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Cyclingnews tech: How we test

Aaron Borrill testing a Specialized S-Workd Aethos road bike
(Image credit: Chris Sansom)

Here at Cyclingnews, our tech team tests thousands of products every year in an effort to bring you, our readers, the most comprehensive and objective opinions in the industry. There's a range of criteria each product needs to meet before we rate it: this includes pricing, safety, performance, fit, durability and visual appeal, which is assessed both individually and in terms of the broader segment.

We stress test everything from bikes and helmets to clothing, tyres, shoes and lights. And we go to great lengths to ascertain how products perform in the real world too, often during racing or on our designated test routes/protocols. Our test team comprises the best writers in the game - each of whom brings a unique voice with the expertise you can trust. 

Our team lives for riding and testing. We ride on a variety of roads, trails and gravel tracks to ensure everything is stretched to its limits, and, we do so regardless of the weather or time of day - bike lights need to be tested after dark. It's this love and passion for what we do that will make your purchasing decision easier - it's all about trust. 

In all our reviews, features and buyer's guides, we go into considerable detail to validate the scoring of each product out of five stars.

What our scores mean. Star rating explaned

5 Stars: Class leader, very close to flawless

4.5 Stars: Exceptional

4 Stars: One of the best you can buy, a leader in the segment

3.5 Stars: Good but could be better

3 Stars: It will do the job but with a few flaws

2.5 Stars: Mediocre, could definitely improve

2 Stars: Below average

1.5 Stars: Poor

1 Star: Extremely poor

The Cyclingnews pledge

1. Every product listed on Cyclingnews is tested by one of our expert writers - a real cyclist and lover of the outdoors with experience and good standing in the industry.

2. Our reviews are split into three categories: first-look reviews (essentially an unboxing with a full review to follow); quick reviews (often limited time with the product, but enough time to form an early opinion); and full reviews (a comprehensive write-up penned after hours of field testing, research, comparison and real-world testing). 

3. Our opinions can't and will not be bought. All of our reviews are objective and editorially led to ensure the best experience and advice for our readers.

Meet the Cyclingnews test team

Aaron Borrill in Cycling South Africa National Kit
Aaron Borrill

Aaron Borrill is Cyclingnews' tech editor. He has over 16 years worth of experience as a journalist and editor, specialising in cars and bicycles and has the awards to prove his pedigree. He lives and breathes the culture and is competitive by nature.

He rides everything - road, gravel and mountain bikes. He has also raced category 1 on the road, won time trial championships, completed myriad stage races - the Absa Cape Epic, Haute Route Alps and finished on the podium on many of South Africa's most prestigious MTB three-day events. He was recently selected by his federation to race the 2022 UCI Cycling eSports World Championships, proving his all-round ability and love for cycling.

When Aaron shares his opinion on anything cycling product-related, we trust it and recommended you do, too.

View Aaron's full profile.

Josh Croxton, Cyclingnews
Joshua Croxton

Josh is a little newer to the journalism game than Aaron, joining from working in a bike shop in 2019, but his time on two wheels is instilled from a young age, racing cross-country mountain biking aged 13. Nearly two decades later, Josh's riding preferences are more geared towards road and gravel, and his keen eye for detail and analytical mindset help to form fast, yet fair opinions on product performance.

He seeks a data-driven approach to testing, and will regularly be found riding the same route back-to-back with different products in order to test for speed, comfort, any other comparable metric, or simply in order to try to put his finger on exactly what makes one product better - or worse - than another. He'll ride with three computers to compare the GPS drift, multiple heart rate monitors to compare connectivity, and odd shoes, warmers and gloves to directly compare their performance. 

However, in a bid to put products through their paces, he'll also regularly use them in a competitive setting, too. For Josh, racing and competing has been part of it from the very beginning. In those early days, it was the Soggy Bottom winter series at Newnham Park in Devon where, in his very first race, he wore a rash vest - as in, for surfing - and three jumpers to keep warm, before having to stop mid-race to remove a few (not before he'd covered them in mud, of course). 

He quickly learned that equipment is an important part of performance and nowadays, he will happily spend way too much money on marginal gains in a bid to offset his lack of genetic capabilities. 

A white man in a yellow t shirt stands behind a heavily laden tandem at the top of a large hill
Will Jones

Will has been riding only slightly less time than he's been able to walk, and has tried his hand at the majority of cycling disciplines over the years. Previously an industrial geologist, Will has been putting tech and gear through its paces for a number of years and has a discerning eye for what is a gimmick and what will stand the test of time.

When testing he aims to find the useable limit of products; frozen water bottles are not out of the ordinary while testing the battery life of lights in the winter, and emergency bags of ice have been needed on particularly hot summer rides. Having spent several seasons racing cross he has a particular affection for the benefits good tyres can bring to your riding, whether racing or otherwise.

Not content with off the shelf builds, Will has also learnt to design and build his own bikes. This gives him a deep appreciation for the subtle changes in geometry that can set one frame apart from its competitors, and for those elements of bike design that often fly under the radar.

Though he doesn't race bikes regularly his claim to fame is that he was lapped four times by Tom Pidcock while racing 'cross in Yorkshire, and also is the only ever recipient of a 'Missing In Action' in leu of a time in his local TT after getting lost (a marshalling error, he claims).

A group of women cycling towards the camera dressed in the Rapha Women's 100 kit from 2021. Mildred is in the centre, wearing mirrored sunglasses and smiling
Mildred Locke

Despite having a love for all cycling disciplines, Mildred is a utilitarian cyclist at heart, and finds a way to do pretty much everything on two wheels, from shopping, cross-country travelling and even moving house. 

For the past six years she's been involved with The Bristol Bike Project, refurbishing old, donated bikes, and breathing new life into them so they're ready for a new home. Her experience in this area gives her a unique understanding of the longevity of products, cross-compatibility of components, and an approach that's less about consumerism for consumerism's sake. She's interested in tackling the throw-away nature of the cycling industry, by finding and promoting products that do what they promise and will last a long time.

Through her role as co-founder and ride leader of Routing For Ya, a Bristol-based women-led inclusive cycling community, Mildred has a lot of close contact with the key audience for most cycling products. With less focus on five-figure super bikes, she's more interested in commuter bikes, cycling kit that fits a wide range of body shapes and sizes, and products that make everyday cycling more accessible and joyful. She's able to gauge what the majority of consumers really want from products, and considers this in her approach to testing, which focuses on how well something performs its primary function, how accessible it is to the everyday cyclist, and whether it offers true value for money.

View Mildred's profile

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Aaron Borrill
Aaron Borrill

Aaron was the Tech Editor Cyclingnews between July 2019 and June 2022. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. Throughout this career, Aaron has spent almost two decades writing about bikes, cars, and anything else with wheels. Prior to joining the Cyclingnews team, his experience spanned a stint as Gear & Digital editor of Bicycling magazine, as well as a time at TopCar as Associate Editor. 

Now based in the UK's Surrey Hills, Aaron's life revolves around bikes. He's a competitive racer, Stravaholic, and Zwift enthusiast. He’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, completed the Haute Route Alps, and represented South Africa in the 2022 Zwift eSports World Championships.

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

With contributions from