Cycling Weekly tech: how we test products

A look at how CW's tech team arrives at the scores on the doors

How we test
(Image credit: Future)

How Cycling Weekly tests products

Cycling in itself is beautifully simple, but the sheer range of products out there can be dizzying.

Having plenty of choice is a positive thing – there are bikes, clothing and accessories for every need and bank balance. The flipside is it can be a genuine challenge to find your perfect needle in the haystack, especially when it’s filled with other needles, which may be perfect for someone else, but aren’t quite what you’re looking for.

That's where we come in. Since Cycling Weekly’s inception way back in 1891, we’ve provided expert, impartial advice to our audience, based on product tests carried out by and for cyclists. You can read more about our story and the early years here.

How we score products

With test products covering such a wide variety of applications, our testing protocols depend on the category in question. For example, a bike is rated based upon its frame construction, serviceability, weight, specification, ride quality, and whether it would meet the needs of the expected rider.

Key parameters for a power-meter are reliability, connectivity, ease of charging, day-to-day use and ease of fitting, whilst clothing reviews look for fit, weatherproofing and breathability as well as durability. 

In all our reviews, we finely detail the balance of performance, quality and price – alongside those category-specific considerations – and how those combine to result in our final score...

Our commitments to you

1) Our products are only tested by committed cyclists with years of experience – we believe that’s gives a deeper insight than that of outdoor-generalists or fitness-enthusiasts

2) When we say we’ve reviewed a product, that means we’ve ploughed the hours in on familiar roads or trails

3) Manufacturers can’t pay for a good review – we keep complete editorial integrity

5 stars:      Superb, best in its class and we couldn’t fault it

4.5 stars:   Excellent, a slight change and it would be perfect

4 stars:      Solid product, could be improved

3.5 stars:   Fine, but there are better alternatives

3 stars:      Passable, a few niggles let this down

2.5 stars:   Acceptable, needs improvement

2 stars:      Functions, but disappointing

1.5 stars:   Poor, approach with caution

1 star:        Extremely poor, barely worked or simply didn’t

Who reviews products?

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan – Tech Editor 

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

(Image credit: Future)

A traditional journalist by trade, Cycling Weekly’s Tech Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan started her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles. She’s since combined the two, with a flourishing career in cycling journalism.

When neither typing nor testing, Michelle is an avid road racer and keen track cyclist – also dabbling in the occasional time trial. Off the tarmac, she’s at home on both mountain and ‘gravel’ bikes – each having their strengths and weaknesses on the chalky hills of the South Downs.

A passionate supporter of grassroots women’s racing, she founded the women’s road race team 1904rt and earnt her Cat 1 racing licence in 2019.

View Michelle's full profile here

Simon Smythe – Senior Tech Writer

Simon Smythe

(Image credit: Future)

Cycling Weekly’s Senior Tech Writer, Simon Smythe, has occupied a range of roles since he first joined in 2003. The first of which was as a sub editor for the magazine, following his MA in online journalism (and yes, that was just after the dot-com bubble burst).

Simon has mostly focused on time trialling throughout his cycling career, with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a lot more time riding and testing road bikes – as well as doing the school run on a tandem with his younger son.

View Simon's full profile here

Stefan Abram – Tech Writer

Stefan

(Image credit: Future)

B.G. (Before Gravel), Stefan was a mountain biker, riding the tracks and trails of Sussex – and subsequently – Kent, where he went on to complete an MA in Multimedia Journalism and earn his NCTJ accreditation.

He’s long since swapped flat bars for curly ones and is always on the lookout for a new challenge. Last year, he Everested in under 12 hours and rode the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road, and virtually, his only win of any significance was the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.

View Stefan's full profile here

Hannah Bussey – Tech Writer

Hannah Bussey

(Image credit: Future)

Having occupied the role since 2011, Hannah Bussey is currently Cycling Weekly’s longest serving Tech Writer. She’s got an eye for detail, having covered multiple seasons of the Spring Classics and Grand Tours, for both print and the website. 

Prior to joining CW, Hannah was a successful road and track racer, competing in UCI races across the world. She’s taken to start lines in China, Pakistan, New Zealand and most of Europe. 

For fun, she’s won a 24-hour mountain bike race, ridden LEJOG unaided, completed a lap of Majorca in a day and tackled famous mountain passes across the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and the Himalayas. Now living just outside the Peak District National Park, near Manchester, UK, with her partner and daughter, along with a small – but perfectly formed – bike collection

View Hannah's full profile here

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Rob Spedding

Rob has been Content Director of Cycling Weekly - and stablemates Bikeperfect, Cyclingnews.com and MBR - since May 2021. Before that he spent two years in similar role at Bikeradar, which followed 12-years as Editor-in-chief of Cycling Plus magazine and eight years at Runner's World. In his time as a cycling journalist he's ridden from London to Paris at least twice, London to Bristol once, completed the Fred Whitton Challenge, L'Etape du Tour and Maratona dles Dolomites. He's also jumped into the broom-wagon at La Marmotte and Oetzaler Radmarathon.