6800 groupset is really, really, really good,” summed up Dave in his review of Shimano’s latest Ultegra groupset. Benefitting from technology and features trickled down from top-level Dura-Ace, the latest Ultegra offering is the best yet. You get reshaped STI levers, better brakes, 11-speed, improved brakes and a front derailleur redesign that provides even slicker shifting than before, and it was already pretty slick. It’s worth shopping around because there are some decent discounts to be had.

Buy it here.

Tortec Super Comfort Handlebar Tape £19.99

As one of the main contact points with your bike, bar tape is a very important part of your bike, and one ripe for upgrading. The Tortec Super Comfort bar tape is a really good price and ticks all the boxes - it's super grippy in use with just the right amount of padding for long distance comfort. A wrapper's delight - comfortable, super-grippy and reusable.

Buy it here

Deda Superleggera Black Bar £271.99

At just 180g for a 42cm bar, the Deda Superleggera Black Bar is impressively light made completely from high modulus carbon fibre with a very high level of stiffness that becomes apparent when sprinting out of the saddle. It’s a nice bar shape too with a 75mm reach and a 130mm drop with nice styling that looked good on the test bikes we fitted them to. They're not cheap (but cheaper if you shop around; we've seen them nearly half price), but they are light and stiff. 

Buy them here

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.

15 comments

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Fran The Man [82 posts] 3 years ago
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How much for a new pair of legs? Mine could do with an upgrade!  1

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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I think I need to give the bank balance a rest this year. in 2014 I went a bit mad: -

New bike CBoardman SLS 9.4
Ultegra 6800 upgrade for my other road bike
105 upgrade for the winter bike + Hope wheels
Mavic R-SYS SLR wheel set

Went mad.... also upgraded a lot of my cycling gear. Wife clueless about most of it, she did suggest the new bike to cheer me up after a tough 2014 (family reasons).

Leg re-build for 2015 with a tuned up set of lungs / turbo charged heart to power them would be great. Loosing 3-4 kgs of lard won't go amiss either, basically upgrade to lean and mean racing snake in 2015 is my goal.

Avatar
ianrobo [1215 posts] 3 years ago
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my wife thinks I spent £200 on a power meter ha ha

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mickcee [76 posts] 3 years ago
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My wife thinks i bought a cap! Think my spend was £2500 on this and that. Most sneaked in the house and if spotted the old 'had this ages' line came out.

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steve58 [10 posts] 3 years ago
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Brooks Cambium C17 Slate, here on Amazon for £77.08, 2-3 day free delivery from Germany.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00GPSNMSI?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=o...

Got mine today....hope it's more comfortable than B17...had it 2 yrs and 5k miles but still way too uncomfortable...numb arse after 30 mins.

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Mrmiik [162 posts] 3 years ago
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Highly highly recommend SRAM Force 22. You can easily find it for £550-600.

I've got it on a Kinesis Aithein and it works so bloody well. Superb front shifting. Shifting style may be subjective, but double tap is oh so much better than Shimano's.

For weight and performance to price rations - cannot be beaten. However, I really don't expect it to last, like I would Duran-Ace or any Campag stuff... Ah well.

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J90 [430 posts] 3 years ago
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Mrmiik wrote:

Highly highly recommend SRAM Force 22. You can easily find it for £550-600.

I've got it on a Kinesis Aithein and it works so bloody well. Superb front shifting. Shifting style may be subjective, but double tap is oh so much better than Shimano's.

For weight and performance to price rations - cannot be beaten. However, I really don't expect it to last, like I would Duran-Ace or any Campag stuff... Ah well.

Do you actually use the 22 gears? I bet people would always be saying "you're cross-chaining", that would get annoying.

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Mrmiik [162 posts] 3 years ago
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J90 wrote:
Mrmiik wrote:

Highly highly recommend SRAM Force 22. You can easily find it for £550-600.

I've got it on a Kinesis Aithein and it works so bloody well. Superb front shifting. Shifting style may be subjective, but double tap is oh so much better than Shimano's.

For weight and performance to price rations - cannot be beaten. However, I really don't expect it to last, like I would Duran-Ace or any Campag stuff... Ah well.

Do you actually use the 22 gears? I bet people would always be saying "you're cross-chaining", that would get annoying.

I was a little concerned that it would encourage bad cross chaining habits! Don't tend to use all gears. However it is nice to have the option of different ratios to play with.

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Tin Pony [73 posts] 3 years ago
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The new 105 looks beautiful and I'd love to try it out but having bought a budget bike recently. I'm now questioning if it's really needed?? The budget bike in question is running a sora and lower spec'd shimano components and I'm pretty impressed. Don't get me wrong I know 105 is better, smoother, lighter, faster but if I can't feel it then does it really matter???
www.tinpony.co.uk/news/

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cyclesteffer [349 posts] 3 years ago
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I've got a Caad 8 from 2010 with Sora components, I thought it was a bit much to blow £300 on a full 105 groupset, so just went for

2 x new Vredestein Tyres - as reviewed on here for £22 quid on ribble = £44
2 x Khamsin CX wheelset from Halfords 1750grams = £90
New Cinelli Bartape = £8
2 x 105 5800 brake callipers off of wiggle - oh my god! What an upgrade!! = £50

If you have a lower spec bike - these upgrades seem to give a lot of "bang for the buck".

I didnt think it was worth spending more, may as well sell it and buy a Caad 10 105, or a Canyon Endurace otherwise.

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jgmacca [34 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
banzicyclist2 wrote:

I think I need to give the bank balance a rest this year. in 2014 I went a bit mad: -

New bike CBoardman SLS 9.4
Ultegra 6800 upgrade for my other road bike
105 upgrade for the winter bike + Hope wheels
Mavic R-SYS SLR wheel set

Went mad.... also upgraded a lot of my cycling gear. Wife clueless about most of it, she did suggest the new bike to cheer me up after a tough 2014 (family reasons).

Leg re-build for 2015 with a tuned up set of lungs / turbo charged heart to power them would be great. Loosing 3-4 kgs of lard won't go amiss either, basically upgrade to lean and mean racing snake in 2015 is my goal.

Is this a case of "when I die I hope my wife doesn't sell my bikes and kit for what I told her they cost...."

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Pauldmorgan [236 posts] 3 years ago
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J90 wrote:

Do you actually use the 22 gears? I bet people would always be saying "you're cross-chaining", that would get annoying.

That's almost becoming irrelevant as everything except the bottom tier groupsets for all the brands are 11 speed now. The cog is there so I bet it gets used.

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Pauldmorgan [236 posts] 3 years ago
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ianrobo wrote:

my wife thinks I spent £200 on a power meter ha ha

My wife found the receipt for my power meter...

Avatar
ianrobo [1215 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Pauldmorgan wrote:
ianrobo wrote:

my wife thinks I spent £200 on a power meter ha ha

My wife found the receipt for my power meter...

ha ... was it near £1000 then  1

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Sleekspook [17 posts] 3 years ago
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Aah. Not just me then? Imagine my popularity with her in doors at the Xmas do as the admin woman told the wife how she was always taking my deliveries of bike gear at work!  2