Wow! That was genuinely the first thought that came into my head when I set off on Canyon's Endurace WMN CF 9.0 Di2. I might even have uttered it aloud. Its 7.24kg might not be superlight in this day and age, but it's still pretty feathery, and the bike is so responsive I thought for a moment it was going to leave me behind.
This isn't the brand new disc brake version of the women's Endurace – there's a review of that one coming soon. This is the unisex model made 'women-specific' by the speccing of certain parts – a woman's saddle, shorter cranks, narrow handlebar... It also has rim brakes not discs.
Apart from the lack of disc brakes – made more noticeable by testing the disc brake version at the same time in a very similar spec (but mechanical Ultegra not Di2) – this is a lovely, lovely bike to ride. It looks beautiful, accelerates like a dream, and I really don't want to give it back.
As the name suggests, the Endurace is designed for riding good distances at pace, in comfort, and that's what the WMN CF 9.0 delivers.
I've been in training for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain forever, it feels like, so have been getting in plenty of miles most weekends, as well as riding to work. The Endurace zips along; it's light and stiff, and requires little effort to get up to speed and stay there, spinning along on a pair of light DT Swiss wheels.
Up front it is a little twitchier than you might expect of an endurance bike, a combination of the geometry and the light wheels. It's easy to move around if you need to avoid potholes or other obstacles on the road (though not, sadly, a low-flying young thrush, ), but did take me by surprise when I took one hand off the handlebar to shake my fist at a far-too-close-passing driver and nearly came a cropper.
Uphill it makes you feel like you're a climbing supremo – why haven't those team bosses spotted my amazing abilities? The overall weight, or lack of, is one of the main reasons, the front end feeling particularly so, but the stiffness in the frame also comes into play, meaning none of your energy going into the pedals is wasted.
Also helping here is that it has my ideal gear range of a 50/34 compact chainring up front and a wide 11-32 cassette at the back. It's hilly round these parts, okay?
That lightness up front doesn't make it too hairy on the downhills; it's not as solid feeling as the heavy steel bike I normally ride – obviously – but the 25mm Continental tyres help it feel planted, wet or dry. The wheels aren't deep section but can get buffeted about in strong winds, and I did feel a bit nervous descending on one particularly windy day, though I suspect I'd have felt the same on any bike.
Initially, I was surprised to find I needed an XS size frame. I'm 5ft 6 1/2in and normally ride a small or medium, a 52 or 53cm, but Canyon's men's and women's models share the same sizing scale. A women's M and a men's M are for men and women of the same height. Not that this model has a women-specific frame; as I said, it's referred to as the 'unisex' frame, with women's parts.
In numbers, it has a stack of 541mm and reach of 366mm (stack and reach are the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) and a head tube angle of 70.9 degrees.
What that equates to is a slightly stretched out riding position, as expected given that the Endurace sits at the racier end of the endurance bike spectrum. It's still very comfortable, and if you spend most of your time riding on the hoods you're not too upright and inefficient.
Frame and fork
There are all sorts of shapes going on with the tubing: a big and chunky, slightly squared-off down tube; a top tube that starts wide at the front and tapers towards the rear; narrow diameter seatstays for comfort and chunkier chainstays for stiffness... It all adds up to a frame that's responsive and efficient without being uncomfortably stiff.
My daily (ahem) commute home takes in a mile or so of rough farm track (well, old railway track) that I probably shouldn't be riding a carbon bike along, and, okay, it's not a super-smooth experience but it's not that rattly a ride either.
The full-carbon fork – reassuringly x-rayed for defects, as all Canyon's forks are – has a tapered steerer, 1 1/2in at the bottom, 1 1/4in at the top, and the fork blades also taper to the dropouts.
The DT Swiss wheels and 25mm Continental Grand Prix II tyres suit the bike well; the PR1400 Dicut wheels have a claimed weight of 1,435g, and though not deep section they're light enough and still deep enough to catch strong crosswinds. They look good too.
Dave Arthur tested the wheels last year, and while I'd agree with him that they're 'stiff and responsive, with no give or flex when putting the power down' I wasn't as convinced by the braking prowess of the Oxic coating.
I have used Shimano Ultegra rim brakes before and have got on with them well, but for some reason – maybe the brake blocks, maybe the Oxic coating on the wheels – these seemed to require quite a bit of notice. Quite a bit more in the rain. If only it came with disc brakes...
Gear changes with Shimano's Ultegra Di2 were a revelation. Seriously. I'm an electronic shifting novice, and previously couldn't imagine what all the fuss was about. I can now. Any naysayers, don't knock it til you've tried it. Be warned, though: you don't half miss it when you go back to mechanical.
All it takes to change gear is a light press of the knobbly or smooth bit of lever, but it's the trim function that I'm really taken with. 'Bzzzt' as it moves ever so slightly to counter any chain rub, whatever gear you've selected.
I appreciated the 165mm cranks too; I really notice the difference when using 170 or 175s, and actually have 160s on my own bike.
The aluminium H17 bar and H13 stem are Canyon's own. The diameter and drop of the bar are both dependent on the width, in this case 38cm, and it's wrapped in very comfortable Ergospeed Gel tape. A bit of road buzz does get through, though, and I found my hands turning a bit tingly after three or four hours.
Although the VCLS 2.0 'leaf spring' seatpost adds rear end comfort, I didn't get on with the Selle Italia saddle – a bit of a shame as this is one of the women-specific specifications. It's a little hard for my liking; maybe I need to toughen up. I also can't understand the need for deeply etched lettering right on the edge where it's likely to cause discomfort. Make it smooth please.
