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For those who like lightweight, all-around race bikes, there’s a new option to add to the shortlist. Today, Canyon unveiled its fifth generation Ultimate road bike, building on the features that made it a popular performance road model by increasing comfort, increasing stiffness, and making it more aero.
Comfort is key
At this point, most riders know the benefits of wider tires for adding comfort to a bike, with little in the way of speed penalties. Canyon keeps up with the wide clearance trend on the fifth generation Ultimate, outfitting it with space for 32mm of rubber, up 2mm from before.
The CF SL 7 and CF SL 8 come with 28mm tires standard, while the CFR version swaps in a 25mm tire up front for an extra aero advantage. For mixed terrain rides, or just for extra comfort, it’s nice to have the option to expand that.
Canyon helps build in more compliance through the frame itself. One of the great things about carbon fiber is the nearly infinite ways to lay up the material to tune a frame, which Canyon says it has taken advantage of for a compliant frame. But there are other tricks up the brand’s sleeves.
The Ultimate borrows the low seatpost clamp design from the Aeroad aero bike, which debuted a couple of years back. This effectively lengthens the amount of seatpost that can flex under the rider, absorbing even more vibrations for the road in the process.
Aeroad crossover features
The Ultimate borrows another feature from the Ultimate as well: the cockpit. It features a folding handlebar design, where either side of the handlebar can unscrew from the central part and fold in for easier transportation. That unusual feature also allows for adjustability of the bars, 20mm on either side, giving you three bar positions: narrow, medium, and wide.
It certainly makes things easier for Canyon in terms of not having to make several different permutations of the same cockpit in different sizes. And it’s a nice feature to have, allowing your position to change over time, or letting you more easily experiment with your position.
And like with the Aeroad, the steerer tube doesn’t need to be cut thanks to adjustable stem height, a system that functions somewhat like an old-school quill stem.
Known primarily as a climbing bike, the Ultimate maintains its feathery weight. It smashes the UCI weight limit at 6.3kg for the upscale Ultimate CFR Di2 version in a size medium.
It’s not just the highest-end models that benefit from low weight either. The more attainable CF SLX version still meets the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit in a size medium.
The weight shaving extends well beyond the frame into every part made by Canyon on the chassis, including the cockpit, seatpost, and seatpost clamp. The SL and SLX models feature a 20mm setback seatpost that weighs in at 110 grams, while the CFR version gets a 70-gram, 0mm setback seatpost.
But weight isn’t everything. Canyon added extra material to high-stress areas like the seat tube junctions and bottom bracket to pad the bike’s durability. All in, Canyon says it’s about a 30-gram penalty.
Arguing that the Ultimate performs well across a variety of terrains, and riders, Canyon doesn’t want the bike to be only known as a tool for climbers. And although this bike arguably shines brightest in mountains, aerodynamics are still important on rolling courses and the flat stages leading up to a climb.
Aerodynamic efficiency isn’t something that springs to mind for climbing bikes as much, but overcoming drag is hugely important no matter what kind of bike you ride. Canyon worked with Swiss Side to eke out more aero efficiency from the Ultimate. The fifth generation saves 10 watts at 45kph over the fourth generation.
The Ultimate has always been a responsive race bike. This time around, it gets a 15 percent increase in stiffness at the headtube, making it even more responsive.
Consistent geometry across the Canyon line
Eighteen years on from introducing the Ultimate, Canyon is pretty confident in its road bike geometry. The latest generation Ultimate gets only minor tweaks to the fit, including scaling chainstays in frame sizes L, XL, and XXL — they get progressively longer in each frame to keep ride quality consistent.
The geometry is also now identical to the Aeroad aero frame, making for a consistent feel across the range of road bikes. If you’re lucky enough to have an all-around and aero bike in the garage (or ride for a Canyon-sponsored team like Movistar), then this has the added benefit of seamless changes between bikes.
The Ultimate has unisex sizing and is available in eight sizes from XXXS to XXL. CFR frames however do not have the XXS model. The smallest sizes will be spec’d with 650B wheels.
Canyon has developed a range of accessories to keep the Ultimate as sleek as possible. There’s a 3D-printed computer mount, a rear light designed to fit all Canyon seat posts without straps for a clean look, and an astonishingly light 15-gram carbon fiber bottle cage.
Models and pricing
Of the 11 total models spread across the CF SL, CF SLX, and CFR versions, seven will be available in the US, ranging in price from $2,999 to $10,999. As is standard for Canyon, a direct-to-consumer brand, its prices come in a little less than competing bikes from other large brands.
- CF SL 7 – $2,999
- CF SL 8 – $3,999
- CF SL 7 eTap – $4,699
- CF SLX 8 Di2 – $6,999
- CF SLX 9 Di2 – $8,999
- CFR eTap – $10,999
- CFR Di2 – $10,999