First ride: Canyon Roadlite AL 7.0 (2014)

Fast, lively and confident, Canyon’s updated Roadlite impresses on a first ride around Germany

by David Arthur   September 11, 2013  

It’s easy to get distracted by the tons of carbon fibre at Eurobike, but one of the bikes I was looking forward to riding at the demo day was the updated Canyon Roadlite AL 7.0. With an aluminium frame and new carbon fork and seatpost, it looks like a fantastic bike for the £1,119 asking price.

How does it ride then? Well it has a swift turn of speed, rapid acceleration and engaging handling that is easy to get to grips with very quickly. I only had a short time on the bike around the buttery smooth roads and rolling hills of southern Germany, not enough time for a full assessment, but enough to realise this is an impressive package. Not only for the money, because you do get a full Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels, but on performance alone.

Canyon have enjoyed a fairly meteoric rise in popularity in the UK in the last couple of years. Their direct sales approach - you buy online and the bike is delivered to your house, cutting out the bike shop and distributor - means Canyon can offer extremely well specced bikes for the price. Using an aluminium frame allows more room for a decent parts package, and it’s impressive to get Ultegra - Shimano’s second-tier groupset remember - at this price.

Yet there’s clearly no shortcuts. The frame is beautifully finished with smooth welds, the decals smart and understated. A nice flourish of contrast colour on the inside surfaces of the fork blades and chainstays, colour matched to the Askium wheels. It's all very smart looking and you really do a double-take at the price tag. It's almost too cheap.

Evidence Canyon have their finger on the pulse is the fitting of 25mm Mavic tyres, the on-trend width for tyres this year. It’s good to see the size filtering down to bikes at this price, where riders will value the extra comfort even more. It’s also a good way of just softening some of the stiffness that can be an acquired taste with alloy frames.

Changes over the 2013 frame are minor, the most significant is the lengthening of the chainstays by 5mm. This stretches out the wheelbase to increase handling stability, which will be more noticeable at higher speeds. In such a short first ride it’s difficult to asses the impact this change has had. Throwing it through a few sweeping bends on the roads around the Eurobike demo day centre certainly revealed a bike that feels planted at speed and turns corners smartly.

They’ve given the 2014 model a new One One Eight SL full carbon fork, with a non-tapered 1 1/8in carbon steerer tube. It weighs 350g. Canyon have also added a VCLS carbon seatpost to the package too. Both will contribute to the ride by working with the 25mm tyres to dilute the frame's stiffness, without somthering the feedback altogether. The fork adds a crispness to the handling, with nice direct feedback and a good level of communication, without being overly stiff - like the frame.

Smart changes to the new Roadlite then, which not only further increase the value it already offered, but make for a better riding bike. The bike still has that crisp aluminium feel, but it’s far from harsh or uncomfortable. Forget that idea that aluminium is uncomfortable, it's just not true. It’s a well engineered frame with a well thought through parts package that makes it a fun bike to ride. Whatever your ambitions, the Roadlite is a serious shortlist contender for anyone with up to £1,200 to spend on a road bike.

The ride also offered a first opportunity to spend some time on the new Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset. As we’ve come to expect from Shimano, the shifting is absolutely crisp, precise and quiet. Shimano have slightly modified the shape of the hoods, and the lever stroke is shorter and lighter than previously, so it’s a doddle to flick the chain across the 11- sprockets. The slimmer hood shape is a noticeable improvement, I always found the previous shape too bulky for my small hands. Did I notice that extra sprocket? Not on these roads, not enough climbing to really work across the full cassette range at power.

We didn’t have our scales to hand (they’re on Mat’s packing list for next year) but Canyon claim a all-up weight of 7.95kg (17.52lb). More details at www.canyon.com

12 user comments

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Ultegra at <£1200! thats pretty jolly good indeed!

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [319 posts]
11th September 2013 - 14:45

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I've said this elsewhere but I'm not sure how a) you could justify buying the Ultimate AL over this and b) why you'd buy a carbon CF instead.

It seems to me that, at that price, Canyon have created all the bike most people would ever need. "Downgrade" to 105 or Apex and you save even more.

posted by bendertherobot [249 posts]
11th September 2013 - 14:55

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I know what you mean. I find myself riding my Caad 10 a lot these days and it is nearly as good as my high end s-works bike. Diminishing returns set in pretty early with road bikes.

At the end of the day though, when buying shiny kit, as long as you can afford it you dont need to justify it.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
11th September 2013 - 17:41

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Agree re diminishing returns and as much bike as most of will ever need. Eddy Merckx would have been delighted to ride something like this in the early 70's. One small pedantic point - those aren't smooth welds - Boardman do proper smooth welds. Apart from that, desirable and outstanding VFM.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [210 posts]
11th September 2013 - 18:46

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Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as most in relation to shiny shiny. It it makes you feel faster, then it's great. But stuff like the Canyon and, as stated, the CAAD X is the most bike most mortals would ever need.

posted by bendertherobot [249 posts]
11th September 2013 - 19:10

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Dear Santa...

seven's picture

posted by seven [97 posts]
11th September 2013 - 20:09

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pastaman wrote:
One small pedantic point - those aren't smooth welds - Boardman do proper smooth welds. Apart from that, desirable and outstanding VFM.

There's a difference between naked welds and rough welds filled in and then painted over.

posted by dubtap [9 posts]
11th September 2013 - 21:19

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straight headtube look kind of old school nowadays but I'm not saying I would be able to tell the difference in a blind test..

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posted by J Montaño [7 posts]
11th September 2013 - 21:38

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Seriously tempted by one of these for my next commuting bike.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [752 posts]
11th September 2013 - 22:34

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It used to be an aluminium superbike, but for 2014 they've gone on some cost saving mission (straight steerer, external threaded bb from the obvious ones) and now it's just a very good value for money bike. Pretty disapointed :'(

Edit: my mistake, this one is a seven, it always had straight steerer and external bb

posted by mhtt [41 posts]
12th September 2013 - 7:40

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The frame looks a bit 90's to me.

posted by Echo [4 posts]
14th September 2013 - 12:00

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The 90s are huge right now, hadn't you noticed?

Wink

posted by drmatthewhardy [297 posts]
25th January 2014 - 15:16

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