Here are the best accessories that made it into road.cc Recommends in 2022. This category covers everything from helmets and eyewear to tools and pumps, to bells and books and even earbuds. It’s by far the most diverse awards category we run, with just a select few products earning special awards.
You won’t find turbo trainers and fitness equipment here, though, simply because we’re dealing with those products in their own separate category.
We add the best bikes, clothing, parts and accessories we’ve reviewed on road.cc – and our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips where relevant – to road.cc Recommends every month.
road.cc Recommends is the area of the site reserved for the best products we’ve reviewed – the ones that are truly exceptional in terms of design, build and performance. Even products that scored nine out of 10 in our reviews aren’t guaranteed entry. They all go in front of our panel to be considered.
We don’t rank components, accessories and clothing into top 10s in the same way that we do with bikes. Instead, we 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 comes down to what we feel the components we’ve reviewed deserve.
Let’s get into the road.cc Recommends Accessories of the Year 2022/23…
Lost Lanes Central largely follows the same successful format as the previous four books in the series – why change a successful formula? – and it’s a unique and absorbing sequence of informative sections that build to the rides themselves.
The main body of the book features 36 rides that span the debatable north-south divide of the country. It covers a pretty big area, with the most southerly ride starting in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and the most northerly in Louth, Lincolnshire, which is also the most easterly start point. At the western edge, there are rides taking in Monmouth, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Whitchurch and Bridgenorth, giving a slight overlap with Lost Lanes Wales.
Descriptions aren’t in any way laborious; rather, they’re informative and tempting. Thurston doesn’t detail every turn or climb, preferring to focus on sights, culture, geography and vista detailing. They are passionately researched, meticulously plotted and thoughtfully devised.
Thurston seems to uncover trails, tracks and towpaths that can bypass – or run straight through – busy towns before placing you on narrow, tranquil lanes heading to the middle of nowhere.
In the modern day of online route planning it’s wonderfully refreshing to hold a book that gives you well in excess of 30 routes on a plate, educates you about the surroundings you’ll be riding through, and inspires you to discover your own lost lanes.
The r3pro Piston Release Tool is a genius bit of kit for servicing stuck or sticky four-piston brake callipers. It makes an otherwise devilish job a piece of cake.
If you run a four-piston calliper, it’s highly likely that at some stage one of those pistons will get sticky and not want to advance at the same rate as the others. This leads to uneven pad wear and rubbing.
It’s easy enough to rectify this on a two-piston calliper but it’s more tricky with a four-piston design. This tool allows you to free up or advance a single piston at a time on a four-piston calliper. This particular one is designed for the Hope E4, V4 and RX4 callipers but other versions are available.
The tool is simply a block of plastic with a cutout area that lets one piston advance while holding back the other three. The tolerances are sub-millimetre, so the piston advances exactly as far as it needs to without risking leaking fluid. Whether the piston was genuinely stuck, a bit sticky, or you just wanted to be proactive in cleaning it up during a pad change, the tool does the job perfectly.
This is a bargain, and given the pretty much inevitable problem it solves both easily and quickly, a must-have for anyone running four-piston brakes.
The Prestacycle TorqRatchet PRO Deluxe is an excellent choice for home and pro mechanics alike. Compact, accurate and easy to read, an already very good tool just got better.
What’s changed here is the scale, and it’s a genius evolution. Instead of reading at the end of the deflecting torque beam, which will inevitably mean needing to differentiate very small movements, the new Pro TorqRatchet features a long window in the side of the tool, and a white marking on the beam itself becomes visible as you increase the torque. This line then aligns with torque markings on the outside of the window. As well as the window being large, the white measurement point really stands out.
The ratchet body and head are high quality, and the thumb-operated direction switch and knurled thumbwheel are a joy to use.
You can very quickly fit, rotate and tighten or loosen fittings, even in very restricted places such as between rear brake callipers and seatstays, or water bottle cage bolts. The bits – you get 12 of the most commonly required – are held securely but can easily be popped out by applying pressure with a fingernail or other tool to the rear of the bit/head.
Weighing in at just 67g out of the case and without any bits, the tool is very light and compact for a 2-10Nm ratchet.
With the unusual rotary mechanism allowing you to place this anywhere that is convenient and a lovely tone, the Crane E-Ne Revolver bell justifies the price.
The great thing about this rotary design is that you don’t have to prod a lever to make the bell ring, so you can put it anywhere on your handlebar, left or right, above or below. On our tester’s round-town flat-bar bike they put it under the bar, next to their thumb, so it’s really easy to use.
When you do sound the bell, you get a lovely tone, creating a polite warning of your presence. The knurled rotary actuator also allows you to sound the bell multiple times very easily.
