Buying your new bike direct (either straight from the manufacturer or through chain mega stores), rather than through your local bike shop, has its downsides — trying before you buy being the biggest. However, in these belt-tightening times, it’s the hard cash it saves you that makes it so persuasive.
Our focus in our main bike test this issue is on bikes that cut out the middleman and includes the likes of Canyon, Pinnacle and Boardman. All are around the £1,500 mark.
Elsewhere, technical editor Tom Marvin throws himself into the world of track racing for the first time at Newport velodrome, testing a couple of entry-level bikes from Dolan and Mekk while he’s at it.
We’ve also got our usual bunch of new bikes in First Ride, including a lightweight climber (Look 785 Huez RS), a gravel grinder (Lapierre Crosshill 300), a mountain bike-influenced adventure bike (Merida Silex 9000) and an urban hybrid (Voodoo Agwe).
Going head-to-head in Shootout are the Giant Contend 2 and B’Twin Triban 500.
In New Kit, we’ve got reviews of Garmin’s flagship bike computer the Edge 1030, the Selle Italia Novus saddle, DT Swiss PR1600 Spline 23 wheels, Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones, Giro Vanquish MIPS helmet and the Metier Beacon race jacket. We also test 16 tyres and six bike boxes in Gear Guide.
In Features we look at cycling tech and wonder whether our use of it is entirely healthy, learn how to fuel our rides with 10 tasty pre-ride meals, go behind the scenes at clothing brand Hackney GT in our Best of British series and find out how the time of day can affect how you perform.
In Big Ride Trevor Ward heads to northern Portugal in search of sanctuary from Britain’s nasty winter and in Training Camp we learn from the legend that is Graeme Obree on mindful cycling.
As an extra, we’ve got a 28-page sportive guide, with all the events and tips to set you up for a cracking 2018 in the saddle.