An Ultegra Di2-equipped carbon frameset with £800 wheels for £2,649, which rides as well as this, strikes me as very good value. How does it compare with the competition? With many of the big names adopting disc brakes, or choosing mechanical Ultegra rather than Di2, it's not entirely clear, but there is certainly a lot of choice out there for women who want to cover decent distances at speed.
Trek's rim-brake Silque with mechanical Shimano Ultegra costs £2,100, while Specialized's disc brake Ruby Comp, again with mechanical Ultegra, is £2,650. Giant's Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1, with disc brakes and mechanical Ultegra, is £2,899.
Canyon's own disc brake equivalent of the CF 9.0, the CF SL Disc 8.0, with mechanical Ultegra, is £2,199, while the SRAM Red eTap model is £4,199.
We took delivery of the WMN CF 9.0 Di2 just as I was invited to Canyon's launch of its brand new, completely remodelled women-specific range, which includes the new disc brake Endurace.
Hearing about – and seeing and riding – the new model did make me wonder about the 'old' unisex version, and I have to confess the shine was rather taken off even the idea of riding it and testing it. Happily, I was proved completely wrong. It's an absolutely beautiful bike to ride, and if disc brakes aren't a concern for you, I urge you to give this bike serious consideration. If you don't like this Blue Lagoon colourscheme, it's also available in Silk-Pearl (white).
Light, fast, responsive – a hugely enjoyable ride whether you're out for a quick blast or on an all-day epic
road.cc test report
Make and model: Canyon Endurace WMN CF 9.0 Di2
Size tested: XS
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Carbon fibre frame and fork
FRAME CANYON ENDURACE CF
FORK CANYON ONE ONE FOUR SL
HEADSET ACROS THE CLAMP
REAR DERAILLEUR SHIMANO ULTEGRA DI2, 11S
DERAILLEUR HANGER DERAILLEUR HANGER NO. 18
FRONT DERAILLEUR SHIMANO ULTEGRA DI2, 11S
BRAKE/SHIFT LEVERS SHIMANO ULTEGRA DI2, 11S
BRAKES SHIMANO ULTEGRA
CASSETTE SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
WHEELSET DT SWISS PR 1400 DICUT OXIC
TYRES CONTINENTAL GRAND PRIX 4000S II
CRANKS SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
CHAINRINGS 50 | 34
BOTTOM BRACKET SHIMANO PRESSFIT
STEM CANYON V13
HANDLEBAR CANYON H17 ERGO AL
HANDLEBAR TAPE CANYON ERGOSPEED GEL
SADDLE SELLE ITALIA SLS LADY FLOW SE
SEAT POST CANYON S14 VCLS 2.0 CF (2 / -10 MM SETBACK)
PEDALS NONE INCLUDED
FRAME SIZES XS, S, M, L
COLOUR BLUE LAGOON | SILK - PEARL
WEIGHT 7,1 KG (SIZE S )
INCLUDED IN DELIVERY
TOOLS CANYON TORQUE WRENCH
FRAME PROTECTION CANYON FRAME PROTECTION
POWER ADAPTER SHIMANO DI2 CHARGER
HANDBOOK CANYON MANUAL ROADBIKE
ACCESSORIES ACROS T6 TORX TOOL, CANYON ORGANZA BAG, CANYON TOOL CASE, CARBON ASSEMBLY PASTE, REFLECTOR SET
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?
Canyon says: "Just because you love the philosophy behind the Endurace doesn't mean you have to dive into the disc brake ocean. Rim brakes are also an option, and with the Endurace WMN CF 9.0 Di2 you can get a women's specific build that offers a high quality electric spec at a super reasonable price. The full carbon frame of the Endurace WMN CF 9.0 Di2 has been layered to provide the lateral rigidity that you'll want for all your race-winning attacks, but has also added a few perks that give the bike an unperceivable springiness for a supple ride. To make sure you have a solid feeling up front, Canyon has included the H17 Ergo AL handlebars which offer a short reach and width-dependent drop that will make it easy to change position quickly while always remaining in complete control. The S14 VCLS 2.0 seatpost with its spring leaf design to soak up road noise and vibration will support the most important touch point, the Selle Italia SLS Lady Flow saddle with its lady specific relief channel in the middle will ensure your backside doesn't suffer from unwanted pressure points or friction. The Shimano Ultegra Di2 electric groupset comes with the top-line performance but at a price that non-sponsored riders can afford. If you are looking to buy a women's specific bike that values rider specific needs, then the Endurace WMN CF 9.0 Di2 will be a great way to get top quality spec without breaking the bank."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
On the racier side of endurance.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Felt slightly stretched initially, comfortably racy.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very comfortable – apart from the saddle.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiff and very responsive.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Quite lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Light and responsive, and just a little twitchy at times.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I didn't get on with the saddle.
PR on my local climb – carrying a backpack with my laptop inside.
Very good, I think...
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
My first real 'go' at electronic shifting and I absolutely love it. I used SRAM eTap at the launch of the new women's Canyon bikes, but this was my first time with Shimano Di2 and it felt more intuitive.
Really like the gear range too; 50/34 at the front, 11-32 at the rear suits me perfectly.
I also like the shortish 165mm cranks (I have 160mm cranks on my custom-made Paulus Quiros).
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
They're not deep rims but still got blown about a bit by strong gusts of wind, not helped by the light weight of the overall package.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
No punctures, grip seemed good – but I'm not one for racing hard into corners and pushing it.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Bar width of 38cm suited me well; I have a 40cm on my Paulus Quiros, but this didn't feel too narrow.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
The only things that didn't wow me were the rim brakes; unless it was the wheels...
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's an excellent bike – light, fast and responsive. The only thing it could really do with is disc brakes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.