2023 was a banner year for tech and events. Many new products paved the way for more fun on the bike and safer ways to explore the world on two wheels.
Nevertheless, only a few products left a lasting impression on me, earning a spot on my Editor’s Choice list. These products continued to get me stoked well beyond the review period. My selection is a variety of items, including road gear, tires, shoes, and even a new (to me) race thrown in for good measure.
About Jordan Villella
As a bit of get-to-know-me, I’m the road, cross-country mountain, and cyclocross race guy here at BikeRumor. I like to race my bike, but I have as much fun cruising around with the family.
I gravitate to the performance side of cycling gear; I love new ways to squeeze every watt out of an effort. For some reason, I’m slightly obsessed with tires (especially cyclocross ones) and love the smell of Mastik in the morning.
After years of racing and riding, I never get sick of the preseason shuffle. Checking out new training tools, dialing in schedules, and obsessing about small stuff.
This year, I spent lots of time trying to get more butts on bikes, especially with kids in our community. Working with local organizations like Communicycle and hosting gear drives, we got a few more kids pedaling this season. I spent lots of time testing gear and hosting cyclocross practices at our local course at Hollow Oak Land Trust. In a nutshell, 2023 has been all about community, and it’s been great.
In a change of events this year, I was more excited for my kid’s races than my own. Feeling their nervous excitement and wonder of what’s to come was another level of stoke for me and my love of the sport. I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings. Until then, I’m enjoying some fun rides, downtime, and lots of hockey.
Thank you for reading, commenting, and contributing to our world here at Bike Rumor — now, on to my favorite gear of the year!
Jordan Villella – Gear of the Year
Best Event: Paris to Ancaster
I kicked off my gravel season with a race I had earmarked for years. For 2023, the schedule stars finally aligned, and so did the classic spring weather. Paris to Ancaster is Canada’s spring classic, and this year, it was host to the Canadian National Gravel Championships. The race is in its 30th year, but the cobbled roads and gravel paths are much older.
The course is everything a rider like me wants in a gravel race. It starts like a full-on cyclocross race — get the holeshot and own it. When the excitement (and nerves) chill, riders make their way on the road to the many gravel sectors. Each one hosts a different adventure for the riders, maybe some gravel or maybe cobbles. The gravel sectors are split with cyclocross-style field riding, some single-track, and end with world cup-worthy mud chutes.
The event production was professional, and I felt supremely safe on the course. The vehicle traffic was managed thoughtfully, and fans lined the road, giving you the extra push (mentally). For 2023, the riders were treated to the complete classics experience. The weather was cold, with a slight rain; the fields were muddy, and gears were grinding. Noone had it easy, and yet, we were having fun. I had such a blast last year, and I plan on attending in 2024; hopefully, I’ll see you there!
Best All-Road Bike: Mosaic RT-1 ITR
The Mosaic RT-1 ITR is a forever bike, and I rarely get them in my review stream. I call it a ‘forever bike’ because I can’t see needing more or this timeless frame losing its appeal. I was lucky to spend a lot of time on this machine during the spring, and the lively ride has me questioning my current carbon commitments.
Mosaic’s RT-1 ITR is an all-road design, each made to order. The frame is crafted from custom T3A/2.5V double-butted titanium tube sets. The geometry is enough to dabble in everything road, but it’s more endurance than sharp steering.
The 35mm max tire clearance is generous on the svelte looking frame. Paired with 32mm file treads, the RT-1 rolls like a dream, but can handle its own when the road dissipates. The RT-1 has fully internal cable routing thanks to an Enve bar, stem headset combo. The updated routing accentuates the clean, classic lines of the frame and allows the titanium to come forward. I like the raw finish of our review model, coupled with the glossy Enve and Shimano Dura-Ace kit. The matching carbon fork with the titanium paint finish knocked it out of the park for me, this bike is a dream.
Best Gravel Bike: Ventum GS1
The Ventum GS1 was my first reviewed bike for 2023, and the impressions stayed with me all year. Rarely do you get a bike that feels so dialed right off the bat, especially coming straight from ‘cross-season. The GS1, however, has an aggressive feel with a balanced geometry that walks the fine line in the need to carve corners and feel confident on descents.
The 40mm tire clearance seemed more (way more) than adequate for the roads and gravel I frequent. However, the new GS1 frame handles itself more like an endurance road design and less like a monster truck. Plus, the updated presentation of the bike is very mature. Ventum’s updated one-piece bar/stem combo is easy to adjust and has the right bit of compliance for weary hands.
