review

Canyon Endurace CF SLX 9.0 SL

9
£5,099.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Wonderfully smooth and comfortable endurance disc road bike with plenty of pace on tap when you want it
Weight: 
7,300g
Contact: 

Canyon's brand new Endurace CF SLX 9.0 SL is a complete revamp of the original, and succeeds in offering a wonderfully smooth and comfortable ride yet with fast and engaging handling to indulge all those who like to ride quickly. And it now benefits from hydraulic disc brakes and thru-axles for improved braking performance in all conditions.

The endurance bike is the most in-demand style of road bike at the moment and that means it's the most crowded category, with every manufacturer offering a bike that is in principle a relaxed and more comfortable version of a race bike. That helps explain why our buyer's guide to endurance bikes is one of our most-read articles. 

> Buy this bike online here

This is a review of the range-topping £5,099 Endurace CF SLX 9.0 SL, but the complete range starts at £2,999, using the same frame and common details like hydraulic disc brakes and 28mm wide tyres, so you can get much of the performance and comfort of our test bike for a good deal less. Even at these prices, the Canyon direct-sales business model means these are extremely competitive compared with similarly specced bikes from other big brands.

You can read all the technical details of the new bike in this first look article. With a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, lightweight Mavic wheels, carbon handlebar and exceedingly comfortable Fizik saddle, the medium sized Endurace CF SLX weighs 7.3 (16lb), putting it up there with the lightest disc brake-equipped road bikes we've tested, regardless of their category designation. That lack of weight provides very little penalty on the climbs or anytime you're applying maximum power.

Ride and performance

There's no denying it, the Endurace CF SLX is hugely impressive in terms of ride and performance. It's the smoothness that first grabs you. The VCLS 2.0 seatpost provides a huge range of rearward deflection at the saddle – you can actually see the saddle moving underneath you when you look between your legs. It's slightly disconcerting at first (especially coming from the razor sharp Pinarello Dogma F8) but you quickly get used to it. It works well, filtering out vibrations from poorly surfaced roads while also dealing with bigger impacts such as potholes or cattle grids.

The comfort factor is helped by the fact that Canyon has lowered the seat clamp inside the frame. Lots lower. It basically allows more of the seatpost to flex back and forth, ramping up the available deflection. It feels every bit as effective as the Isospeed decoupler on Trek's Domane, which I reviewed a while ago. Adjusting the saddle angle is a bit of a fiddle – you have to remove the post from the frame – but it's a set-and-forget job. Adjusting the saddle height is made easy with height markers on the front of the post and an Allen bolt at the back.

At the front of the bike is the distinctive one-piece carbon fibre handlebar. Canyon calls it the H31 Ergocockpit, though I prefer hammerhead because it resembles the head of a hammerhead shark when you're looking down at it. It has obviously been designed to reduce the frontal surface area and therefore drag, but it's also been tuned to provide more compliance (6% according to Canyon) than the H11 Aerocockpit it's based on. It appears to work.

It might look like a big immovable chunk of carbon, but it does seem to provide enough compliance that it helps damp quite a lot of the roughness that would normally be transmitted through the fork and into the handlebar and leading to a jarring ride. With this bar, only the biggest impacts really unsettle the otherwise buttery smooth ride.

The downside is that you can't adjust the position as easily as with a conventional setup, but Canyon does alter the length of the stem based on the frame size, so it's not a big job to change it. I found the stock bar just fine, but I'm sure Canyon would happily swap it if you knew you needed a longer stem.

The aero-shaped tops with their six-degree back sweep are very comfortable to grip, but I reckon the drops could be a bit shallower for the sort of person who is likely to buy this bike.

Tyres and wheels

Contributing to the bike's overall smoothness are the 28mm wide Mavic Yksion Pro tyres, standard across the range and not just on this top model. At 80psi they provide plenty of cushioning and predictable traction in a range of conditions. I found them dependable in the rain and dry, and over rough and gravel surfaces.

The new Mavic Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL Disc wheels have a wide rim to really make the most of the wide tyres. They provide all the stiffness and ruggedness you need, with thru-axle compatible hubs. At 1,520g for the pair they're very light for a disc brake-ready wheelset, and certainly contribute to the Endurace's agility. The new Instant Drive 360 freehub engages very quickly and makes the nicest sound, a few notches down in the decibel meter than a Hope freehub I'd say.

Racy yet relaxed

Canyon bills itself as a race bike company, so it's no surprise that the Endurace CF SLX is one of the raciest endurance bikes I've tested. All endurance bikes are relaxed in comparison to the race bikes they're loosely based on, some more so than others, but the Endurace is really not that high at the front. The stack is only 10mm higher than the Ultimate CF SLX race bike. That means it's a bit more laid-back, but you can still get quite an aggressive position if you prefer to really hunch over the bar and get aero to punch as small a hole through the air as possible.

Although the Endurace's geometry is more relaxed than the Ultimate's, it's more agile and nimble than many rival endurance bikes. Its short 990mm wheelbase gives it a nimbleness that's lacking in some, while the increased fork rake used to decrease the trail (the distance from the centre of the contact point of the front wheel with the road to the point where the steering axis intersects the road surface) further contributes to the direct and agile manners it displays in willing hands.

It's absolutely stable when you want it to be, though, such as riding no hands to unwrap an energy bar. There's also no lack of stiffness in the frame and fork. Slack this bike ain't.

I found the position a really good fit. It's not quite as slammed as a race bike but I could still get pretty low over the front – but not so low that you're in danger of putting your back out. The reach is also shorter. Combined, I found the fit pretty much spot on; I could happily ride the Endurace CF SLX in place of my race bike on faster training rides and chain gangs, yet it was comfortable for all-day rides. Heck, I'd happily race it if the rules allowed it; I found very little compromise.

