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feature Recommends Bikes of the Year 2022/23: the best road bikes

Find out which of the tarmac-focused bikes we reviewed last year is the best of the best

It’s time to reveal which of the road bikes we reviewed in 2022 were the best – the ones that impressed us most as our team racked up many thousands of test miles – and the model we rate most highly of all: the Recommends: Road Bike of the Year.

In previous years we’ve divided road bikes into various different categories for our awards – performance road bikes, sportive/endurance road bikes, and superbikes (which cost above a certain price) – but we’re not doing that this time around.

Why? Because it’s sometimes unclear which category a certain bike belongs in. Distinctions can be fuzzy. Plus, we wanted our awards to cover only the best of the best and adding extra categories dilutes the mix. 

We’re using the term ‘road bike’ in a broad sense to cover drop-bar bikes designed primarily for road riding. We're including all-road bikes – drop-bar bikes that are capable of taking on surfaces from smooth asphalt to light gravel tracks – but not gravel bikes or flat-bar bikes intended for urban commutes. Bikes considered here don’t necessarily need to be designed for racing, although some in our top 10 are certainly performance-focused.

Beyond that, all of the bikes you’ll see here have been reviewed by in 2022. The new Trek Madone wasn’t up for inclusion, for example, because Trek didn’t send us the new Madone to review. It’s that simple. We spend a ridiculous amount of time over the course of the year sourcing new and interesting bikes to provide you with the most up-to-date collection of reviews we can. If brands are unable to supply the bikes we request, those bikes can't be ridden or considered.

Something that’s immediately noticeable about our top 10 is that every single bike has disc brakes. That’s just the way things worked out. Ever more bikes now come with disc brakes at most price points and the majority of brands are focusing their efforts in this direction.

Most of these bikes have internal cable routing – another sign of the times – but what might surprise you is the variety of frame materials represented here. Not everything is carbon fibre. Aluminium, steel and titanium all make our top 10. It goes to show that there are plenty of ways to make an excellent bike.

One thing we don’t take into account here is availability. A lot of brands are still struggling with supply chain issues as a result of Covid-19. It wouldn’t be fair to penalise them because of that.

So which road bikes are the best of the best? It’s time to start the countdown…

10. Specialized Allez Sprint Comp, £2,650

2022 Specialized Allez Sprint Comp - riding 3.jpg

The Specialized Allez Sprint Comp opens our top 10 courtesy of being a very fast aluminium road bike that handles brilliantly. The frame is stiff enough to cope with sprints, but it won't beat you up on long rides.

The original Allez Sprint was designed for racing short and twisty town centre criteriums. The geometry made it nimble and an absolute blast to ride, but some found the handling a little nervous. This new version has been tamed just a little, with geometry identical to that of Specialized’s Tarmac SL7, and this translates to a bike that is perfectly suited to faster road rides.

While the Allez Sprint isn't as speedy as a lighter carbon machine on steeper hills, it keeps pace pretty much everywhere else.

Get yourself in a flat-out race for bragging rights at a town sign and the Allez Sprint provides a very stiff platform to lay down all of your power. It remains planted at speed and feels lighter than its 8.7kg weight.

Specialized has absolutely nailed the handling here. The Allez Sprint tracks effortlessly through fast corners, allowing you to build your confidence as you push for one apex to the next.

Comfort hasn't been lost in the quest for efficiency, and if you want more there’s space to swap the 26mm clincher tyres for something as wide as 32mm.

The Alley Sprint Comp is built-up with Shimano’s 11-speed 105 R7000 groupset and DT Swiss’s tubeless-ready R470 wheels, although deeper carbon wheels would be a great upgrade.

The price puts it in competition with carbon-framed alternatives, but carbon isn’t everything. This is a fantastic bike with excellent handling and plenty of stiffness.

