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Canyon launches women-specific range of disc brake-only road bikes, with 650B wheels on smaller sizes

Range comprises two carbon fibre models and one aluminium – all with disc brakes, and in five frame sizes

Canyon has launched a new three-model range of women-specific bikes, available now and priced from €1,499 to €6,199 (around £1,270-£5,260). All three are disc brake-only – which Canyon thinks is the future – and all three are available in five sizes, catering for riders from 152cm (5ft) to 186cm (6ft 1in), the smallest two sizes using 650B wheels.

The brand new Ultimate WMN CF SLX and Endurace WMN CF SL models, both with carbon frames, are available in four builds, ranging from €2,999 (£2,540) to €6,199 (£5,260) for the Ultimate and €1,999-€5,899 (£1,690-£4,990) for the Endurace, while the aluminium-framed Endurace WMN AL is available in two builds, Shimano 105 for €1,499 (£1,270) and Ultegra for €1,699 (£1,440). (All UK£ prices are approximate.)

Canyon WMN camp_1.jpg

© Canyon/René Zieger

Although 3XS and 2XS might sound tiny compared with the usual XS, S, M, L and XL of other brands (if, indeed, there are that many women-specific bikes in the range), in Canyon sizing terms it’s not. The German company has chosen to use the same sizing system for all its men’s and women’s models – so, for example, the medium men’s/unisex bike and medium women’s bike are for the same height rider.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_6.jpg

What is completely new to Canyon is that the two smaller sizes – 2XS and 3XS – are designed around 650B wheels rather than 700C, to maintain the same handling traits as the larger sizes. Using smaller diameter wheels on the smaller frames keeps the ‘trail’ measurement the same across the five sizes (trail is the horizontal distance from where the front wheel touches the ground to where the steering axis intersects the ground).

Canyon WMN_650B_700C_Comparison.jpg

Canyon says it has worked with its partners to ensure continued supply of 650B wheels and tyres for aftermarket choice; the top carbon Endurace and Ultimate models have Reynolds Assault LE wheels, all the others have DT Swiss. All are shod with 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres. (You'll be able to see the full specs at

Using smaller diameter wheels also solves the potential problem of toe overlap on smaller frames. 


Although Canyon already has WMN-labelled models in its range, they’re unisex frames specced with women-specific parts. The brand new bikes have frames designed specifically for women, with a slightly higher stack measurement and shorter reach (stack and reach are the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube). 

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL_9.jpg

Canyon used feedback from riders in its Canyon//SRAM women’s racing team and data from over 60,000 entries from women on its Perfect Position System – which showed that women are generally shorter and lighter than men, have shorter arms, narrower shoulders, and greater pelvic flexibility, but no more variation in leg length in relation to the rest of their body than men. 

Disc brakes

Why disc brakes rather than rim? In December last year Canyon revealed it was going all out on disc brakes for men, and product manager Katrin Neumann, who had overall responsibility for the new women's range, told me: “Once I’d experienced the advantage of disc brakes, I thought, OK, this is the best way for women. 

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_8.jpg

“Disc brakes don’t need the same force, the same power in the fingers, and the modulation is a lot better – you only need one finger for braking. For a lot of women their fingers can start to hurt on a long descent – it’s a lot easier with a disc brake. Then there’s the safety issue – in bad weather discs are a lot better. 

“Rim brakes have their advantages, but in my opinion disc brakes are the future, and I wouldn’t buy any other any more.”

Canyon WMN camp_6.jpg

© Canyon/René Zieger

Canyon//SRAM pro rider Tiffany Cromwell certainly seems to approve. “I’d never ridden disc brakes on a road bike before and I’m already sold,” she said at the presentation of the new range in Koblenz, where Canyon is based.

Tiffany, who’s 166cm tall and rides a 2XS, also gives the smaller diameter wheels the thumbs up, finding them much quicker to accelerate out of corners.

