Of all the bikes, components, accessories and clothes that made it into road.cc Recommends this year, here are the biggest bargains.
Every month we select the very best products that we've reviewed for road.cc Recommends. Now we’ve re-examined everything that made it through over the course of the year and chosen the ones that offer the best value for money. Not everything here is cheap by any means, but each one gives you a big bang for your buck.
In our other end of year features we’ve given three types of awards – Editor’s Choice, Money No Object, and Bargain Buy – but those awards aren't really relevant here because everything is a bargain, so we’ve included a shortlist and a top three. In a break with convention, we'll announce the podium places right away:
Click on the names to go direct to each one, but don’t forget to check out our shortlist too.
The Prime Primavera Aero Carbon Handlebar (£149.99) is a great upgrade at an attractive price.
We reviewed the original Primavera Carbon Handlebar back in 2019, and we’re happy to see a lot of great features retained on this new model: easily-accessible drops, an aero top section, huge holes for internal cable routing, and space around the stem clamp for a computer mount and light.
This bar is stiff enough for big sprint efforts and the drop shape gives you a firm hold from which to eke out every last watt. While riding casually, the carbon is great at isolating you from road buzz, and at 226g the bar isn't heavy.
It's very good to see Prime has kept the price to £149.99, so it's still one of the cheapest aero handlebars on the market.
Lusso’s Comfort Break Bibshorts (£100) are designed to make mid-ride pit stops as easy for women as they are for men. The patented EasyPeesy bib top comprises two light but super stretchy braces that enable you to simply pull down the shorts at the back.
Lusso has nailed it with its no-fuss, no-clasp design, which is as pleasant to wear on the bike as it is easy when it's time to pee. With a high-quality pad and plenty of comfort, these are very good value. Overall, they’re an excellent buy.
The Endura FS260-Pro Bibshorts (£84.99) are super-comfortable, offer a great fit, and the chamois is sublime – and they achieve this without costing stupid money.
The pad is a highlight, using varying densities of gel inserts, with the thickest where you need the most padding, beneath the sit bones, and much thinner elsewhere to reduce bulk and bunching.
The Power Lycra offers a small amount of compression, while the seams are placed out of the way so there are no issues with rubbing or chafing, regardless of how long you are riding. The quality of the finish is high throughout.
The CamelChops Blimp 2.0 handlebar bag (£40) didn’t just catch our eye with this jazzy design, it is also well made by a small independent business in the UK and comes in at a brilliant price.
It's made from tough waterproof fabric with a YKK Aquaguard zip, and has a small external side pocket, Velcro strap handlebar fastenings with a daisy chain on the bag to adjust for width, an elasticated security cord to tie around the head tube, an adjustable elasticated bungee cord, and a front accessory daisy chain that's ideal for mounting a light. Small loops at the ends of the zipped opening can be used to add an aftermarket carrying strap.
We were impressed with the easy-to-fit design, stability, carrying capacity and waterproof design.
Prime’s Race Computer Mount (RRP £19.99, but reduced to £9.99 at the time of writing) is a solid way to pop a Garmin or Wahoo bike computer on the front of your bike. The aluminium construction isn’t usually found at this price point, and there are a few colours to choose from too.
Fitting the hinged Prime to (31.8mm only) bars is really easy. Prime also sells attachments for the underside, such as GoPro mounts and that’s very handy for running your front light under your computer to create a tidy cockpit.
For privateer racers, the Nopinz Pro-1 Road Men's Skinsuit with Speedpockets is a brilliant option. At £149.99 it undercuts the price of most skinsuits and the speedpockets and feedpockets make pre-race prep a bit easier.
The speedpockets allow you to slide your race numbers in. They sit behind clear soft plastic windows, meaning that no pins (NoPinz, get it?) are needed so you don’t end up poking holes in your race kit.
The feedpockets sit behind the speedpockets, allowing you to store energy products if you’re in a longer road race.
The rest of the skinsuit is great too, with a thick pad that is designed to add comfort when you’re on the rivet. It is easy to get into and fits snugly, with good stretch in the material keeping things comfortable.
Galibier’s Tourmalet 3 Jacket (£68) provides impressive waterproofing for the money, is easily packable into a pocket and offers a nice tailored cut. It's as good as jackets two or three times the price.
The HydraStop fabric that Galibier uses in the Tourmalet jacket is impressive in how long it stands up to rain and how good it is at keeping you at a comfortable temperature without overheating or giving you that dreaded boil-in-the-bag feeling.
The tail is dropped to protect your rear end and the fit is tailored rather than race cut, so it’s comfy to layer.
