Similar to Aaron, my riding journey, which has spanned just over 20 years, has crossed the complete spectrum of cycling. I started as a mountain biker before taking up road riding primarily for fitness reasons. Cyclo-cross and even triathlon have formed a big part, and more recently gravel has become a big focus. Despite the variety of my riding, one thing has always remained, and 2022 was no exception. I enjoy racing and simply going fast.
Within off.road.cc I have become more focused on testing gravel and cross-country-style equipment, and with my local riding area comprising Mid Wales, that suits this style so well, I am fortunate to have a vast space for my riding and plenty of amazing stop-over points for bivvy or bothy overnight trips.
I haven’t quite managed to hit Aaron’s impressive riding distance (almost 25,000km which you can read about in his gear of the year), but I have still managed a personal high of 20,500km. Within this I have taken on several events and challenges, both on and off-road and I have used these to test much of the kit reviewed.
Although I love racing and simply riding fast, I completely understand that this is not everyone's main focus. I believe this is clear in all of my kit reviews and features, where strength, comfort, and reliability are all taken into account.
My top picks are all parts that have stood up to serious distances and challenges, not letting me down at all. Signing off from 2022 it has been a year with some incredible riding, much of which has been aided by the parts used.
Best component: Repente Artax GLM saddle
Repente_Artax_GLM_channel.JPG, by Matt Page
As a product and bike tester, I am used to riding with different saddles fitted, and it is
rarely a problem as I seem to have a tolerance for different shapes, widths and
styles. Because of this saddles rarely stand out, but the Repente Artax GLM was the
From the very start of the first test ride, it simply felt fantastic, with
a superb shape that made for a very comfortable ride. It is classed as a gravel
saddle but following the test, I purchased an extra saddle for my road bike and used
it to complete the 1,525km non-stop London Edinburgh London audax ride – and
finished with no discomfort whatsoever.
Best wheelset: Parlee Sky Ridge carbon wheelset
Parlee_Sky_Ridge_Carbon_Wheelset_Main.JPG, by Matt Page
Of all the components, I think wheels are the area where the term 'diminishing returns'
most applies. You can get a really nice set of alloy rims for under £500,
but that doesn’t mean you can’t still appreciate a beautiful high-end pair of carbon
wheels. The Parlee Sky Ridge wheels offer a brilliant mix of low weight, but good
stiffness when cornering combined with Industry Nine hubs that I absolutely loved.
The hubs have instant pick-up from the six-pawl, 120-point engagement and a freehub
noise that I loved. Don’t just look at the big brand offerings, if you have the budget for
a top-end set of wheels, check these out.
Best eye protection: Smith Flywheel
As little as five years ago, I wasn’t a glasses wearer on the bike. Everything I had tried
would steam up on climbs, get streaks on the lens when sweating and never seemed
to have the right lens for the conditions. They might not be a new model, but after
using the Flywheel glasses from Smith quickly became something I wore on every
They fit in a way that you don’t notice them, with full coverage to protect against
insects and debris, but despite not having any vents in the design, they never seem
to fog up. The only downside is the lens is not swappable, but the standard lens I
have fitted seems to suit a wide range of light conditions that makes them a fit and
forget item to have with you.
Best tryes: Schwalbe G-One RS tyre
I admit it, I am obsessed with tyres. I just enjoy seeing how different tyres perform over the terrain they are designed for, but some go beyond what you expect. Last year the Schwalbe G-One R was impressive, but Schwalbe has surpassed that with the RS model.
I tested the tyre in 45mm size and it felt like the fastest but also most communicative tyre that I have used on a gravel bike. It rolls very well on all surfaces and gives a level of feedback that enables you to carry confidence through the corners. It might look slick, but the grip it provides is way more than you would expect, and the pair of tyres stayed on the bike through autumn until the heavy rain arrived in November.
It probably isn’t the most durable tyre, and given it is designed for racing I think that is to be expected, but throughout testing, I didn’t suffer a puncture that didn’t seal. Simply put, it’s the best gravel bike tyre I have ever used – and I have tested quite a few!
Best bike: Lauf Seigla
Matt Page Lauf Seigla, by Matt Page
The Lauf Seigla is a bike that has taken me on so many rides and adventures this year,
and I absolutely love it. After a certain GCN presenter pinched my FKT on the 350km
King Alfred’s Way route in April, I used the Lauf Seigla to take the time back, riding the bike for only the second time.
The bike simply ticks every box you could wish for on a gravel bike; a leaf-sprung fork that makes downhills and bumpy tracks much faster, the option to use massive tyres, and all the mounts you could need for big adventures.
And all of this comes in a very lightweight overall package. For me, the past adventures are still only just beginning with this bike, as I have a few other long routes planned, and after someone else has taken the FKT on the King Alfred’s Way in September by just 10 minutes, I need to head back there for yet another go...
Best item of clothing: Apidura Racing Hydration Vest
Apidura Racing Hydration Vest Rear.JPG, by Matt Page
This is not exactly an item of clothing, although you could say it is worn. The Apidura Racing Hydration vest is something I often grab for longer rides, and not just for gravel riding. It offers enough space for a few tools and some food for a long ride and plenty of handy pouches for easy access. It is minimal and very comfortable and when you don’t need to carry a huge amount, less is definitely more.
Best accessory: Tubolight EVO gravel tyre insert
Despite having tested and used quite a few different tyre inserts over the last few years, they aren't something that I have chosen to use on my wheels in general. This is due to all of them usually being more difficult to fit and with so many tyre changes when testing, it can be a hassle.
But the Tubolight EVO inserts that are sized for gravel tyres changed that, and they have been the easiest to fit, while also being extremely lightweight and giving enough support to the tyre. Since testing them, I have used them on all the new tyres fitted to my main gravel bike.
Best bike light - Exposure MaXx-D Sync mk4
Exposure Lights MaXx-D Sync Mk4 Front Light, by Suvi Loponen
I have been using Exposure lights for at least 13 years and they have never let me
down. Exposure keeps pushing the boundaries of tech and the latest Maxx-D Mk4
has a crazy 4400 lumens on max power, but it also delivers with a beam quality and spread
that makes night riding so much fun. The self-enclosed design and fantastic mount
make it so easy to use and charge with enough battery power to take on any night
Object of Desire – Trek Supercaliber 9.9
2021 trek supercaliber 9.9 xx1 + XTr.png, by Liam Mercer
My current mountain bike is a Scott carbon hardtail and, while it is fine and I don’t
really need to change it, if I could pick anything the Trek Supercaliber is a bike I
would love to own – and of course, as an object of desire the top-spec version would
I really enjoy riding hardtail bikes, and even though a good full suspension might be
faster on some downhills, the short 60mm travel IsoStrut I think would offer enough
rear travel to take the edge off some bigger hits and make for a faster ride downhill,
but keeping the overall bike light and fast for the climbs.