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The Canyon Endurace CF 8.0 has a brilliant spec list, an impressive weight for its class and plenty of comfort, so why has this review been a struggle to write? Well, there is a vital ingredient missing and without it the dish is lacking a bit of flavour.
Let's break it down a bit and I'll try and explain what I mean.
For £1,299 you're getting the same frame as found on the top flite Endurace Dave Arthur tested a few months ago, the CF 9.0 SL, and what a frame it is too.
The thing I found most notable was the ride quality. Designed as an endurance bike, the CF 8.0 needs to deliver both performance and comfort without compromise, a big ask for any frame maker.
Just like any other material, carbon frames need to be designed by someone who knows what they are doing to turn a good-feeling frame into a brilliant one and the bods at Canyon certainly know their onions in that respect.
VCLS (Vertical Compliance Lateral Stiffness) technology is what they call it and it's all about putting the material where it needs to be and in the direction you want it to flex. The CF 8.0 has a tapered head tube and everything else on the bottom half of the frameset has been beefed up to withstand the forces coming from the rider and road.
What this produces is a buttery smooth ride that feels more like steel or titanium as it absorbs every road imperfection without feeling soft. The benefit of this in reducing rider fatigue over a distance of 100 miles is marked. The Merckx EMX-1 I tested recently felt the same and highlights why the frame is always the heart of the bike rather than just a component.
The slender fork legs reduce road buzz travelling up to the rider's hands though you do feel some flex under heavy cornering load resulting in a small amount of understeer when really being pushed.
Paired to the material setup Canyon have also tweaked the geometry when compared to their race frames. Most notably, They've slackened off the angles a bit and increased the wheelbase to just sedate the ride a little. They haven't gone all-out relaxed, mind, as they've only added 11mm to the wheelbase (989mm on the medium) with 5mm of that being on the chainstays to provide more room for bigger tyres.
Speaking of tyres the Endurace comes with 25mm Conti Grand Prix 4000s though these are stretched out to 27mm thanks to the wide rim profile of the DT Swiss R24 Spline wheels to give a balance of comfort and grip without the added weight of going for a bigger volume tyre. It does give you a slightly different tyre shape but it's not something that affects the handling.
Canyon also supply an own brand VCLS carbon seatpost that is designed using a leaf spring concept allowing the saddle to almost float about and move on big impacts. It works although you do get a few 'false alarms' under heavy pedalling which can be a bit disconcerting. In all honestly I think it's overkill and would be just as happy with a standard carbon post providing you can run with enough out of the frame to achieve some flex.
In the real world all this makes the Endurace very easy to ride when you're tired or the conditions aren't too great, either with regards to the surface or weather while still providing a somewhat sporty ride should you want to put the hammer down.
Through the bends, especially flat and flowing ones, the CF 8.0 holds a very smooth line with little input from the rider. It's when things speed up, tighten up or both that the Endurace lacks that real crispness in the corners, and leaves you wanting a bit more responsiveness and feedback. Even the short 100mm stem and narrow 42cm bars can't do anything to raise the level of interest.
The comfort along with the 7.77kg (17.12lb) weight make the Endurace highly suitable for a mile muncher. It's a bike that is happy in any terrain as it rolls so well. The ratios on the 11-speed cassette mean you're highly unlikely to find yourself in between gears so maintaining speed with changes in terrain can be done from the saddle, again making a big difference to tiredness over the course of a long ride especially on unfamiliar roads.
The Endurace will sprint if you ask it but it's certainly not its forte. You don't exactly get back what you're putting in, and it all feels a little subdued to me. It does stay planted though even with maximum power going through the frame with none of that rear wheel skitting around feeling as you go for the town sign.
It's impressive to see a full Shimano 105 group at this price point and it matches the solid feel of the Canyon's frame with its positive shifting and controllable braking. The 50/34T, 11-28T gearing pretty much gives you every gear ratio you are going to need for climbing or descending, in this country anyway.
The light action of the gear change is another of those little things that add up to reducing fatigue as does the impressive bite from the calipers. Your fingers aren't aching at the bottom of a technical, wet descent from having to haul on the brakes for every single bend. The fact that the new calipers also take up to 28mm wide tyres means they're a perfect match for the frameset's clearance.
The rest of the build kit is just as impressive with a full Ritchey cockpit (although this will soon be changing to Canyon's own brand stuff soon as per their website) and a Fizik Vesta saddle. If you were to buy all this stuff separately there is no way you'd make the £1,299 price mark.
