Of all the jerseys, jackets, bib shorts, bib tights, gloves and shoes that made it into road.cc Recommends in 2021, here are the very best of them.
Every month we select the top clothing, bikes, parts and accessories we’ve reviewed for road.cc Recommends, and now it’s time to tell you which of these are the very best. That means for anything to be considered it must have been reviewed by road.cc in 2021. If a particular company didn't send us their clothing, we can’t wear it or rate it.
At the end of the year, we went back to road.cc Recommends, looked at each item of clothing on its own merits and chose the very best of them to be included here.
We give out three types of awards:
We don’t necessarily give out all three awards in each category; it just depends on the individual items that have made it into road.cc Recommends.
Looking for just a particular category of clothing? Jump ahead to:
Right, let's see what impressed us most.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the £68 Galibier Tourmalet 3 which is a breathable and very waterproof jacket that can be folded up small enough to fit easily in a jersey pocket. It does everything that much more expensive jackets do.
This third version of the Tourmalet jacket comes with a new Hydrastop 2.3+ membrane which provides more weatherproofing than the previous version, with a waterproof rating of 15k and a breathability rating of 13.5k. It retains double stitching for durability, while taped seams throughout, a stormproof zip and a high collar all help keep the rain out.
The £190 Sportful Fiandre Pro Medium Jacket is the winner of our Money No Object Award. It’s an exceptionally good wind- and water-resistant slim-cut option for keeping you comfortable on rides in middling temperatures and changeable conditions. It’s made from excellent fabrics and the construction is similarly impressive.
The Polartec NeoShell fabric used for everything but the back panel, the cuffs, waistband and inner collar is the real star of the show - it’s virtually windproof, stretchy, and doesn’t let water through. Round at the back you get Sportful’s also fantastic, lighter NoRain material for increased breathability and suitability for slightly warmer temperatures.
Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the Assos UMA GT Wind Jacket (£110). It's very light, easily packable, gives zero rustle or flapping and offers exceptional breathability even as it protects you from chill winds. Plus, the cuffs are sufficiently elasticated to keep out draughts and pull over lightweight gloves.
Assos' very light Foil Ultra windproof, water-repellent and ripstop woven fabric is used at the front, while the side panels and underarms are a warp-knit, windproof textile with plenty of give, so the jacket can easily accommodate bulky layers. The rear panel is basically a stretchy mesh, which contributes hugely to the breathability so many windproof jackets lack.
The Pactimo Men’s Summit Aero SS Jersey (£100) is designed to offer the ultimate in breathability, aero performance and comfort, and it certainly lives up to the hype. It’s made from recycled polyester which is lightweight, stretchy and provides a figure-hugging, wind-cheating cut.
Galibier’s goal was to produce the lightest jersey on the market while still offering sun protection (SPF30) and it uses three different gauges of polyester to achieve this. The stretchy fabric ensures you get a close fit and, despite using a thin fabric, it stayed in good shape throughout testing. The low-cut collar is ideal for hot weather riding, too.
Rapha’s Classic Jersey II (£110), in both the men’s and women’s cuts, really impressed us and so wins our Editor’s Choice award. Flaunting some new eco-credentials over the previous version, it’s an impressively comfortable and breathable jersey for relaxed rides, with an exceptional fit and attention.
The Classic II is made with Rapha Performance Merino 150 fabric (RPM150), but here the 36% merino is mixed with 64% recycled polyester. Three deep pockets hold ride essentials securely, with the right-hand pocket incorporating a small zipped pocket. This has a mesh backing rather than doubling up the RPM fabric, helping prevent heat build-up.
dhb’s £65 Blok Bib Shorts (now hugely reduced in price) are great value for money bibs for short to medium distance rides, made with eco-friendly Bluesign approved fabrics. The shoulder straps are wide enough not to irritate, and the rear upper panel is made from a mesh fabric to aid breathability.
The NVPA BIB /Short Navy (£145) is another strong candidate. It’s a high-quality option aimed at performance riders, with compressive materials and a close cut, and built around a top-notch chamois from Elastic Interface.
The MAAP Team Bib Evo shorts (£195) are high quality. The eco-friendy Bluesign certified fabric delivers excellent levels of stretch and movement with equal amounts of compression which give a cosseting experience, while the 3D pad is sublime.
The NoPinz Pro-1 Bib Shorts (£95) are an excellent long-leg aero option, offering great comfort at a really good price. While we can’t test the aero qualities of the Speedscalez fabric, we can say that the fabric is comfortable and the shorts are very well put together.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the £85 Endura FS260-Pro Bib Shorts which are a super-comfortable, great-fitting option, and the seat pad’s performance is superb. There are plenty of cheaper shorts out there, of course, but these are still a bargain because the quality is very high throughout.
The 600 series pad uses varying densities of gel inserts, with the thickest where you need the most padding, beneath the sit bones, and much thinner elsewhere to reduce bulk. It’s excellent for this price point and provides shock absorption without entirely removing ride feel.
Castelli’s £220 Premio Black Bib Shorts take our Money No Object award. These are genuinely innovative bib shorts that feel like a technological leap forward. They're comfortable on long distances, have an excellent pad, and deliver compression qualities, all the while feeling like they're hardly there.
