If you enjoy riding fast – and who doesn't? – then you won't find a more suitable bike for satisfying your desire to set the pace than Canyon's Aeroad CF SLX, which in this £2,699 base level 6.0 build, offers exceptional value for money.
Over two and a half grand isn't cheap, of course, but the package does include fancy Mavic wheels that would set you back £1,150, a full Shimano Ultegra groupset, and a state of the art aerodynamic, race proven, carbon frame.
Aero road bikes have traditionally been compromised. They are fast, yes, no doubt about that, but you have to sacrifice the low weight and comfort of a regular road bike. With the Aeroad, that's simply not the case: it's wonderfully compliant and forgiving over rough roads, and at 7.31kg, even in this cheapest build, it ascends like a mountain goat – you'll not be wishing for a lighter bike on steeper gradients, that's for sure.
But the impression that is most imprinted on your memory after a ride on the Aeroad is just how quick it feels, and how direct and engaging the handling is. The steering is fast and there's an urgency to the way the short wheelbase (998mm) and 73.25-degree head angle combine to let you really attack corners.
I can't give you any wind tunnel data to back up my real-world findings, but there's no doubting the Aeroad is fast when compared with conventionally designed road bikes. The string of Strava PBs I've clocked on it, even without really trying, and faster average speeds on familiar sections of road are testament to the aero advantage provided by this bike.
It just encourages you to ride fast. Everywhere. All of the time. You'll lose your riding mates unless you rein in its propensity to surge ahead at every opportunity. The aero-shaped frame and fork combined with the deep-section wheels clearly work in your favour. It gets up to speed quickly, too, the frame displaying a high level of stiffness that ensures it's very responsive when sprinting, ideal for covering attacks in a road race and winning the all-important town sign sprint at the end of a group ride. The firmness of the frame and fork provides excellent control and it remains composed even during your most powerful efforts.
There is no mistaking the fact that it's a race-focused bike, but despite being built to deliver outright speed, it's also a comfortable bike for longer, more sedate-pace rides. It's not so aggressive and jarring over a wide range of road surfaces that you can't be comfortable for rides in excess of six or seven hours, and it's very usable for non-racers as well as speed freaks. Granted, it's not the smoothest and most compliant ride on a mixture of rough roads, but it compares favourably to other aero road bikes and a whole host of conventional road bikes.
Civilised it may be at lower speeds and over long distances, but it's at higher speeds that the Aeroad's character is most appealing. It's an entertaining ride, with quick responses and a satisfying balance at higher speeds that all help it set a benchmark for aero road bike performance. That short wheelbase and compact geometry make the Aeroad feel nimble through the corners and on fast descents, really highlighting its handling prowess.
The benefit of Canyon's direct-sales business model is apparent in the full Shimano Ultegra groupset and fancy carbon wheels. Canyon has fitted this bike with £1,150 Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith hoops. While they're not as light (1,625g) or stiff as an all-carbon aero wheel, the 52mm V-section profile rims and aero spokes still provide a serious injection of speed into the overall package.
A benefit of these wheels over an all-carbon wheelset is the aluminium rim, with the French company's unique Exalith brake track surface treatment. They provide awesome braking performance in wet or dry conditions, albeit a bit noisy, though it quietens with time.
The only downside to the wheels is inferior crosswind stability compared with the latest generation of U-shaped profile rims, but that's a minor quibble really. You certainly won't be complaining when you get back from the first, and most likely blistering, ride aboard the Aeroad.
The 25mm Mavic Yksion Pro Griplink and Powerlink tyres provide plenty of grip, too, to let you exploit the high cornering speeds the Aeroad is capable of.
I suspect many Aeroad customers will opt for the more expensive Shimano Ultegra Di2 model, but if you're happy with mechanical shifting then this is a fine build. I like the 52/36 chainset, which provides a good setup for high-speed riding and racing, while working well on more leisurely and hilly terrain. I've not been the biggest fan of direct mount brakes, but the Shimano Ultegra versions work well enough, with quite a firm lever feel and easy adjustability.
Canyon reserves its fancy one-piece Aerocockpit handlebar and stem for more expensive Aeroad builds, and this bike instead makes use of a regular stem and handlebar. That's no bad thing in my book, as it means you can easily tailor the bike to fit and, critically, swap out the stem if you need to go shorter or longer.
The Canyon branded bar and stem are made from aluminium and have an understated appearance. The stem doesn't use the common 1 1/8in steerer tube clamp size, but a larger 1 1/4in, which does make sourcing aftermarket replacements a little tricky, but some companies, besides Canyon, offer them. The handlebar has a satisfying shape with a slightly deeper drop than a compact bend, which promotes a more aggressive position.
