2014 WorldTour bikes: Katusha’s Canyon Ultimate, Speedmax + Aeroad
German bike manufacturer sticks with Russian-backed team for another season, here’s a close look at the bikes they’ll race
Canyon Bikes will provide two WorldTour teams for the 2014 season, joining Specialized as the only other manufacturer to supply multiple teams, having signed a deal with Movistar at the turn of the year. Katusha, the Russian-backed team, officially unveiled the team yesterday, showing the bikes and new kit for the first time. Here’s a close look at the bikes they’ll be racing.
Katusha will have three bikes to choose from, the Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 and Aeroad CF 9.0 for road stages, and the Speedmax CF TT 9.0. The last one will obviously come out for time trials, but to choose between the Ultimate and Aeroad will come down to rider preference and the course of a particular stage or race. Sprinters and breakaway specialists will lean towards the Aeroad, while climbers and all-rounders will favour the lighter weight of the Ultimate.
Joaquim Rodríguez finished the 2013 season as the sport's No.1 ranked rider in the UCI WorldTour rankings, a feat he is celebrating for the third time. That fact is celebrated on the top tube of this custom painted Canyon Aeroad.
These bikes head into the 2014 season unchanged from last year. It’s worth observing that of the three bikes, the Aeroad is perhaps the one that we suspect might be due for an update, if the regular update cycles favoured by most manufacturers is anything to go by. Aerodynamics is an area of bicycle design that has undergone a rapid pace development in the last couple of years, and one only needs to compare the Speedmax - first introduced this time last year - to the Aeroad, to see that the later is lagging behind in terms of cutting-edge aero design. We’ll have to wait and see.
But we digress, let’s take a look at the bikes the team will start the season with. First, the Ultimate. It was released last year, a major update of the previous frame, with changes focused on making it lighter and stiffer. A large frame weighs a claimed 790g, which makes it one of the lightest frames in the peloton.
The tube profiles are all new compared to the previous model, with a distinctive flat sided head tube and down tube, carbon fibre dropouts and a press fit bottom bracket, all helping to save weight. And boost stiffness by a claimed 8%. Naturally, cables are all routed internally, as is the way with all top-end race-ready frames.
The Aeroad on the other hand was introduced back in 2011, which in the cycle industry is a looooong time. Needless to say, the frame profiles are clearly shaped to minimise drag, using a teardrop shape for the fork, down tube and seat tube. The seat clamp is hidden out of the airflow but the brake calipers are located in the regular positions. Cables of course are routed internally. If you compare it to the Speedmax below, you can see where the Aeroad could conceivably evolve if they were to launch an updated version.
For time trials, the futuristic looking Speedmax is the go-to choice. It looks incredibly fast just sat still doesn't it? Canyon put a lot of time and effort into this bike, with a 10-person team working on the aerodynamics and integration. The tube profiles are a step forward from the simple teardrop tubes of the Aeroad, and use a curved leading edge with an angular chopped-off tail. They call this Trident, but it’s similar in concept to the kamm tail used by some other manufacturers.
Integration is big in aerodynamics. If you can conceal as much of the mechanics and working parts inside the frame, you can reduce drag. That's the idea, anyway. The front of the bike is obviously a prime candidate, and here Canyon have designed a stem that is integrated into the top of the fork. It’s a common feature we’ve seen on many other time trial frames. It creates less frontal surface area, and creates a smooth and flat area from the front of the stem/fork section across the top tube.
Canyon have developed their own centre-pull design brake calipers, the front is concealed behind the fork, and the rear brake virtually disappears down below the chainstays. The rear triangle is tiny, the top of the seat stays no higher than the front wheel, to reduce turbulence. The seat tube is also shaped with the Trident profile, and the top tube is very narrow and flat topped. A custom seatpost allows plenty of fore-aft adjustment. And of course, all cables or electronic wires are internally routed.
Unlike Movistar who equip their Canyon frames with Campagnolo parts, Katusha use Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed groupsets. Unlike many other Shimano sponsored teams who also get a wheel and finishing kit deal, Katusha use Mavic wheels and Ritchey finishing kit. Katusha have been using this Shimano/Mavic combination for a few years though. The use of Mavic wheels is only mirrored by Team Garmin-Sharp.
And yes, from the photos we've been sent, it looks like most of the team opt for negative rise stems to get the handlebars low enough. It's not like the Ultimate has a tall head tube, a 56cm size frame has a 15cm head tube which is definitely at the racier end of the scale for a frame of this size. The team are also sponsored by Selle Italia and the bikes pictured have the Flite fitted, a classic saddle.