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road.cc Recommends Components of the Year 2023/24: The best saddles, handlebars, groupsets and more from the last 12 months

Every month we select the best components we've reviewed for road.cc Recommends, then at the end of the year we pick the best of the best just for you – from Campagnolo, Prime, Prologo, Selle San Marco + loads more

Check out the cream of the crop in the world of cycling components – the very best products from all those that earned a coveted spot in road.cc Recommends during 2023. From saddles to forks, from handlebars to valves for tubeless wheels, this category covers a wide array of top-notch gear.

How the road.cc Recommends awards work

Each month, we choose the finest bikes, clothing, parts and accessories that we’ve reviewed on road.cc – and, when relevant, off.road.cc and ebiketips – and add them to road.cc Recommends, the section of our site that recognises the best products out there. Getting into road.cc Recommends is tough. Only a select few products make the cut.

Now we’ve been back to all the products that made it into road.cc Recommends during 2023 and picked the very best components for this round-up, so everything here is seriously impressive. You may notice that there are no wheels or tyres included here. That’s because we're giving them the attention they deserve in separate categories.

Unlike our bike awards (which begin next week), we don't arrange components and accessories into top 10s. Instead, we present three awards:

  • Bargain Buy This goes to a product that we feel gives exceptional 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 products deserve.

Right, let’s crack into the road.cc Recommends Components of the Year 2023/24…

Campagnolo Super Record Wireless groupset £4,500

roadcc recommends awards 2023-24 - Components of the Year - Money No Object

We’ll give our Money No Object award right away: it goes to Campagnolo’s flagship Super Record Wireless groupset which puts in a performance that’s nothing short of stunning. With a mighty price tag too, it’s a shoo-in for this gong.

As the name suggests, the latest version of Super Record is wire-free, adding a sleek and uncluttered look to your bike. There are a whole bunch of tech updates on offer here, including tweaks to the gear ratios, but something that remains is the unmistakable Campagnolo feel. You still get a mechanical interaction between your finger and the shifters, which is impressive given that you’re using an electronic button these days. 

Campagnolo has ditched the thumb shifter that sat on the inside of the hoods, which is a big departure from previous iterations. Instead, it has gone for two buttons on the brake lever. If you’re worried, we can reassure you that this design works extremely well, especially coupled with the improved ergonomics of the new shifters.

The shifting is crisp and fast, even under load, and the braking is powerful, delivered smoothly without ever feeling grabby. Everything is quiet too, with no vibration transmitted when the rotors are cold or wet. In terms of its performance, it’s hard to fault the way that Super Record Wireless behaves.

Unlike SRAM’s AXS groupsets, the front mech battery can’t be swapped onto the rear mech if you run out of juice back there, but you should be getting well over 400 miles per charge – maybe over 500 miles – so there’s no excuse for running out.

Our only other real criticism is that there’s currently no power meter, although one is on the way with the cranks shaped for the addition.

All in all, this is fabulous stuff, the only issue being that whopping price.

Why it’s here Huge price, but justified by stunning performance and ergonomics
Read the review 

ISM PR 1.0 saddle £130

ISM PR 1.0 saddle

Stop! Don’t be put off by the ISM Pr 1.0’s unusual split-nose shape. Yes, the looks take a bit of getting used to, but there’s a good reason for this design. The saddle provides a high level of comfort under the sit bones, while the dual-section nose reduces pressure on the soft tissue in the perineal area. This saddle can help if you encounter discomfort or numbness in these regions, which is why we recommend it for both racers and recreational cyclists.

> Best road bike saddles 2024 — here are the top bike seat picks for every budget

Reviewer Emily Tillett is a big fan of the ISM approach, finding that it distributes her weight evenly across the saddle without any pressure points.

With steel rails, the ISM PR 1.0 hit our scales at 327g. That’s not particularly light, but this saddle is more about comfort than saving a few grams. If you can ride for hours without numbness, it has to be worth considering. 

