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First Ride: Canyon Ultimate AL 2012

Aluminium bike with Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifting is on the way

Canyon have redesigned their Ultimate AL aluminium road bike for 2012 and it will now be available in a Shimano Ultegra Di2 option.

The frame comes with Canyon’s tweaked, assymetric Maximus seat tube which bulges out on the non-driveside for increased stiffness but stays far less, um, bulgy on the driveside to accommodate the drivetrain. The cables go down the internal route for 2012 too – not just on the Di2 version, but on the mechanical shift models too – and the bottom bracket is now press-fit rather than threaded.

In terms of geometry the Ultimate AL is in the middle of the Canyon range of setups. Canyon specify a particular ratio of stack height at the front to reach (effective top tube), and the ratio is the same across all the bike sizes. Sport is the most upright, followed by Sport Pro which is a bit lower, and Pro, the lowest. The Ultimate AL is Sport Pro.

Canyon are claiming 1,220g for the frame and 295g for the One One Four SLX fork, which spins on a 1 1/4in bearing at the top and 1 1/2in at the bottom.

Jo took the Di2-equipped model for a spin at Eurobike, Mat was aboard the SRAM Force version. The verdict? It rides like you might expect an aluminium Canyon to ride: it’s super-stiff. Those Germans love a bike that doesn’t flex about and this one certainly doesn’t. That’s especially noticeable at the front end. Haul those bars about, drag ’em upwards, put all your weight on ’em… it makes to difference. This is one solid bike. It’s the same at the bottom bracket: efficient. Like, solid.

Is all that stiffness a Good Thing? Jo reckoned he’d need to be about 20kg heavier to get the best out of the Ultimate AL. He’s the sort of rider who likes to work with the bike, encouraging it along with finesse and some kind words. That’s not to say Jo disliked the Canyon, but he didn’t feel it was particularly suited to him.

Mat, who likes to boot bikes uphill whether they like it or not – a kind of tough love approach – liked the bike much more. Horses for courses, as ever. But you get the picture. It’s a bit of a hardnut, although pretty light with it. You’re looking at just over 1,200g for the frame, according to Canyon’s own figures.

If you’re thinking stiffness means uncomfortable, think again. Canyon’s VCLS (Vertical Comfort Lateral Stiffness) seatpost does a great job of keeping the ride-quality sweet. We know this from experience at home, not from our time at Eurobike. All the roads in this part of the world are super-smooth anyway so there’s very little damping for the seatpost to do. Everything feels comfortable around here.

2012 prices are a way off being finalized yet but as it’s an aluminium bike from renowned value-meisters Canyon, we’re guessing it’s going to be… well, not cheap but hopefully not scary-expensive either. For reference, last year’s entry-level Canyon Ultimate AL 8.0 – with a Campag Athena 11-spd groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels – was £1,329.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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mather | 11 years ago
VecchioJo | 12 years ago

i'm at a proper racing weight of 70kg at the moment (according to the airport luggage scales) and it felt 'solid', like it certainly wasn't going to give any under my weight when being flighty on the pedals, and i prefer a frame with a bit of spring to it, but it didn't feel overly harsh just spinning along either

The _Kaner | 12 years ago
0 likes would it feel for 68kg rider...? What weight is Jo?

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