Why it’s here Fast race bike with excellent handling – the price is high, but so is the performance…
Buy now for £2,900 from Sigma Sports
Read the review 

9. Tifosi Rostra Disc Tiagra, £1,499

2022 Tifosi Rostra Disc Tiagra - riding 3.jpg

The Tifosi Rostra Disc Hydraulic Tiagra’s biggest asset is its versatility. The aluminium-framed Rostra is a road bike but it can handle surfaces other than well-sealed tarmac, and it can cope with year-round British weather thanks to fixings and space for full mudguards.

With the ability to take tyres up to 35mm wide, the Rostra is also a perfect pick for the roadie who wants the option of venturing off-road occasionally without committing to a gravel bike. As well as being able to take full mudguards, the Rostra can handle a rear rack and three bottle cages. If you’re in the market for a commuter, winter trainer or simply a bike to tap out the miles on, you should give the Rostra some serious consideration.

The geometry is similar to that of an endurance road bike, offering stability and easy handling without lacking fun. All of that stability makes the Rostra a winner on wet or slippery surfaces, and the front end remains unfazed when faced with broken sections of road.

It's comfortable too, the 6061-T6 aluminium frame providing a forgiving ride quality. It might not dampen buzz as effectively as some steel, titanium or quality carbon-fibre frames, but there’s certainly no harshness here.

The Rostra is available in a couple of builds, ours coming with a mostly Shimano Tiagra groupset complete with hydraulic disc brakes. Tiagra is a great groupset which have no problem recommending.

Overall, this is a very good road bike at this price point for all kinds of riding, and it offers a great balance of speed and comfort.

Why it’s here Very good versatile bike whose tyre clearance and geometry mean it isn't just limited to the road
Buy now for £1,499 from Cycle Solutions
Read the review 

8. Boardman SLR 8.8, £850

Boardman SLR 8.8

The Boardman SLR 8.8 is an absolute steal, feeling like a much more expensive bike than it actually is while also offering a lot of fun. It rides really well, offering a comfortable frame and fork with balanced handling to suit beginners or anyone else who wants to make the most of its all-weather capabilities.

Features like triple-butted aluminium alloy tubing and slender tube profiles where it counts mean that the SLR 8.8 feels great out on the road. It takes the edge off high-frequency buzz while being as stiff as it needs to be.

The geometry is slightly more relaxed than that of a race bike with a longer head tube and a shorter top tube – a typical endurance setup. With eyelets for full mudguards and a rear rack, it’s suitable for year-round training and/or commuting.

The 10.4kg weight dulls climbing and acceleration a touch but the SLR never feels sluggish – especially when you consider the price.

It primarily uses a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra groupset with an FSA Vero Compact chainset and mechanical (rather than hydraulic) disc brakes from Tektro. It’s a bit of a mix but it all behaves well.

If you’re looking for a sub-£1000 road bike, the Boardman SLR 8.8 is a confidence-inspiring machine. It gives a quality ride and balanced handling, matched to a blend of components that complement while keeping the price low.

Senior Product Reviewer Stu Kerton says, “Boardman’s SLR 8.8 highlights the fact that you don’t have to spend thousands on a bike that is fun and rewarding to ride.

"There are a few compromises here and there, but at its heart is a good quality frameset which is ripe for upgrades, saving you from having to invest in a new bike as the cycling bug takes hold and your rides get longer and faster.”    

Why it’s here Well specced and a great ride feel from a bike that looks and feels more expensive than it is
Buy now for £850 from Halfords
Read the review 

7. Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2, £6,499

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2

We’re taking a big step up in price to the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2, a very good road racer’s bike that’s instantly likeable, with its fast ride complemented by fun handling.

The Ultimate CF SLX provides a solid platform with no discernible flex either through the centre or at the front end. It feels efficient and sprinting feels great. Add stability at speed and this is a bike that allows you to get on with laying the power down.

Getting this 7.27kg bike up to speed doesn’t take too much effort, and aero touches on the frame help you to keep it rolling at a strong pace. The Ultimate CF SLX feels very much like a lightweight aero race bike should.

It’s composed on tricky descents with enough compliance to take the edge off rougher patches of tarmac although, we must say, there are comfier road race bikes out there. If that’s a high priority for you, the Ultimate will take tyres up to 32mm wide.

