Canyon's Ultimate CF SL 9.0 road bike scores highly on our Shimano Ultegra group bike test, let's see how it gets on...
For the last couple of years, Joaquim Rodriguez has topped the UCI’s World Tour rankings aboard a Canyon.
In terms of marketing, Canyon seems to have it well and truly sewn up. What’s more, the brand’s visibility is becoming more prominent, as two WorldTour teams, Katusha and Movistar, are competing on Canyon bikes in top-flight races this year.
Canyon isn’t available in shops; it retails direct to the public via its website. The bikes are prepared and dispatched from the Canyon facility in Germany, while manufacturing takes place in Taiwan.
Operating in this way cuts out distributor costs and offers the public more bike for their buck. The downside is that you can’t sit astride the bike on a shop floor to ascertain the right size; you must do so virtually, using Canyon’s Perfect Positioning System fitting guide. The Ultimate CF SL comes in seven sizes, ranging from XS through to 3XL.
The frame geometry is the same as that of the Ultimate being ridden by the likes of Alex Dowsett, but the CF SL 9.0’s carbon layup is slightly different, and it’s a shade heavier than the team issue SLX version. At a claimed 6.95kg (our demo came in just over at 7.1kg), it is the lightest bike out of the four in this test — and not far off the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg.
Weight is kept low by Canyon’s top-quality build, and by the frame, which features internal cable routing, asymmetric chainstays and VCLS Technology. VCLS (Vertical Comfort Lateral Stiffness) refers to the stays and how they work in conjunction with the VCLS seatpost to provide greater comfort. Further weight has been shifted by using carbon dropouts and a carbon bearing seat in the bottom bracket.
The Ultegra groupset runs throughout the bike, and a Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheelset, shod with Mavic Kysion Pro tyres, provides the rolling stock. The Ultimate CF SL 9.0 has also been kitted out with a Ritchey WCS Evo Curve handlebar and matching Ritchey WCS stem.
This build quality is reflected in the bike’s aesthetics as well as how it feels on the road. The colourway shown is what Canyon refers to as Shark Silver and Kyan. The Kyan blue features inside the fork and chainstays and is matched by the graphics of the Mavic wheels. The resulting good looks belie this bike’s modest price tag.The ride quality, too, punches above its price point. Erring slightly more to the race market, yet offering all-day comfort, the Ultimate CF SL 9.0 is a true all-rounder. It’s that rare thing, an affordable thoroughbred.