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Best aero bikes 2021: Ride faster

Cyclist magazine
1 Sep 2021

A selection of the best 2021 aero road bikes introduced and analysed

A systematic approach to aerodynamics could be the biggest step-change in bicycle design since the invention of the safety bicycle. Letting you go faster for the same effort by cutting down on drag, today the aero story hardly needs telling, the bikes and the plethora of data-driven claims speak for themselves.

Direct comparisons between rival bikes aren’t easy, as everything from the testing standards to testing apparatus differs from manufacturer to manufacturer – a fact a cynic will say is bent to each manufacturer’s will, allowing it to claim ‘our bike is the fastest’.

But no matter, one thing that is redoubtable is that aero bikes, as a whole, are quicker than their round tube counterparts. So without further ado, verily we saith unto you, check these bad boys out, our pick of the freshest, fastest and most stylish aero bikes for 2021.

The best aero bikes of 2021

1. Trek Madone

The choice of the World Champion. In German magazine Tour’s recent independent aero tests, the Madone tied for fastest road bike with the Specialized Venge in a strict wind tunnel scenario. Although in Yorkshire Trek and Pedersen won out over Sagan and Specialized. 

A very modern bike, you'll no longer find conventional callipers on any Madone, with all the top-end models having switched to disc brakes, the latest design has been further streamlined.

But it’s also more than just an aero machine – the rear end employs Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler system for extra compliance and comfort over bumps.

Read our review of the Trek Madone SLR 9 disc here

SEE RELATED: Best aero helmets

2. Cannondale SystemSix 

For a long period, Cannondale neglected the aero-specific market due to the simple fact its SuperSix Evo race bike was so good. However, in 2018, the American brand made enough advancements in the world of speed and released the SystemSix.

It was a bike with bold claims. At 48kmh it will save you 50w while its combination of aerodynamics and weight make it faster than any climbing bikes on gradients up to 6%.

At £4,000, you can bag the Shimano Ultegra specced model that comes with deep-section Vision Metron carbon wheels.

Read our review of the Cannondale SystemSix here

2. Cervelo S5 

Cervelo is no stranger to speed, and here we have the Cervelo S5, the most recent genesis of the Cervelo Soloist.

It’s long been lauded as one the fastest bikes out there, a fact not hurt by appearing beneath Tom Dumoulin during the 2019 season. Seriously overhauled ahead of its most recent relaunch, a new integrated cockpit means this latest version remains as radical as when first introduced.

Cervelo S5 review

Buy now from Sigma Sports for £5,580

4. Specialized Venge 

With Sram eTap or Shimano Di2, hydraulic discs, bolt-thru axles and tubeless-ready carbon clinchers, the Venge epitomises every major change to have happened to road bikes in the last five years.

Specialized claims it holds a 116-second advantage over its Tarmac, and Tour magazine tests show the Venge to be on par with the Trek Madone as the fastest production road bike in the world.

Specialized Venge Vias Disc review

SEE RELATED: Best turbo trainer workouts to improve your cycling

5. Pinarello Dogma F12

With Chris Froome on board, the Pinarello Dogma F8 gained a brace of Tour de France victories. Geraint Thomas nabbed one aboard the F10. While last year the latest F12 got its first Tour win beneath Egan Bernal.

Available in multiple versions, each prioritises aerodynamics, with the X-Light being further optimised for climbing. Yet while Team Ineos tend to favour the standard calliper version, the slicker-looking disc version might be the better choice for privateers.

Take a look at Egan Bernal's Pinarello F12 here

Buy now from Sigma Sports for £12,000

6. Bianchi Oltre XR4

Bianchi’s race bike range has recently been joined by the latest Oltre XR4, which includes the company’s proprietary Countervail – a viscoelastic carbon material that reduces road buzz.

While the tubes of the frame are suitably blade-like, Bianchi reckons the real aero gains come from the rider being able to maintain an aero tuck for longer, thanks to the Countervail, which makes the ride less harsh and reduces fatigue.

It’s the rider that creates most of the drag, after all.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 review

7. Factor One

With a distinct fork assembly that sits forward of the headtube, the Factor One distils the brand’s left-field aero know-how into a frame that’s UCI legal but still seriously fast.

Factor worked with aero specialists bf1systems to tone down and reshape the front end without increasing drag, yet the One keeps Factor’s signature ‘Twin-Vane’ down tube, which it claims siphons turbulent air from the front wheel through the frame, rather than around it.

Factor One review

Buy now from Factor from £6,400

SEE RELATED: Seven best aero wheels

8. Tifosi Auriga

The Auriga is British brand Tifosi’s first fully aero bike. Developed alongside the Spirit Tifosi domestic race team, it’s claimed to ‘slice through the air and shave minutes off your race, while the carefully engineered geometry keeps the handling snappy and precise.’ 

Bold claims indeed, but the Auriga backs them up with the kind of performance that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Read our review here 

9. Giant Propel

The only bike to have received flowers from Marcel Kittel, the Propel manages to blend excellent ride comfort with aero-clout and fast handling.

The position is of the ‘stick the rider up high’ persuasion, with a tall headtube in the Cervelo mode, and with a roster of big-race wins, it looks to work. 

