Here are the very best components that have made it into road.cc Recommends in 2021 – everything from handlebars and hubs to pedals and power meters.
You’ll probably know that every month we add the top bikes, clothing, parts and accessories we’ve reviewed to road.cc Recommends. Now we’ve gone back and scrutinised everything that made it through in 2021 and selected the best of the best.
We give out 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 the 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 always give out all three awards in each category; it all depends on what the components we've reviewed deserve.
Right, it’s time to reveal the road.cc Recommends Components of the Year 2021/22…
Black Inc’s Twenty wheelset (£2,200) is incredibly light (1,230g) and the overall build quality and finish are exceptional. The way the wheels respond just makes you want to keep jumping on the pedals. The price may look steep, but they're worth the outlay, especially if you are after tubeless compatibility.
If you want a set of wheels you can bung on your road bike, wet or dry, or stick on a cyclocross or gravel bike without caring about the abuse you’re about to dish out, the Borg31 Disc wheelset (£540.80) is the one for you. It isn’t especially light but offers good overall performance, excellent stiffness, and will take an absolute battering without flinching.
Pacenti’s Picco 46mm Disc wheels (£1,199) offer an excellent build quality and a stunning performance.
They deliver on weight and aerodynamics without sacrificing stiffness or, above all else, durability. These are proper all-rounders, quick on the flat, no slouch on the hills, and should you find yourself off the beaten track they'll take plenty of abuse.
We’re giving our Money No Object Award to the Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45 Disc Brake wheelset. Priced at £2,813.99, these are the most expensive wheels that have made it into road.cc Recommends. If you can afford them, you’ll be rewarded with an excellent performance.
These come with 45mm-deep rims – which, incidentally, look gorgeous – a decently low weight, and loads of stiffness. They’re fast over mixed terrain and really shine on the climbs.
They spin on Campagnolo's Cult hybrid ceramic bearings and the quality of the construction is superb.
Scribe’s Carbon Gravel Wide++ 700 Disc wheelset (£870) wins our Editor’s Choice award, reviewer Matt Page describing it as “a super-fast setup that's incredibly light, responsive and quick to engage… the performance matches or beats wheels at twice the price, and as an overall package it's hard to fault”.
These wheels sail up the hills and on rough tracks the little bit of flex and comfort is also impressive, helping you hold your line rather than pinballing through the rocks.
You get 25mm wide rims, Sapim CX-Ray spokes, and Scribe’s exclusive ratchet drive freehub. Weighing just 1,360g, this wheelset is seriously impressive and a pleasure to ride.
We’ve reviewed a lot of tyres on road.cc recently, so the competition is hot in this sector.
The Cadex Classics 28 Tubeless (£64.99) is designed for long-distance, mixed-surface challenges. It is excellent for good roads, bad roads and even light gravel action.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the CST Cito tyre (£32.99) because it offers premium performance at a budget price. CST might not be the best-known brand out there but the Cito –the lightest and most race-focused model in the range – offers excellent grip, plenty of smoothness, and a competitive weight. Some people might bemoan the lack of a tubeless option, and we didn’t find these the easiest tyres to fit, but once on they put in a fantastic performance. No road tyre that can match the Cito on weight and similar specifications such as TPI can compete on price.
Our Money No Object award goes to the tubeless-ready Continental GP5000 S TR (£69.95). Although pricey, this is a very quick option for the road and the grip in both the dry and wet conditions is excellent.
Granted, this tyre is difficult to fit on certain rims, but you can now use it on more wheels than ever thanks to hookless compatibility, and the maximum internal rim width it fits has been upped. The GP5000 S TR offers race tyre performance but can handle a season of racing, and some. It’s a great buy, even at this price.
The Pirelli P Zero Race (£54.99) clincher is our Editor’s Choice tyre. Pirelli has found a great balance between speed, grip, durability and puncture protection here, resulting in a tyre that you can fit and forget for the summer season at least. It’s a competitive weight too.