Frame details

Canyon WMN camp_5.jpg

© Canyon/René Zieger

All three new models feature:

  • flat mount disc brakes
  • 12mm thru-axles
  • aero forks
  • aero down tubes
  • internal cable routing
  • clearance for 33mm tyres
  • aero cockpits (H17 Ergo or H31 Ergocockpit)
Canyon WMN camp_2.jpg

© Canyon/René Zieger


Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_5.jpg

The new Ultimate is designed to be stiff and lightweight, with an aero focus. Designed in the wind tunnel "where the magic happens", it features Canyon’s Sport Pro geometry, giving a slightly more stretched riding position than the Endurace, and is aimed at pro racers and those who like to ride fast. 

Canyon WMN Ultimate_WMN_CF_SLX_Wind_Tunnel_Testing.jpg

In its research, Canyon concluded that women don’t need a bike to be as stiff laterally as a (generally heavier) man does, so it could reduce the sizing and mass of the tubes, keeping the stiffness to weight ratio largely unaffected. 

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_9.jpg

According to Canyon, the new Ultimate frame is 6.5 per cent lighter than the unisex model (a claimed 789g for the XS), has 10 per cent more vertical compliance, and provides a 5 watt aero saving.

Going for narrower tubing and thinner lines also helps the aesthetics of the new frame, particularly around the head tube/top tube junction, where smaller frames can look ‘squashed’. 

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_3.jpg


Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL_13.jpg

Both Endurace models are built around Canyon’s Sport geometry, which provides a more relaxed, upright riding position than the Ultimate. 

Designed for long-ride comfort, the new carbon Endurace uses Canyon’s ‘rear compliance clamping concept’: the seat tube has a built-in ‘Comfort Kink’, which combines with the S15 VCLS 2.0 seatpost to produce a bow-like shape, designed to enhance comfort.

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL_7.jpg

The AL frame uses what Canyon describes as ‘high end alloy’, and offers women the same advantages of the higher-spec designs in terms of geometry and disc brakes in an affordable package. 

Canyon Endurace WMN AL_4.jpg

As with the Ultimate, there’s space for up to 33mm tyres and scope to use the bikes on gravel and cobbles, though none feature mudguard eyelets.

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL_11.jpg


First rides

At the launch of the new bikes at Canyon's HQ in Koblenz, Germany, I rode the two new carbon models in their top-range builds (in size XS, so 700C wheels – Reynolds Assault LE). Ignoring the saddles on both – neither of which I got on with – first impressions were very good.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX Tass.jpg

Both models were equipped with SRAM RED eTap – my first outing using electronic shifting and I love it – both, slightly surprisingly I thought, with the same gear range: a compact 50/34 chainset (which changes to a semi-compact 52/36 on the smaller 2XS and 3XS sizes) combined with an 11-32 cassette. It makes the climbs a doddle, though I was surprised it wasn’t a more racy setup on the Ultimate.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_13.jpg

My first ride was on the Ultimate, and from the first moment of turning the pedals – just a quick scoot to see if the mechanic had got the saddle height correct – it was a joy. It felt light, stiff and very, very responsive – it’s odd how, even though you’re the person pedalling, a bike can feel like there’s something else helping too, like someone’s given you a shove or there’s a secret engine tucked away in there.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX Tass riding.jpg

© Canyon/René Zieger

All set up correctly, we set off downhill from a lovely old mill restaurant in the hills above the river Mosel, straight into a fast descent where immediately the disc brakes came into action. Another revelation! 

The geometry might have been tweaked, so the top tube is shorter than on the same size unisex model, for example, but it still felt quite stretched for me – though not uncomfortably so. In fact it felt pretty comfortable for a racier style bike than I’m used to.

We bombed along the valley floor – a good chance to practise getting the hang of the electronic shifting – before turning off up into the hills, where the light weight and low gearing meant it zipped up easily. A big swoopy descent was just reward for our efforts, and the bike felt planted and smooth. An emergency stop after following the ride leaders up a wrong turn put the SRAM disc brakes to the test again – they are superb, just so reassuring.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_10.jpg

After a delicious lunch back at the old mill, it was time for our second outing. I felt immediately more at home on the Endurace’s slightly more upright ride, which was more natural and comfortable for my style of riding. The responsiveness was also more muted than the Ultimate, though it was pretty marginal, I thought – there's certainly nothing power-suckingly spongy about the Endurace. 

