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Cyclist 100 best cycling products 2020 part 1: bikes

In-depth
26 Jun 2020
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There is no sport quite like cycling for its capacity to accommodate so many different types of stuff. In most other sports – football, tennis, bowls, paragliding – you buy the kit and you use the kit. But not cycling. In cycling, buying your first bit of kit is merely a door into a world that is as consuming and satisying as the sport itself.

Once you have bought a bike, then you need pedals, bottle cages, maybe a seat pack. The pedals need some shoes, and the cages need some bottles, and the seat pack needs some tools.

The shoes need matching socks, and the bottles need energy drinks, and the tools need spares. And then you invariably decide it’s time to upgrade everything.

Consequently cyclists are like snowflakes, no two quite the same. Even on pro teams where looking alike is part of the job, bike setup and kit choice will be unique to each rider. This is why cycling has more things – shiny things, techy things, safety things, speedy things – than any other sport. And this is our list of the best of the lot.

It isn’t a list of the best products launched this year, or the best products for the price. It’s simply a list of the 100 best products available right now – in no particular order – as chosen by the team at Cyclist. We hope you enjoy it.

Sam Challis  
Tech Editor, Cyclist

Trek Madone SLR Disc

From £5,950, trekbikes.com

‘The Madone we released in 2015 was a quantum leap in technologies for aero road,’ says Trek’s road product manager Jordan Roessingh. ‘It had the hidden Isospeed decoupler to improve comfort, fully hidden cables and integrated proprietary brakes. Yet we almost immediately had a sense of what we wanted to improve upon with the next iteration.’

For the latest SLR Disc that chiefly meant updating to disc brakes. Roessingh says designing around discs has actually made the bike more aerodynamic and barely any heavier than the rim brake Madone.

The Isospeed decoupler has also changed. It still pivots at the seat tube junction but is now an L-shape that moves the flexible section up and down a groove on the underside of the top tube, thereby allowing the rider to adjust compliance.

To complement the technology, Trek has also gone to town on the colour options – this one is called ‘molten marble’.

Read our in-depth review of the Trek Madone here

Discover the Trek Madone range at Trek Bikes here 

Cervélo S5

From £4,899, cervelo.com

Cervélo gave its venerable S5 platform quite the overhaul recently, but from its silhouette you’d be forgiven for thinking nothing had changed.

The frame, while 100g lighter, has indeed received only minor profile changes. The real work has gone into the front end, which now has a two-pronged V-stem and an external steerer tube.

The brand says this allows for easier cable integration and improved aerodynamics, and claims it has saved a further 5.5 watts over the previous bike, which was no slouch to begin with.

Read our review of the Cervelo S5 here

Parlee Z-Zero

From £5,900, bespokecycling.com

The Parlee Z-Zero is truly unique in that each one is made specifically for its owner. And that doesn’t just mean geometry, because each tube is custom made – down to the individual carbon filaments – to suit the requirements of the rider.

Virtually everything on the Z-Zero is carbon, from the cable stops to the bracket shells. What’s more, Parlee’s paint shop can do virtually any design, and some of the examples we’ve seen have been works of art.

Which is just as well, because you’ll need £6,800 for the custom-painted privilege.

Read more about the Parlee Z-Zero here

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX

From £6,699, canyon.com

A lightweight all-rounder that can win races at the top of women’s professional cycling, the Ultimate WMN shows that Canyon is a brand that takes its whole customer base seriously, not just the men.

Where many brands simply swap out the bars and saddle on a men’s bike to better suit women, Canyon has optimised the bike’s Sport Pro Geometry for female riders by reworking elements such as reach, stack and seat angle.

Discover the Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX here

Open UPPER

£3,900 frameset, opencycle.com

Launched in 2016, the Open UP was way ahead of its time. It was a bike designed to feel fast on the road yet capable off it, and the UPPER is the natural progression, sharing all the same features but coming in 180g lighter.

That means it’s as light and agile as a road bike but with clearance for up to 40mm tyres, making it versatile enough to excel off-road, too. 

S-Works Tarmac Disc

£9,500, specialized.co.uk

When we tested the S-Works Tarmac Disc, we professed that this may well be the best bike we’ve ever ridden, and at 6.9kg, with World Championship and Grand Tour-winning pedigree and the wealth of Specialized’s aero expertise behind it, it’s hard to disagree.

The S-Works Tarmac Disc frame uses 500 separate carbon fibre plies, including incredibly high modulus (that is, stiff) YS60 fibres, and the bike even comes with a power meter as standard. This is how to turn the pros on to disc brakes.

Read our review of the Specialized S-Works Tarmac disc here

Buy the Specialized S-Works Tarmac from Tredz here

Rolo bike

£POA, rolobikes.com

Rolo is certainly not your average bike manufacturer. It’s not even your average custom bike manufacturer. Each frame is handmade entirely in Europe, offering an extremely rare level of personalisation, in carbon, including the ability to alter the layup of individual tubes to perfectly tailor every aspect of fit and ride quality to the individual.

