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feature Recommends Bikes of the Year 2023/24: the best superbikes

Check out the money-no-object bikes that have most impressed our reviewers over the past 12 months. Warning: some of these models will leave you drooling

Over the past year on, we’ve ridden and rated some of the world’s top superbikes – high-end rides with hefty price tags – and here are the very best of them…

For a bike to get into this elite category, it must meet two criteria. First, it must have been tested on during 2023. If we haven't published a review, it doesn’t make the list. The bikes don’t need to have been released in 2023, it’s when we reviewed them that’s important.

Second, the price tag must be over £7,000. We could have chosen a cutoff of £5,000, £8,000, or £9,426, but we chose £7,000 this year. In fact, all of the complete bikes that feature here are priced over £10,000 with just two framesets under that figure, so we’re talking about some seriously expensive options here. 

This category is all about performance – how well each bike does its job out on the road. In many cases, the bikes feature smart technical innovation, but we’re just interested in whether that results in a better ride. 

Some of these bikes come only in high-end builds, others are available in more budget-friendly options too. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re among the very best in their class.

The prices quoted below were correct at the time of our original reviews. Keep in mind that some may have altered, and specifications could have been updated in some cases.

Speaking of price, this is the one award category where we don’t take value into account. Why not? We figure that if you’re spending this kind of money on a bike, value isn’t going to be at the top of your list of priorities, so consider this our money-no-object zone. If you are curious about a bike’s value, just click the link and go to our full review.

In a nutshell, these are the high-end road bikes that impressed us most during testing in 2023, and we’re running them as a magnificent seven…

7. Colnago V4Rs £12,999

2023 Colnago V4Rs - riding 1.jpg

We’re kicking off with one of the most expensive bikes we’ve ever reviewed on Colnago’s V4Rs is a professional-level road race bike with one helluva pedigree, blending stiffness, lightness, and comfort along with a few aerodynamic tweaks thrown for good measure. Although it’s raced by Tadej Pogacar and his UAE Team Emirates squad, the V4Rs offers handling that’s easy to live with, so the rest of us can push it hard through fast corners and come out smiling.

It’s that handling that sets the V4Rs apart. Unlike some pro-level counterparts, it doesn’t demand superhero skills when it comes to steering. Everyday riders can confidently navigate twists and turns here. Its surefootedness on descents is impressive too, responding deftly to quick line changes and off-camber sections.

The frame’s stiffness ensures a responsive ride with the V4Rs transferring power beautifully. It feels very tight, precise, and direct. As you’d expect, the geometry is geared towards speed, putting you into a forward, aggressive ride position, but the fact that the head tube angle is backed off just a touch makes it easy to ride at speed. 

Although not entirely immune to road buzz, compatibility with larger tyres (up to 32mm) adds an element of versatility, allowing you to go wider for comfort on longer rides. 

The frame is designed for wireless electronic groupsets only, with no entry points for cables or wires. There are no brake hoses to be seen either, as everything is fed internally through the headset and head tube, contributing to a sleek look. 

The price tag might make you raise your eyebrows – or even cower behind the sofa – but brands like Colnago do carry a premium, and it isn’t out of line with some of the key competitors we’ve reviewed.

Overall, the V4Rs is a stunning bike to ride. With incredible stiffness, it’s a dream both for sprinters and those who like to attack the climbs hard, and while the steering is precise and quick, the handling won’t scare off those of us who’ve never found ourselves duking it out in the pro peloton.

Why it’s here Stunning performance and handling, though you're paying a premium for the Colnago badge
Read the review 

6. Passoni Titanio Classica Disco Frameset £7,220

2023 Passoni Titanio - riding 1.jpg

Made to measure in Italy, this is far from just another bog-standard bike – it’s a work of art on two wheels. Passoni builds only about 400 frames a year with a focus on custom designs, and everything about this one is remarkable, from its stunning looks to its responsive ride. The Titanio Classica Disco, made from 3Al/2.5V titanium alloy, shows the brand’s dedication to quality.

The ride is awesome. Despite an emphasis on stiffness and power delivery, the frame is smooth and comfortable. Whether you’re sprinting, climbing, or mile-munching on the flat, the Passoni is a cracker, its versatility shining through.

The front end, featuring an oversized, tapered head tube and a strong carbon fibre fork, handles bends with tight control and stability, and there’s no flex from the fork under heavy braking. 

With enough damping in the frame and fork to stop any annoying high-frequency vibration, yet plenty of feedback so you know what’s going on underneath the tyres, you can let the Classico fly on the faster sections.

Customisation is at the heart of what Passoni offers, so you can tailor the geometry and build specifications to your preferences. The craftsmanship is superb throughout, right down to the frame’s finish, with options like a hand-polished surface that takes 35 hours to achieve. 