If you’re a rider looking for the best bang for your buck on a bike, the Ventum GS1 comes in builds from SRAM AXS Apex ($3,000) to SRAM AXS Red ($8,000).
Best Cyclocross Bike: Canyon Inflite
I spent most (all) my time on the Canyon Inflite CF for cyclocross season and some gravel. Many companies are pushing their ‘cross bikes into double duty as gravel bikes. Doing away with purebred cyclocross machines. Canyon is one of the few manufacturers to keep a full-on cyclocross race bike in their catalog. They also have an assortment of gravel machines.
The Inflite is nothing short of awesome between the tape and anywhere unpaved. The geometry is fast turning on the ‘cross course and feels stable laying down the watts. The mix of speed, comfort, compliance and creativity (the shoulder bump) push the Inflite into another category of CX race machine. The build for my review model is the MVDP special edition. It comes with Shimano Di2 setup; GRX shifters, GRX rear derailleur, Ultegra Di2 2x front derailleur and a Ultegra crankset armed with a 4iiii powermeter. The build is well thought out and perfect for racing the World Cups or your local cross scene. I can’t imagine a better cyclocross bike (or build) for the demands of modern ‘cross.
Best Saddle: Cadex Amp
The Cadex Amp saddle is race-focused and a super comfortable piece of gear. Those two ideas rarely coincide; when they do, it’s magic. Now, all saddles are different, and even the “best saddle” can be problematic to some riders. But if you’re a short-nose, powerful position saddle rider, the AMP should be on your list.
It has a similar feel to the Specialized Power but with a slightly wider nose and more hip freedom. The weight is a seriously light 129g, with a Cadex guarantee on the carbon and rails. The price reflects the performance, but this is your saddle if you value less weight and high comfort.
Best CX Tire: Challenge Flandrien
The Flandrien tire rounded out the mud tire offerings for Challenge in 2023 but also gave the cyclocross world a true rut performer. The new Flandrien tubular is a mix between the popular Baby Limus tread and reminiscent of popular mud designs. I love how the tire feels on a frozen course or with active rain.
The tread is open and sheds mud quickly but has a tightly spaced center line. The combination is fast and grippy, especially when diving into ruts. The round profile of the Flandrien offers traction throughout, especially in off-camber or falling sections of the trail. It is highly recommended for riders looking for a fast mud tire that has a wide condition performance range.
Best Road Tire: Vittoria Corsa Control
The Corsa Control is my favorite road tire, hands down, and it has been since its launch. Never has a tubeless tire felt so plush (like tubular) with all the benefits of a tubeless system.
I prefer the Corsa Contol in a 28 or 30mm. It’s like getting the best of both worlds: fast rolling and suspension-like suppleness.
Best Trainer Upgrade: Zwift Play
I spend a lot of time on the trainer, especially in the winter. I was super excited when Zwift dropped the Zwift Play controllers. Like most, I run Zwift off my laptop, and the unit sits intentionally far away to combat sweat and the like. With the new Play controller, I could adjust my workouts without running to the laptop with sweaty hands and it’s easier than ever to give a ‘ride-on’. I also used it for turning, braking, and all-around navigation. It’s not a “must have,” but if you’re an indoor interval or early morning trainer kinda rider, I highly suggest it.
Best Off-Bike Accessory – Kane Revive Shoes
I’m a guy who likes an easy on/off shoe for race days and travel. I came across the Kane Revive shoe, and it’s been my dedicated race day/airplane shoe ever since. The shoe is Made in Brazil from sugarcane-based EVA foam and feels like a squishy croc.
The shoe securely wraps around your foot but is lightweight and breezy. Does it help with recovery… maybe? But it does help when you’re getting your shoes on/off for pre-rides or cleaning up after a muddy race. Plus, they come in many colors, enough to match any kit or what have you.
I wish you all a fantastic 2024 filled with no rolled tubulars, an easy tubeless setup, no (or fewer) flats, and lots of fun on the bike!
These products were chosen purely on their technical merits and for the above reasons. More great products passed through my hands in 2023. Under no circumstances were any of my picks paid for by their producers. Nor was any preference or favor given to any brand or advertiser. My selections are limited to products I’ve spent time riding/testing in person. A brand’s willingness to invite Bikerumor to join a launch event or to provide product samples can make it more likely that we will have considered their products, if only because we can share our natural, firsthand experiences.