Canyon Aeroad CFR review
Canyon claims to have the world's fastest aero bike with the Aeroad CFR... but what about those width-expandable bars?!
Fast, clean design that isn’t overly harsh; width-adjustable handlebars; exceptional price
Only 15mm of cockpit height adjustment; stem length is fixed
The bar design is cool! Practical adjustment meets super-clean aesthetics. And no, you can’t tell a difference in stiffness when riding. It’s just a shame that stem length is very much fixed. And yes, the bike rides quite well, too…
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Canyon’s brand new Aeroad CFR is an aero road race bike like no other — its integrated bar/stem module unbolts on either side for up to 40mm in width adjustment. The new iteration of the Aeroad also got a complete overhaul of the frame design to shave off a few grams of both weight and aero drag.
Canyon claims that the new Aeroad CFR, which you may have seen being raced in the Tour de France this year, is the world’s fastest aero bike. I can’t verify that without a wind tunnel and considerably more money than I have in my pocket, but I can say the Aeroad CFR does feel like you’re always surfing a tailwind. And you can get it delivered to your door, for about $4,000 less than comparable bikes from Specialized or Trek.
The new Aeroad comes in eight models, from the $4,000 CL SL Disc 7 up to the top end CFR Disc 9 EPS with Campagnolo’s top-end electronic group. Six models are available in the US, and I tested the $9,000 SRAM Red eTap AXS model.
An unique solution to aero integration – bar none
One-piece bar/stem designs are enjoying a surge in popularity, well more than a decade after Cinelli first rolled out the concept with its Ram design. On the plus side, building the stem and handlebar as a single carbon-fiber piece can improve weight, stiffness, and aerodynamics, particularly when you run shift and brake lines inside the structure. Plus, it just looks cool.
On the negative side, one-piece bar and stems by design are fundamentally nonadjustable. Want to adjust the bar’s angle? Or get a wider bar, or a longer stem? Tough.
Canyon is in a particularly tight spot here as a consumer-direct brand. Normally, if you buy a bike in a shop, the good folks helping you out can swap out a stem to get your fit just right, as well as adjust the stack height of the bars. When you buy from Canyon, you get what comes stock in the box. And if you want something different, you need to get that separately and handle the swap yourself, or via your local mechanic.
Now, with its CP0018 bar/stem, Canyon has a novel solution to half the cockpit fit equation: By removing four Torx bolts, you can expand or contract the handlebars’ width by a total of 40mm.
Another novel design with the Aeroad CFR front end is the height adjustment. Instead of a standard stem design that clamps onto a steerer tube, the CP0018 clamps inside the steerer tube. It’s a new-school quill design, and one that eliminates the need for cutting the steerer tube — or riding around with a bunch of spacers on top of the stem.
While the design looks beautiful, it does limit you to 15mm of vertical adjustment — substantially less than you’d get with a traditional steerer tube. That said, Canyon does offer XS to XL frames with small jumps between sizes, reducing the potential need for big front-end height adjustments.
Another important note on front-end fit: Canyon shortened and raised the stack and reach on this new bike to bring it in line with the Canyon Ultimate.
Stem length, however, is very much fixed. For most people, that shouldn’t be a problem. But if you want another length, you’ll have to sort it out yourself after the purchase, exchanging the original CP0018 for credit.
Getting aero with Swiss Side
Swiss Side is a small company specializing in aerodynamics, and its work shows in multiple ways on this bike. The 62mm deep DT Swiss ARC 1100 wheels were designed with the input of Swiss Side, whose engineers hail from Formula 1. And the cockpit and frame were also designed in partnership with Swiss Side, which uses both computational fluid dynamics as well as a lot of time in a German wind tunnel for validation of designs.
Canyon claims that the new frame is 7.4 watts faster (at 45kph), 170g lighter and 14 percent stiffer than the original Aeroad.
Canyon built the lower half of a mannequin with moving legs to test a rider’s impact on a bike’s aerodynamics. With that mannequin and two water bottles, Swiss Side and Canyon determined that the new bike is 5.4w faster at 45kph when taking a range of yaw angles into account.
Canyon and Swiss Side came up with a faster bike design, using more elongated tube shapes, but ultimately settled on a slimmed-down version to keep weight on target.
The complete bike in AXS build with 62mm wheels weighs 7.26kg/16lb in size medium.
How the Aeroad CFR rides
First things first: Yes, the bars are rock solid. No, there isn’t any wiggle at the bolt points. Think about how your bars bolt to your stem, or how your seatpost bolts to your frame. Does anything there move? No? It’s the same deal here.
The CP0018 drops are sculpted a bit. Instead of being a traditional curved cylinder, the drops flatten a bit to accommodate the palms. I don’t particularly like the old/current design on the Canyon Ultimate as it feels almost pointed near the shifter clamp, but this one fits me. So, riding in the drops — whether just cruising along or yanking on them to sprint — feels locked in.
I appreciate that Canyon and Aeroad didn’t go overboard on aero shaping. At the bar tops, this means that while the flat top is broader than a round bar, you can still hook your thumbs around it. On very deep aero bars, I’ve seen riders ride with their thumbs above the bar with the rest of their fingers; this is a bad idea!
Similarly, the frame and post are well balanced for speed and real-world riding. You won’t mistake the post for the super-plush model on the Ultimate, but it’s not absurdly rigid, either. Same deal with the frame; it will rocket forward when you stomp on it, but it’s not abusively stiff.
Of course, a good portion of a bike’s manner lies in the wheels and tires. With Swiss Side’s input, Canyon dressed the Aeroad CFR narrower in the front, with a 25mm Continental Grand Prix 5000 on a DT ARC1100 Dicut paired at the rear with a 28mm 5000 on an ARC1100 Dicut Wide. While more wheel makers are offering staggered rim heights, this staggered rim width is fairly novel and designed to maximize aerodynamics and comfort. It doesn’t feel imbalanced.
The 62mm depth wheels are all-in on aero. On gusty days, they certainly required concentration and keeping both hands inside the ride at all times. But like the best snub-nosed designs these days, side pressure is steady and predictable, and without the terrifying shuddering and abrupt stalling that older deep wheels could incur. And in seemingly all conditions, the wheels just felt eager. The quicker you go — especially in a crosswind — the faster they felt.
It all adds up to a race bike that serves up a healthy portion of go-fast efficiencies while still carving out room for rider comfort and adjustability. And while the bike isn’t cheap, it is an absolute screaming deal compared to the competition. Just make sure you know your fit details before you buy!
Canyon Aeroad bikes available in the U.S.
- Aeroad CF SL 7 Disc $3,999 Shimano 105, Reynolds AR 58/62 DB
- Aeroad CF SL 8 Disc $4,399 Shimano Ultegra, Reynolds AR 58/62 DB
- Aeroad CF SLX 8 Disc Di2 $5,999 Shimano Ultegra Di2, DT Swiss ARC1400 Dicut DB 62
- Aeroad CF SLX 8 Disc AXS $5,999 SRAM Force eTap AXS, DT Swiss ARC1400 Dicut DB 62
- Aeroad CFR Disc Di2 $9,000 Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 including power meter, DT SWISS ARC1100 Dicut DB 62
- Aeroad CFR Disc AXS $9,000 SRAM RED eTap AXS including power meter, DT SWISS ARC1100 Dicut DB 62