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feature Recommends Components of the Year 2022/23: groupsets, saddles, handlebars and more

It's time to reveal the top components that we've reviewed on over the past year and to hand out our awards to the very best

Here are the very best components that made it into Recommends in 2022. This category covers everything from groupsets and handlebars to saddles and seat posts – it’s a diverse mix.

Every month we add the best bikes, clothing, parts and accessories we’ve on – and, where relevant, our sister sites and ebiketips – to Recommends. It’s a rigorous process and only a few products make it in, so you can be sure that all of the products featured here are seriously impressive. 

You may notice that there are no wheels and tyres included here. That’s because they get their own categories; we’re dealing with them separately.

We don’t rank these products into top 10s – which is what we do in our bike awards – but we do offer three types of awards:

  • Bargain Buy This goes to the product that we feel gives the best value for money
  • Money No Object We take price out of the equation for this one; it’s all about performance
  • Editor’s Choice This award is won by the product that gives the best combination of performance and value for money.

We don’t necessarily give out all three awards in each category; it depends on what we feel the components we’ve reviewed deserve.

Right, let’s announce the Recommends Components of the Year 2022/23…

Giant Power Pro Ultegra R8000 Power Meter, £799.99

Giant Power Pro Ultegra R8000 Power Meter

This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a dual-sided power meter. The power numbers are credible and repeatable and the Shimano Ultegra cranks are hard to fault. It's a good value system for dual-sided power measurement.

What you get here is similar to a Stages or 4iiii system. The main difference is that Giant uses a rechargeable battery whereas competitors use a simple 2032 coin cell on each side. 

The cranks are dual Bluetooth/ANT+ compatible so they work with any GPS head unit or indoor training system.

Testing against other power meters, we found the Power Pro’s figures to be accurate and repeatable – which is exactly what you want.

Why it’s here An excellent option if you want dual-sided power measurement on your bike
Buy it for £799.99 from Giant Bicycles 
Read the review 

Ritchey Comp Venturemax XL handlebar, £49

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Components of the Year - Bargain Buy

This wide, ergonomic handlebar is superbly suited to long days, rough trails and wide luggage. With extremely comfortable drops and a great price, the Ritchey Comp Venturemax XL is a hugely appealing option.

When it comes to handlebars for cycling fast on rough surfaces, wider is generally better, and measuring 615mm at the drops, the Ritchey Comp Venturemax XL is one of the widest drop bars around. 

The Comp Venturemax XL comes in the one 'XL' size of 52cm, as measured at the hoods. But never mind the width, feel the flare – that's a whopping 24 degrees of drops angle there. This means it's very comfortable to sit in the drops – there’s no need to bend your wrists around the tops to get a grip. 

The drops are shallow – just over 10cm – so they’re easy to get into or out of. That’s important for long days in the saddle. 

A benefit of being this wide is there’s loads of space to carry luggage, – drybags, tents, whatever.

If you want loads of control of extreme terrain, super-comfortable handholds, loads of luggage space, and a sharp price, the Ritchey Comp Venturemax XL could be the answer.

Why it’s here An exceptionally wide and comfortable drop bar for massive adventures
Buy it for £40.99 from Wiggle 
Read the review

Prime Primavera Shorty Carbon Saddle, £119.99

2022 Prime Primavera Breve Carbon Saddle.jpg

This is a comfortable saddle straight out of the box thanks to its flowing shape and perfectly judged padding. It’s a good price for a full-carbon saddle too.

The Primavera is raised at the back slightly to give you a platform to push against when climbing hard, with a subtle arch in the middle for supportive comfort when tapping out the miles, which stops you from sliding forward or backwards. It’s an excellent shape.

The short nose allows you to get down low in the drops and crank the pedals without interference.

The padding is thick enough to filter high-resolution buzz without muting all feeling from the road. There’s just enough give to soak up the bigger bumps of a broken road surface, so it is comfortable for longer rides without being so soft that it gives over-the-top flex. 

A 3K carbon fibre shell brings its own flex to the ride. The rails are also 3K carbon fibre and marked with easy-to-read measurements.

Overall, this is a great option from its shape to its padding to the quality.

Why it’s here Impressive comfort, durability, shape and build quality for an excellent price
Buy it for £84.99 from Wiggle
Read the review 

Repente Artax GLM saddle, £165.00

2022 Repente_Artax_GLM_Main

The Repente Artax GLM lightweight, high-performance saddle – suitable for on and off-road use – might look minimal but it’s extremely comfortable.

It features an open central channel and what’s called the RLS (Repente Locking System) attachment design. This allows the base to be separated from the rails for possible replacement, but Repente claims that it increases comfort too.

Our test saddle weighed 164g, making it lightweight but not as extreme as some very minimal road saddles out there.

The shell has almost complete independent movement on each side of the base. This provides a superb level of comfort with the slightly scooped rear section holding you in the right position and the open channel reducing soft tissue pressure.

One key feature is its transition from the forward leading edge of the wing toward the nose and the way the top rolls over in a smooth downward curve, as opposed to some more angular blunt-sided designs. This all helps to reduce rubbing while you pedal.

At £165 this is an expensive saddle, but if you are after a lightweight saddle and don't want to compromise on comfort the Repente Artax GLM is worth considering seriously.

Why it’s here Extremely comfortable saddle with competitive weight and suitable for on or off-road use.
Buy for £159 from Selle Repente
Read the review

Cane Creek eeSilk+ Seat Post Aluminium, £224.99

2022 Cane Creek eeSilk+ Seat Post Aluminium.jpg

The Cane Creek eeSilk+ Aluminium Seat Post takes the excellent build quality and performance of the standard eeSilk, and gives you an extra 15mm of travel. If you want a subtle bump-taming solution whatever the terrain, this should be on your shortlist – especially considering the decent price.