The musicality of the Revolver’s tone comes from the dome being made of brass, though that’s not obvious because it’s painted black. The E-Ne Revolver is a lovely thing that just works and feels like it’ll carry on doing so indefinitely.
We all love a bit of tasty food and if you’re also a keen cyclist then this book combines two of life’s best things.
Each of the recipes is presented in a simple, clean format, they’re easy to follow and generally based on a small number of ingredients. The balance of performance and normal meals is a really nice approach as you’ll be reaching for the book more than if it was focused on pure performance nutrition.
The book offers a good mixture of Nigel’s background, the recipes themselves, nutritional advice and anecdotes. It contains 67 recipes spread across seven different sections, including breakfast, on-the-bike food and main meals.
Each recipe is graded by difficulty and we didn’t find any of them arduous or overly time-consuming, which is perfect for a time-crunched cyclist: simple, quick and nutritious food.
There are many books about businesses, but very few are about bicycle brands – and not many cycling books delve into the business side of a company. The Brompton is one of the few that does, but it certainly isn’t a dry management tome, being the product of Brompton’s high-profile CEO Will Butler-Adams and accomplished writer Dan Davies.
The Brompton is “the first look behind the scenes at Brompton Bicycle Ltd”, a company that is deservedly seen as a great British success story. While this new publication will still be of interest to Brompton riders, they won’t be the main audience. Supporting the claim that The Brompton book is “a masterclass in entrepreneurship, manufacturing, and scaling a business”, it is to be found in the Business & Management section of Profile Books.
The first part of The Brompton talks about the product itself – or really, more about the difficulties in building it. From the extensive use of complicated jigs, through manufacturing tolerances, to the unique brazing skills, it demonstrates Butler-Adams’ background as an engineer and where his interests initially lay.
Next up is his experience of building the company and the brand. The final section reveals why Brompton does not see itself just as a bicycle brand: it wants to “reach out to new groups of people who haven’t heard about the bike”, and wants to “change how people live in cities”. This is much more about the benefits of cycling than the Brompton specifically, but a good folding bike can often be the best tool for the job.
Thule’s Easyfold XT 3 is a beefy towball-mounted rack that’ll easily lug around three bikes. It’s very well-engineered and easy to use, albeit a bit heavy, but you’ll want to shop around because the price at full RRP is a bit bonkers. Take price out of the equation, though, and this is a high-quality offering, so it wins our Money No Object award.
To carry bikes with the Thule EasyFold XT you fit it to your towball, fold out the wheel supports and stand the bike in them. You then lift one of the bike arms and fit its clamp around your frame, tightening it down until it clicks and stops tightening. Do up the ratchet straps around the wheels and you’re away. It’s a doddle to use.
With three points of contact, bikes are held firmly and securely, and it’s easy to see what’s going on with them by just glancing in your rear-view mirror.
The EasyFold XT 3’s big feature is that it folds for storage. The wheel supports fold up like butterfly wings so that the whole lot ends up as a roughly cuboid lump 87cm tall, 31cm wide and 84cm long so it’s much easier to stash in a corner of the garage.
If you need to get into the back of the car when the bikes are loaded, the EasyFold XT 3 tilts out of the way so you can do so.
This is an excellent bike carrier that’s well up to the usual Thule standards of design and manufacture. If you transport your bikes by car a lot, then it’s a good investment: sturdy, secure and easy to use.
Squirt Biodegradable Bike Cleaner Concentrate works really well both neat as a degreaser and diluted as a general wash. At the recommended maximum dilution of 1:25 it makes a massive 25L of bike wash, so it’s great value too.
At one part concentrate to 25 parts water, and misted onto the bike with a spray bottle this has an immediate effect. Our reviewer was able to use it to rub road tar off his bike frame easily enough.
More generally, a good spray over the bike and a shuffle around with a sponge was all it took to unstick dirt and grime ready for the hose. A quick blast with that and the grunge all just falls off, and as this is water-based and biodegradable there’s no need to worry about killing our world any quicker than we already are.
If you do want more power, there’s plenty of scope for diluting it less while still getting good mileage from the bottle.
Used neat, it’s effective even on quite blackened drivetrains and thickly gunked jockey wheels.
This stuff is great. It’s effective and it’s cheap. Wonderful.
The Galibier Regale Ultra Optics are cheaper than most cycling glasses, and provide crystal clear and uninterrupted vision. The fit is great, and they’re comfortable too.
Reviewer Stu Kerton found that there was just enough pressure from the arms to keep the Regales in place but not enough to cause discomfort, and the nose piece is easily adjustable for the perfect fit.
Five different lens options are available and we used three of them: the Gold Plasma, the Red Plasma and the Photochromic. The clarity of all was great, giving a pristine field of vision even on the curve of the lenses.
