Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Movistar road bike  £6869.60

9/10

Top-drawer pro level equipment and a lightweight carbon frame combines to create electrifying performance with great handling

Weight 6180g   Contact  www.canyon.com

by David Arthur   July 23, 2014  

German manufacturer Canyon celebrated their sponsorship of Spanish team Movistar this year by releasing a replica of the squad's Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 team bike, offering you the rare opportunity to ride exactly the same bike as the professional team. And in case you need reminding, this is the bike that Nairo Quintana rode to Giro d'Italia victory. Only his was a bit pinker.

Add your own team jersey and shorts and you're a pro contract away from looking the part. And about 30,000km of hard training a year and a good set of genes. That aside, there aren't that many manufacturers in the professional peloton that offer a full replica. Sure it's easy, if you've got the funds, to build a bike with the same specification, but getting a frame with the team livery and colour matched components, well that's a bit harder.

This bike shows us how far bicycle development has come in the past couple of decades. At one time the professionals used to race equipment that money simply couldn't buy, and you wouldn't have been able to buy the same bike the pros were racing without some really deep pockets. Now though it's possible to actually buy a bike that is lighter than what the pros are allowed to race; that's a startling display of the rapid development that has occurred in road cycling over the years.

Pro level equipment

This replica bike costs £6,869.60 and for that you get a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX frame built up with the same parts as those used by the Movistar team. That means a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset with a pair of Bora Ultra TWO 50mm carbon fibre tubular wheels with Continental tyres glued to them.

The Ultimate CF SLX range does start from just £2,999 however, using the exact same frame - the pros don't get any special treatment - but if you really want this exact specification, the replica is your only choice. There is a £5,168 version with Campagnolo Super Record EPS, but different wheels. So there are choices if your budget doesn't stretch to this replica version.

None of the other bikes in the Ultimate CF SLX range look nearly as nice as this replica model however. There aren't many team kits that really do it for me in the peloton, but on this bike the Movistar brand colours really work, and Canyon have brilliantly gone for a reserved approach that avoids being lairy and, as a result, it looks rather fine. So no you don't need to be a Movistar team fan to ride this bike, it looks good in its own right. There aren't even that many Movistar logos on it.

Shimano might be getting most of the attention with their Di2 electronic groupset at the moment, but Campagnolo's Super Record EPS is a very credible alternative. Shift performance is fast and precise, as good as Shimano in this department. But where the Italian company's groupset really draws ahead is in the feel of the shift levers; they feel less like the buttons of Shimano's groupset, or more like the mechanical shift levers they've clearly tried to emulate. That, I feel, makes EPS just a bit nicer to use.

Canyon use the latest EPS internal battery and it's concealed inside the seat tube.

Canyon supply their own VCLS carbon fibre seatpost and Ritchey the carbon handlebar and aluminium stem, with Movistar branded and coloured Lizard Skin bar tape and a colour matched Fizik Antares saddle.

Electrifying ride and smooth handling

That's quite a package of parts and produces, as you would imagine, an electrifying ride. The Canyon delivers superbly in all areas. It's properly quick, accelerates rapidly, handles with verve and vim and is surprisingly comfortable.

The performance really is right up there with the best road bikes I've ridden. Punt it down the road and the only limitation to your speed is your legs. This bike screams potential and the exciting performance encourages you to fully exploit it all of the time. The compact 50/34 (the pros will ride a 53/39) is the only limitation to outright speed.

When it comes to hills, the UCI minimum weight limit busting 6.15kg weight ensures the Canyon gallops up ascents, steep and short or long and gradual, with a rapid pace. Of course you'd expect that of such a lightweight bike, and it certainly doesn't disappoint.

Something this low weight clearly indicates is how hopelessly out of date the UCI's weight limit is. It might have been meaningful when it was first implemented, but it simply doesn't serve a genuine purpose today. Not when the team mechanics have to add lead weights to the bikes to bring them up to the legal minimum.