Another bargain from Galibier is the Regale Ultralight Jersey (£46.88). This is an incredibly thin design intended for both warmer days and indoor training during the darker months.
We love the fabric’s ability to wick sweat and allow it to evaporate in the summer sun. That’ll keep you dry, and the jersey is cut close, ensuring that you’re nice and aero too.
A low-cut collar looks really smart and the lengths of the sleeves and body are spot on.
Shimano's XC501 shoes (£139.99) offer a huge amount of tech and plenty of comfort at a reasonable price.
Closure is taken care of by a single Boa L6 ratchet dial and a small Velcro strap towards the toe, while the glass fibre-reinforced nylon sole is stiff enough for riding and a bit flexy for any walking you need to do. That's exactly how the shoes feel: a good compromise between on-bike rigidity and off-bike usability. We love them for gravel, commuting, mountain biking and even road riding.
The dhb Blok Bib Shorts (RRP £65 but reduced to £25.99-£38.99 at the time of writing) have been around for a few years and every now and again dhb makes them a little bit better. One thing we love is that the RRP has only gone up by a fiver in six years.
The cut and fit are both spot-on for the sporty rider while the Elastic Interface Nice Anatomic Men pad is both brilliantly named and very comfortable. dhb has provided wide bib straps that don’t cause irritation, and these are available in a range of colours.
Boardman's ADV 8.9 (£1,100) entry-level gravel/adventure bike proves once again that this British brand can deliver a lot of bike for the money. Its well-mannered handling will look after you should you be new to riding on a rough surface, and if you are likely to spend a fair amount of time on the road then you'll soon see that it is also a very capable tourer.
It's very capable off-road, taking everything in its stride. On all but the most technical or roughest of descents, it just gets on with the job, unlike some big money, speed-orientated gravel bikes.
We’d suggest that a wheel upgrade would be worthwhile as the narrow rims aren’t the best for wide tyres, but don’t let that detract from the fact that this is an excellent amount of gravel bike for the money.
We loved the fast and lively way that this rides and when you add in an impressive components package, you’ve got a bike that is great for flat rides through town.
Yes, it has its limitations, not least the limited selection of gears, and its stiff ride won't be for everyone, but when it comes to doing what it sets out to do – which is to get you across town, dependably, at speed, while enjoying the experience – it's really very hard to fault.
The Sundried Power Sports Bra (£22) is a brilliant medium-support option and you can have two or even three of them for the price of a single cycling-specific rival.
The bra offers a secure yet comfy fit, with well-thought-out ventilation holes for breathability where most needed. It also has removable padding for a personalised fit.
Designed to provide medium to high support, the stretchy material keeps everything locked down, even for out-the-saddle efforts.
Down the centre is a small grid of laser-cut holes for ventilation purposes while mesh panels across the tops of the shoulders also increase airflow. We loved the lower band which is very comfortable, and the price is another highlight.
3. CST's Cito Tyre (£32.95) is grippy, provides a comfortable ride and offers excellent value.
The 28mm size that we tested weighed in at 240g which is comparable to big players like Goodyear’s Eagle F1, the Continental GP5000 and Pirelli’s P Zero Race.
This tyre isn’t the easiest to fit but once on it's brilliant. It's fast, works well in a range of conditions and lasts very well.
2. Oxford’s Aqua V32 Double Pannier Bag (£54.99) is a rugged and incredibly protective load-carrying option at a brilliant price. These linked panniers are not the lightest, and the roll-top on each is quite stiff, but they're very, very tough.
The two 16 litre bags (making up 32 litres of carrying capacity) are made from a durable fully waterproof fabric and each has a zipped compartment on the outside as well as reflective accents.
We can’t overemphasise just how solidly built and protective these bags are. Once rolled over at the top, no rain is getting in.
1. The Boardman Carbon Shoes (£85) take top spot in road.cc Recommends Bargain Buys of the Year 2021/22. They deliver an absolute belter of a spec list for the sub-£100 price tag. They offer decent stiffness, are well vented and the upper gives a supple feel for comfort too – plus the adjustment of the ratchet dials allows you to tweak them on the fly.
It's quite rare to see a full carbon fibre sole on an £85 shoe, most coming with some kind of nylon offering or carbon-reinforced nylon at the very best. While the sole here isn’t as stiff as some, it’s still very good.
The dials pull the soft and supple synthetic upper smoothly around your foot with uniform pressure. For venting, you get plenty of holes all around the upper, and a mesh section above the toe box. There are also vents on the sole positioned for airflow under the foot.
Overall, you’re getting a brilliant pair of road cycling shoes for the price.