Canyon's new Endurace packs all of the performance of a race bike but wraps it up with a geometry that won't leave you needing to book a chiropractor after each ride. And as usual Canyon's direct-to-consumer business model offers stunning value for money: this Shimano Dura-Ace-equipped bike costs £2,346.98 including shipping. And that's on top of carbon fibre frame and fork.
Geometry for the longer rides
Road bikes largely fall into two camps: race bikes that are long and low at the front, and sportive and endurance bikes that are shorter and higher at the front. No two sportive bikes are the same though with manufacturers taking different approaches to sizing up their bikes. That means there's plenty of choice, but picking the right bike can be quite tricky.
Some sportive bikes opt for a really tall head tube to get the handlebars nice and high. Specialized's Roubaix (the bike that arguably kicked off the whole sportive category) has a 190mm head tube on a 56cm frame. A medium (56) Endurace meanwhile has a 159mm head tube. However, it's more like 165mm when you factor in the raised fork crown Canyon has designed for this bike. Rather than put all the height into the head tube, Canyon has raised the fork crown on the new One-One-Four SL fork by 6mm. Still, that's a considerable difference.
The impact these numbers has on the ride is quite noticeable, mainly in that the Endurace doesn't have an excessively high handlebar position like many bikes in this sector. That will appeal to cyclists who want a slightly more relaxed ride position than a race bike, but don't necessarily want a really tall front end. The Endurace is a happy compromise between the two extremes. You might be disappointed in you wanted a taller front end, but Canyon do ship the bike with a stack of spacers so there's a bit of adjustment available.
In many ways the Endurance leans closer to a race bike in its handling, and this is noticeable when you're riding it. It demonstrates race bike speed when you stamp on the pedals and you can get pretty low on the drops if you're trying to make keen progress into a headwind.
Other important numbers to consider are the longer wheelbase on the Endurace compared to the company's Ultimate race bike, with an extra 5mm in the chainstays helping to provide extra tyre clearance - the bike comes fitted with 25mm tyres that are actually 27mm wide, and there's plenty of space around them.
Though longer, the wheelbase is in fact shorter than most of its peers. At 989mm it is 11mm shorter than the Specialized Roubaix. What this means on the road is a bike that remains on the sharper side of the handling divide with a great urgency detectable through the frame and fork when making swift direction changes. It's well settled at a steady pace and when the speed lifts it displays good stability, but it is less planted through high speed turns than something like the Cannondale Synapse or Bianchi Infinito CV, both of which have longer wheelbases.
The result of these changes is a bike that feels really settled at speed but sparkles when you give it some welly through the corners or up the climbs. It feels closer to a race bike than many of its peers, but it's definitely more comfortable and easier to manage on the longer rides, especially towards the end when you're a bit tired and your reactions are a bit slower.
A slightly more relaxed head angle provides good steering feel, whether it's through low speed corners or stitching together a series of hairpin turns on a fast descent. Slackening the head angle in this way, even though it's only one degree, calms the steering response, enough that it's less of a handful, especially towards the end of a 100 mile ride.
The frame carries a bit more weight than a race frame with a claimed weight of 1,040g for a size medium, with a 340g fork. It's in the same ballpark as other endurance frames, and the Canyon has UCI approval, displayed in a seat tube sticker, so you could enter a UCI race on this bike. More realistically, it'll be a useful option for the Movistar or Katusha teams in the cobbled classics.
Raise the comfort factor
The other significant change in endurance and sportive bikes compared to their race bike counterparts are features designed to provide extra comfort. You're already getting a more comfortable position from the geometry changes, so there's less strain on your back and neck. The other characteristic that manufacturers try and provide is to filter out vibrations caused by riding over rough roads.
There are many different approaches: Bianchi has CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology, Trek its ISOspeed decoupler, Cannondale has SAVE, Specialized uses Zertz inserts. Canyon however has no such gimmicks in the frame. In fact, the carbon layup has much in common with the Ultimate race bike with similar tube shapes but differs with skinny VCLS seatstays.
Instead, Canyon has not added any gimmicks to the frame, preferring to provide comfort through large volume tyres and Canyon's VCLS 2.0 carbon fibre seatpost, which acts like a leaf spring allowing the post to deflect.
The VCLS 2.0 carbon fibre seatpost works brilliantly. You don't really notice it at first but after a good few miles you can detect it occasionally moving back gently. Jump back on a regular carbon bike with a normal seatpost, and the difference is stark.
On top of the post Canyon has fitted a plushly padded Fizik Antares Versus saddle which provides plenty of cushioning. I didn't get on with it at all, I found it just too soft, so I whipped it off and put my favourite Prologo Scratch saddle on. Much better, and still with the seatpost doing its flexy magic.
The smartest move by Canyon has been to fit DT Swiss R23 Spline wheels with a wide profile rim and 25mm Continental Grand Prix 4000S II tyres. The Spline rims measure 18mm internally and 23mm externally. The impact this has on the tyres is to balloon them out to 27mm.