It comes in various build options, ours fitted with Shimano’s second-tier Ultegra Di2 groupset. There’s little to quibble about here – Ultegra is brilliant stuff. You also get a 4iiii power meter, fast DT Swiss ARC 1400 wheels, and a comfy Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow Ti316 saddle.

The Ultimate CF SLX isn't the lightest bike ever, nor is it the stiffest, nor the most aero – but it’s a great combination of all three. It climbs well, it’s fast on the flat and it doesn’t beat you up over a long ride. It's a brilliant bike.

Why it’s here The Ultimate is a brilliant race bike – fast, comfortable and handles well
Buy now for £6,449 from Canyon
Read the review 

6. Vitus Razor Disc Claris, £699

Vitus Razor Disc Claris

The least expensive bike in our top 10 comes with an aluminium frame and a carbon/aluminium fork, and a glance at the Shimano Claris-based build might not blow you away – which just goes to show why you shouldn’t judge a bike by its spec sheet.

Ride the Vitus Razor Disc Claris and you’ll soon find out that the frame and fork could easily form the basis for a much more expensive bike. Vitus has a reputation for offering exceptional value for money and that’s certainly the case here.

The Razor's double-butted 6061-T6 aluminium alloy-tubed frame delivers a high quality of ride and the bike as a whole is responsive too, despite a 10kg weight. Reviewer Stu Kerton said that even seasoned roadies looking for a second bike for training, commuting or winter riding would find a lot to like here.

The Razor’s geometry is a little more relaxed than that of a race bike but the ride position isn’t overly upright and it feels nimble while still being able to accommodate full-length mudguards.

With its 50/34 chainrings and 11-32 cassette, our review bike had a wide enough range of gears for most kinds of road riding and riders of various fitness levels. The Tektro MD-C310 callipers are cable-operated rather than hydraulic but they work well enough and the Vitus-branded wheels are durable and caused no stress.

If you're looking to get into road riding and want a bike that can grow with you in terms of ability and performance, the Vitus Razor is a great buy.

Why it’s here An extremely capable road bike with a high-quality frameset that's ripe for upgrades
Buy now for £594.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Read the review 

5. Mason Definition Chorus, £3,665

2022 Mason Definition Chorus - riding 3.jpg

The Mason Definition Chorus is the definitive all-round road bike, offering a great ride quality and a geometry that works both at speed and when cruising along. This is a jack of all trades that manages to be a master of them all. The build quality and finish are flawless too.

The Definition has had a few tweaks since it was introduced in 2015, such as switching from quick-release skewers to thru-axles, but all of the great bits of the original design remain.

The aluminium frame, handbuilt in Italy from Dedacciai tubing, silences road buzz to give a velvety feel and the geometry is spot-on for a bike of this type.

The front end isn't as razor-sharp as that of a race bike but it's close, and the slightly slacker head angle – plus a wheelbase a few millimetres longer to accept full mudguards – means handling that's a little bit less frantic. It really allows you to ride the Mason quickly over long distances.

The Definition feels exceptionally solid, flowing through the bends sweetly, and the relatively short head tube allows you to get tucked into the drops to lower your centre of gravity.

The frame is also impressively stiff, which makes the Definition feel nimble and responsive on the climbs. It’s also well suited to tapping out the miles at a decent pace, but should the need arise for a hard effort or a touch of sprinting, you won't be left disappointed.

The Definition is available in a range of builds, with both electronic and mechanical shifting from SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo, and even a 1x setup in the case of Campag's Ekar.

Campagnolo Chorus gives a defined click when you shift, and the hoods and the curved carbon brake levers fit so well with the natural resting positions of your fingers. Campag might have been slow to offer hydraulic disc brakes, but they were definitely worth the wait, providing loads of power on tap.

Taken as a whole, the Mason Definition is a phenomenal bike that provides a sublime ride.