Naturally, custom paint is part of the package too, adding the finishing touches to something that is truly 100% bespoke.

BMC Teammachine SLR01 One

£10,499, bmc-switzerland.com

The Teammachine was arguably the first bike to fully realise the potential of disc brakes for a pro-level racer. Where other manufacturers had slackened angles and elongated wheelbases, BMC managed to add disc brakes while preserving the Teammachine’s aggressive, racy character and keeping weight under 7kg.

That was back in 2017, but even three years on the Teammachine still exists as something of a benchmark.

Read our review of the BMC Teammachine SLR01 One here

Buy the BMC Teammachine SLR01 One from Tredz here

Bastion Road Disc

£5,800 frameset, veloatelier.co.uk

If a single bike encapsulates every aspiration on the cutting edge of bike building, it is the Bastion Road Disc. Designed by a team of car engineers, it ticks the normal boxes – wide tyre clearance, disc brakes and clever integrated cabling – but then it goes much further.

Bastion uses 3D-printed titanium lugs, filament-wound carbon tubes and a computer-optimised design offering bespoke geometry and material design. It’s like the wild dreams of a bike fantasist let loose.

The result is a bike that can be designed to any geometry and any performance characteristics. What’s more, it looks incredible.

Read our review of the Bastion road bike here

Festka Scalatore

£5,190 frameset, festka.com

Scalatore means ‘climber’ in Italian, and there’s no more fitting name for a bike whose frame weighs just 790g – which is feathery by any standards, but even more so given this is a fully custom, tube-to-tube constructed disc bike.

In this build total weight is a hair over 7kg, although with different component choices the Czech framebuilders say it’s perfectly possible to come in under 6kg.

But don’t for a minute think you’ll be sacrificing anything in stiffness terms. This bike tinkles up the climbs, but will happily handle big sprints and, thanks to the rider-tuned, custom-made tubing from compatriots CompoTech, the Scalatore is wonderfully balanced and comfortable.

You’ll pay for all this, mind, but what you’ll receive in return is a bike of impeccable craftsmanship and stunning ride quality.

Read more about the Festka Scalatore here

Colnago C64

£4,099 frameset, windwave.co.uk

The C64 is the latest in a long line of C-series bikes that began with the C40 back in 1994 (the name relates to the number of years Colnago has been making bikes).

The C40 was unique for introducing carbon tubes to the classic Master style of framebuilding, including lugged construction and bevelled tube profiles, and the C64 takes the concept to the next level.

The tubes are still bevelled, but are now more squared off and massively oversized for stiffness. Each frame is made in Italy, even though Colnago has moved much of its production to the Far East, which shows just how much this model still means to 88-year-old Ernesto Colnago.

The ride may not be the lightest or most aerodynamic on offer, but it oozes class, and few bikes will ever match the Colnago C64 for pure desirability.

Read our in-depth review of the Colnago C64 here

3T Strada

£3,700 frameset, saddleback.co.uk

3T’s radical Strada came from the mind of Cervélo co-founder and all-round engineering whizz Gerard Vroomen. The frame has all the trappings of an aero road bike, but it has been designed around wide tyres and 1x gearing.

Wide tyres offer comfort without impairing aerodynamics, and the 1x system provides almost all the gearing of a 2x system despite being lighter and more aerodynamic – according to Vroomen, a front derailleur can cost in the region of 7 watts at 32kmh.

Read our review of the 3T Strada here

Bianchi Specialissima

From £4,800, bianchi.com

The Specialissima is Bianchi’s lightweight climbing bike, and is also one of the most classically elegant bikes in the pro peloton.

Eschewing the curves and sharp edges of most modern race bikes, the Specialissima oozes Italian heritage but is still every bit the technical racer.

While it has stiffness in abundance, it also offers a smooth ride thanks to the Countervail viscoelastic resin in the carbon layup that helps to filter out road buzz.

Read our review of the Bianchi Specialissima here

Buy the Bianchi Specialissima from Rutland Cycling here

Moots Routt YBB

£5,700 frameset, saddleback.co.uk

Poised, elegant, refined – pick three.

The welding here is exquisite, as is the satin finish and anodised graphics. But the true beauty of the Routt YBB resides in its sublime ride quality, in part bestowed by the custom-drawn 3/2.5 titanium tubing, and in part by the rear shock, which offers 30mm of controlled, tuneable rear travel.

YBB stands for ‘Why Be Beat?’, although Moots could equally well have called it the MCR – magic carpet ride.

It really is supernaturally smooth. 

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Disc

From £4,000, cyclingsportsgroup.com

The all-new SuperSix Evo may have strayed from its traditional aesthetic but it has gained a heap of speed for 2020.

The frame uses truncated aero tubes combined with dropped seatstays and Cannondale’s in-house Knot kit, including the cockpit and wheels, to shave off drag.

It amounts to a bike with a claimed frame weight of 866g that Cannondale says has 30 watts less drag at 48kmh than its predecessor.

Read our full review of the Cannondale SuperSix Evo here

Buy the Cannondale SuperSix Evo from Leisure Lake Bikes here