One of the annual traditions of Cyclocross Magazine is reflecting back on a year filled with reviewing products and award those that struck us as the best of the best in the realms of cyclocross, gravel and cycling gear. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be releasing all of the awards one day at a time. Be sure to keep checking back to see what products are most worth your hard-earned dollars. Issue 28 also has the Editors’ Awards and the Readers’ Choice awards, so be sure to order your backcopy today, which is also available on Uberflip, in the App Store on iTunes, and on Google Play for Android.

Shimano's older RT98 140mm Icetech rotors and RS785 hydraulic brakes. No thru axle here. © Armin M. Küstenbrück

Mathieu van der Poel uses Shimano’s RT98 140mm Icetech rotors and RS785 hydraulic brakes. © Armin M. Küstenbrück

We have unveiled several component awards already, including SRAM Rival 22 as the Best Affordable Race Group and the SRAM CX1 as the Best Racing Component Group. The last group that remains for our 2015 Editors’ Award is our Best Dream Component Group (won by the SRAM Force 22 group in 2014).

Gone are the days when Shimano’s full groupsets could be briefly labeled by the tiers of Dura-Ace, Ultegra, 105, etc. However, even though the designations have become a little more complex, we won’t hesitate unveiling our 2015 Editors’ Choice Award for the Best Dream Component Group, which goes to the combination of Shimano R785 Shifters, RS785 brake calipers and an Ultegra Di2 drivetrain.

We’ve seen the combination on countless builds, including the group that comes with the 2015 Raleigh RXC Pro Disc as well as the sponsored riders on Raleigh-Clement. The Dura-Ace version was seen on plenty of top four riders in each race at the 2015 Cyclocross World Championships.

Between electronic shifting and one of the best hydraulic braking systems, this group is the one to have if you have to have it all. We’ve called Shimano’s Di2 “Magic Shift” before, and we stand by that, especially at the end of a grueling cyclocross race when the last thing a rider wants to do is fight against cable friction. Even better, with additional shifting buttons that can be placed near the drops or the tops, a rider can seek out their favorite handlebar location without worrying about shifting.

The Ultegra lever is desigined to provide the best power for the least amount of pull. Photo courtesy of Shimano

The Ultegra lever is desigined to provide the best power for the least amount of pull. Photo courtesy of Shimano

Sure, the complete system might come with a small weight penalty compared to other component groups out there, but if a rider is serious about a full dream build, they can easily save that weight in other areas. And for those single chainring converts out there who believe that a front derailleur shouldn’t belong on a choice dream group for cyclocross, there are always solutions for that, including the build of Katerina Nash’s World Cup-Winning Orbea.

Shimano R785 Di2 Hydraulic Brake/Shift Levers and RS785 calipers ($699.99)
Shimano Ultegra 6800 46/36 Crankarm ($319.99)
Shimano Ultegra Di2 6870 Rear Derailleur 11-SPD ($259.99)
Shimano Ultegra Di2 6870 Front Derailleur Braze-On ($259.99)
Shimano Ultegra 6800 Cassette 11-28 ($64.99)
Shimano Ultegra 6800 Chain ($39.99)

More info:

Be sure to keep checking back to our Readers’ and Editors’ Award Pages for day by day updates.