No wrinkles

On a day-to-day basis, the Endurace CF SLX is a simply wonderful bike. I've ridden it nearly every day since it arrived, using it for leisurely rides through the countryside to faster-paced sessions with a power meter, and there's not one wrinkle in its handling that blemishes the package. It's near perfect. It tackles rough country lanes, fast and smooth main roads, fast, swooping descents, tortuous climbs, congested roads, even the odd gravel track, all with a level of refinement few of its rivals can better.

If there's one criticism, it's the lack of mudguard mounts. That's deliberate on Canyon's part, as it already offers the Inflite for people who want a disc-equipped bike that can be fitted with mudguards, leaving the Endurace focused on performance rather than any year-round versatility ambitions. Regardless, it'll be seen as an omission by mudguard enthusiasts, especially as there looks to be plenty of space between the tyres and frame, and when other endurance bikes, such as the Trek Domane and Cervélo C5, have included mudguard eyelets.

Brakes and bits

Endurance bikes benefit from disc brakes for all-weather riding, with confident braking in the wet and dry their biggest asset. Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 groupset with hydraulic callipers operating on 160mm rotors sets the benchmark at the moment. It's a marvellous thing. The brake levers are easy to operate with just one finger even on the very steepest hills, with plenty of modulation plus grip from the tyres meaning no risk of locking a wheel, even on rain-soaked roads.

It uses the latest flat mount standard to bolt the callipers to the frame and fork, which provides a nice appearance but does lack the adjustability of a post mount setup. Brake squeal and noise were a rare occurrence during the test period.

Canyon has given the Endurace 12mm thru-axles at both ends, with a clean Allen bolt head that does away with a fixed QR lever, marginally reducing weight but massively improving the appearance. You can either carry the supplied QR lever or just take a multi-tool with a 5mm tool bit.

Conclusion

As I said at the start of this review, the market for endurance bikes is pretty crowded at the moment, so there's plenty of choice for anyone seeking a fast and comfortable bike for long rides. The Cannondale Synapse and Giant Defy Advanced SL are two brilliant bikes that have long been established at the top of the category; the Cervélo C5 and Trek Domane, two new releases this year, are also both excellent. But the Endurace CF SLX? The ride, comfort, smoothness and performance is every bit as good as its key rivals, but factor in the price and the Canyon could be the best new endurance bike to be released this year.

Verdict

Wonderfully smooth and comfortable endurance disc road bike with plenty of pace on tap when you want it

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Canyon Endurace CF SLX 9.0 SL

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 ENDURACE CF SLX DISK

FORK CANYON ONE ONE FOUR SLX DISC

HEADSET ACROS | CANYON

REAR DERAILLEUR SHIMANO DURA-ACE DI2, 11S

DERAILLEUR HANGER DERAILLEUR HANGER NO. 40

FRONT DERAILLEUR SHIMANO DURA-ACE DI2, 11S

BRAKE/SHIFT LEVERS SHIMANO DI2 ST-R785

BRAKES SHIMANO BR-RS805

CASSETTE SHIMANO DURA-ACE, 11S

WHEELSET MAVIC KSYRIUM PRO CARBON SL DISC WTS

TYRES MAVIC YKSION PRO SSC GRIPLINK | MAVIC POWERLINK

CRANKS SHIMANO DURA-ACE, 11S

CHAINRINGS 52 | 36

BOTTOM BRACKET SHIMANO PRESSFIT

COCKPIT CANYON H31 ERGOCOCKPIT

HANDLEBAR TAPE CANYON ERGOSPEED GEL

SADDLE FIZIK ALIANTE R3

SEAT POST CANYON S15 VCLS 2.0 CF (2 / -10 MM SETBACK)

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: "No two rides are the same. When you need a bike that covers you for any scenario, the Endurace comes calling. Combining our endurance-optimised Sport Geometry with a host of features designed to enhance contol and comfort, we targeted riders who want to go far and go fast. From the flagship Endurace CF SLX, our first dedicated disc brake road bike, to our aluminium showstopper, the Endurace AL, there truly is a model to suit every rider. The choice is yours. Choose to ride.

"The Endurace CF SLX 9.0 SL unites control, comfort and speed like nothing else on the road. Partnering hydraulic disc brakes with wide 28 mm tyres changes everything when it comes to fast descending confidence. Lightweight Mavic Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL wheels get you up to speed quickly while their semi-deep profile works perfectly with our aero-optimised frameset to enhance efficiency even further. Last of all, the full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset offers the pinnacle in precision electronic shifting performance."

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Superb quality and attention to detail.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Full carbon fibre frame and fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

More relaxed than a race bike but not as much as some rival endurance bikes.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Spot on.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Extremely comfortable, right up there with the best endurance bikes.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

No lack of stiffness when you want to pedal or ride hard.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Very well.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Agile.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Very agile and nimble handling thanks to the short wheelbase, making it an entertaining ride.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The seatpost is deeply impressive, as is the handlebar.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The wide tyres provide a great deal of comfort.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
8/10

You get a lot of bike for your money compared to rival brands.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

Use this box to explain your score

Based on the performance alone the bike is an easy 9/10, it does everything you want an endurance bike to do and more, with its aero shaped tubes and low slung geometry. Then you add in the price and there's no denying it, the value is impressive compared with similarly priced endurance bikes in terms of the level of equipment on offer here. It's nearly perfect. If I'm being really fussy, the lack of mudguard mounts counts against it, especially as both the Cervélo C5 and Trek Domane manage to offer this provision.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

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.

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