That low weight isn't a problem for us though, and means we can enjoy the benefits that lack of weight brings. And any expectations that the low weight creates nervous and twitchy prove unfounded from the first couple of miles on the Ultimate CF SLX.

Instead it's very well balanced with handling that provides stable road manners. You can waft along the road as comfortable as you would be on a touring bike. Yet inject some pace or verve into your riding and it quickly comes alive.

The Ultimate CF SLX, through a combination of the frame and fork and the build kit, delivers outstanding acceleration. In race situations or the weekly chaingang, this really helps to launch after breaks and attacks.

Comfort isn't sacrificed in this pursuit of stiffness and weight. I was surprised just how comfortable the bike was, even with the 50mm carbon fibre wheels. The Canyon smooths rougher roads and sections of broken tarmac are smothered as well as any of the best carbon bikes I've ridden to date.

Bigger impacts are well handled, the 27.2mm seatpost providing a decent amount of deflection and the skinny seatstays helping here too.

The wheels really contribute to the speed. They roll up to speed quickly, the freehub engages instantly, and they display a high level of stiffness when you're loading them up into corners, or swinging the bike along the road in a sprint. It's when you're cruising at race speeds that the aerodynamics really come into play, they gather and maintain momentum over crests and dips in the roads. Through corners they're taut and stiff, with not a hint of flex when you get animated on the bike.

A light 790g carbon frame balances weight and stiffness

Most frames being raced in the professional peloton boast claimed weights of well under a kilogram, with many very close to 800 and 700g. Canyon launched this updated Ultimate CF SLX last year and in the process reduced the weight down to a claimed 790g, for a size large. That's comparable to some of the so-called lightest frames currently being raced in the peloton.

It's probably getting harder for manufacturers to shed weight from already very light frames, while maintain the necessary stiffness, and ensuring they're still relatively affordable. Canyon made their gains with this updated frame not through any drastic changes, but a combination of tweaks that netted an overall weight loss.

The main tubes are slimmer where less material is needed. The top tube for example is flatter to reduce the surface area, and therefore the weight, while the seat tube slims and bulges where it needs to to cut the weight and provide stiffness.

Canyon use a press-fit bottom bracket now too, pretty much standard on all pro-level race frames. The wider shell allows the down tube to be larger, as well as facilitating oversized chainstays and the new seat tube.

The fork legs are much slimmer too, something you notice immediately you clap eyes on the bike from the side. They almost look too skinny for the chunky frame. Smaller details that you can't see like carbon fibre dropouts and internal cable and electronic wiring routing further help to decrease the frame weight.

All this weight loss hasn't had a detrimental impact on the stiffness. Canyon have managed to provide a really nice balance of stiffness, weight and comfort.

One thing you notice when riding the Canyon is how direct the front end of the bike is. This is partly a result of the oversized 1 1/4in top bearing (with 1 1/2in lower bearing), instead of the more prevalent 1 1/8in size, providing a larger diameter tapered steerer tube for the new fork.

That does mean none of your old stems will fit if you want to change, but Canyon will happily swap the stem for a longer, or shorter, one if you need it. The novel Acros Ai-70 headset, using a preload collar below the stem, makes it easy to adjust the height of the stem on the steerer tube without having to preload the headset bearings.

Conclusion

It didn't take many miles to realise the Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 is a class act, without doubt one of the best race bikes you can currently buy. The frameset offers outstanding ride performance, precise handling and impressive comfort, and in this build it's supremely light and fast when the hammer goes down.

Clearly, owning and riding a team replica bike isn't going to appeal to everyone, but the understated Movistar branding does mean you can happily buy this bike based on its own, very appealing, merits and not because it's a replica. If you really want to ride the exact same bike as ridden by the professionals, this is your chance.

