Table of Contents
Here are the very best accessories that have made it into road.cc Recommends in 2021. We’ve got GPS cycle computers, bags, racks, helmets, sunglasses, lights, mudguards, lubes and tools – this is a hugely diverse category – that have made out shortlist, and the select few that have gone on to earn our awards.
Every month we select the top accessories, bikes, parts and clothing we’ve reviewed for road.cc Recommends (if a particular company didn’t send us their product, we can’t review it or rate it and that means it can’t be considered here).
At the end of the year, we went back to road.cc Recommends, looked at each product on its own merits and chose the very best of them to be included here.
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 the 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.
Let’s see which products impressed us most…
Bargain Buy Oxford Aqua V32 Double Pannier Bag
Money No Object Camelbak H.A.W.G Commute 30 Backpack
Editor’s Choice Bontrager MIK Commuter Boot Bag
The Straight Cut Top Tube Bag (£55) is a very sturdy and strong option that’s a useful size. Good water resistance and multiple fixing options make it very versatile, plus the zip has a glow in the dark puller. A lot of thought has gone into both its design and build, and it shows.
Altura’s £79.99 Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier is an excellent, durable 20-litre capacity option that’s packed with commuter-focused features including a roll-top closure that keeps out the rain, reflective accents all over to maximise visibility and a padded laptop sleeve built into the structure inside.
The Apidura Racing Long Top Tube Pack (£72) squeezes two litres of flexible storage into a slim form with rock-solid fixings and features a charging cable port and a two-way waterproof zip. It’s hard to beat if you need to max out your storage for going fast or far.
Apidura gets another mention for its £144 Apidura Backcountry Full Frame Pack which is a top-class, expedition-worthy bag for keeping lots of kit low, dry and secure in your frame. The price is high, but it does carry a lifetime warranty.
Straight Cut’s Bagel Bar Bag (£70) really impressed. It’s small, perfectly made (by hand) and uses Voile’s excellent Nano straps to give a rock-solid setup. Plus, the double zip works well.
The 3-litre capacity CamelChops Blimp 2.0 handlebar bag (£40) is a great quality option that’s well made in the UK and customisable to match your bike. The bungee cord underneath the bag is handy for strapping stuff like a jacket, and it’s easy to fit a front light for after dark or winter rides.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the £54.99 Oxford Aqua V32 Double Pannier Bag. It’s a fantastic price for such a useable all-weather, superbly rugged pair of panniers.
The two 16-litre bags are made from a durable fully waterproof fabric with a roll-top closure, and each has a zipped compartment on the outside as well as reflective accents. The rear of each bag section is also stiffened and there’s a toughened bumper at the bottom. These are going to last you!
The Camelbak H.A.W.G Commute 30 Backpack (£150) takes our Money No Object award. It’s not cheap but it is packed with features that make the daily ride to work a little bit simpler and the large main compartment makes shopping on the way home easy.
You get simple, dedicated spaces for the usual commuter clobber of laptop, headphones and keys. Add side pockets for easy access to your bike lock and very good weatherproofing and this becomes a great investment.
If you were to put together a wish list of features you’d like to see on your ideal urban backpack, the Commute 30 likely has them all. It is well made and backed by a lifetime guarantee. A brilliant option.
Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the Bontrager MIK Commuter Boot Bag (now £84.99) which is a really well made and superbly stable rear rack bag. It has a surprisingly decent carrying capacity, excellent waterproofing and impressive practicality both on and off the bike.
There are a couple of very handy zipped external pockets on each side where you can quickly store and access valuables, tools, and so on. There’s also a bungee cord on top to offer further carrying potential, and an open elasticated pocket at the far end.
Bargain Buy Prime Race Computer Mount
Money No Object Hammerhead Karoo 2
Editor’s Choice Ravemen PR2400 USB Rechargeable DuaLens Front Light with Remote
Met’s latest Manta MIPS Aero Road helmet (£220) integrates reprofiled aerodynamics, a revised ventilation system and – perhaps most importantly – MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) protection, which has been nicely added. It impresses with a good aero performance married to impressive cooling, weight and comfort.
The Giro Helios Spherical helmet (£229.99) is an incredibly comfortable performance lid that benefits from the trickling down of the company’s MIPS Spherical technology – which was first introduced on its top-end Aether – to this less race-focused design. The protection of the MIPS comes on a low profile design with ample adjustability, and at a cheaper price point.
