Canyon's all-new Aeroad offers breathtaking speed, sweet handling and great value for money: this Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Mavic Cosmic Carbon equipped model costs a bargainous £3,299. A lot of speed for not a lot of money.
The revamped Canyon Aeroad was launched at the Tour de France and immediately won two stages at the hands of Alexander Kristoff, confirming that Canyon's homework had paid off. First impressions are a good way to judge a bike and the Aeroad simply doesn't disappoint: it looks stunning with its clean-cut lines and this red over black paint job is the best yet from Canyon.
Ride and performance
We can't judge a bike on its looks though, and the result of all that frame development is that out on the road the Aeroad is hugely impressive, if going fast is your raison d'etre. And if you're reading this review, it most likely is.
Make no mistake, the Aeroad is an extremely fast bike with rapid acceleration and breathtaking momentum at higher speeds, and I don't need a wind tunnel to tell you that much. This bike will take your breath away every time you ride it - it certainly did mine.
The ride is delivered with a sense of urgency in the way it responds to inputs, both from the handlebars when you guide it through corners, and pushing hard on the pedals, whether that's scaling ascents or sprinting for imaginary finish lines. It simply wants to go as fast as you're capable of, all of the time, and provides you a stiff and very capable platform for doing exactly that.
It lacks the scintillating acceleration of some bikes when you first get going but once it gets into its stride, the Aeroad takes off down the road with astonishing pace. It feels like a bike transformed from the old Aeroad, with more energy and speed, and more stiffness evident at the front-end and through the pedals. It is much more direct, and responds to your every input with a high level of responsiveness.
The steering is sweetly balanced; sharp, clean and precise, with good feedback through the handlebars allowing you to lace together a series of corners with stunning accuracy, all while providing a clear indication of grip levels when leaning the bike over through fast corners.
Visually and athletically, the Aeroad reminds me of the Factor Vis Vires, a futuristic aero bike I tested earlier in the year. At the time I said it was one of the fastest bikes I had ever ridden, and few have even come close. The Aeroad does, very close indeed. Of course, aero bikes are designed to be fast in the wind, only a wind-tunnel can truly validate their aero performance, but based on seat of the pants impressions, and against a clock on familiar training loops, the Aeroad is right up there. The wind-tunnel test results of the Aeroad pitted against the Venge, Propel, V1-r and and Foil would be interesting to see.
It's not all about aerodynamics though, Canyon have worked hard on balancing the demands of the aerodynamics with stiffness and ride comfort. The result is a firm ride, but there's enough compliance that it never gets overwhelmed on rougher roads. Just occasionally it can get ever so slightly flustered, but a change to 25mm tyres would contribute the extra degree of bump absorption it needs. The frame and fork provide a good feeling of connection to the road surface, without allowing jolts and rattles to intrude on the excellent ride quality.
You're certainly not going to choose the Aeroad if comfort is your first priority, but if going fast is your main concern, you'll find the Aeroad a comfortable companion, even for longer rides. The Aeroad is very much a race bike, with Canyon stating it is 'made for racing' on their website. While the Ultimate would be a more comfortable and lighter all-rounder, the Aeroad is intoxicatingly fast, and I'm already eyeing it up for my 2015 race bike.
Frame and technical highlights
The improvements in the new Aeroad come from the development of the Speedmax, the company's fully fledged time trial bike. They've essentially taken all the lessons learned in developing that bike, and distilled it into the new Aeroad. The Trident 2.0 tube profiles, used for the down tube, seat tube and post, feature a rounded leading edge with a chopped tail, and are shorter and wider than found on the Speedmax. The idea is to create better aero performance for the wider range of speeds and wind conditions involved in road racing compared to flat-out time trials.
The head tube is narrower, yet they've increased the top bearing size to the same 1 1/4in size as used on the Ultimate CF SLX, thanks to narrower bearings. This reduces the frontal area while boosting front-end stiffness to enhance the handling. The seat tube is aero shaped too and the rear section is lined with a grippy material to avoid it slipping, and means you don't need any carbon paste. The seat clamp is integrated into the slender and very straight top tube, and it's very easy to adjust the saddle height.
The lower half of the seat tube wraps tightly around the rear wheel and the short seatstays only make it above the halfway point. Tyre clearance is reasonably tight with the 23mm tyres fitted, but it should accommodate 25mm tyres. All cables are internally routed and the Di2 battery is concealed inside the frame, not the seatpost.
Shimano's direct mount brakes are becoming increasingly popular in the industry, and Canyon have adopted them with the new Aeroad. They've kept the brakes in the conventional locations though, avoiding the common temptation to mount the rear brake underneath the chainstays. I'm not a fan of chainstay mounted brakes, no matter how clean they make the bike look from the side profile, so this smart decision will be a delight to anyone concerned about the muck affecting the performance of a chainstay mounted brake.
The frame weighs a claimed 960g so it's lighter than the previous Aeroad, but carries a weight penalty over the 750g Ultimate CF SLX. If weight is your main priority, the Ultimate is a better choice. If you value comfort the Endurace is for you, but if you want simply to go fast, then the Aeroad is the pick of the Canyon range for you. The Ultimate is truly a better all-rounder, but it can't match the Aeroad for pure out-and-out speed.
