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feature Recommends Bikes of the Year 2021/22: road bikes

Here are the very best road bikes that made it into Recommends in 2021, including our overall Bike of the Year

Whatever type of road bike you're looking for, here are the very best that we reviewed on in 2021.

We've been adding the best bikes that we've reviewed to Recommends over the course of the year and now it's time to reveal the best of the best in the following categories:

Performance Road Bikes
Endurance Road Bikes

Everything considered for our end of year awards must have been reviewed by If a particular company didn't send us their bike, we can’t ride it or rate it.

We've now been back to Recommends, looked at each bike on its own merits and chosen the very best of them to be included here.

We have three different types of awards available to us across all our bike, component, accessories and clothing categories in the Recommends Awards 2021/22:

  • Bargain Buy This goes to the bike/product that we feel gives the best value for money.
  • Money No Object We take the price out of the equation for this one; it’s all about the performance.
  • Editor’s Choice This award is won by the bike/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 all depends on the bikes/products that have made it into Recommends.

We're also assigning an overall Bike of the Year award to the model that impressed us most across all of the categories both in terms of performance and value, and it goes to one of the bikes that features here.

Right, let's get cracking...

Performance Road Bikes

Money No Object Wilier Filante SLR
Editor’s Choice Vitus Vitesse EVO CR eTap AXS

The Performance Road Bike category is for models intended for road racing or, at least, whose design is inspired by road racing.

The Giant Contend SL 1 Disc (£1,649) made it into Recommends courtesy of being a brilliant all-round road bike that's comfortable and engaging to ride. It’s not exactly a race bike because it has some endurance bike qualities too, but the aluminium Contend offers a lively, positive ride, with crisp handling.

The new-for-2021 Vitus ZX-1 Evo CRS Di2 (£3,999) is a very different bike that similarly impressed us. This carbon-framed aero road bike delivers across the board, offering a high level of performance, excellent geometry, comfort and impressive value for money.

> Check out the Recommends Bikes of the Year 2021/22: gravel/adventure bikes, urban bikes and E-bikes

road bikes of the year Jan 2022 - money no object - Wilier Filante SLR

Our Money No Object award goes to the Wilier Filante SLR (above). The £10,680 price tag means this is an option for very few, but if you’re looking for a superb performance, the Filante is a lightweight aero road bike that is reactive, quick handling, and provides a surprisingly comfortable ride.

The Filante SLR is made from the same materials as Wilier's existing superlight Zero SLR: HUS-Mod carbon fibre and liquid crystal polymer. Wilier says it's a blend of high-quality fibres but is tight-lipped about exactly what's in there – and that the liquid crystal polymer helps improve the absorption of vibration.

Whatever the secret sauce, the Filante is an absolute delight out on the road. Launch your biggest out-of-the-saddle attack and it remains tight around the bottom bracket while the fork and stocky head tube keep everything firmly under control up front. Fast cornering feels fabulous and the quick handling allows you to chop and change your line with the minimum of effort.

If you're lucky enough to be in the market for a race-focused superbike, the Filante is a superb option that should be on your shortlist.

Buy the Wilier Filante SLR here

road bikes of the year Jan 2022 - editors choice - Vitus Vitesse

Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the updated Vitus Vitesse EVO CR eTap AXS (above, £3,199.99), an excellent all-round road bike that delivers on performance and comfort while being amazing value for money.

Vitus has made the carbon-fibre frame lighter yet stiffer than before, with a geometry that puts you in the right position to ride fast and hard. With a longer top tube, a lower front end and shorter chainstays, it feels a little more urgent and aggressive than the old model.

The Vitesse EVO is a proper race bike, and when we reviewed it we called it “an absolute belter”. Out of the saddle sprints are blisteringly fast, the bike feels planted on technical descents, and the steering is quick without being twitchy.

Stu Kerton said, “What a bike. I'm not even saying it's a great bike for the money; it's just a great bike, and the fact you are getting all of this for a good price is brilliant.

“If you want a versatile all-round (as in non-aero) race bike then the Vitesse EVO range really needs to be on your list. It rides awesomely, feeling comfortable yet stiff with excellent handling and general behaviour. I would put my own money down on this bike in a heartbeat, and I recommend you do the same.”

Buy the Vitus Vitesse EVO CR eTap AXS here

Endurance Road Bikes

Editor’s Choice Fairlight Strael 3.0

This category is for road bikes that aren't focused entirely on speed. These bikes will usually offer features designed to provide more comfort, practicality and/or versatility than a traditional-style road race bike.