With the price for this frameset higher than most of us would spend on an entire bike, investing in the Titanio Classica Disco is a journey into luxury. Part of what you’re paying for is the experience of designing and speccing your own bike. If you’re looking for a handbuilt, custom-geometry titanium road bike – and you can afford it – the Passoni delivers an exceptional ride. It’s also a celebration of craftsmanship.

Why it’s here Firm and fast yet comfortable titanium road bike, created with stunning craftmanship
Read the review 

5. Scott Foil RC Pro £10,499

Scott Foil RC Pro

At number five, we have the Scott Foil RC Pro, an all-new aero road bike that’s ridiculously fast yet super-easy to live with as an everyday bike, and that's what makes it so special. Scott has reduced weight and improved comfort here without affecting the bike’s stiffness or performance.

Designed in collaboration with aerodynamicist Simon Smart of Drag2Zero, the revamped frame comes with tubing reminiscent of time trial bikes to maximise speed. Weighing in at 7.35kg, the Foil RC Pro is among the lighter aero road bikes in the category, and not surprisingly, it comes in a race-focused geometry.

This bike marries speed and control, dismissing climbs, flats and descents with consummate ease. Its responsiveness to pedal inputs and precise handling make it superb to ride. Stiffness around the bottom bracket and the front end of the bike gives you a vivid picture of what's happening underneath the wheels, and tracking is predictable when the road gets bendy

Let's be honest, the lack of a power meter is a disappointment, but the Shimano Dura-Ace R9270 Di2 groupset performs impeccably. The brakes, for example, give you the confidence to let you slow down late thanks to their excellent modulation. Components from Scott’s Syncros brand add to the overall appeal, the Creston iC SL integrated bar-stem providing stiffness up front and the Duncan SL Aero CFT seatpost cleverly combining aero efficiency with compliance.

You’d never describe the Scott Foil RC Pro as cheap, but it’s not as expensive as some key rivals. With its geometry, climbing prowess, and overall comfort, it’s certainly among the best aero road bikes out there.

Why it’s here A veritable speed demon and quite possibly the best all-round aero road bike available right now
Read the review 

4. Sarto Raso Frameset £7,520

2023 Sarto Raso riding -5.jpg

Italian company Sarto sits at the high end of the market, and its Raso is striking to look at, very stiff, and offers a sublime ride quality. This is a fantastic road bike for those wanting speed, low weight and good looks. It’s guaranteed to turn heads at the mid-ride coffee stop too; spend this kind of money and you have a right to expect that.

Described as a fusion of race speed and endurance comfort, the Raso lives up to its promise, doing an excellent job on the UK’s challenging road surfaces. When Sarto says endurance, it doesn’t mean the Raso is built to a relaxed geometry, it’s down to the quality and design of the carbon fibre lay-up and that makes for a high level of comfort. As with all Sarto frames, it can be made in a custom geometry to fit you perfectly.

The Raso’s handling is quick but not twitchy, while the carbon frame and fork are smooth so there’s no feeling of jitteriness over rough road surfaces. Acceleration is quick and climbing is a joy thanks to a level of stiffness that enhances power delivery. Despite its peloton-ready appearance, the Raso surprises you with its pleasant ride quality and will accommodate tyres up to 35mm wide for added comfort.

Okay, the price tag will cause most people to take a sharp intake of breath, but Sarto’s in-house, bespoke craftsmanship is never going to be cheap, is it? With tube-to-tube construction and fully customisable graphics, the Raso is a work of art. A serious investment it may be, but the Raso is a beautiful bike to ride, superbly balancing performance with comfort.

Why it’s here Stunning ride quality and behaviour on the road from an exceptionally built hand-made frameset
Read the review 

3. Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 £11,499

Giant Defy Advanced SL 0

We’re getting towards the pointy end now with the new Giant Defy Advanced SL 0 offering an exceptional blend of comfort, agility, and practicality – an outstanding choice if you’re looking for a top-level endurance road bike. How many people are going to spend this amount on a bike of this kind? Not many, but while the flagship model we reviewed comes with a hefty price tag, the Defy range offers similar key features at much more affordable prices.

Giant’s latest update to its Defy series focuses on simplicity and effectiveness, making the bikes lighter, smoother, and more efficient. Unlike some competitors, Giant eschews special gizmos designed to add comfort but manages to deliver an exceptionally smooth ride anyway. 

The 32mm Cadex Classic tyres, measuring more like 34mm on the Cadex 36 rims, certainly help here, and you have the option of going up to 38mm for even more cushioning from the road. The D-Fuse seatpost adds a surprising amount of downward flex, and a new version of Giant’s Contact SLR handlebar provides plenty of vibration absorption up front.