Why it’s here Great saddle for keen riders and racers, offering excellent support and comfort
Read the review 

76 Projects Hi Flow No Clog Tubeless Valves £24.50

2022 76 Projects HI FLOW 'No Clog' Tubeless Valves

Tubeless tyres can seriously reduce the number of punctures you get but they can sometimes be hard to seat and the valves can bung up with sealant. That’s where the 76 Projects Hi Flow No Clog Tubeless Valves come in.

Although the core isn’t removable when the tyre is in place on the rim, that’s not a worry because you can push sealant through the Hi Flow valve quickly and easily without it getting blocked.

> Should you get tubeless tyres? Are they your best option?

On top of that, airflow through the valve is high, so pumping up your tyres is simpler than usual, even if you’re using a standard hand pump.

If you’ve had enough of clogged-up tubeless valves, give these a go, and you won’t be disappointed.

Why it’s here Innovative and effective way to combat clogged valves
Read the review 

Prologo Dimension AGX 143 T4.0 saddle £94.99

Prologo Dimension AGX 143 T4.0

This saddle is a standout performer for a variety of terrains, providing plenty of comfort without breaking the bank. 

AGX stands for ‘adventure, gravel and cyclocross’ so it’s not surprising that the padding is a touch deeper than you’ll find on the road version of the Dimension. You also get some flex in the shell that helps absorb small bumps, but not so much that the saddle feels too flexible when you’re pedalling hard.

It’s supportive, and the slightly curved rear section gives you something to push against when you’re climbing. The nose is slightly dipped, and the saddle’s short length means there’s very little to get in the way when you’re down on the drops. A large central cut-out helps avoid any numbness in that area.

The shape, the thickness of the padding, and the overall quality of the Prologo Dimension AGX are all big plusses for gravel riding. Even if you’re exclusively a roadie and want a bit of extra padding, it’s definitely worth taking a good look.

Why it’s here Decent spec for the money, backed up by excellent comfort and shape to create the ideal saddle for all kinds of riding
Read the review 

Black Inc Integrated Aero Barstem £543.38

Black Inc Integrated Aero Barstem

This one-piece handlebar and stem might be a hefty investment, but it offers a comfortable shape, it’s beautifully finished and has a cleanly integrated mount up front. If you run disc brakes and an electronic groupset on either a road or gravel bike, it’s an excellent option.

Reviewer Matthew Page found the stiffness to be impressive whether sprinting from the drops or climbing on the hoods, and the comfortable shape offers plenty of hand positions.

> Best road bike handlebars 2024 — fine-tune your bike's front end for comfort and performance

A 7° flare (the amount the drops slope outwards from your bike’s centreline) means you get a little extra width when you go down to the drops for a descent. The weight is comparable to other high-end integrated options too (383g for the 38cm/100mm we used).

If you're looking for an integrated cockpit, this is a high-quality choice that puts in a top performance.

Why it’s here Comfortable and beautifully finished integrated aero cockpit at a high price
Read the review

Cadex Amp saddle £259.99

Cadex Amp saddle

Okay, not everyone is going to spend £260 on a saddle, but if you invest in this one from Cadex, you’ll be rewarded with a super-light weight – just 130g – and a level of comfort often associated with heavier, more deeply cushioned options. There’s enough flex in the shell to keep you feeling good and reviewer Tom Weijand found the amount of padding to be just right.

“It reminds me of non-linear spring curves on nice suspension forks that get firmer through their travel,” he said. “It feels firm beneath me, but supportive and forgiving, and there is no sudden ‘bottoming-out’ if I strike the carbon shell through a pothole. All really good.”

With a central cutout that works well to maintain blood flow, this is an excellent saddle if you’re happy to dig deep.

Why it’s here Very light meets very comfortable; if you're happy spending £260, the Amp is hard to beat
Read the review 

Seido RGT gravel carbon fork £300

2023 Seido RGT carbon fork-8

If you’re looking to upgrade the fork on an all-road/gravel bike, Seido’s RGT is a great option. It has clearance for wide tyres (47mm x 700C or 54mm x 650B), takes brake rotors up to 180mm, and is compatible with frames using internal cable routing. 

The carbon construction adds comfort, absorbing vibration to smooth the ride, while the triple cage mounts on each fork leg provide valuable cargo capacity that’ll come in especially useful for bikepacking. You also get mounts for a mudguard and a headlight.