There don't seem to have been any corners cut with this build and it'll last for the long haul before needing any serious upgrades. The DT Swiss wheel choice is a really good decision, going for longevity and easy maintenance rather than something that maybe looks flashier to save a few grams. They've managed to do it without sacrificing too much weight either as the claimed wheel weight of 1,764g means they are no heavyweights.
They certainly stayed true throughout testing after plenty of back lane pothole smashing. The rims are tubeless ready too, so once the tyres come down to a sensible price there is another weight saving, comfort improving option.
So then, the missing ingredient. Can you spot it?
The excitement, where is the fun factor!
Looking at each component or ride quality in separation the Canyon Endurace CF 8.0 should be topping the road.cc Bikes of the Year for sure. Amazing price and spec list while sharing the same frameset as the top end model, comfortable, stable, decent handling and a competitive weight.
But it won't be, why? I wasn't ever really that bothered about getting it out of the shed to ride it or even look at it to be honest. To me that's what passion in your hobby or lifestyle is all about whether it be cars, guitars or whatever, they've got to ignite something inside of you.
I understand that the Endurace is designed for long distance and for that an element of predictability is a bonus but I've ridden plenty of other bikes in this category that provide all of that but still get the juices flowing.
Don't get me wrong, the CF 8.0 is a great bike, possibly even brilliant when you take everything into account but it's just not as exceptional as its stats would have you believe.
Phenomenal in almost every way but just needs a bit of personality to make it fun
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Make and model: Canyon Endurace CF 8.0
Size tested: medium
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame & Fork: Carbon Fibre using VCLS technology, (Vertical Compliance Lateral Stiffness)
Wheelset: DT Swiss R24 Spline
Gear/brake levers: Shimano 105
Brakes: Shimano 105
Chainset: Shimano 105 Compact 50/34T 172.5mm
Front Mech: Shimano 105
Rear Mech: Shimano 105
Cassette: Shimano 105 11spd 11/28T
Chain: KMC 11spd
BB: Shimano Ultegra
Seatpost: Canyon VCLS
Handlebar: Ritchey WCS Evo Curve
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4-Axis 100mm
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 4000 II
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?
"Comfort meets performance" is how Canyon explains the ethos behind the Endurace and thanks to a well designed frame it delivers in both respects. With the slightly more upright ride position and extended wheelbase it's definitely one for the long distance rider for the likes of sportives or credit card touring.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The overall quality of the frame and fork is to a very high level both cosmetically and structurally.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame and fork is full carbon fibre laid up to provide stiffness and comfort at the same time.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
More relaxed and a longer wheelbase than Canyon's race frames to provide a more stable platform for a long distance ride.
Full details here for geometry and sizes. - https://www.canyon.com/en/roadbikes/bike.html?b=3501
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Very neutral especially at higher speeds.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is good at cruising speeds and taking flat corners though becomes a little vague at the top end. My overall sum up of the Endurace CF 8.0 is that it doesn't anything particularly badly but then it doesn't really excel at anything either, the ride is very safe and middle of the road.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Canyon seatpost provides a lot of comfort through the flex design, although at times it can be a little too obvious.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Ritchey cockpit is very stiff which helps when descending or pulling on the bars.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The rolling benefit of the DT Swiss wheels and Conti tyres makes the Endurace great in changing terrain.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano 105 is one of the best value for money groupsets on the market and its great to see a full kit on the Endurace at this price.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
A very nice wheelset that is tough without being a heavyweight. They roll well and the wide rim expanding the 25mm tyre provides extra grip.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
I liked the Ritchey components for both looks and performance and while the Canyon seatpost does provide plenty of comfort for me it's a bit overkill.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? It was okay, a bit too bland though.
Would you consider buying the bike? No.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I'd suggest it as an option.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The Endurace looks absolutely amazing on paper but bikes aren't all about the stats. The CF 8.0 version is a great bike and you're getting a lot of bike for your money but for me it lacks any sort of excitement and passion. Lowering the weight by changing wheels made it more exciting to ride but I still found the frame to be lacking any real feedback.
The CF 8.0 scores 4 stars becauseit is an impressive package but for me the uninspiring ride just stops it being exceptional enough to get that extra half.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Height wise it's pretty standard for a sportive style bike with a reasonably tall headtube as is the reach. Full details are at the above link.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Spot on for the style of bike, lacks a little top end under hard acceleration.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Certainly stiff where you need it for acceleration and climbing but not overly so to be uncomfortable.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The overall feeling of comfort is pretty impressive as the carbon design and layup really takes the sting out of the ride without making the bike feel soft. The ride quality is sublime with a smoothness normally reserved for steel or titanium bikes.
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!