The Best Road Bikes of 2017
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Modern construction to help the spandex set realize high-wattage dreams.
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 1 Disc ($4,700)
Gear of the Year
Road designers are taking cues from the mountain world. Geometries are slacker and stabler, tires are fatter, and, with the advent of the gravel scene, drop-bar dirt machines are increasingly common. We’ve even seen suspensions and dropper posts on some skinny-tire bikes. But disc brakes are probably the biggest point of crossover. Consider that, 12 months ago, Giant’s revamp of its flat-out carbon race machine missed Gear of the Year for just one reason: rim brakes. The 2017 TCR Advanced Pro retains everything we liked about that bike—the aggressive handling, quick climbing, and feathery weight—and adds Shimano hydraulic discs. Just don’t confuse it with an endurance ride: it’s a precise, hard-edged race sled that’s laterally stiff and explosively fast. It also looks sleek, thanks to internal cable routing. Competing models with Ultegra Di2 and carbon wheels cost up to 50 percent more, which makes this a monster deal for a plug-and-play race bike. 16.5 lbs
Cervélo S3 Disc ($7,400)
Best For: Triathletes and time trialists.
The Test: From the front, the S3 is as willowy as a supermodel, which accounts for its blinding speed on the flats and rollers. And despite what Luddites might argue, the disc-equipped S3 is slicker in the wind than its rim-brake counterpart, according to Cervélo’s testing. The clampless seatpost is hooked at the top—allowing for tons of vertical flex and a shockingly supple ride. “Wild!” raved one tester. “It feels fighter-jet fast but cushier than most endurance bikes.” The deep-section Enve SES 3.4 wheels cut like blades through the wind and give the bike solid, steady road manners, while the interchangeable cable ports ensure that the internal routings work with any component group, electric or mechanical.
The Verdict: Go fast in comfort. 17.2 lbs
Trek Madone 9.5 ($8,000)
Best For: Cheating the wind.
The Test: The Madone (women’s version shown) was the Lamborghini of our test—fast, sexy, and totally dialed. Credit for all that speed goes to the slippery, lightweight aero frame, sculpted carbon handlebars, and fairings on the fork; taken together, it buys you what feels like 200 extra watts. Even more remarkable, the ride is smooth and comfortable. Trek built what it calls an IsoSpeed decoupler into the seatpost, and it acts as a mini suspension system, softening small bumps in the road and making for a speedy machine. We rode it more than 100 miles one day with nary a twinge of shoulder pain. Plus, you gotta love the murdered-out paint job with just a hint of pink.
The Verdict: The road racer’s legal EPO equivalent. 16.1 lbs (men’s) / 16.4 lbs (women’s)
Wilier Cento10Air ($8,320)
Best For: Ducati lovers.
The Test: This carbon racer takes an unorthodox approach to slicing through wind, with a muscular shape and a wide-set fork that’s said to smooth flow around the front. We didn’t have a wind tunnel to certify that claim, but testers agreed that the Cento10Air felt missile fast when the road flattened. It’s light despite its chunky tubing and accordingly peppy in the hills. The stealth-bomber integrated bar and stem earned high design marks, though several testers said they missed the tape up top. Wilier sells an identical Ultegra Di2 build with less expensive wheels, but we were glad we tried HED’s deep tubulars, which amplified the frame’s speed and delivered deft brake performance, even in the rain. (Of course, it would have been even better with discs.)
The Verdict: Fast and light—behold the ultimate race bike! 15.3 lbs
BMC RoadMachine 01 ($11,000)
Best For: The well-rounded (and well-heeled) roadie.
The Test: Few bikes blur the boundaries between race rig and dirt devil as wildly as the RoadMachine. Its top-shelf carbon frame, short chainstays, and aggressive angles come straight off the pro tour, but there’s also road-smoothing compliance, plus through-axles, disc brakes, and room for wide tires. BMC’s cable routing is impressive (Di2 wires run through the handlebars), making for a fast-looking bike. There are cheaper builds, but the Dollar Green color—let’s be honest, the one everyone will want—is reserved for those with money to burn.
The Verdict: The roadie’s answer to the gravel rig. A pavement eater, with some additional capacity, just in case. 16.4 lbs
Speedvagen OG1 ($5,385)
Best For: Mustachioed connoisseurs.
The Test: From the creators of Oregon-based Vanilla Workshop comes this steel superbike. The OG1 is the most stunning prêt-à-porter ride money can buy, with subtle logos, understated graphics, a custom Enve fork, and drool-inducing stainless-steel-plated dropouts. But make no mistake: this isn’t a made-to-hang collector’s piece. The stable geometry and refined tubing create a ride that’s smooth and confident. The spec is spot-on, too, including Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and a mix of Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra parts.
The Verdict: If this bike had discs, there’d be no reason to buy big-box carbon. 17.1 lbs
Co-Op ARD 1.4 ($2,300)
Best For: The 99 percent.
The Test: REI replaced its heritage Novara line with the sexier Co-Op brand, and its flagship carbon model might be the best road bike the retailer has ever built. It’s everything you want in an all-around roadie, with stable upright geometry, through-axles, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and clearance for knobby tires. The complete Shimano 105 group set offers stellar performance at a great value. The American Classic wheels are reasonably light and tubeless-ready. The handlebars are the only misstep, with drops cut too short and steep.
The Verdict: A roadster that rides well beyond what the price suggests. 19.7 lbs
Foundry Overland ($3,995)
Best For: Venturing far, far out.
The Test: For those who think that titanium is the holy grail of gravel-bike design, the Overland might be the most irresistible bike of the year. It’s stable at speed, courtesy of the long wheelbase, while the supple frame, carbon fork, and meaty yet fast-rolling 40-millimeter tires made for a ride as smooth as whipped butter. Foundry wisely added a two-ring SRAM Rival setup, which gave us all the gears we needed. Nice touch: it comes with solid fender mounts for bikepackers and commuters.
The Verdict: You can pedal the roughest roads all day long aboard this bike and still feel fresh. 21.2 lbs
Jamis Renegade Elite ($3,900)
Best For: Favoring dirt over pavement.
The Test: It isn’t the sexiest bike we looked at, but it immediately won converts when testers hopped in the saddle. “One of the most balanced, comfortable gravel bikes,” said one. The lowered seatstays and skinny, clampless seatpost mute even the roughest roads, and the bowed carbon fork keeps the bike easy to steer. Details are up-to-date, including through-axles, flat-mount hydraulic discs, and well-shaped shallow-drop handlebars. The value’s high, with Shimano Ultegra components and easy-to-set-up tubeless American Classic wheels.
The Verdict: A fast gravel machine to win over true roadies. 19.4 lbs
Rawland Ravn ($3,000)
Best For: Bikepacking.
The Test: If you plan on undertaking an Odyssean adventure like the Tour Divide, with miles of self-supported exploration, you could choose no better bike. While it might look like a plodder, the high-end tub-ing gives this steel ride incredible snappiness, and the long, low geometry is stable even under a heavy gear load. While it’s a bit ridiculous to see 26-inch wheels make a comeback, especially on a drop-bar touring bike, they felt nimble and cushiony paired with fat 2.3-inch slick tires. Best of all, there are mounting options for every fender, cage, and pack your heart could desire—including, yes, a pizza rack.
The Verdict: The most fun you’ll have on (sorta) skinny tires. Load it up and head for the hills. 27.2 lbs