Canyon wraps the bar with its own handlebar tape, and it provides a small degree of cushioning with a nice tactile feel, giving enough grip to make riding without gloves just fine.
A Fizik Arione saddle is one of my favourites, and is extremely comfortable.
There are seven sizes to choose from in the Aeroad range. Choosing the right size Canyon can be trickier than walking into your local bike shop, swinging a leg over a bike and pointing it at the car park. If you are buying the Aeroad to replace a current bike, the best way to get the right size is to use the stack and reach figures from your current bike (the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) and marry them up with the Aeroad figures.
To offer further help, the Canyon geometry chart indicates the frame size based on a height range. I'm 180cm and the chart suggested a medium, and it's spot on – I rode a medium and it suited me perfectly. The geometry is, as you'd expect, on the racy side, with the medium size sporting a 560mm top tube and 147mm head tube, 551mm stack and 379mm reach.
The Aeroad range starts with this build at £2,699 and continues on up to £6,699. You can also buy a frame for £2,299 if you want to build your own bike.
If you've read this far and you're wondering about the well-publicised delivery delays over the past few months, it would appear the company is back on top of things, with a new facility providing massively expanded capacity. It's shipping an impressive 500 bikes a day around the world. Stu Kerton paid the new facility a visit recently and you can go behind the scenes of the assembly of a Canyon road bike in his feature here.
Many manufacturers now list an aero road bike in their lineups, and one bike worth considering is the Giant Propel Advanced 0. It's cheaper at £2,499 and offers a carbon frame and fork with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, but the shallow section aluminium wheels can't compete with the Canyon's Mavics.
Another option is the home-grown Boardman Elite Air 9.2, which for £2,799 offers a Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical groupset with an FSA carbon fibre chainset. As with the Giant, there's a trade-off in the shape of shallow aero wheels, but if you already have your own deep-section carbon wheels, the Giant and Boardman might be interesting alternatives.
Canyon has been winning a lot of praise for its well engineered and attractively priced road bikes in recent years, and the Aeroad CF SLX is an entertaining and deeply enjoyable bike that won't disappoint if it's the thrill of speed that makes you smile most on a ride.
Fast, exciting and comfortable, an aero bike that easily justifies its price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME CANYON AEROAD CF SLX
FORK CANYON AEROBLADE SLX
HEADSET ACROS | CANYON
REAR DERAILLEUR SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
DERAILLEUR HANGER DERAILLEUR HANGER NO.25
FRONT DERAILLEUR SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
BRAKE/SHIFT LEVERS SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
BRAKES SHIMANO ULTEGRA
CASSETTE SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
WHEELSET MAVIC COSMIC PRO CARBON EXALITH WTS
TYRES MAVIC YKSION PRO GRIPLINK | MAVIC POWERLINK
CRANKS SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
CHAINRINGS 52 | 36
BOTTOM BRACKET SHIMANO PRESSFIT
STEM CANYON V13
HANDLEBAR CANYON H16 AERO AL
HANDLEBAR TAPE CANYON ERGOSPEED GEL
SADDLE FIZIK ARIONE R5
SEAT POST CANYON S27 AERO VCLS CF
PEDALS NONE INCLUDED
FRAME SIZES 2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
COLOUR STEALTH - ASPHALT GREY | METOR GREY - LIME
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: "With multiple Tour de France stage wins and Monuments like the Tour of Flanders already under its belt, the second generation Aeroad CF SLX has taken the success of the original Aeroad CF to the next level. Our innovative Trident 2.0 tube profiles cut through the air to give a real world speed advantage, while the Pro Geometry provides a low and aggressive riding position for unrivalled aero efficiency. Stiff for the finish line sprint, light for climbing ease and compliant on rough roads, the Aeroad CF SLX is the most complete aero race bike out there. Get the competitive edge you're after."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent build quality and design.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Carbon fibre is used to construct the frame and fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's racy, as you'd expect from a bike designed for cheating the wind and for racing.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
With a longer stem, I found the fit perfect, and very conducive to riding fast.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For an aero bike the Aeroad is surprisingly comfortable, it impressively smooths out rough roads. You can tackle a sportive or epic distance ride on the Aeroad comfortably.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The oversized bottom bracket, tapered head tube and large down tube all ensure the bike is very firm and direct.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Sprints very well.
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? Fast.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very good handling, quite fast steering when diving into corners, and it's stable and composed on higher speed descents.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels inject a lot of pace and speed into the overall package, and the separate handlebar and stem setup makes it easy to refine the fit.
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
Use this box to explain your score
The Aeroad is a very easy bike to like, its speed is infectious and it's easy to live with on a daily basis and comfortable enough for longer rides. It's very good value for money - there's nothing you need to change on it.
About the tester
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, mountain biking
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.