Our Road Bike of the Year is now in its 15th year. After months of testing and putting 25 of this year’s hottest drop-bar machines through their paces in the world’s biggest and most-trusted bike showcase, we’re proud to announce our winner – the all-new Vitus Venon Evo.
This year, we’re celebrating the all-rounder, with the Venon Evo representing the next generation of endurance road bikes. With a lightweight carbon frame, mudguard mounts and clearance for 45c tyres, the Vitus Venon Evo can be all things to all riders – and excels in doing so.
Head to our Vitus Venon Evo review to find out why it had what it takes to win our top award – or read on to discover our sub-category winners for aero, performance, women’s, gravel and budget road bikes.
What we tested
Our 2023 test covers six categories for drop-bar bikes, with the Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS, to give our £4,699/$4,699/€4,899 SRAM-equipped build its full name, also topping the endurance billing.
Elsewhere, we’ve tested everything from go-fast aero road bikes to dedicated gravel bikes, and the latest women’s-specific bikes to racy all-rounders.
Our annual test once again displays everything that is innovative and inspiring about modern bike design. Historic brands, major sellers and newer kids on the block are all present and correct. And, whisper it, there are even bargains to be had in 2023’s finest crop.
If you want even more Bike of the Year goodness, on top of our road champions, we’ve announced our mountain bike winners, and we’ll be publishing all of our reviews on our Bike of the Year hub page over the next month.
But for now, let’s take a closer look at the Vitus Venon Evo and the rest of our Road Bike of the Year category winners.
Introducing our Road Bike of the Year, the Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS
While the Vitus Venon Evo was only officially launched on the day it scooped our Bike of the Year title, senior technical editor Warren Rossiter has had a pre-launch sample of the brand’s revamped endurance bike as part of this year’s test. Over to you, Warren.
Warren Rossiter’s verdict
“Well, let me start with a bold statement – the Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS is everything an endurance bike should be and more.
“The idea behind the latest Venon Evo was to make an endurance bike that would appeal to as many riders as possible.
“So that’s lightness and handling that would appeal to racers, year-round readiness for serious all-weather enthusiasts, and versatility to appeal to riders who want to switch it up between road and gravel.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen bikes become ever-more niche and segmented, all of which can make choosing a new bike difficult.
“On the road, do you go back to aerodynamics with a speed machine like another of our contenders, the Giant Propel? Or is a flighty, lightweight road racer like the Enve Melee more your style?
“What about the speed-infused comfort from Scott’s Contessa or cost-effective performance from Cannondale’s Optimo?
“And if gravel is your thing, do you venture towards the mountain bike world with the trail-capable Giant Revolt X or take aim at gravel races with BMC’s fully focused Kaius?
“Well, for us here at BikeRadar, we’re embracing the all-rounder instead.
“Vitus has achieved something seriously special with the new Venon Evo. A bike that’s as good as any endurance bike on the road, but which has versatility at its heart.
“You can get huge 45c tyres into the frame to make it into a very capable gravel machine. Or add mudguards and high-volume road tyres to turn it into a long-distance audax rider and beyond.
“Its low weight and lively handling bring that all-important smile to every ride, so it combines the sensible with the sensational.
“Best of all, the build comes with aero carbon wheels, carbon fibre finishing kit and a SRAM Force AXS wireless drivetrain at a price (£4,699/$4,699/€4,899) very few can match.
“Against a backdrop of inflation and sky-rocketing bike prices, Vitus needs to be applauded and celebrated for delivering value and versatility, alongside all-round quality and, crucially, the fun factor.
“A very rare thing indeed in 2023.”
Endurance Bike of the Year contenders
We’ll be bringing you full reviews of the other four Endurance Bike of the Year contenders over the next month.
- Vitus Venon Evo RS Aero Force AXS
- Cervélo Caledonia Rival AXS
- Merida Scultura Endurance Rival AXS
- Rondo RATT CF2
- Wilier Triestina Granturismo SLR
Meet the tester | Warren Rossiter
BikeRadar and Cycling Plus‘ senior technical editor, Warren Rossiter, a stalwart of our Bike of the Year test for more than a decade, took charge of the endurance category.
After a two-hour shakedown ride, the meat of testing took place on an 82-mile/132km loop of Warren’s home lanes in Wiltshire, in the south west of England, resulting in more than 1,200 miles/1,931km of riding across the five bikes.
The best of the rest…
As well as crowning the Vitus Venon Evo as our overall Road Bike of the Year (and the winner of our endurance sub-category), we’ve also announced the winners in each of our road and gravel sub-categories.
Performance Road Bike of the Year – ENVE Melee Ultegra Di2
The ENVE Melee Ultegra Di2 is the winner of our Performance Road Bike of the Year award. We’ll be publishing full reviews of each of our contenders over the coming month.
