Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0

We hit the streets to see if Canyon has created a roadie with a heart of TT gold. But is i…

We hit the streets to see if Canyon has created a roadie with a heart of TT gold. But is it versatile enough for triathletes to fall in love with? 220 finds out

When was the last time you bought cycling parts out of a trailer on the side of a road? Surely not the greatest business model. But hey, that was the 80s. Brothers Roman (Canyon CEO) and Franc Arnold made quite the team in 1985 with Roman racing as a junior and Franc spruiking Italian bike products to the crowds. Not many companies have an origin story quite like it. Soon, the business grew into a bricks-and-mortar store, and by 1994 it was selling mountain bike frames under the incredibly original name ‘Radical’. By 1996, under the leadership of Roman, the first Canyon branded bike was born.

Fast forward to 2016 and we’re tearing along the beaches of Bondi, test riding the brand new Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0, Canyon’s newly overhauled aerodynamic bike that sits near the top of their aero range – a culmination of years of work and dedication. They’ve come a long way from their humble beginnings.

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THE BUILD

Canyon has always aimed high and most of their early success came from a dedication to carbon fibre in the early 2000s – a commitment that paid off after some early failures. Adopting the business model of selling bikes directly over the internet rather than the typical bike shop also helped set them apart from competing brands. The bikes themselves are made in China, but after recently opening their new assembly facility in Koblenz, Germany, to accommodate demand, they’re now pumping out over 450 bikes per day.

Today, Canyon’s pedigree is that of Queen Liz’s corgis. Most models have gone through the ringer year in and out and borrowed from their own designs to create the cream of the crop across their entire range. And with some of the world’s biggest stars riding atop a Canyon, including former world champion Cadel Evans and, more recently, Jan Frodeno, who won Kona atop the Speedmax CF SLX, they must be doing something right.

The Aeroad may not be a straight tri bike – in fact, it’d more likely be considered a road race bike. But if you’re a triathlete who likes to cover all the bases or can’t fork out for a roadie and a TT bike, this is as close as you’ll get to having the best of both worlds. The Aeroad has been through something of a metamorphosis since the original Aeroad CF SL in 2011. The first iteration had a few small aerodynamic improvements on Canyon’s Ultimate CF SLX but just wasn’t holding its own against other aero road bikes on the market. And that’s when the real engineering fun begun.

Taking a cue from the Canyon Speedmax TT, the Aeroad was refined with aerodynamics at its core. They developed the new Trident 2.0 tubing, a squared-off trailing edge creating considerable stiffness specifically for this build. Another addition was the redesign of the triangle above the rear wheel, allowing air to flow smoothly. Next up were the handlebars and stem, where Canyon developed their own design called the H11 Aerocockpit CF. Featuring broad bars, they form a seamless integration with the stem to form a flush line to the fork – however, you’ll need to change this for clip-on TT extensions. Meanwhile the cables are all neatly tucked away and the Di2 junction box has been smartly hidden with a purpose-built bracket within the down tube.

With more hidden pockets and features than a pair of cargo pants, the Aeroad has included internal routing for the cabling throughout the build. Canyon also offers two frame options, one for electronic transmissions and one for mechanical groupsets. The frame itself features a BB86 bottom bracket and an integrated seatpost clamp. Meanwhile, Canyon has shown a preference for a fixed seat tube and chainstay length (410mm) for all frame sizes.

For those looking to deck their new rig out with their gadgets and aero extensions, this may prove a challenge. The specifically designed Aero cockpit means most brands of computers and lights aren’t going to fit on the bars without some tinkering or a custom mount, however Garmin has designed a mount specifically for Canyon that sits underneath the stem. But sacrifices must be made sometimes to retain such flush and beautiful lines of the front real estate on the bike.

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THE RIDE

Whether using the Aeroad for training, racing or both, there are few roadies that have taken as much inspiration from a TT’s aero design. You won’t catch too many road cyclists hunched over in the TT position for hours on end on their Sunday ride, so this becomes a great aero alternative, a bit from column A and B. All the teeth rattling and rigid steering you can expect of a pure tri bike has been replaced with a smooth and comfortable ride – and when it comes to training or long rides, comfort is king. Remaining impressively light with a high level of stiffness meant this was one hell of a smooth and fast ride too, thanks in part to the flawless build and its clean, fast lines.

Atop a ride like this it’s easy to feel more powerful and indestructible than you are. The ride impressed us both in terms of speed output and responsiveness and saw us pushing harder than normal just to feel the power beneath our bum. Jam your foot down and you’ll rocket. Both in the saddle and out the Aeroad had an agility tri bikes sometimes lack, making turns and hill climbs a cinch.

When a bike has been built with aerodynamics in mind with many of its key designs taken from Canyon’s TT range, you’d expect a much more rigid ride, but the Aeroad impressed across all areas. Behaving as a much more versatile rig than you’d first expect, Canyon has improved on every aspect of their original aero design, creating a bike that delivers on its promise of speed, agility and power. This mightn’t be the perfect bike for pure tri riders, but hopefully you’ll be impressed enough by its aero design that makes it such a functional all-rounder.

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Size tested: LARGE
Overall weight: 6,970G
Price: $6,799 (+ shipping)
Canyon.com
Sizes available: 2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
Frame: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
Fork: Canyon Aeroblade SLX

WHEELS:
Wheelset: Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon
Exalith WTS
Tyres: Mavic Yksion Pro Griplink /
Mavic Powerlink

TRANSMISSION:
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace
Derailleurs: Shimano Dura-Ace
Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace

OTHER COMPONENTS:
Cockpit: Canyon H11, Aerocockpit CF
Handlebar Tape: Canyon Ergospeed Gel
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Pressfit
Headset: Acros / Canyon
Saddle: Fizik Airone R5
Seatpost: Canyon S27 Aero VCLS CF
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
Cranks: Shimano Dura-Ace
Colours: Asphalt Grey, Red

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