Why it’s here The way this thing rides is a masterclass in bike design and engineering
Buy now for £3,665 from Mason Cycles
Read the review 

4. Fara Cycling F/AR, £4,644

Fara Cycling F/AR

The Fara Cycling F/AR is an absolute cracker of a bike. It manages to feel like a race bike on the road and can transfer that performance to hardpacked tracks and even trails as a result of its ability to take 38mm tyres. The ride quality and handling are exceptional, and the 8.1kg weight is impressive for a bike of this kind.

The AR part of F/AR stands for ‘All-Road’ and this bike allows you to explore byways as well as tarmac. It doesn’t quite make the jump to gravel, though, hence its inclusion in our road bike top 10.

It feels responsive on the road with an impressively stiff carbon-fibre frame, a large bottom bracket shell and a compact rear triangle keeping things tight.

The geometry is similar to that of an endurance road bike, with a front end that’s balanced between quick handling for fun in the bends and on descents, and enough stability and poise that it inspires confidence on rough roads.

The F/AR’s frame offers just enough forgiveness to take the edge off dodgy road surfaces and the fork similarly removes chatter from the ground.

Head onto hardpacked byways and the F/AR behaves well. It’s confident and easy to control, and remains comfortable, especially if you drop a little pressure from the tyres.

Designed for racking up big miles, the frame comes with multiple mounting points. You get mounts for a bento box on the top tube, for example, plus three mounting points on each fork leg, and the F/AR will take full mudguards too.

The F/AR is available as a frameset-only option (£2,519) and in several complete bike builds. You can select wheelsets and various finishing kits, too. Whatever you choose, you’re going to get a bike that provides a stunning ride, both in terms of comfort and the way it behaves.

Senior Product Reviewer Stu Kerton says, “Fara may not be on everybody’s radar in the UK yet, but with a bike like the F/AR that should soon change.

“For those that want a fast road bike that isn’t limited to smooth roads, or even roads at all the F/AR offers so much versatility thanks to the tyre clearance and the number of mounting points on offer.

“It’s the ride quality that shines, though, whatever the surface, highlighting how knowledgeable Fara’s design team are when it comes to tube profiles and carbon layup.”

Why it’s here High-speed road bike that can tackle some rough stuff, with an awesome ride quality wherever you take it
Buy now for £4,624 from Fara Cycling
Read the review 

3. Enigma Evoke MK3, £6,000

2022 Enigma Evoke MK3 - riding 3.jpg

The Evoke MK3 from British brand Enigma provides a buzz-free smoothness and plenty of stiffness where it really counts, along with durability and a classic looks. This really is a top-quality bike.

This Evoke, make from 3Al/2.5V titanium alloy, is all about a performance that was inspired by classic race bikes. It uses a custom tubeset and each frame size comes with varying tube diameters and butt profiles to get the best balance of ride comfort and stiffness for a given rider weight and size bracket.

It has a firmer ride than many titanium bikes but in a purposeful way. The stiffness around the bottom bracket makes the frame feel hugely responsive, and it’s a great bike for attacking the climbs or just getting the power down. The lack of unwanted flex makes the Evoke feel lighter than it is and very nimble. That said, 8.8kg with an electronic groupset and deep section wheels is none too shabby anyway.

The Evoke’s geometry is a little less aggressive than that of a true race bike, but it’s not as relaxed as an endurance bike either. It sits somewhere in between. The steering is quick while the wheelbase is long enough to provide a degree of stability.

The slim seatstays remove the chatter while you’re seated and also give the bike’s rear end a planted feel, keeping the tyre in full contact over rough roads.

This new version of the Evoke comes with internal routing for cables, wires and hydraulic hoses, plus a T47 threaded bottom bracket. The chainstays are stiffer too, which benefits performance, and you can fit tyres up to 32mm wide. Don't expect mudguards or rack mounts, though; this is a performance bike.

The C-Six DSC Carbon fork – with a tapered steerer tube – matches both the quality and the nature of the frame and is stiff without feeling harsh or transferring road buzz up to your hands.

The Evoke frame is £2,199, the frameset is £2,638.99, and full builds are available too. Our review bike was built-up with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 groupset which is excellent throughout. If you’ve got the money, it’s a superb option for a frameset of this calibre.