The whole package is lightweight and great value for money compared with key competitors. Although Seido Components has no stock right now, more is coming in February.

Why it’s here A great upgrade for your gravel or all-road bike, offering plenty of comfort
Read the review 

Selle San Marco Shortfit 2.0 3D Carbon FX saddle £364.99

Selle San Marco Shortfit 2.0 3D Carbon FX saddle

Yes, it’s mega expensive, but Selle San Marco’s Shortfit 2.0 3D Carbon FX saddle is also extremely comfortable. If the short length is right for you, this is a fabulous option.

3D-printed saddles are always highly priced compared with most other options. That’s just the way things are. The advantage of this technology is that Selle San Marco can construct a lattice where the spacing is varied to alter the cushioning in different areas, providing exceptional comfort and support.

The saddle comes with a central cutout to reduce pressure on the perineum, and all the little bits of silicone-like netting keep you from sliding around.

You can save £45 by going for steel rails, but this carbon-railed model is the top-of-the-range choice if you really want to spoil yourself.

Why it’s here Innovative and amazingly comfortable saddle but at an 'early adopter' price
Read the review 

Zefal Pulse L2 Cage £17.99

2023 Zefal Pulse L2 Cage - 3.jpg

Zefal’s Pulse L2 Cage is a lightweight carbon fibre option that holds bottles securely and is good value for money. Our review sample hit the scales at 21g. That might be a little heavier than Zefal’s claimed 18g, but it’s still very light.

The Pulse L2 is also surprisingly sturdy. Reviewer Hollis Jones said it felt “tough and secure enough to take on anything” when fitted to his gravel bike and ridden over the rough stuff, and it always held bottles safely without any rattling. 

You can’t really ask for anything more than that of a bottle cage – especially not at this price.

Why it’s here Light, strong and capable carbon bottle cage for a decent price
Read the review 

Prime Doyenne Shorty Saddle with Ti Rails £59.99

roadcc recommends awards 2023-24 - Components of the Year - Bargain Buy

Prime’s Doyenne short saddle is an absolute bargain. As long as the 240mm length and 143mm width suit you, this is a winner.

You get a polycarbonate shell with polyurethane (PU) padding over the top and a central cutout that relieves pressure on your squishy, sensitive parts during long rides.

Reviewer Tom Price said, “I couldn't recommend this product more highly. I've found it to be extremely comfy throughout testing.”

High praise indeed!

The use of titanium rails helps keep the weight down. In fact, our review sample hit the scales at just 215g, which is 20g lighter than Prime’s claimed weight. That’s a rarity. If you want to save a few more grams, the same saddle is available with carbon rails for £89.99 (currently reduced to £71.99 on Wiggle). That one has a claimed weight of 180g.

Why it’s here If you are looking to upgrade your saddle, the price, comfort and quality materials here make it hard to overlook
Read the review 

Reserve Fillmore Valves £34.99

roadcc recommends awards 2023-24 - Components of the Year - Editors Choice

What? The Editor's Choice award goes to tubeless valves? Yup. Granted, it’s hard to get excited by something like this, but these are ingenious, working brilliantly to allow a high flow rate while avoiding clogging. Honestly, reviewer Tom Weijand was astonished by the performance.

Modern sealants can plug holes the diameter of a Presta valve so it’s no wonder they frequently clog. Reserve’s Fillmore valve provides three times more airflow than most so it’s easier to seat a tyre on the rim, and topping up sealant through the valve is simple too.

Rather than the customary valve core, Reserve uses an O-ring on the tapered head of a steel rod at the bottom of the valve, inside the rim, as the sealing mechanism. The seal is both pushed shut by the air pressure in the tyre and pulled shut by the valve cap. It’s a clever system – both simpler and better than Presta – with no discernible leakage.

Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re worth it for the performance on offer and the overall quality.
 
Why it’s here Novel design and technical ingenuity at its best – these valves are undeniably expensive, but they’re brilliant
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 road.cc 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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1 comments

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ktache | 3 months ago
1 like

I went for the Fillmore's, with upgrade to oil-slick cap and nut.

I am pleased with my purchase.

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