This means you're actually getting a much larger volume tyre, with all the added comfort and rolling resistance benefits, but without the weight penalty of actually going up a tyre size. The tyres and the pressures make the biggest impact to the comfort of any bike, whether it's a race bike or a sportive model.
With the tyres inflated to about 80-85psi the ride is buttery smooth. Yes the frame might not have any decouplers or elastomer inserts, but with these wheels and tyres the Endurace feels impressively smooth over some of the roughest roads in my area. And there are many to choose from.
Value for money build
Canyon offer this frame in a choice of builds. The range starts at just £1,234.31 which gets you a full Shimano 105 groupset, and remember it's the same frame and wheels, or you can bump up to Ultegra mechanical at £1,609.53 and go all Italian with Campagnolo Chorus build at £2,107.34.
This is the top of the range model with a full Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed mechanical groupset costing just £2346.98 including shipping from Germany. Getting a full DA 11-speed groupset at this price is very impressive. Of course you don't have the luxury of popping into your local bike shop to collect the bike, it arrives in a box from Germany requiring a minimal amount of assembly.
The Dura-Ace groupset provided sublime gear shifts each and every time, and the brakes provided ample stopping power on the DT rims. There are no plans yet to offer a Di2 build or even an electronic compatible frame, but it's surely only a matter of time for Di2 fans.
This is probably one of the last Canyon bikes to come with a Ritchey finishing kit, because at Eurobike last month the company revealed its new line of own-brand bars and stems that will be fitted to all future bikes.
I got on really well with the Ritchey WCS Evo Curve handlebar, it's a nice shape with comfortable drops. It's held in place with an aluminium Ritchey WCS 4-Axis stem.
A Fizik Aliante VS saddle sits atop the VCLS 2.0 seatpost. It's all decent build kit, very good for the money and there's nothing that looks like it needs upgrading immediately.
It all produces a weight on the scales of just 6.95kg (15.32lb). That's very impressive, and you notice that lack of weight on any sort of hill where the Endurace excels as a climber. As well as the weight, there's a high level of stiffness through the frame, particularly around the bottom bracket and chainstays, to help the Endurace simply fly up the ascents.
The Canyon Endurace is a brilliant bike. Not only does it offer truly compelling value for money, but it's a really smartly designed bike for the hugely popular endurance and sportive category but doesn't go to the same extremes that some manufacturers have with a excessively tall head tubes.
Instead it's intelligently designed with a smart build kit that combines to create a bike that performs really well and will suit a wide range of people, from those new to cycling or long-time racers looking for a bit more of a relaxed ride.
Brilliant mid-point between race and sportive bikes at an amazing price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Canyon Endurace CF 9.0 SL
Size tested: 57
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Endurace CF meets Dura Ace – it's as if it was meant to be. Shimano's flagship groupset provides the reference in accurate and fast shifting performance, absolute power transfer and a sleek finish. Rapid acceleration and a smooth ride are taken care of by the agile DT Swiss R23 Spline wheelset and Continental Grand Prix 4000s II tyres.
Our very own VCLS Post 2.0 absorbs shocks and vibrations, meaning that staying comfortable on long rides is guaranteed. 100% power transfer, direct handling and new levels of comfort – experience the Endurace CF 9.0 SL.
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?
VCLS POST 2.0
With their slender appearance, the thickness of the walls on the Endurace CF seatstays are optimised to be stronger where more load is carried. By varying the carbon layup and tube dimensions, we are also able to improve the frame's vibration damping performance all while maintaining high levels of lateral stiffness.
VCLS Post 2.0
The most sensitive contact point between rider and bike is the saddle together with the seatpost, which carry approximately 70% of the rider's total weight. Our VCLS Post 2.0 works through two parallel-set, independent leaf springs and floating saddle clamp. This assembly is not only lightweight, but also incredibly compliant, reliable and torsionally stiff.
Providing the connection between the frame and forks, all Endurace CF models come equipped with the Acros Ai-70 Fiber headset with its patented i-Lock system, which is immediately identifiable thanks to its hollow design. Another feature of the headset are its ultra-compact bearings that keep the weight down even further.
Our VCLS Blades at the lower end of the forks ensure stiffness for performance and vertical flex to reduce the impact of small shocks and vibrations. These characteristics are achieved through the cross-sectional profile of the forks together with the types of fibres used and the way these are applied, known as the layup.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent quality finish and smart understated decals.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes very comfortable with the VCLS seat post, seat stays and new fork, along with 27mm effective tyres contributing to an impressively smooth ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Certainly no lack of stiffness when pushing hard on the pedals.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
What's stopping me giving the Endurace a five star review? For many cyclists it will 100% be the perfect bike, but some might be left wanting a taller front end offered by other endurance bikes, so that has to be considered when sizing up the Canyon for a potential purchase
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,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.