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Ultimate upgrades: Winter cycling gear

The best gear to help you ride further, faster and in more comfort than ever…

1 Jan 2016

Bike components

Shimano PD6800 Ultegra pedals, £120

Sam: ‘These clipless pedals have a wide, stiff carbon body, so offer a very stable platform, and adjustable cleat tension, which is really important, especially for less experienced riders. For the price, they’re unbeatable.’

Praxis works Road chainrings, £120

Sam: ‘Praxis is perhaps a lesser known brand but they make superb quality chainrings, and in fact Specialized use them as standard on many of their bikes. They’re really good, solid alloy chainrings and a good upgrade over some of the more basic options that come with new bikes. Changing your chainrings is a really nice, simple way to improve your front end shifting performance, and these are longer-lasting and harder-wearing too.’

Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbone Exalith, wheels £459-£576

Sam: ‘One of the best things about this wheel is that it has the carbon look without the full carbon commitment, so it has the aesthetic appeal but you won’t lose braking power in the wet. In fact, Mavic claims the Exalith treatment on the rim is an upgrade over a basic alloy braking surface, so for riders who really want confident descending, they can brake a little bit later and really nail the cornering speed. A nice feature of Mavic wheels is the Wheel-Tyre System, so it comes as a complete package with tubes and tyres, which is worth remembering when comparing the price to other brands.’

Schwalbe Durano tyres, £32.95

Sam: ‘This is a great hard-wearing tyre that has a well-deserved reputation for offering good grip and feel considering how much puncture protection it offers, with a double layer of Schwalbe’s RaceGuard fabric – some tyres with puncture protection are heavy and sluggish by comparison. It’s a slightly lower price than its main rival, the Continental GP 4 Seasons, so it’s a little bit more affordable as well. And it comes in lots of different colours, so you can match it to your bike, too. For the rider who wants performance but doesn’t want to give up on puncture protection, it’s a superb tyre.’

Specialized S-Works Turbo tyre, £23.99

Sam: ‘This is a super-lightweight tyre, so it feels phenomenal for climbing and accelerating. You’re sacrificing that level of protection that the Durano offers – it still has Specialized’s BlackBelt puncture protection layer but it’s really focused on being a race-day (or sportive-day) tyre, with the extremely grippy Gripton rubber compound and a casing with a really high thread count, so it “folds” really well with cornering. Most of the Specialized pros use this tyre but at just £30, it doesn’t have a pro price tag.’

Fabric Scoop Race saddle, £60

Sam: ‘It’s a phenomenal saddle – it’s the one I use myself. There are different versions at different price points, but all offer the same comfort. This one has titanium rails. It offers dual position, so is suitable for those who are really aggressive or those in a more medium position. It’s an all-weather saddle, the top is waterproof, and it’s extremely durable. It looks great too, a really good all-rounder.’

Zipp Service Course SL 80 handlebar, £84

Sam: ‘This is a really nice handlebar in terms of its weight and construction, and having the Zipp brand logo is an added bonus. It has a really nice balance of drop and reach, so it’s not extremely short, nor extremely long. It’s a great upgrade. And the drops are flared outwards by four degrees, which helps to get a more natural, comfortable position when you have your hands in the drops, and you won’t catch the tops of the bar either. It’s a strong, stiff, reliable bar, especially at the price point. They’re widely used by bike fitters too, which tells you something!’

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