It’s never the most enticing time of year for riding a road bike, is it, February? It's often a battle trying to summon up the willpower to leave your cosy home and brave the outdoors to spend hours in the chill, topping up your base with steady mile after steady mile, with the new season still ages off. With that in mind our main bike test this month pits six all-new endurance bikes against each other to help you last the course, including the Cube Attain GTC Pro, the Vitus Venon VR Disc and Bianchi Intrepida.
Speaking of Bianchi, the Italian brand is the sole subject of our other bike test this month, as technical editor Warren pits one of its modern superbikes against a faux-retro, L'Eroica-inspired equivalent. Does he have a favourite? Find out on p117. We’ve also got first-ride reviews of the daring Cannondale Slate Ultegra and the delectable Cervélo C5.
We review 16 affordable sets of pedals, too, along with eight of the major players in the never-more-competitive power meter market. It goes without saying that we also put the spotlight on some brand new kit, including the Bontrager Classique shoes, Garmin’s budget Edge 20 computer, the hydraulic disc brake version of Shimano’s 105 groupset and Specialized’s Airnet helmet.
Over in features we look at the ‘seven deadly sins’ of cycling and just how you can avoid them, tackle arguably the toughest event in amateur cycling, the Three Peaks cyclocross race, offer a guide on how you can make your non-riding mates see the light and drag them – kicking and screaming if necessary – onto their bikes, and head out across the Firth of Clyde to do some island riding.
Your mates love riding bikes, even if they don't know it yet
Up front we tell the story of how the humble bicycle has been put forward for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, give you the skinny on cycling in Perth and Kinross, hear from the new annual mileage record holder Kurt Searvogel and find out the cycling secrets of Premier League footballer and Bournemouth star Matt Ritchie. And right at the very back, Ned Boulting is on genial form talking about how kids should know their place when the cycling’s on.
We also introduce our season-long series, Challenge Cycling Plus, where you, our readers, challenge three magazine staffers to various rides. Find out what we’ve on our plates in 2016 on p148.
Few races are on the scale and brutality of the Three Peaks Cyclocross
Last but not least is our supplement, which this month looks at Britain's best rides. The Lake District, Brecon Beacons, Country Antrim, Surrey Hills, Scottish Highlands, Ribble Valley and Snowdonia are all in contention. We don't choose a favourite, but instead marvel at the choice we have to go at right on our doorsteps.
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