The Trek Domane SL frameset (now £2,450, complete 2022 bikes from £3,050) impressed us hugely as a smooth-riding endurance road bike. It's not the lightest bike out there, but if ride quality is your main concern, it's a real contender.

Buy the Trek Domane SL Disc frameset here

Giant’s Defy Advanced 3 (£2,099) is another strong candidate. It handles superbly, it's highly comfortable, and with space for tyres up to 35mm, it can take you off the beaten track too. This bike is at its best when getting in the big miles on less than perfect roads and, with the ability to take mudguards and wide tyres, it'll happily do that year-round.

Buy the Giant Defy Advanced 3 here

Version two of Kinesis’ titanium GTD frameset (£2,200) is excellent. If you want to ride fast, it'll do it, and not just in a compromised way – this is a properly fast bike. 

Buy a Kinesis GTD frameset here

It’ll take wide tyres (even with mudguards), and a rack too if touring is your thing. It eats up the miles and if you just want to enjoy the scenery, it will happily let you get on with it.

Our overall Bike of the Year award goes to...

road bikes of the year Jan 2022 - bike of the year - Fairlight Straell 3.0

Our Editor’s Choice and our overall Recommends Bike of the Year 2021/22 awards go to the steel Fairlight Strael 3.0 (£2,964), an updated model that scored a rare 10 out of 10 when we reviewed it back in June.

Designer Dom Thomas has been busy altering some of the frame tubing and adding features like a new fork – little tweaks that add up to a lot.

The Strael 3.0 offers loads of comfort with little in the way of road buzz or chatter, and it’s perfectly composed whatever the conditions or the state of the surface, and this gives you massive confidence as a rider.

Reviewer Stu said, “The Strael is a beautiful bike to ride, just simply stunning. With a lot of bikes, you can find yourself riding to get to the next fun bit, but the Fairlight makes it all fun. I never had a dull moment – the whole time I was spinning the pedals I just enjoyed being aboard it."

Fairlight Strael 3.0 2021 RCCR-1

Our overall Recommends Bike of the Year 2021/22 award was a tough decision because we've reviewed so many excellent bikes across all categories. We debated it at length among our team of reviewers before concluding that the Fairlight Strael 3.0 should come out on top.

The Strael does everything extremely well in terms of performance. The ride quality is high, it handles superbly, it's responsive... all those things you want from an endurance road bike. But what really sets it apart is the attention to detail in the design, like the mount positions and the cool internal cable routing for the rear dynamo light. Fairlight has thought of every conceivable set-up you might want to run and catered for them all. The result is an absolute diamond of a bike.

Buy the Fairlight Strael 3.0 here

Add new comment


Zebra | 2 years ago

The Vitus ZX-1 EVO has been on my wishlist for 6 months now. Still not sign of it becoming available.  It seems all the industry is able to sell at the moment is the idea of a new bike. 

hbeevers | 2 years ago

Bargain buy award? Seems to be missing...

mdavidford replied to hbeevers | 2 years ago
1 like

Probably a reflection of the number of bargains to be had...

Kadinkski | 2 years ago

This used to be one of my most anticipated and enjoyable reads of the year.

This just feels lazy and messy so dissapointing. I feel really let down.

Simon E replied to Kadinkski | 2 years ago

Kadinkski wrote:

This used to be one of my most anticipated and enjoyable reads of the year.

This just feels lazy and messy so dissapointing. I feel really let down.

What, like an old inner tube?

If it's that bad then just ask for your money back.

Surreyrider | 2 years ago

There seems to be a small selection of bikes and it's not a true 'bike of the year' round-up, just a list of the best bikes Road CC staff have actually ridden. As others say, the piece is rather messy too. Disappointing 

Jack Sexty replied to Surreyrider | 2 years ago

Hi, mentioned this on another thread but as is the case ever year, our Bike of the Year is actually our pick of the bikes we've reviewed - it wouldn't be our awards if we picked a bike none of the staffers had ever ridden as our bike of the year, that wouldn't be right. 

It's true that the selection is small but that's because to be brutally honest, we really struggled to get hold of any bikes! In the circumstances we're happy we managed to produce an awards, hopefully next year we'll have a lot more to choose from as those supply chain issues start to ease. 

cyclefaster | 2 years ago

I usually enjoy the "of the year" round up, but I don't like the new style of doing it. In past years there has been a much clearer rundown of contenders with a winner. This year it seems a bit messy and harder to follow.

Maybe it's just me but it just doesn't seem right this year.

Steve K replied to cyclefaster | 2 years ago

I'm glad it's not just me.

MTB Refugee replied to cyclefaster | 2 years ago

Same here, this format is really difficult to read.

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