Performance Road Bike of the Year contenders
- ENVE Melee Ultegra Di2
- Basso Diamante Ultegra Di2
- Cannondale Supersix Evo Hi-Mod 2
- Colnago V4Rs Dura-Ace Di2
- Wilier 0 SL Rival AXS
Meet the tester | Ashley Quinlan
BikeRadar’s senior technical editor, Ashley Quinlan, took charge of the performance category.
Here, Ashley was looking for an all-round race bike that stood out from the increasing homogeny of a crowded market. At the same time, he kept one eye on the wide variety of riders tempted by the allure of a race-type machine – not just top category racers.
Ashley spent the majority of his testing riding around the varying terrain of Wiltshire and Somerset to answer the question: Can you really marry aerodynamics, light weight and ride quality in one bike?
Aero Road Bike of the Year – Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0
Our Aero Road Bike of the Year is the Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0. You’ll find full reviews of the other contenders on BikeRadar over the next four weeks.
Aero Road Bike of the Year contenders
Meet the tester | Simon von Bromley
BikeRadar’s senior technical writer, Simon von Bromley, handled the aero road bikes category.
First and foremost, Simon was looking for a bike that felt rapid and ready to race. Besides that, though, the winning bike also needed to be easy to live with and not so uncomfortable it was no fun to ride on anything but perfect tarmac.
Testing took place on the rolling hills around south Bristol. With a wide variety of road conditions, climbs and exposed flats, it’s an ideal test ground for seeing if wind tunnel-optimised designs translate to performance in the real world.
Gravel Bike of the Year – Giant Revolt X Advanced Pro 1
We’ll be publishing reviews of each of our Gravel Bike of the Year contenders during the next month. The winner was the Giant Revolt X Advanced Pro 1.
Gravel Bike of the Year contenders
- Giant Revolt X Advanced Pro 1
- BMC Kaius 01 One
- Factor Ostro Gravel
- Pivot Vault
- Ridley Kanzo Adventure Rival XPLR
Meet the tester | Warren Rossiter
Warren also took charge of the gravel bike category, with a range of bikes that reflect the ever-broad nature of the gravel genre.
Warren focused his testing on two routes, to find a bike capable of excelling on a wide variety of terrain.
With Salisbury Plain on his doorstep, Warren’s test rides took in a mix of wide open gravel roads, mountain bike singletrack and forest fire roads, pieced together with connecting towpaths, bridleways and tarmac.
Women’s Bike of the Year – Scott Contessa Addict 25
The Scott Contessa Addict 25 came out on top in our Women’s Bike of the Year category.
You can look forward to reviews of the bikes it pipped to the title in the coming weeks.
Women’s Bike of the Year contenders
Meet the tester | Katherine Moore
Regular BikeRadar contributor, Katherine Moore, returned to lead testing for our trio of women’s bikes.
Contenders ranged from builds with women’s-specific geometry to unisex frames built up with women’s-specific components.
Testing took place on the tarmac of Dartmoor National Park, with an abundance of steep climbs, rough lanes and sweeping moorland tarmac providing a spectacular backdrop for pushing the bikes to their limits.
Budget Road Bike of the Year – Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1
Our 2023 Budget Bike of the Year is the Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1. Reviews of the other two bikes in this category will follow soon.
Budget Bike of the Year contenders
Meet the tester | Robin Wilmott
Budget bike testing fell to Robin Wilmott, one of our most experienced road/cyclocross/gravel bike testers.
As well as performance and value-for-money, Robin also placed particular emphasis on what the bikes are like to live with.
With that in mind, he considered their commuting credentials, ran errands on each, and ensured they stood up to abuse as a workhouse.
The ultimate aim was to make sure these price-conscious bikes are not only great value, but that they’re also built to last.
Previous Road Bike of the Year winners…
Now in its 15th year, Bike of the Year is our biggest test and celebrates the crème de la crème of the last year’s bikes.
Previous winners include now-iconic names such as the Giant TCR, Specialized Roubaix and Cannondale SuperSix EVO.
Now the Vitus Venon Evo is the latest bike to join our Bike of the Year Hall of Fame.
- 2022: Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0
- 2021: Boardman SLR 9.4
- 2020: Cannondale SuperSix EVO
- 2019: Rondo HVRT CF0
- 2018: Giant TCR Advanced 2
- 2017: Specialized Roubaix
- 2016: Cannondale CAAD12 105
- 2015: BMC GF01 Disc 105
- 2014: Cannondale Synapse 5 105
- 2013: Giant Defy Advanced 2
- 2012: Focus Izalco Pro 3.0
- 2011: Storck Scenero
- 2010: Cannondale Six Carbon 105
- 2009: Giant TCR