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL_10.jpg

We followed the same descent to the river, disc brakes once again in action, then crossed to the other side for another long and winding climb through forest, this time heading back towards Koblenz. The  forest 'road' had seen better days, but the Endurace took the slightly bumpy and rough tarmac in its stride. If it hadn't been for the saddle I could have carried on climbing all day…

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Tass riding.jpg

© Canyon/René Zieger

The ride was full of new experiences for me, one of which was using an aero bar with a wide, flat top – a great resting place for your hands when sitting up and climbing steadily.

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL_6.jpg

Reward for the climb this time was a series of tight hairpins descending from a country park, past errant toddlers and meandering grandparents, through trees to the river – all perfectly safely thanks to the excellent disc brakes. I'm a convert. Canyon product manager Katrin reckons rim brakes will disappear in the next few years (see below) and I’m inclined to agree.

• We’ll be getting one of the new models in to test more fully, but in the meantime you can read more at


Canyon WMN Katrin Neumann.jpg

Q&A with Canyon product manager Katrin Neumann

Why do you prefer disc brakes?

I’m used to them from mountain biking; of course there’s not as much mud on the road, but you still profit a lot – in a group, if others have disc brakes and I don’t, I miss out on the corners. With disc brakes I can ride fast for longer, brake later on, and it gives me a better feeling of control over the bike.

What do you think will happen with rim brakes? 

In my opinion, they will disappear, though how long it takes will depend a bit on the UCI. In mountain biking it took a couple of years, and originally I thought it would take more or less the same time [for road bikes], but now I think, as soon as people get used to it, it will happen faster than in mountain biking; then it was completely new.

What would you say to a woman who’s just bought one of the unisex models?

The unisex model is not a bike she cannot ride – the new bike is just an improvement. It’s just the detail which makes it even better. Also, I wouldn’t say every woman fits best on a woman’s bike, but the average woman does (I’m sure a lot of men would fit on a woman’s bike better, too, but they’d never ride it).

Do you think you have the road bike market covered for women with these three models?

The range goes from the entry-level AL to high-end, sporty, racy bikes that are more aero and lightweight than current ones. You can pay less for rim brakes, but I think prices will drop for disc brakes.

Can you reassure smaller riders that there will be a full range of 650B wheels and tyres available?

We talked to our partners and they will supply us with enough spare rims and tyres, and Schwalbe tyres in all sizes are already available in shops or to order. If you want to change wheels you can buy them direct from Canyon, but I think the advantage is so good that a lot of other companies will stock them too.

Canyon Ultimate WMN CF SLX_14.jpg

Which is your favourite of the three models? 

All three have their advantages – but if I had to choose I’d say the Ultimate, because I’m from the racy side.

What are you most proud of?

My goal would be to reach the point when men say ‘that’s a better bike and I want to have that bike’. Because then you step out of the women’s bike corner, that idea that women’s bikes don’t count as much as men’s bikes – “if you’re not a serious rider then you can buy a women’s bike”. If we reached that point, it wouldn’t be one special bike I’d be proud of, just that the whole topic would take a big step forward.

Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.

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tom_w | 7 years ago

Decathlon do this on the smaller Triban's too (or they used to), my partner's Triban has 650b wheels.

RobD | 7 years ago

I love the team issue replica paint scheme, I'd love that on one of the unisex bikes too

antigee | 7 years ago

failed to follow this bit? 

"a compact 50/34 chainset (which changes to a semi-compact 52/36 on the smaller 2XS and 3XS sizes) "

missed any explanation - everything else looks fantastic - so to be blunt why? or is this just a misread of the spec sheets?

STATO replied to antigee | 7 years ago
1 like

antigee wrote:

failed to follow this bit? 