Reviewer Jamie Williams was more than happy to use the Pirelli P Zero Race for both training and racing because it’s a tyre that doesn't feel fragile yet compromises very little in terms of speed or grip. The price puts it at the premium end of the market, but you’re getting good value here thanks to the excellent performance and construction.
The gravel tyre market is developing fast and we've reviewed more than ever before during 2021.
Goodyear’s Connector Ultimate gravel tyre (£40) impressed us, offering versatile grip, great volume and a floaty ride. We called it a “well mannered, fast-rolling and tough gravel tyre with a universally fine performance”.
The Vittoria Terreno Dry (£45) is another very impressive gravel tyre. It offers a smooth and quick ride and it’s grippier than you’d expect. It’s excellent on dry surfaces and is surprisingly capable for more general, year-round conditions too.
The IRC Boken Plus 650B (£55) is a multi-surface tyre that’s a lot more versatile than you might expect at first glance. It rolls well on tarmac and is surprisingly capable on much rougher terrain too.
Vittoria’s Terreno Zero TLR G2.0 (£44.99) is a great tyre too. It’s quick on asphalt and hardpack gravel while being capable of handling the lumpier, bumpier and muddier off-road tracks too.
Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the Schwalbe’s G-One R (£70) gravel tyre which offers an incredible mix of speed and grip.
Reviewer Matt Page said, “The G-One R has been nothing short of brilliant in testing, tackling every condition ridden and of all the more race orientated tyres I have ridden, it moves to the top of the tree.
“If you make a list of attributes you want from a gravel tyre for races, the G-One R will tick all the boxes, and if I were about to take part in a gravel race and given the choice of any tyre, almost regardless of trail surface or weather, the Schwalbe G-One R would be my choice.”
High praise indeed. Putting the price to one side, there's little, if anything, to dislike about the Schwalbe G-One R.
There have been a few design tweaks but Wahoo Speedplay Zero pedals (£199.99) have essentially picked up where the old Speedplay Zeros left off, with a huge amount of adjustability, a low stack height, and ease of use. They are an expensive outlay, but given their increased cleat durability and walkability, the high price is justifiable.
The Pro PLT Ergo Carbon handlebar (£179.99) is a super-comfortable option that’s perfect for long days in the saddle. With its shallow drop and wide tops that extend nicely around the corner to just behind the hoods, it’s a great shape and you do notice the lack of road buzz.
Specialized’s S-Works Romin EVO saddle (£255) is easy to recommend because it is brilliant for riders with a low, aero riding position. It is relatively long with a central cutout, it’s supportive and this top-end model weighs just 131g.
Hope’s RS4 Centre Lock front and rear hubs (now £285) are designed especially for road use and could be the last set you'll buy. Hope's legendary durability and parts availability mean they can roll forever.
Our Money No Object award goes to Shimano’s new top-end Dura-Ace R9200 groupset (£4,281.87) which, although not yet widely available aftermarket, is coming through on complete bikes.
The updated groupset is 12-speed and semi-wireless, meaning that the shifters communicate wirelessly with the rest of the system.
The 9200 iteration brings an extra level of refinement to what was already a brilliant design. The shifting has become slightly quicker, the braking is marginally better, and the system as a whole is far more user-friendly. It might have taken Shimano a few years to catch up with the wireless competition, but it's done it very well.
Our Editor’s Choice award goes to a far cheaper product: Prime’s Primavera Aero Carbon Handlebar (£149.99), which is a great upgrade.
The Primavera Aero bar has been around for a while but Prime has updated it with a slightly shallower drop, a more ergonomic shape that's excellent for sprinting, and a boost in stiffness.
You still get an aero top section, huge holes for internal cable routing, and space around the stem clamp for a computer mount and light. It’s also still one of the cheapest aero handlebars on the market. Overall, this is an excellent bar and you’re getting an outstanding deal here.