The geometry very closely resembles the Ultimate, but the wheelbase of the Aeroad is 11mm longer, the head tube 3mm shorter and the top tube is 11mm longer. Those important numbers are 560mm for the top tube, 147mm head tube, 989mm wheelbase, 551mm stack and 397mm reach. What those numbers tell us is that Canyon have made the Aeroad longer and lower, to push the rider into a more aerodynamic position. Makes sense for an aero bike, there's no point having the most aerodynamically efficient frame and then having the rider sit up in the wind.
Prices for the Aeroad start from £2,699 for the Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 with Shimano Ultegra mechanical and Mavic Cosmic wheels, rising to £5,899 for the Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 LTD with Dura-Ace Di2 and Zipp 404 Firecrest carbon clincher wheels.
Their sponsorship of Team Katusha is celebrated with the Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 Team Kat, essentially the same bike the team race with Dura-Ace Di2 and Mavic wheels. You can also buy the frameset, with Dura-Ace brakes and the Aerocockpit integrated handlebar for £2,149.
I was riding the £3,299 Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 Di2, specced with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset with Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLE wheels and matching tyres, and Canyon's new aluminium stem and handlebar, VCLS carbon fibre seatpost and a Fizik Arione R5 saddle. The weight on the road.cc scales was 7.41kg (16.33lb), a little more than Canyon's claimed 7.15kg.
There isn't much to say about the Ultegra Di2 groupset really. It's deeply impressive and to get it on a bike costing this little is also commendable, and demonstrates how effective Canyon's direct sales approach is.
My experience with these new direct mount brakes has been hit and miss, mostly the latter, but these Shimano Ultegra units on this Aeroad offer very good braking performance. The lever feel is noticeably firmer than Ultegra dual pivot callipers, but I remain to be convinced they're the huge leap forward that some claim.
The Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLE wheels are starting to look a bit dated compared to the cutting-edge carbon fibre clincher wheels now available but that said, they do provide very good performance, striking a good stiffness, weight and price ratio. They're made using a regular aluminium rim with a carbon fibre fairing, and Mavic's unique Exalith 2 brake track treatment provides plenty of bite for the brake blocks.
Despite their dated construction they're a competitive weight with a claimed 1,620g and they felt very flighty on the road, with good acceleration and a very nice level of stiffness. They make a great noise too: they sound fast. All wheels should sound like these. The 23mm Mavic Yksion Pro Griplink and Powerlink tyres provided good traction and dealt well with a range of road conditions, but aren't the most inspiring tyre choice. There is space for 25mm tyres and I'd be tempted to fit some if I was buying the Aeroad.
We didn't get to ride the new Aerocockpit CF integrated handlebar that we saw at the bike's launch in Leeds earlier this year; this bike was fitted with Canyon's new own-brand bar and stem separates, dubbed Canyon H16 Aero AL for the handlebar and Canyon V13 for the stem. It's nice looking kit, very understated and unassuming but matches the frameset well, and importantly the handlebars are a good shape and it's all a competitive weight.
The Fizik Arione R5 saddle is about as comfortable as saddles get, plush padding and a nice shape.
Canyon have managed to employ the aerodynamics of their Speedmax time trail bike and imbue it with much of the handling of the Ultimate, and produced a seriously fast bike that is a lot of fun to ride. And for that reason it has really worked its way into my affections.
Deeply appealing aero bike with stunning speed, looks and impressive value for money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 Di2
Size tested: medium, 55
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
The Aeroad embodies racing in its purest form. Top spot in the individual UCI WorldTour rider rankings three years in a row and victories in the world's biggest races serve as undeniable evidence of its pedigree. Now reborn, the Aeroad CF SLX proved its speed with two stage wins in its debut Tour de France. We took the best attributes from the Speedmax CF TT machine and Ulitimate CF SLX to create the 980 g frame. The result is a bike that fuses together the very best aerodynamics with the classic parameters that make a winning race bike: maximum stiffness, lightness, exceptional handling and comfort.
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?
The new Aerocockpit CF was at the core of the development and epitomises the systematic integration of key components to enhance overall performance. Increased bottom bracket stiffness is clear when putting down big watts in sprints, while tackling fast descents becomes more assured thanks to the boost in head tube stiffness. An aggressive riding position achieved through our Pro Geometry means the rider gets more speed for less effort so they can save their power for when it really matters. The Aeroad CF SLX succeeds in taking overall road bike performance to a higher level.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Top notch build quality finished with a cracking paint job.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full carbon fibre frame and fork with Basalt fibres flex used in key places to provide a bit of flex.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Pro geometry means it's designed for racers and racing, slightly longer and lower than the Ultimate.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Very aggressive, which suited me just fine - it's not a bike for doing an Audax on, but if you did you'd probably get around pretty darn quick.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes very comfortable, not as smooth as the Ultimate if we're making comparisons, but considering the aerodynamics and stiffness, it was competent in this area.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Loads of stiffness at the front and through the bottom bracket for sprinting and climbing excellence.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Hugely impressive when stomping on the pedals, not quite the same reactions from slow speeds as some bikes, but once up to speed it darted down the road.
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? Sweet steering, just the right speed at turn-in.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The 23mm tyres could be swapped for 25mm tyres to provide a bit more comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are quite stiff, they're not as compliant as some of the more modern carbon fibre clincher wheels.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Apart from the tyres there's nothing that needs changing, it's ready to race out of the box.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? A huge amount of enjoyment was had on this bike.
Would you consider buying the bike? Seriously yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? For a racing friend, yes.
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.