The performance is great, the seat post adding suspension without giving you that bobbing sensation while you’re pedalling. The movement is so subtle that it’s barely noticeable, gently absorbing ripples and bumps without feeling the need to shout about its presence. Only the big bumps use all of the available travel.

The seat post’s spring rate is controlled via an elastomer that can be swapped for a softer or harder one depending on your weight. The pivot design uses stainless steel axles and is very smooth, and saddle fitment is easy.

Overall, the eeSilk+ is brilliant to use – which is why it thoroughly deserves a place among our favourite components of the year.

Why it’s here Smooth and subtle solution to taming bumps in the roads or trails, now at a competitive price
Buy it for £191.24 from Swinnerton Cycles
Read the review

KranX Tubeless Rim Tape, £9.50

2022 KranX Tubeless Rim Tape.jpg

The KranX Tubeless Rim Tape is a really good option, feeling sturdy yet pliable and fitting well to the rim, creating a good seal. It compares really well with more expensive options from big brands.

We had great results using the KranX tape. Even without adding sealant to tubeless systems, we found no leaking. It's stickier than a lot of cheap tapes while being flexible enough to fit well to the contours of a rim.

It's also tough, so pulling it tight to ensure an air-tight seal causes no tearing, and repeatedly changing tyres doesn’t cause it to move.

The KranX tape comes in several widths so it's easy to get the perfect size for your wheelset, and it’s not massively more expensive than far less user-friendly 'budget' options.

We’d happily recommend this tape to anyone.

Why it’s here High-performing rim tape at a great price
Buy now for £10.50 from Rush Cycles
Read the review 

Classified Powershift Kit & Wheelset, £2,299

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Components of the Year - Money No Object

The Classified PowerShift hub is an incredibly interesting bit of tech that has the power to change bike design for good. Seriously. It's a front derailleur-killing design that is really starting to shake things up. What you get is a planetary 2x hub gear system that operates wirelessly and is powered by contactless energy transfer from the thru-axle. You use a single-chainring (1x) set-up with all of the benefits of a double (2x) system, and none of the drawbacks of either.

Inside the rear hub is a two-speed gear system that gives you 100 per cent of whatever chainring you have fitted, and then a reduction gear of around 70 per cent of that chainring, essentially doing the job of your 'missing' smaller chainring. It's like having your front derailleur hidden away in your rear hub. Go to our review for a full rundown of the tech involved. It’s impressive. 

What’s the benefit? For a start, you'll never have to index a front derailleur again. All of the important bits are housed out of the way of rain and corrosive road spray, so you don’t need to clean anything either, and the shifting between the two ratios is unbelievably fast. Press the small shift button and the system changes in 0.15 seconds – and it’ll do that under power and at any cadence.

In use, the Classified system is awesome. It works superbly whether you’re on the road or rattling over trails and gravel paths. Ruts that on a conventional system might send your chain bouncing off onto the bottom bracket shell don’t disrupt the Classified’s performance at all.

We have been extremely impressed by the Classified Powershift system. Believe us, this is a serious piece of technical innovation that’s here to stay.

Why it’s here An excellent system – better shifting than a standard front derailleur, with many more benefits
Buy for £2,300 from Pearson 
Read the review 

Shimano Ultegra R8170 Di2 Disc Groupset, £2,399

roadcc recommends awards 2022-23 - Components of the Year - Editors Choice

Outstanding! The new 12-speed Ultegra Di2 Disc groupset provides shifting and braking that are so good that it’s hard to see the point of Shimano’s top-level Dura-Ace groupset. It is simply brilliant.

Shimano has made Ultegra R8170 semi-wireless – there are no cables from the shifters to the rest of the system – and this has absolutely no negative effect on the performance. Shimano has smashed it in terms of shift quality.

In terms of braking, Shimano has sorted an issue with the previous-generation R8000. Now, after you've thoroughly heated them up with a long period of heavy braking, you can let them off and suffer no noise whatsoever.

The hoods have become longer and taller, with a slight tilt inwards through the body. That's a good move for comfort and you'll also find a slight increase in the profile of the shifter buttons.

The chainset features chunky cranks along with chainrings that deliver exceptionally fast shifting. Minor improvements include a revised bleed port design on the brake callipers.

Overall, this is easily the best sportive/racer groupset for the keen road cyclist - which is why it win’s our Editor’s Choice award.

Why it’s here Fast shifting and brilliant brakes, now on a level with Dura-Ace – but cheaper
Buy for £2,169 from Merlin 
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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IanEdward | 1 year ago

after you've thoroughly heated them up with a long period of heavy braking, you can let them off and suffer no noise whatsoever

Surely for British riders the more likely issue is the hellish noise they make when they're wet and cold after a prolonged period of NO braking.

I just can't relate to the supposed issues of disc brakes overheating, not even on my gravel bike

wtjs replied to IanEdward | 1 year ago

Surely for British riders the more likely issue is the hellish noise they make when they're wet and cold after a prolonged period of NO braking

This problem really does seem to be with hydraulics rather than, in my case, the excellent TRP Spyre cable type. This bike has rather good cheap hydraulics (the only real problem with it is that you can't get the tyres) but they do squeal more- on the other hand, I haven't used it all that much

srchar | 1 year ago

If you spend £2k on Ultegra Di2 rather than Super Record disc, you have no soul. FACT 

ChuckSneed | 1 year ago

'Ultegra cranks are hard to fault', apart from the known fault where they split open...

hawkinspeter replied to ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
1 like
ChuckSneed wrote:

'Ultegra cranks are hard to fault', apart from the known fault where they split open...

You've snapped up that quote before I saw it.

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