The Defy’s new geometry puts you in a ride position that’s a little more aggressive than previously, responding to user feedback and a desire for a sleeker look. The lightweight frame, at 785g for a size medium, combined with the SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset, ensures a responsive and nimble performance. The Cadex 36 Disc wheelset and Giant Fleet SLR saddle are excellent too. 

The Defy Advanced SL 0 justifies its premium price with a ride that’s both comfortable and lively, making it a fabulous option for long sportives and epic adventures on challenging roads. Although it might not be the budget-friendly choice in the range, this is a bike that provides the responsiveness of a race machine with way more smoothness than you’d expect. It really is exceptional.

Why it’s here Light and superbly comfortable endurance bike in a super-high build, but look lower down the range for the best bargain
Read the review 

2. Pinarello Dogma F Super Record EPS £12,400

2023 Pinarello Dogma F Super Record EPS.jpg

Our runner-up spot goes to the Pinarello Dogma F, a top-level road bike that combines a superb design with an equally outstanding performance. Okay, its price tag puts it firmly into the realm of dreams for most of us, but this model really is excellent. In a segment that’s dominated by uniformity, the distinct kinked tubing design gives it a unique look too.

Made from Carbon Toraya T1100 1K ‘Dream Carbon’, the Dogma F is an asymmetric frame with no cables or hoses visible anywhere, save for the brake hose entry points. 

The bike’s geometry balances an aggressive ride position and stability. Our test bike, equipped with a 12-speed Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset and the new Campagnolo Hyperon Ultra wheelset, was a premium Italian setup. 

While the Dogma F isn’t an out-and-out aero road bike, Pinarello has done a lot of work to reduce drag, and its remarkable speed on flats is the first thing you’ll notice when you climb aboard. The climbing efficiency is impressive too, thanks to its light weight, with our review bike hitting the scales at a highly creditable 6.9kg.

The Dogma F feels planted on descents and in windy conditions, with excellent handling and stability. The Campagnolo Super Record two-piston brakes are rock-solid and rich in feel and modulation.

It’s hard to fault this bike’s ride quality, well-rounded performance, and attention to detail. This is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a high-end racing machine that combines speed, compliance, and a touch of Italian flair… as long as you’re not constrained by budget. It’s among the very best thoroughbred superbikes out there, and it’ll put a smile on your face every ride.

Why it’s here Perfectly balanced, superfast thoroughbred race bike
Read the review 

1. Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 - SRAM Red eTap AXS £12,000

roadcc recommends awards 2023-24 - Superbikes of the Year - Winner

The Recommends Superbike of the Year 2023/24 is the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8, a new model that lives up to the hype and proves that the competition has some catching up to do.

While the SL8 is strikingly similar to the SL7 in terms of looks and geometry, the devil is in the details. The frame sheds 120g and there’s a new cockpit. If Specialized is to be believed, there’s a 6% improvement in rear compliance, an increase in stiffness and you’ll save a few watts at race speed. We can tell you for sure that our 56cm test bike weighed in at 6.94kg, making it one of the lightest disc brake bikes we've reviewed.

The race-proven geometry, featuring 73.5° head tube and seat tube angles, puts you in a low riding position. Even compared with other race bikes, the SL8 is on the aggressive side, so it’s best suited to flexible riders who are used to spending time tucked down behind the handlebar.

The SL8’s agility and precise handling mean it’s more than capable of navigating around a twisty criterium race, yet stable enough for screaming downhill fast. Unlike some very lightweight and stiff bikes, it never feels flighty over rough road surfaces, and although subtle, the bike’s improvements in compliance add to a more comfortable long-ride experience without compromising speed.

One of the SL8’s most impressive features is its weight reduction, the frame coming in at an astonishingly low 680g. While the real-world impact may be marginal for many riders, it’s quite the feat of engineering given the accompanying stiffness, compliance and aero improvements.

The most noticeable improvement is the extra stiffness around the bottom bracket, which makes other bikes seem dull. Out of the saddle, this bike feels electric, and thrashing uphill is addictive with all your graft turned directly into forward motion.

Fitted with a SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset, Roval Rapide CLX II wheels, and S-Works Turbo RapidAir tyres, there’s no compromise on components here. The proprietary seatpost and Roval cockpit improve aerodynamics while lowering weight.

In terms of price, the SL8 is well out of reach of most of us, but the top-tier technology, performance, and meticulous attention to detail help to justify the spend. It’s lighter and faster than its predecessor, and the simultaneous improvements in stiffness and compliance are small but undeniably there. They provide real-world benefits to the ride feel and edge the Tarmac closer to perfection. The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 is the best race bike in the world right now.

Why it wins Narrowing in on perfection – this is the new race bike benchmark
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. 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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