Verdict

Top-drawer pro level equipment and a lightweight carbon frame combines to create electrifying performance with great handling

road.cc test report

Make and model: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Team Mov

Size tested: 55

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Light. Stiff. Ready to race. The Ultimate CF SLX will provide the foundations for success of our pro teams in 2014. This flagship model, with its stunning combination of Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset and Bora Ultra Two wheels, answers to all the demands placed upon it by ardent enthusiasts and professionals alike. Continental Competition tubular tyres provide perfect grip and low rolling resistance in all conditions.

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

"A frame weighing just 790 g, an 8% stiffer head tube and an even stiffer bottom bracket: the new Ultimate CF SLX combines uncompromising thrust with supreme comfort. A further reduction in surface area has been achieved by increasing the radius at the tube transitions, the steering tube and the bottom bracket, and by reducing some of the tube diameters. Less material means less weight. The new dropouts on the fork and the frame are made entirely of carbon fibre, for a further significant weight reduction. You can count on us to scrutinise every single component before we agree to use it.

VCLS Technology

Vertical Comfort Lateral Stiffness – the VCLS Stays in conjunction with the VCLS Post improve the suspension properties of the frame effectively, without affecting the lateral stiffness. The VCLS Blades on the fork, comprising a special combination of basalt and carbon fibres, complete the Canyon VCLS Technology.

i-Lock headset system

With the special clamping mechanism of the i-Lock headset system the drilling of the steerer tube and the fitting of a clamping cone are no longer necessary. This ensures that the carbon shaft of the fork stays intact and offers maximum safety in every riding situation.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Riding the bike

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
9/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
8/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
9/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

The Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Movistar replica is a superb package that delivers impressive performance and handling

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I really doubt internal cabling reduces weight

posted by DrJDog [134 posts]
23rd July 2014 - 17:52

7 Likes

I'm surprised at the decision to fit a compact chainset, I've have expected a 52/36 at least, or is this something that can be changed when ordering? I really like the Movistar colour scheme, I just don't think I could see myself buying a replica team bike (plus needed a couple of extra thousand pounds on my new bike budget)

Former Fat Lad on a Bike

posted by RobD [114 posts]
24th July 2014 - 8:20

6 Likes

astonishing that Canyon sell this frame built up as a full bike with 11sp ultegra di2 for £3000; that would only get you the frame in some other pro teams!

posted by Metjas [288 posts]
24th July 2014 - 10:46

7 Likes

The frame isn't as forgiving as the review suggests, however its still comfortable for an all day ride and it is a truly awesome frame, I was beating PB's all over the place, at €1,700 for the frame its is bargain ! (so to speak)

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
24th July 2014 - 10:47

4 Likes

RobD wrote:
I just don't think I could see myself buying a replica team bike
+1

But there are people who dress like their favourite popstar. In my day it was the Madonna wannabees. Hey ho.

posted by truffy [330 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:02

5 Likes

Given the amount of visible branding on that bike, and given that anyone who rides it is basically a moving advertisement, it should be a damn sight cheaper than it is.

Whatever happened to subtlety?

posted by Peowpeowpeowlasers [77 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:03

7 Likes

DrJDog wrote:
I really doubt internal cabling reduces weight

Holes instead of cable stops and less outer perhaps?

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
24th July 2014 - 12:39

5 Likes

Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
Given the amount of visible branding on that bike, and given that anyone who rides it is basically a moving advertisement, it should be a damn sight cheaper than it is.

I'd go further... they should be paying us to ride 'em.

The fact you can still be riding one of these, albeit with lesser components and plain paint job, for what might be described as a "realistic" price is impressive though.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [253 posts]
24th July 2014 - 12:52

5 Likes

Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
Given the amount of visible branding on that bike, and given that anyone who rides it is basically a moving advertisement, it should be a damn sight cheaper than it is.

Whatever happened to subtlety?

Am I looking at a different set of pictures ? I can only see 2 small visible bits of Moviestar branding, the bar tape and the wheels ?

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
24th July 2014 - 13:15

5 Likes

I agree, I don't particularly see this as some rolling billboard.

