The 2023 Inaugural Panda Podium Awards
With 2023 coming to a close, we thought it was a good time to reflect on the year and recognize the companies and brands that have gone above and beyond this year. Whether it be a great new product, or excellent customer service, we thought we’d give these guys the credit they deserve, and then share this insight with you guys.
We have seven categories; Best Product, Best Innovation, Best Design, Best Marketing, Best Customer Satisfaction, Best Partner and Most Influential brand. So let’s get stuck in.
2023 Panda Podium Best Product of the year Award
The best product award is awarded to the products that we think have brought the most value to customers over the past year. They may be revolutionary in design, performance or value for money. This was the most difficult category as 2023 had so many amazing new products…
Runner Up: HoverAir X1 Flying Camera
The HoverAir X1 Flying Camera is a great addition to any cyclist’s bag of tech. It’s super small and lightweight and folds up to fit in a jersey pocket. Take it out when you get to some good scenery and grab some epic shots and then put it back in your pocket and enjoy the ride. I was impressed with the picture quality for something so small, and the “follow” mode is great for getting some climbing footage.
Runner up: Lameda Starlight Mens Cycling Bib Shorts
The Lameda Starlight Bib Shorts are some of the most comfortable bib shorts out there, and at just $49 – they’re a steal. Each leg is made from a single piece of fabric with no seam, which means less chafing and more all day comfort. They’re a no-brainer for summer rides.
Runner up: Cybrei Carbon Crankset
The Cybrei Carbon Crankset is a worthy upgrade for almost any bike. At just 320g for the crank arms, they’re ridiculously lightweight, but also super stiff. Climber or sprinters will be more than happy with the performance upgrades of these. With options for regular spiders or power meter spiders, these cranksets have been a very popular item on Panda Podium this year.
Price: (From) $462
Runner up: Avian Canary Integrated Handlebar
Avian really knocked it out of the park with this one – an integrated handlebar for the skinny climbers of the world. From just 240g for the bar, this one will shred serious weight off your bike, while looking sleek at the same time. Coming with titanium fasteners as standard makes this a real premium product. The price is also easy to stomach – just $269 for the bar.
Winner of Best Product 2023: CRW CS Wheels
These have been hands-down one of the most popular products on the site this year – and with good reason. The CRW CS wheels (all three flavors) have been flying off the shelves all year round. But why have they been so popular? Well, these wheels are the first of the new “third generation” of carbon spoked wheels. These wheels build upon the progress of previous generations of carbon spoked wheels and manage to improve weight, stiffness and comfort – all at the same time. Their patent-pending dual-threading head design also addresses some of the weaknesses of previous generation carbon spokes – such as spokes coming loose over time. The CRW CS4045 wheels are great for climbers at just 1180g. The CS5060 are the choice for the aero-heads, but still come in at an impressive 1290g. They also seem to glide over poor road surfaces, yet on our stiffness rig had higher lateral stiffness than many of their previous generation carbon spoke competition. A win-win product, and a deserved winner of the 2023 Panda Podium Product of the Year.
2023 Panda Podium Best Innovation of the year Award
The best innovation award is awarded to a product that managed a true breakthrough in the industry. It is awarded to products that are revolutionary in nature, rather than evolutionary.
Runner up: L-TWOO eRX Road Electronic Groupset
When the L-TWOO eRX Debuted this year, it was the first electronic chinese groupset with fully hydraulic disc brakes. Developing the product involved traversing the minefield of patents laid down by both SRAM and Shimano and required some out of the box thinking and innovation by the L-TWOO engineers. The product still has some minor teething issues, but that doesn’t take away from the innovation required to get this product launched.
Runner Up: CYCPLUS Cube Mini Pump
The Cycplus CUBE tire inflator is a great (lazy) alternative to a mini pump. Just press the button and let the pump do the work. Getting this down to such a compact package at a competitive price took some true innovation. Kudos to Cycplus for this one.
Winner of Best Innovation 2023: OVERFAST Carbon Thru Axles
The OVERFAST Carbon Thru Axles have been another very popular product on our website in 2023. It took some serious innovation to solve the bonding between alloy insert and carbon axle, and that’s why this product wins the 2023 innovation of the year award. The patented approach to constructing the thru-axles means there’s both an adhesive bond and a mechanical interface holding the two together.
2023 Panda Podium Best Design of the year Award
The best design award goes to a product that features outstanding design in all aspects of the product. From the aesthetics and the user friendliness through to the packaging.
Runner up: Sixweel 12 speed Lightweight Cassettes
These seriously light cassettes are a work of art. I’d happily put a few on a coffee table as conversation starters, but that would be a waste when they could be on my bikes. The beautiful design, machining and packaging all combine to a well designed product. Congratulations to Sixweel.
Runner Up: VIAK Kobold Bar End Tools
A compact, discreet toolset that lives in your bar ends. Brilliant. VIAK excel at design, and it shows in both the product design and the packaging. This toolset has 3mm, 4mm, 5mm hex tool bits as well as a TORX T25. In the other bar end there’s a chain breaker tool that can also hold a quick link. Great for those who don’t like saddle bags.
