Whatever type of road bike you're looking for, here are the very best that we reviewed on road.cc in 2021.
We've been adding the best bikes that we've reviewed to road.cc Recommends over the course of the year and now it's time to reveal the best of the best in the following categories:
Everything considered for our end of year awards must have been reviewed by road.cc. If a particular company didn't send us their bike, we can’t ride it or rate it.
We've now been back to road.cc 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 road.cc Recommends Awards 2021/22:
We don’t necessarily give out all three awards in each category; it all depends on the bikes/products that have made it into road.cc 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...
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 road.cc 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 Editor’s Choice and our overall road.cc 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."
Our overall road.cc 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.