Giant’s Recon HL 350 (£34.99) is a brilliant front commuter light, delivering a decent level of brightness, good run times and fast USB charging in a compact lightweight IPX7 waterproof package. It has three steady modes and two flashing ones and mounts to the bar with a straightforward strap. Side windows spill light for visibility at junctions.
The Science In Sport Beta Fuel Gel (6 pack – £12) crams a ridiculously high amount of carbs into an easy-to-consume product. It contains roughly 40-50 per cent more carbohydrate and calories than other similarly sized gels, and that means you can carry a hell of a lot less.
Muc-Off’s Stealth Tubeless Puncture Plug Kit (now £34.99) provides a whole tubeless repair solution that hides neatly in your bar ends. Its superb build quality, versatility and sheer handiness make it worth the price.
The Tailfin Cargo Cage (£39) is a well-made (from 7075-T6 aluminium) and versatile way of carrying extra load on a bikepacking trip, and will last a long time. The load chip converts the cage into an L-shape. With the foot, heavier items like big Klean Kanteen bottles are better supported, and easier to mount. Without it, you can mount longer items, like tent poles for example.
The super-wide SKS Chromoplastics Mudguard Set 65mm 28 (£44.99) performs faultlessly, significantly reducing the amount of muck and road spatter that would otherwise end up on both you and your bike. These guards are tough and high-quality, and come with a five-year guarantee. Spares are widely available spares, helping to make these a great investment.
The BBB T-Rex Grip (£26.95) is a truly excellent tool for the home mechanic, allowing you to hold your cassette while you remove the lockring. It’s easy to position the handle so it’s in a convenient place to provide resistance and it’s long enough that there’s plenty of leverage.
End to End by Paul Jones (£16.99) is an excellent read. This book is full of fascinating insight into the UK’s signature long-distance challenge, detailing the record’s origins and also including interviews with past and present record holders. At its heart, this is a book not specifically about cycling but about people.
The Silca Synergetic Drip Lube really impressed. Yes, it’s £32 a bottle, but it’s a truly exceptional, clean and quiet lube that will last you a year and save you many times that amount replacing prematurely-worn components. For those using indoor trainers, Synergetic lube is going to be your cleanest option – if there’s no dirt to pick up, it’s going to stay clean almost indefinitely.
Our Bargain Buy award goes to the Prime Race Computer Mount (£19.99). The good-looking alloy out-front mount holds Garmin and Wahoo computers as firmly as you could want, for an excellent price, too.
Reviewer Leon Jennings summed up: “In terms of value for money, it’s hard to look past the Prime Race Computer Mount. Yes, premium models like those from K-Edge offer a slightly slimmer, sleeker profile, but is that worth over double the price? I don’t think so.”
The Hammerhead Karoo 2 cycle computer (£359) massively impressed us and takes our Money No Object award. It has an improved, compact design with a large enough 3.2 inch screen for viewing lots of data fields as well as its beautiful map in detail. The device is packed with great features such as a ‘live Strava segment’ overlay and ‘Climber’ pop up which features a colour-coded elevation profile showing which sections are steeper or shallower – incredibly helpful for judging your effort up an unfamiliar ascent!
It’s super responsive and has excellent navigational capabilities for both planned routes and out-in-the-wild spontaneous ones, and there are also plenty of performance metrics, too.
The Karoo 2 comes with increased storage, from 16Gb to an impressive 32Gb, added dual Bluetooth Smart chipsets and an upgraded quad-core processor with 2Gb of RAM, for a faster and more responsive device that’s capable of handling the regular software updates that Hammerhead installs to improve and introduce new features. It’s a great device to invest in.
Our Editor’s Choice award goes to the £199.99 Ravemen PR2400 USB Rechargeable DuaLens Front Light with Remote. With the ability to switch between a road-friendly lens and the full monty 2,400 lumens, five LED option, this is a powerful, versatile light that covers all eventualities. It has a great build quality too, as well as a wireless remote, decent burn times and an easy-to-read display.
The Ravemen PR2400 uses one diffuse LED in road mode, putting out 900 lumens, and we found the beam shape to be excellent, lighting all but the fastest and most technical road descents perfectly.
Then, switching to off-road modes is easy with a quick press of the larger mode button. Here, you’ll find the max power 2400-lumen mode uses all five LEDs, throwing light high, wide and long to give you a clear view of the trail.