10. Parlee RZ7

The tubes on the RZ7 feature a distinctive scallop on their trailing edge, the benefits of which are not just aerodynamic. Instead, their design has allowed Parlee to cut weight and also increase tube stiffness.

With faring covered discs the RZ7 is as fast as it looks. Yet this never translates into a harsh ride. In fact, when we took it out for a spin it proved extremely capable on broken surfaces - something further boosted by its ability to fit tyres up to 32c. All in it’s a very modern and very fast aero bike.

Read our full Parlee RZ7 review here

Buy now from Parlee Cycles

11. Argon 18 Nitrogen

Balance is the name of the game for Argon 18’s Nitrogen - it takes comfort cues from the Canadian brand’s Gallium Pro and blends them with aero profiling inspired by its dedicated TT frameset.

Over the last few years, Argon 18 had been the sponsor of the Astana WorldTour team, making the Nitrogen the choice of Fabio Aru, Miguel Angel Lopez and Jakob Fuglsang on flatter GrandTour stages.

Read our review of the Argon 18 Nitrogen disc here

Buy the Argon 18 Nitrogen disc frameset for £2,499

12. Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

The German online powerhaus has been successfully turning bicycles into Grand Tour and Monument successes for more than a decade, and the latest Aeroad shows no signs of abating.

Handling is racy, offering assured tracking through tight corners, and thanks to the now de rigeur T-shaped bar-stem combo (offered on the higher-spec models), revised truncated tube profiles and wheel hugging downtube, it’s one of the fastest bikes on the market.

Canyon Aeroad CF SLX review

Buy now from Canyon for £6,799

13. Cipollini NK1K Disc

With a reputation such as his, Mario Cipollini could hardly produce a dainty climbing bike so it should come as no surprise that his eponymous brand’s NK1K is a muscular aero frame centred around the efficient transfer of power.

In a refreshing move the NK1K makes no claims to tread a perfect balance of different attributes, unashamedly identifying its niche as an uber-fast bike that looks incredibly pretty to boot.

14. Merida Reacto Disc Limited 

Between them, Merida and Giant produce 80% of the world’s bike frames, so Merida should know a thing or two about what makes a good bike, or in this case, a fast one.

The long-standing Reacto is the same bike that helped Vincenzo Nibali hold of the pack at the 2018 Milan-San Remo. Blade-like in appearance, its aggressive nature is tempered by an S-Flex seat post which features a cut-away section to boost compliance. Cooling fins built into its calliper mounts stop things from getting too heated when screaming down the mountain.

Merida Reacto 5000 review

15. Scott Foil 

Winner of Paris-Roubaix, the Foil demonstrates a refined ride quality more akin to a regular road bike, but with all the wind-cheating features you’d expect.

Low slung seatstays and truncated tube profiles are capped off with an aggressive front end, centred around the Syncros bar-stem combo that sleekly mates with the headtube.

Scott Foil 10 review

16. BMC Timemachine 01 Road One

When a bike straddles time-trial and road categories it’s fair to say it’s fast, and when a reconfigured version of the Timemachine gave Rohan Dennis a rapid – yet brief – Hour Record title, that only bolstered the credentials of BMC’s aero-road machine.

The front end assembly integrates like a Transformer, while the rear end sets the stays as low down the seat tube as UCI rules allow, a design almost ubiquitous across the aero board.

Read our review of the BMC Timemachine here

17. Look 795 Blade Disc 

Available in the UK as a frame kit only, the 795 Blade’s chunky aero tubes are resolutely stiff, yet overall the bike doesn’t feel unwieldy or overly harsh.

The modicum of compliance offered by the bowed seatstays and fork legs makes it a little more accommodating on a rough road than a good number of its aero competitors. And, credit where it’s due, it’s unquestionably fast.

When we tried the calliper brake version we found ourselves wishing for the extra control offered by discs. Make this the version you pick when ordering and we’re happy to recommend the 795.

Read our review of the Look 795 RS here 

Buy now from Look Cycle

18. De Rosa SK Pininfarina

Created in partnership with lauded Italian design house Pininfarina, it of Ferraris and Alfa Romeos, the SK is a bike that proves aero can be elegant.

The ride quality is spritely and comfortable, and what it lacks in top-end punch of some of the stiffer aero offerings it makes up for by being a classic waiting to happen. One for the aesthete as much as the racer.

Check out Elia Viviani's custom De Rosa SK Pininfarina here

19. Wilier Cento 10 NDR Disc 

The Cento has been an on-going model in the Wilier range for nearly a decade, and the latest aero-fied version takes all the popular aero bike features and rolls them up into a very Italian package.

That is, integrated bar-stem, disc brakes, wide-stance low stays and fork manifest in nippy, race-bike handling that requires a decent amount of concentration to get the best out of. One for the racers.

Wilier Cento 10 Air review

20. Colnago Concept Disc

The original Concept was a project between bike guru Ernesto Colnago and motoring guru Enzo Ferrari in 1986. This latest version has all the hallmarks of a classic modern aero bike: deep, bladed down tube; sinuous curves that hug the wheels; and components designed to hide away from the wind.

Incredibly, Colnago has redesigned each frame size for optimal aerodynamics, rather than just scaling up or down. So a size 56cm is actually a different bike to a size 58cm. 

Read our review here 

Buy now from Westbrook Cycles for £4,000 (frame only) 

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