Runner up: VoiceVelo G-Major Gravel Frame
The Voicevelo G-Major is a design tour de force. Every aspect of the frame has been designed with love, from the geometry to the paintjobs, but it goes beyond that. The packaging, the accessories, etc, have all been designed with care and attention; a somewhat rarity in the Chinese bike frame space.
Winner of the 2023 Best Design Award: Incolor Skypivot Carbon Crankset
Incolor got their roots in the bike industry as a design company – and it shows. Their approach to product design is different to the usual engineering-first, design-second approach of other brands. Incolor instead balancing the two in a careful ballet of form and function. Every aspect of the Skypivot cranks, from the product to the packaging falls easy on the eyes… the fact they’re so light and ride so well is an added bonus.
Price: (from) $380
2023 Panda Podium Best Marketing Award
We think it’s important to recognize the marketing efforts of these brands. “Made in China” has long had a negative connotation and this will only change through unified marketing efforts of several brands. We commend these brands for not only making good products, but telling the world about them.
Runner Up: Yoeleo Bikes
This year Yoeleo have been doubling down on their marketing efforts. As well as appearing on ‘mainstreaming’ cycling media such as GCN, they also enjoyed some viral success with their ‘gold’ aero bike. It’s great to see companies put effort into the brand as well as the products.
Price: (from) $879
Runner up: PMT Helmets
While mostly unknown in the west, PMT have been making strides in the domestic Chinese market. They have had some new collab projects with famed designers and are now starting to branch out into the west, with their brand gaining more and more traction on social media.
Winner of the 2023 Best Marketing Award: SCOM Wheels
SCOM come from a motorsports background and use the same ethos when developing their bike products. It’s great to see them expressing this through their marketing. In particular, their strong emphasis on product development through racing. Their sponsorship of 7 high end teams (5 being UCI Continental teams) shows their dedication to this cause.
Price: (From $1299)
2023 Panda Podium Best Customer Satisfaction Award
This award is for the brand that goes above and beyond in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. Making sure that every customer gets a great experience, and also going out of their way to put things right should things go wrong.
Runner up: SERK Bikes
As a boutique brand, SERK have a small but loyal customer base, a very “whos who” of the cycling world. Former world tour riders, cycling journalists, and industry veterans to name a few. Once you own a SERK, the chance of you ever parting with it are fairly slim…Unless you upgrade to another SERK. Shannon and his team go above and beyond to make sure customer satisfaction is met. Kudos to them.
Price: (from) $2426
Winner of the 2023 Best Customer Satisfaction Award: Farsports
Farsports have been in the “Chinese carbon wheel” business for one of the longest. They have somewhat of a cult following amongst enthusiasts and you’ll find plenty of people singing their praises on forums like WeightWeenies. With over a decade of selling direct to consumer, there are tens of thousands of satisfied customers out there. We love their customer-first attitude and are proud to sell them on Panda Podium.
Price: (from) $239
2023 Panda Podium Best Partner Award
This award is for brands that have grown a great partnership with us over the past year. Usually due to sharing our core values of great customer service, transparent communication and honesty.
Runner up: XCADEY
XCADEY make great products at great prices, but furthermore, they’re great to work with. Their estimates are usually accurate, they’re quick to send stock, and they’re great to communicate and find a resolution if something goes wrong.
Price: (from) $329
Runner up: Velonuts Cycling Wear
Velonuts have been a big supporter of Panda Podium since day one. They even hooked us up with some cool t-shirts. They have the same attitude as us to many aspects of business, they put the customer first and strive to make the best products possible. We’re looking forward to working with them in 2024!
Price: (from) $88
Runner up: 9Velo wheels
Ninevelo are new to the scene, but they mean business. With a focus on solid hubs, they immediately take aim at what has traditionally been a weak spot for many Chinese wheel brands. Their great communication and prompt deliveries makes them one of our best partners.
Price: (from) $799
Winner of the 2023 Best Partner Award: RideNow Tech
Ridenow didn’t invent the TPU innertube, but they have certainly taken it mainstream and made it reachable for the everyday cyclist. As well as making kick ass products, they’re a great company to work with. They’re forward-thinking and environmentally responsible. Having similar values to us has brought us much success in 2023, and we’re looking forward to more in 2024!
Price: (from) $48
2023 Panda Podium Most Influential Brand Award
When a brand grows they gain influence over the industry as a whole. In the western markets, many large brands use their influence to steer consumers towards new trends. However, many big brands also use this influence to slowly raise prices and lower customer expectations. This award is for a brand that has great influence and is using it for good in the industry.
Magene has had tremendous growth over the past few years, and rightfully so. Their dedication to making high quality, affordable products has led to great success. They’ve grown to become a brand with many product lines and strong reach throughout the industry. This reach has brought them great influence which they use to promote their products. With products that make people faster, fitter and safer, we applaud their vast influence and look forward to seeing how they change the industry in 2024.
Price: (from) $129