The Evoke is the complete package offering a stunning performance ride with just enough titanium zing for comfort. Oh, and it looks beautiful too.

Why it’s here Stunning looks, well-rounded geometry and an excellent ride quality
Buy now for £6,000 from Enigma
Read the review 

2. Reilly Fusion, £8,699

The Reilly Fusion is a stunning bike, both in the way it looks and in the way it rides. With smooth tube junctions, it could almost be mistaken for carbon fibre rather than titanium, but climb aboard and you’ll experience that excellent titanium feel. You can ride fast and in comfort for many, many miles.

Like many other bikes, the Fusion is made from 3Al/2.5V titanium, but rather than the tubes being welded together, Reilly uses investment cast sections (made from 6Al/4V titanium alloy) for the head tube, seat cluster, bottom bracket shell and dropouts, with the tubes welded to them.

This results in great stiffness and also the distinctive smooth finish you see where the seat tube meets the top tube.

Reilly has also embraced hydroforming to shape the tubing to meet the performance required in terms of stiffness and comfort – as well as aesthetics, of course. The dropped seatstays with their elegant curves are a prime example.

The Fusion looks every inch the high-speed racer, and the performance is great. It's a decent weight – 8.27kg – and impressively stiff, feeling lively off the line and on the climbs.

The Fusion’s geometry is a small step back from that of a full-on aggressive race machine. It feels just as at home on longer road rides, from the club run through to a sportive or a day ride. This is a bike that’s easy to ride fast, but without the twitchiness of a race bike. It’s capable of being raced but doesn't feel like it has to be.

The Fusion is nimble while at the same time feeling composed thanks to the buzz-taming nature of the frame. This gives you the confidence to push hard through the corners. It feels planted while responding well to handlebar movements and shifts in body position.

A full-carbon fibre fork reinforces the frame's performance. There is plenty of stiffness here without any compromise to the ride feel on rough roads.

Reilly's website offers the Fusion in three builds – Shimano Ultegra Di2 in 11-speed or 12-speed, or Dura-Ace Di2 12-speed. Our review bike was built with the latest Ultegra Di2, 12-speed R8170, with fast and crisp shifting and awesome braking. You can also choose from a selection of wheels.

£8,699 is a big old price tag but the Fusion isn’t overpriced compared with other bikes of its ilk (you could get it fully built up for £7,499), especially considering that the investment casting of the 4Al/6V components adds to the cost.

Overall, the Fusion rides with all of the excitement and involvement of a great race bike, with the manners and ride quality of a quick endurance machine. It's a difficult balance to pull off, but Reilly has done it. If you want the performance of a high-end carbon fibre machine, but have a hankering for titanium then the Reilly needs to be on your list.

Senior Product Reviewer Stu Kerton says: “Reilly’s Fusion earns the second step on the podium not only for its excellent handling and performance, but also for the attention to detail which makes it one of the most stunning looking bikes that we have tested over the last twelve months.

“That beauty isn’t just skin deep either. The custom, hydroformed tubing mated to the investment cast junctions shows off the knowledge and expertise of the Fusion’s designer delivering a ride quality that takes titanium frames to another level.”

Why it’s here Excellent bike with the performance and looks of carbon but the stunning comfort and longevity of titanium
Buy now for £8,799 from Reilly Cycleworks
Read the review 

1. Mason SLR SRAM Force, £5,200

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Road Bikes of the Year - winner

The Recommends: Road Bike of the Year 2022/23 is the Mason SLR – a model that encapsulates everything that's great about a modern metal bike, with a nod to tradition. The steel SLR is a massively versatile road machine that gives the comfort and confidence of a big-mile tourer, with the fun of something much quicker. This is a hard-to-categorise bike that reviewer Stu Kerton described as “faultless”, and that’s huge praise from someone who is constantly riding the latest and greatest bikes we can get our hands on.

The SLR is a truly impressive bike, beautifully created and finished, that offers a stunning blend of performance and ride quality. It is designed with big rides in mind, whether loaded or unloaded, and this is where it excels.