The Movistar brand isn't known in the UK and I don't think too many people (outside of those who follow professional cycling or maybe work in mobile telecomms) would particularly associate the colours with that company.

posted by parksey [238 posts]
24th July 2014 - 13:49

4 Likes

Oh, I simply thought they couldn't spell moviestar! Laughing

posted by truffy [330 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:34

3 Likes

@DrJDog - the bike shown is also available with a standard 53x39 chainset aswell as a compact.

@Truffy - the colour scheme might not appeal to everyone, which is why we also sell a non-Movistar version of the same bike: https://www.canyon.com/_en/roadbikes/bike.html?b=3287

With all due respect, the MOV version is amazing value for money! You won't find a genuine pro-tour bike such as this with EPS and carbon race wheels for anything close to the price we sell it at.

CanyonUK's picture

posted by CanyonUK [3 posts]
24th July 2014 - 15:09

11 Likes

CanyonUK wrote:
@Truffy - the colour scheme might not appeal to everyone, which is why we also sell a non-Movistar version of the same bike: https://www.canyon.com/_en/roadbikes/bike.html?b=3287

Actually, I find the colour scheme very attractive. The 'team replica' aspect, on the other hand...a bit nerdish.

But the alternative seems to be 'stealth', something that I associate more with spy planes and stalkers. Worried

posted by truffy [330 posts]
24th July 2014 - 22:34

3 Likes

truffy wrote:

But the alternative seems to be 'stealth', something that I associate more with spy planes and stalkers. Worried

Or Ninjas! Big Grin

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
24th July 2014 - 22:53

4 Likes

Canyon pricing is an actual outrage. Their DA fitted Endurace is going to be my next road bike - but as they don't ship to NZ, I'll have to have it delivered to the folks on a trip back to Scotland.

davecochrane's picture

posted by davecochrane [101 posts]
25th July 2014 - 12:42

4 Likes

Incredible value as always, but personally I won't be supporting their business model. Canyon want to do for bikes what digital music did for music shops. At least the latter made some sense in that music doesn't require maintenance, replacement parts, fitting, changing rooms, try before you buy...

posted by giobox [286 posts]
28th July 2014 - 21:06

2 Likes

…surely room in the market for this direct sales model and the LBS. Personally I know what I want and service my own bikes (and wouldn't trust the LBS to do a better job anyway).

posted by sorebones [110 posts]
28th July 2014 - 22:22

2 Likes

giobox wrote:
Incredible value as always, but personally I won't be supporting their business model. Canyon want to do for bikes what digital music did for music shops. At least the latter made some sense in that music doesn't require maintenance, replacement parts, fitting, changing rooms, try before you buy...

I am heavily invested in Canyons already so I am biased - but what's wrong with what happened to music shops? We lost Tower Records/HMV/etc but we kept Rough Trade? Forgive me for sounding like a snob (or not, as you like) but this isn't such a bad outcome is it? The shops where you might actually get some advice about music that you trusted - the ones that provided a service and not merely a commodity product, they survived (and had to diversify and offer other value adds). Doesn't sound like the end of the world to me.

Also, "try before you buy" is vastly overrated for the very simple reason that you have only a limited range of product to test that has been chosen for you by the deals that the relevant bike store owner can negotiate with manufacturers. At the type of store that you seem concerned about (Evans, Bike Addiction - I am old enough to remember when Bike Addiction had a store in Islington that employed many of the people who went on to Cyclefit, hope some of the original staff made some money out of that buy out) this means Spesh, Trek, Giant, etc. Yawn.

posted by surly_by_name [144 posts]
29th July 2014 - 14:05

2 Likes

Actually, compared to the photos in the article Movistar replica bike looks quite a bit different on Canynon website, - more flashy with more Movistar logos.
http://www.canyon.com/_en/roadbikes/bike.html?b=3331

BTW, while Browsing Canyon website, I noticed that one can buy Katyusha team bike replica and also original pro bikes ridden by Katyusha team members in 2012.

posted by dizpark [1 posts]
30th July 2014 - 9:30

0 Likes

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