The Premio Black shorts work impressively well in a wider range of temperatures than most: the thinner material wicks very effectively, but the tight weave means you can also stay comfortable in lower temperatures.
The fabric feels lovely next to the skin and the Elastic Interface pad really works to keep you comfortable for hours on end. The strap length is well-judged, particularly for long days, and useful cargo pockets – one on each leg, and two on the lower back – give quick and easy access to on-the-go essentials.
Santini’s £200 Redux Istinto Women’s Bib Shorts (currently reduced to £110) are seriously good race-focused shorts with a super-clean look, body-hugging feel and a high-quality finish – plus an outstanding chamois. The price is high, but it’s hard to fault these shorts.
The 7mesh WK3 Bib Shorts (£160) are supremely comfortable shorts that come with an ‘easy pee’ function that is genuinely simple. With their endurance-focused comfort and sleek, lightweight design covering everything from laid-back days to racing, these are extremely versatile.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the £100 Lusso Comfort Break Bib Shorts which are a comfortable option with a quality pad. Some people might question whether a pair of 100 quid shorts can be described as a bargain but Lusso has nailed it with a no-fuss, no-clasp design. These are pleasant to wear and pee stops are easy.
The 4cm-wide straps are also a joy to wear as they spread pressure evenly, and are well-positioned to fit around even larger boobs without compressing in the wrong places.
The Velocio Women’s Ultralight Bib Shorts (£168) receives our Editor’s Choice award. These are very breathable and – thanks to a comfortable high-density pad, effective comfort-break design and totally opaque finish – they transfer well from indoor turbo sessions to long days on hot roads.
Comfort is delivered by the excellent cut and minimal seam design, and as well as the raw edge straps which incorporate Velocio's latest generation 'FlyFree' bib upper. The straps are 4.5cm wide and distribute pressure evenly, and easily pull down to let you pee without having to take all of your top layers off.
The Shimano XC5 (XC501) SPD shoes (£139.99) are excellent mid-range shoes that hit just the right balance between pedalling efficiency and off-bike walkability thanks to the glass-fibre reinforced nylon sole with Michelin’s grippy tread.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the £85 Boardman Carbon Cycle Road Shoes which are very well made and impressively-specced comfortable road shoes for this price point. It is quite rare to see a full carbon sole on a sub-£100 shoe – most come with some kind of nylon or carbon-reinforced nylon at the very best.
Rather than using a Velcro strap at the toes, Boardman specs twin Atop dials that pull the soft and supple synthetic upper smoothly around your foot with uniform pressure.
But what sets these apart is the fully adjustable arch support. There’s a section cut out from the carbon sole, with the top Boa dial connected to a strap that tightens from the middle of your foot all the way over the top and around to your instep. Inside, there are cutouts along the instep of the insole, allowing it to bend and support a huge amount of adjustability. It’s a very effective system and the precise micro-adjustability of Boa's range-topping Li2 dials truly helps you maintain comfort.
Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the £320 Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC902) Road Shoes which are stiff, comfortable and effectively hold the foot securely during big power efforts thanks to the improved heel cup. Yes, this is a lot to spend on a pair of shoes but these are worth it.
Reviewer Liam Cahill said: “As a keen have-a-go bike racer, I think the move from a cat's tongue material to two rubberised pads sitting on either side of the Achilles tendon is a brilliant one. This system absolutely clamps the heel in place.”
The S-Phyre’s stiffness was good before and is still exactly what you want from a race shoe. It’s a very thin sole and that results in a low stack height. Boa's new Li2 dials offer micro-adjustability in both directions; the tension adjustment is great and once set they hold that tension perfectly.
Santini’s Redux Stamina Women’s Gilet (now £169) impressed with its warmth for its small pack size. This protective top layer is light, form-fitting and well-positioned wind panels give good defence while allowing good breathability elsewhere.
The NoPinz Pro-1 Road Men’s Skinsuit with Speedpockets (£150) is a fantastic race-day option. It's easy to get on, comfortable for hours at a time and the close fit should give you decent aero performance. The Speedpockets for race numbers (a no-cost option) are brilliant, too.
Sox’s Scribble Premium Print Socks (£11.99) are very well made socks. They keep your feet cool and very comfortable no matter how long you wear them. They’re very resistant to smells too.
The Monton Pro Suutu Merino Socks (now reduced from £20 to £12) are excellent winter socks for quite a bit less money than the competition. You’ll find these are extremely warm and comfy across a wide temperature range, and the merino wool construction helps prevent pong.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the £22 Sundried Power Sports Bra which is a stylish, medium support design that provides a secure yet comfy fit, with well-thought-out ventilation holes for breathability where most needed – all this for a price that's half that of the cycling brand competition.
Effective support is provided for in and out the saddle efforts, the removable pads add to its versatility, and its breathability (once the pads are removed) is good enough at keeping things pleasant for most riding needs.
The Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves (£70) take our Money No Object award. They’re great fitting, top quality, three-season gloves for all but the very coldest of days. What’s really impressive is how warm they are for the dexterity they offer.
The touchscreen fingers work well, the cuffs are a decent length to prevent any wrist chilling, and they're also fitted, working best under jacket sleeves.