It's been another busy year for the road.cc tech team, testing more new bikes and products than ever before. Some kit stands out though, and in this article, we've asked each member of the tech team to pick their three standout products from the past year. These are the things they'd give an arm and a leg to keep.
While most gravel/adventure bikes are designed more with longer, steady rides in mind Canyon have developed the Grail to be the complete opposite, it's all about speed!
It's literally the fastest, most fun bike I've ridden off-road with excellent handling, huge levels of stiffness and comfort. The handlebar setup may look quirky but it works and it's great to see a company not scared of trying something different.
These may not be the highest scoring product I tested in 2018 but I thoroughly enjoyed using the head-up display and continue to do so. There are little niggles like short battery life but it is the most rounded package out there of its kind and it really does make a difference to have everything all in one package.
I'm definitely looking forward to see how they progress with updates and newer editions.
It's not often I give a product a full five stars but I couldn't fault the Lusso jacket when the weather is absolutely horrendous. It keeps the rain and wind out without creating a boil in the bag environment and for use in the dark there are a massive amount of reflective details that are discrete in the daylight. It offers a brilliant race cut too.
This is a helluva bike for £1,000. You get a fabulous carbon-fibre frameset, a largely Shimano Tiagra groupset and no-nonsense finishing kit.
What's best, though, is the ride. The SLR 8.9 Carbon is quick and lively, easy to manoeuvre and surprisingly comfortable. Mudguard eyelets make it suitable for year-round use in the UK. Of all the bikes I've ridden this year, this is the one that impressed me most in terms of value.
I have only good things to say about Shimano's top-level road groupset. The shifting is superb, the braking is excellent and Shimano now gives you the chance to alter your Di2 setup via a consumer-focused phone app.
To my mind this is the best road groupset out there at the moment.
Endura Pro SL Primaloft Waterproof gloves
I've not posted my review yet but these are my new favourite gloves. They're waterproof and they've managed to keep my hands warm in sub-zero temperatures without being particularly bulky or needing the help of liner gloves.
Plus, they're easy to get back on to slightly damp hands if you ever need to take them off mid-ride, and you can't say that about some rivals. All-round excellent performance!
Incredible performance for the money. It's still on my race day bike and I can't see any reason I'd ever take it off.
You could barely buy the parts to make these for the £499 they cost. If your future involves multi-day adventures then these wheels are perfect for keeping you powered.
The best UK-conditions allrounder tyre you can get. Available in everything up to a beach-friendly 60mm but the 700x30 and 650x40 are the pick.
I was lucky enough to ride Campagnolo's 12 speed groupset at the press launch before it was officially unveiled back in March prior to testing it properly, and despite some reservations about how reliable the groupset would be with an extra cog in there it's every bit as good, if not better than I thought it could be. More gears, consistent, reliable performance and the best ergonomics of any groupset in my book. 12 speed has arrived and it's very good indeed.
The Definition2 was definitely my favourite test bike of 2018 - I didn't want to give it back! It's by far the best aluminium frame I've ever ridden and is shockingly fast and nimble for a bike with pretty relaxed geometry and 30mm tyres as standard. You could take it anywhere, and as a year-round road machine, I think it's hard to beat.
Yes, they cost a small fortune, but the RC Ultimates are simply the most comfortable road shoes I've ever worn and if you can afford them they'd be my top road shoe recommendation. They're super lightweight and great for warm weather riding, but robust enough to use year-round with a good set of overshoes (I'm still using them through the depths of winter). Stiffness is absolutely top draw, with the adjustable insoles and a sock-like feel making them incredibly comfortable too.
Hands down, the single best new product launched in as many years. For its ability to keep you dry in the rain whilst being incredibly breathable so you don’t overheat, as well as super lightweight and packable, this is my fave product of 2018, and made even better with the recently launched Shakedry Stretch for an even better fit. Riding in the rain is rarely enjoyable but Shakedry makes it far more tolerable as it removes all the limitations of previous waterproof jackets, namely poor breathability.
I love riding fast and anything that helps me achieve that gets the nod. Few bikes or products have enabled me to ride as fast as easily as the brand new S-Works Venge. But it’s not just the speed that impresses, I love the fact it handles really nicely, the comfort ensures long rides on rough rides are more than tolerable, it’s light enough to not hold you back on the climbs and the disc brakes are just great. It’s just a shame it’s so damn expensive
I’m a long-time user of Garmin’s products but I’ve had my ups and downs with their various products. The new compact Edge 130 is definitely a case of up, due to its smooth performance, intuitive interface with easy-to-use button interface and decent battery life.
What have been your fave products of the past year? Let us know in the comments section below.
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.