The Red Plasma and Gold Plasma lenses are great for brighter conditions while the Photochromic lens is ideal for those days where the weather can’t make its mind up. As the sun comes out, they darken but in a way that is barely noticeable, and they cope well with quick changes in light, such as when riding under trees or into a tunnel.
Overall, these are great glasses; they’re well made and offer great clarity of vision, all for a bargain price.
The Met Trenta 3K Carbon Mips is a favourite existing helmet that has been updated with rotational protection. Aesthetically it’s very similar to before, and it’s impressive that Met has achieved the addition of Mips without making the helmet noticeably heavier. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a helmet that balances aerodynamics and ventilation, but it does come at a hefty price.
The Trenta 3K Carbon is Met’s top-of-the-range lid and this new version sacrifice none of the original’s ventilation by using the airiest and lightest Mips Air Node system.
Met has also minimised the amount of the head that’ll be in contact with the helmet to help keep you cooler as you ride.
You’ll find Mips (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) on lots of the latest helmets, designed to help reduce rotational energies otherwise transferred to the head during an impact or crash. Adding Mips can increase weight, but at 223g the Trenta 3K is just 3g more than the non-Mips version.
Overall, the Trenta 3K Carbon Mips is an excellent helmet that’s comfortable, light, cool in both senses of the word, and now incorporates extra protection.
The Align II is a sleeker, sportier, more modern-looking helmet than its predecessor and, although a little more expensive, you now get Mips (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) included.
Mips is designed to help protect against rotational forces caused by angled impacts, and the Align II has earned a 5-Star Virginia Tech Helmet Rating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. This is one of the cheaper Mips-equipped helmets out there.
Adjusting on the move via Specialized’s Headset SX dial is easy and effective. Equally, the chin strap is simple and works really well, and an elastic piece keeps any excess strap neatly out of the way.
The Tri-Fix web splitter section under each ear connects the helmet straps to the chin strap without the need to adjust anything.
The Align II does feel a little larger on your head than some sportier models, but it’s nothing that bothers you once you get riding, while what Specialized calls its 4th Dimension Cooling System offers plentiful ventilation to keep your head sweat-free.
The Align II is designed for more relaxed rides although it looks sporty enough to be used for anything. The only disadvantage that might present itself on longer rides is the 369g weight. You might find that a little heavy after a while. Despite the weight, this is a great-value lid.
The Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent is a better-ventilated version of the company’s top-end S-Works Prevail II. It is cool and comfortable and you get safety technologies that could help you out should you come off.
This helmet uses aramid struts and three huge vents to move air across your head fast. It is comfortable and easy to wear on rides of any duration.
Reviewer Liam found it to sit quite low at the front with the retention system providing plenty of adjustment at the rear.
The internal Mips liner – designed to reduce the rotational forces acting on the brain in the event of a crash – isn’t irritating in use and helps the helmet achieve a five-star safety rating from Virginia Tech.
Specialized’s ANGi device on the back of the Vent detects a crash if you have one and will then contact a nominated number without you needing to be conscious. It needs to be connected to an app, though, and that app needs to be running on your phone for it to work. Remembering to open it at the start of every ride might be an issue for some.
If you’ve got the cash for the Prevail II Vent, you won’t be disappointed. Everything that was good about the standard Prevail II is here, it’s just a bit more breathable. Overall, it’s a superb vented helmet, even if it does sit in the upper range of what many will be willing to pay.
Green Oil’s Wet Chain Lube is an exceptionally good barrier against water, dirt and corrosion, seriously reduces maintenance and won’t turn the planet into an unliveable wasteland. The price is good, and the applicator is well-designed. There’s really nothing not to like.
The most striking thing about Green Oil is the claim that one application lasts 125 miles, or even more… and it does.
Green Oil has a slightly matt sheen and (after a while) a semi-dry consistency that really is tenacious, yet it’s remarkably resistant to contaminating so badly you have to strip it all off and reapply it.
Even after 100 miles, we could leave the bike a couple of days, come back and spin the cranks backwards without problems. This makes Green Oil’s Wet Lube particularly good for commuter bikes, gravel bikes, or road bikes on multi-hour rides through the worst conditions.
The Wet Lube saw heavy rain during our review period, near flooded roads and also plenty of salt after some frosty mornings, and it showed impressive tenacity. That’s thanks to N-Toc, a refined plant extract with similar long-chain molecules to petrochemicals.
The entire product is super eco-friendly. It’s totally biodegradable, packaged in recycled plastic, and your bottle can be refilled at a small discount (10-20p) by selected bike shop dealers. Even the ingredients are sustainably sourced, so Green Oil isn’t simply passing the ecological impact up the supply chain.