"a compact 50/34 chainset (which changes to a semi-compact 52/36 on the smaller 2XS and 3XS sizes) "

missed any explanation - everything else looks fantastic - so to be blunt why? or is this just a misread of the spec sheets?


Smaller wheels travel less distance per crank revolution, so the gear ratio needs to be raised to align with the ratio on larger sizes.

gonedownhill | 7 years ago

Good that they are offering more sizes. Shame they seem to have axed the 3XL size from the men's/unisex range though.

pwake | 7 years ago

Those bikes look great; aided by an almost total abscence of the colour pink. Seems like canyon have really done their research on these.

pwake | 7 years ago

Those bikes look great; aided by an almost total abscence of the colour pink. Seems like canyon have really done their research on these.

AndrewDeKerf | 7 years ago
1 like

Wow. The level of integration and the industrial design of these bikes is really superb. I have to say, a much better job than the likes of Specialized and Trek this year.

Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago

Been thinking of getting a woman's frame for myself, as although 5'11, I'm shortish in body so the shorter top tubes would probably work for me.

Alessandro | 7 years ago
1 like

I've started to look for a bike for my wife who is vertically challenged and agree with Unconstituted that small wheels on big frames always look terrible. I had been looking at the Liv range but this looks way better and the colour scheme (in my opinion) is superb. Also glad to see that the integrated carbon bar and stem hasn't been put onto the cheaper frame - expensive disaster waiting to happen!

surly_by_name replied to Alessandro | 7 years ago

AST1986 wrote:

I've started to look for a bike for my wife who is vertically challenged ...

I thought short wives like 23mm tyres, and we were all supposed to have upgraded to the taller models?

DrJDog | 7 years ago

The new hydro eTap shifters don't look good  2

Any reason why slighter, smaller men shouldn't be getting these frames?

CygnusX1 replied to DrJDog | 7 years ago

DrJDog wrote:

Any reason why slighter, smaller men shouldn't be getting these frames?

None whatsoever: If the bike fits, ride it.  One of the mechanics at my LBS is about 5'4" (possibly less) and he rides a Liv Avail because they do a size smaller than the equivalent Giant Defy.

Thankfully most bikes aimed at the female market these days aren't candy pink and/or floral details - nobody is likely to notice except perhaps your riding buddies, and they should realise fit is more important than whether a bike is supposedly for someone of the opposite sex (and if they don't, get yourself some new buddies). 

Similarly my ski-boots are female specific - they fit the arch of my foot better than the men's version in the same shoe size.  The only visible difference between them is an additonal "W" at the end of the model number.

1961BikiE | 7 years ago
1 like

Great to see some brands now catering so widely for the ladies.

Like the sound of 650b Schwalbe One tyres. Should be able to fit those and wheels into my 26" MTB frame for faster commuting.

surly_by_name | 7 years ago

Stoking the "disc brakes are the work of satan" fires again, particularly with the "[t]hen there’s the safety issue – in bad weather discs are a lot better".

That red one looks wrong somehow, the angles maybe? The pale blue (aqua? turquoise?) one looks good though.

Is this really a thing though? Plenty of tiny pros ride 700c wheels, apparently without problems - Dominico Pozzavivo (5'4") springs to mind. Fewer choices in tyres, wheels (although if you buy a complete bike, clearly less of an issue until you come to replace them). Anyway, good luck to them, it will be interesting to see how they sell.

CygnusX1 replied to surly_by_name | 7 years ago

surly_by_name wrote:

That red one looks wrong somehow, the angles maybe? The pale blue (aqua? turquoise?) one looks good though.

I agree, but can't put my finger on why. Perhaps its just the colour?

ashliejay | 7 years ago
1 like

it's neat that the frames could supposedly fit women who are 6ft, although looking that numbers could do with a large as for some that could feel a bit cramped.

still neat there's a cheaper team replica as the paint scheme is sick.

tritecommentbot | 7 years ago

Looks way better! Small frame sizes with big wheels always looked out of proportion. 

That said, would love to see some independant testing on speeds.

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