Going, going, gone… a full test of the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 Di2 reveals that this is one seriously fast bike
The new Canyon Aeroad is a hot bike right now — customers are on a waiting list and the German factory is working overtime to get the huge backlog of orders out of the door. This model, the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 Di2, is the only test bike available in the UK at the moment, and we got our hands on it for a precious few weeks of riding.
Our aim for those weeks was to push the bike hard through heavy rain and strong winds to see whether it will be worth the wait for patient UK customers who have one on order. And here’s what we found out…
The new shape of the Aeroad is the spiritual and technical birth child of the Speedmax CF TT bike, and the lightweight climber that is the Ultimate CF SLX. According to design engineer Michael Adomeit, it’s the culmination of many years’ experience of working on both bikes, and because of that, receives some advantages of both.
We say some, because the top level Aeroad can’t quite match the overall low weight of Canyon’s climbing bike. The top of the range £5,899 Aeroad 9.0 LTD weighs in at 6.85kg, which isn’t bad, but the highest spec Ultimate CF SLX is 500g lighter — although that is the Movistar professional level spec, and will cost you an eye watering £7,299.
The advantages handed down from the other parent bike, the Speedmax CF, are obvious at first glance: the massive rear wheel fairing and tidy cable routing are present and correct.
Canyon has worked a lot on the old Aeroad tube shapes. That design was so distinctive that it had its own name — Trident tubing — and this version of the new Aeroad CF SLX takes the moniker on to the next digit, with Trident 2.0.
One of Canyon’s top priorities when creating the Aeroad CF SLX was stiffness, because a stiff bike is often a fast one. To that rigid end, the bottom bracket was singled out for an upgrade, and it seems like it was a success — you can feel the stiffness instantly when you set off at speed.
Stiffness is one thing, but aerodynamics is another. It spent long enough in the wind tunnel to justify the name – Aeroad – and there’s enough science to back up the company’s claims that this bike is fast. The curved seat tube and the junction above, where it joins the seat stays, are markedly improved, but everywhere across the bike, from the headtube to the rear wheel drop outs, the frame has been crafted for speed.
Without the beautifully smooth Aerocockpit handlebar, the 7.0 Di2 instead comes with Canyon’s own-brand stem and bar combination. These components are all new, developed only recently at Canyon HQ and, as yet, not available to purchase separately from the bike.
The squared-off stem, known as the ‘V13’, is reminiscent of Fizik’s Cyrano, which was also developed relatively recently. We’ll see if other manufacturers follow suit with this shape of design in the future, but Canyon has carried out painstaking testing and has obviously concluded it offers something over a regular round profile.
The ‘H16 Aero’ handlebar doesn’t look particularly aero, but it is smart and light enough to match the rest of the spec on offer.
The direct mount brakes are an easily overlooked improvement. Instead of a single bolt attaching the brake caliper through the centre of the fork, or the seat stay bridge, two bolts are required, one on the left and the other on the right.
For the rear brake, each bolt is mounted to the seatstay, removing the need for a bridge at all. The solution offers a far more solid mounting point, with stiffer attachment and less flex through the caliper under braking. To us, it’s surprising that more manufacturers haven’t started using it because the performance is excellent.
Modulation and stopping power are both top drawer. The Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset hasn’t missed a beat yet, and we’ve seen it on quite a few bikes now. Here, matched to Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels, the performance was first class yet again.
The Aeroad Range
The Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 Di2 weighs a very respectable 7.15kg, and will cost you £3,299. It’s second up the ladder on a range of seven bikes.
Prices start with a mechanical Shimano Ultegra specification, at £2699, called the 7.0. The 7.0 Di2, comes, as you’d guess, equipped with an Ultegra Di2 electronic groupset.
Next up is the 8.0 Di2, which is similarly specced with Ultegra electronic, but with a set of faster-looking Reynolds Strike wheels, and Canyon’s impressive Aerocockpit CF one piece handlebar.
Above that, the range becomes gradually more expensive, and lighter, from the 9.0, through the 9.0 SL, to the 9.0 Team Katusha edition (painted in team colours of course), and finally finishing at the £5,899 9.0 LTD.
The Aeroad isn’t a bike made for every cyclist. Its stiff persona, aerodynamic creation and low front end make it an ideal bike for the speed demons. That’s not to say it won’t suit the weekend meander, but forget about a ‘sit up and beg’ front end — this thing really wants to be ridden fast, whether in a race or not.
We’ll start with the stiffness, because it’s the first thing you feel when you ride the Aeroad CF SLX. The feedback is instant and endless, but it isn’t uncompromising. The ride still manages to be forgiving, and harshness only rears its head on terrible tarmac roads.
During acceleration the bike responds instantly, but thanks to the ‘pro-geometry’ it doesn’t kick or protest at all at the front or rear. Typically German you might say, but the whole thing feels very efficient, and that’s something you want when you buy a bike designed to go fast.
Once up to speed the aerodynamic profile takes over, and it constantly feels as if the Aeroad is ticking along a couple of miles per hour higher than you might normally be; it holds speed very well. It encourages the rider to give as good as they’ve got, and in all but exceptional circumstances, the performance of the Aeroad will match anything you care to throw at it.
Mavic’s Cosmic Carbone SLE wheelset help keep the momentum, but stopping also comes easily for a set of deep section wheels. The new Exalith 2 aluminium rim is a squealer (until they’re bedded in anyway), but the stopping power, even in wet conditions, was excellent.
We were sad to miss the potential benefit of Canyon’s Aerocockpit one-piece handlebar and stem, but we didn’t have any complaints about Canyon’s H16 handlebar and V13 stem that came equipped on the 7.0 Di2 model. The Aerocockpit will cost you an extra £300 (you also get an upgraded wheelset for the money) for the next model up in the range, the 8.0 Di2.
Aero performance aside, the shape and stiffness were good enough for us. As Canyon’s first foray into front end finishing kit we have to say we’re impressed with its subtle neatness.
For more information visit the Canyon website.
Watch the video to see if an aero road bike really is quicker
Customers waiting for their brand new Aeroads will be happy once they finally arrive. We only had the pleasure of a few weeks with ours, but we most definitely didn’t want to send it back.