Cannondale’s Precise Floor Pump has a long stroke and wide bore that makes fast work of filling tyres but its standout feature is a really big gauge that makes reading the pressure easy. It’s one of the best track pumps you can buy.
This is a hefty piece of kit. At almost 2kg, it’s one of the heavier track pumps we’ve reviewed in the last few years. For most cycling gear, low weight is prized, but in a track pump, heft is a good thing as it implies sturdy construction and especially plenty of robust steel in the build. The surround and handle of the chuck are also metal, so that should help with durability.
To inflate a 25mm test tyre to 90psi took just 21 strokes with the Precise pump, which is quick. The large bore and long stroke push a lot of air. The downside is that smaller and especially lighter riders might struggle to get to high pressures.
The chuck is self-adapting, which means there’s no need to faff about changing it from Schrader to Presta, and it worked brilliantly on every valve we tried it on. There’s a bleed button on the chuck so you can inflate your tyres past your desired pressure and then drop it down to exactly the pressure you want.
With its pressure recommendations for various types of riding, Cannondale presents this as one pump to rule them all, so if your household bike fleet covers road, urban and off-road cycling, it’s an excellent choice. Only track riders and possibly time triallists are excluded by the 150psi maximum pressure.
The Carla Cargo trailer is a three-wheeled design especially suited to powerful electric bikes. It weighs nearly 45kg and has a payload rating of 200kg. Features include twin hydraulic overrun braking to spread braking automatically to each of the rear wheels. The clever towbar system also acts as handle with which you can manoeuvre the trailer when unhitched.
The Carla Cargo has much less effect on handling than you might expect, even with the maximum loading we tried of 150kg. On the flat and on moderate gradients, once you are underway, it’s often hard to know it is there.
The overrun brakes do a very good job of stopping the trailer pushing the bike forward and destabilising handling. They work automatically on downhills, the weight of the trailer compressing a piston inside a box that the towing arm feeds into.
Only on steeper downhills and when putting the brakes on a little more quickly than usual was the effect obvious – you just hear the wheels lock up a little. But again the effect on handling wasn’t too great, the Big Magura Twin hydraulics coming into action gradually but powerfully to slow or stop the trailer without you having to worry.
All in all, the Carla Cargo is a delight to use and a very practical tool. Can you justify £4,000 for a bike trailer? Clearly, most regular e-bikers won’t need such mammoth carrying capacity on a regular basis, but it comes into its own in a commercial setting.
For stable and safe towing of truly heavy and sizeable loads, there is nothing available in the UK that can claim to match the Carla Cargo.
The Sony Linkbuds S are excellent earbuds for cycling or everyday use, with a huge amount of adjustability, impressive sound, and one of the best transparency modes for cycling that we’ve used.
The Linkbuds S earbuds are designed to allow you to hear what’s around you. Their ambient noise functionality is up there with the top performers I have used, on par with the Apple Airpods Pro and Beats Fit Pro.
Turning the ambient noise setting on or off is a case of simply tapping on the left earbud, but you can also customise the ambient noise settings themselves, using the Headphones Connect app on your phone, which is a cool feature.
Using the ambient noise setting manually, they are very good on the bike, letting in a load of sound so you always know what’s happening around you. We could quite clearly hear cars approaching from behind.
Off the bike, the sound quality is up there with the best and noise cancelling is exceptional. Bass is deep and powerful, while mids and uppers are clear, which makes for impressive-sounding music or clear and understandable podcasts or audiobooks.
Battery life depends on how you use the earbuds, but for continuous playback with ambient noise they last about six hours, and nine hours with ambient noise turned off. The case itself provides an additional 20 hours of charging before needing to be plugged in.
The Dawn To Dusk Kaptive 14 Cage has to be the last word in water bottle retention over the most extreme terrain. It’s the strongest cage in its all-carbon range, so if you don’t want to lose your bottle, look no further.
The Kaptive 14 is similar in design to the Kaptive 10 Cage (which we also reviewed) but it comes with more grip strength thanks to the use of extra carbon. It has the same 4K carbon weave construction, six grip arms, 3mm-thick base, 5mm-deep hook and angled top edges. The angled edges mean it’s pretty easy to slot your bottle in the cage, but if your frame size limits access this isn’t the cage for you.
The figure in the name refers to the grip strength in pounds. Most normal cages require around 3-5lb to get the bottle out, so the Kaptive 14 is on a different planet to pretty much every other cage out there in this respect. Dawn To Dusk back this up with a five-year warranty, for peace of mind.
Dusk To Dawn says the Kaptive 14 is optimised for positioning beneath your bike’s down tube, just in front of the bottom bracket. We used it for a number of bikepacking trips with 750ml bottles in that position and they didn’t budge an inch. Even more importantly, if you’re using that location to hold a tool canister the extra grip strength will provide peace of mind.
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.