The ride is excellent thanks to a custom tubeset that provides an extremely supple feel. Even built up with an electronic groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and full mudguards, it’s nimble, responsive and involving for its 9.9kg weight.

The geometry is backed off a touch from what you’d expect of an endurance road bike, which allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenery, while the steering is reassuringly neutral. You get no surprises from the front end even on poor road surfaces… or when straying off tarmac. With the ability to take tyres up to 40mm with mudguards fitted and 45mm without, the SLR can take on light gravel sections or even firm mud.

The SLR provides plenty of comfort and it also responds readily to a kick of the pedals, especially when you’re already rolling along. It’s no slouch on the climbs either. A tapered head tube and a beefy bottom bracket shell provide stiffness, meaning the SLR has get-up-and-go when you’re out of the saddle.

Descending is a joy. The SLR feels quick in the bends and the geometry helps you push on quicker than you'd expect thanks to a feeling of stability and poise. This gives confidence in the wet too.

The Mason SLR is built around a custom-shaped and formed Dedacciai tube set, which has received a phosphate anti-corrosion coating made exclusively for Mason.

The various tube shapes and profiles provide an exceptional blend of stiffness and comfort, and you get mounting points for racks and full mudguards, along with three bottle mounting positions and a chain pip for holding the chain while the rear wheel is out. There’s also internal dynamo routing for front and rear lighting, plus a pump peg for holding a full-size frame pump under the top tube.

The SLR is currently available as a frameset for £2,150, in a Campagnolo Ekar 1x build for £4,375, and in the SRAM Force eTap AXS build that we reviewed for £5,200 (other builds will follow). Force sits below SRAM's flagship Red groupset but shares much of its performance and quality at a lower price point.

One benefit of SRAM over Shimano or Campagnolo’s road groupsets is the size of chainrings open to you. Whereas the smallest offering from both of those (not including gravel groupsets) is 50/34T, SRAM offers Force in the 48/35T set-up we used. When paired with the 12-speed 10-33T cassette you get a huge spread of useable gears.

Whether you choose a Mason SLR because of your head or your heart, you’ll be incredibly satisfied. You’ll get a piece of engineering excellence that’ll stun you with its ride quality and behaviour.

Why it wins Simply stunning from every aspect, thanks to exceptional ride quality and an attention to detail that sets it above the rest
Buy now for £5,200 from Mason Cycles
Read the review 

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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Christopher TR1 | 10 months ago

All those world tour teams riding around on second-rate steeds will be kicking themselves now! Yes, most roadies are not elite racers, etc. etc. But I reckon most of us like to be as fast as we can be.... bento box be dammed.

Rendel Harris replied to Christopher TR1 | 10 months ago


Bikes considered here don’t necessarily need to be designed for racing

Not sure "most of us" do want to be as fast as we can at the exclusion of all other considerations; many want some degree of comfort, durability and practicality as well. In an ideal world we'd all have the finances and garage space to have a superbike stored in a hermetically-sealed dust-free environment that's only wheeled out on sunny summer days; in the real world many people want a bike that's capable of crunching through the potholed horror of a winter commute and can still go like the clappers on the weekend. Personally I think it's rather refreshing to see a bikes of the year list that includes a variety of options in terms of materials and purposes as well as - the horror! - some that a person on an average income could actually contemplate buying without selling a kidney.

Adam Sutton replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago

Was thinking the same. Nice to see some bikes that can be used for more than a ride out on a summers day, and inclusion of more affordable options like the boardman.

emjay49 replied to Rendel Harris | 10 months ago

Agree, really pleasing to see the small home grown bike brands flourish and something we should be proud of. There is clearly a market for high quality, well designed and engineered bikes that people not involved in racing nor worried about grams can enjoy.

ChuckSneed | 10 months ago

All disc brakes, more like gravel bike of the year..................

AlsoSomniloquism replied to ChuckSneed | 10 months ago
1 like

Can only review what was sent to them. So if manufacturers pretty much eschew rim brakes for disc, and now make wheels and frames for more then 25mm tyres (including on the "pure" race bike here which goes upto 32), then that is what will appear here.

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