The Canyon Challenge: Buy, assemble, and ride a Canyon without assistance

The challenge was simple: Could I order a Canyon bicycle online, unbox and assemble it — without any guidance — and ride it on my favorite roads?

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The challenge was simple: Could I order a Canyon bicycle online, unbox and assemble it — without any guidance — and ride it on my favorite roads?

Before answering, consider this fact: My errant clicks on have led to all varieties of strange products arriving at my doorstep. And when I tackle basic bicycle maintenance, my colleagues at VeloNews often intervene. Yes, I am equal parts technophobe and mechanical problem child.

Canyon launched its consumer-direct operations in the U.S. last year. You choose which bike you want, order it through the website, and it arrives on your doorstep, ready to assemble. Easy, right?

Let’s see how I fared:

Step 1: Choose your weapon

My challenge began at Canyon’s new website, which is designed for American viewers and is extremely easy to navigate. I had to choose which Canyon model fit my needs. As an amateur racer who loves the weekly group ride, the new Canyon Aeroad seemed like the perfect fit. The aggressive geometry is designed with the road racer in mind, and the aerodynamic frame and deep-section wheels cheat the wind. The Aeroad is the preferred racing rig of many riders on the Katusha-Alpecin pro cycling team at this year’s Tour de France.

Canyon has several builds of the Aeroad. I chose the Aeroad CF SLX Disc 8.0 because of its impressive value. A racing bicycle, with Shimano Ultegra, disc brakes, and deep-section wheels for under $4,000 (MSRP: $3,899) is almost unheard of in today’s bike market.

Step 2: The perfect fit

Which size frame Aeroad should I choose? Over the years I’ve often ridden different frame sizes for different bike brands. I’m 6 foot 3”, meaning I’m either a “Large” or an “Extra Large” depending on the brand. Luckily, Canyon has the Perfect Fit System Perfect Positioning System tool on its website, which helped me find the perfect fit.

The tool was easy, although I did enlist my wife to help with some simple body measurements. I plugged in my height, weight, and the lengths of my torso, inseam, and arms (and shoulder width). The website made its calculation: the size XL was right for me. After a quick checkout, I was on my way.

Photo: Brad Kaminski |

Step 3: A quick turn of the torque wrench

A few days after I placed my order the bike box arrived on my doorstep. To my surprise, the box was much large than I expected. When I opened it, I saw why. The cherry-red Aeroad was almost completely assembled already. It lifted out of the box as one solid and complete unit — the rear wheel was already in the frame, and the handlebars and front wheel were secured via Velcro straps.

Assembly took less than 30 minutes, which included the time it took to read through the instructions. The front wheel slipped into the dropouts. The seatpost slid into the frame after I smeared on some of Canyon’s orange seat-post paste. The handlebars went on easily with the innovative torque wrench included with the bike.

No crying. No need for help. It was simple.

Photo: Brad Kaminski |

Step 4: The ride

There’s nothing better than a ride on a new bike, and my first spin on the Aeroad did not disappoint. The bike cut through the wind on the flat roads along the foothills. And to my surprise, the bike put on a show in the mountains. Today’s aero bikes often suffer on the long climbs due to the wing-shaped handlebars and long, aerofoil tube shapes. That wasn’t the case with the Aeroad.

The verdict:
My technophobia and mechanical ineptitude were no match for Canyon’s easy system. I passed, with flying colors.

From ordering to delivery, assembly to that final ride, Canyon’s direct-to-you process is a cinch, even for someone with limited mechanical skill.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.