An outstanding bike in every conceivable way
When deciding 2016 Cycling Weekly Bike of the Year we wanted to choose, quite simply, the bike that has impressed us the most. And this is the bike that we chose.
The Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 excites, it is blisteringly quick, has a superb specification, well thought out features, is comfortable and it turns heads. Put simply, this is a truly exceptional bike.
Good design is simple and unfussy. This is a bike you can live with. System integration of brakes, seatpost and handlebars can look swish, but when you suffer that inevitable mechanical the morning of an event, you want a bike you can fix yourself.
Try adjusting the brakes out on the new Specialized Venge VIAS for example, or the saddle rail clamp on the new Scott Foil and you wish you hadn’t. The Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 scores well here. Design features such as the seat post bolt are neat but simple.
Direct-mount brakes offer greater modulation and stopping power over a standard caliper and the rear brake is situated on the seatstays.
Firstly, there is a complete Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset and Fizik Arione saddle. Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith wheels complete the package and mean that this is a race bike that is good to go. All too often we see bikes that have wheels that don’t do the frame the justice.
Often this can be to make a specific price point, but the Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Wheels supplied are top quality, somthing that is evident from the carbon weave. They roll beautifully and importantly for some, look ‘pro.’
The hoops on the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 really do score full marks for looks, with their subtle reflective graphics. The rim could be wider and the profile more U-shaped for better cross wind stability (something that will be coming to Mavic wheels in 2016), but at this price point we are nit-picking, so instead I will make a point of the Exalith braking.
Although they look carbon, these wheels actually have Mavic’s machined Exalith rims. These provide superior braking to a standard aluminium rim and make these wheels a really practical option – you could descend a wet mountain pass on these rims without the fear of delamination. The downside is that they will be a bit noisy for the first few hundred miles, but the added purchase gives added confidence on descents.
Sitting at the bottom of the Aeroad range, the 6.0 doesn’t come with Canyon’s integrated bar and stem, found on higher spec versions. We see this as an advantage, particularly for a direct sales company where you can’t sit on the bike in the shop, prior to purchase. You could always purchase the aerobar at later date, when you know the exact size you require.
Aero bikes are designed to cheat the wind, but this can all too often result in compromised design. Aero tube shapes are not always conducive to comfort or stiffness. However, the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 certainly feels fast, noticeably faster than a non-aero bike, but it is also reasonably comfortable too.
Let’s not get carried away, there are more comfortable bikes out there (this is no Trek Domane) but crucially it is more comfortable than other aero bikes we have tested, such as the Cervelo S5 and Merida Reacto Team E. Testament to this is Alexander Kristoff, who opted to ride the bike on the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix.
What about climbing? Two of the best climbers in the world, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez favour the Aeroad whether on the flat or in the mountains and we can see why. We have ridden the Canyon up some pretty brutal climbs, everything from the Motirolo to Honister Pass. These climbs are as tough as they get, both in terms of gradient and length. Despite lighter, dedicated climbing bikes often being at our disposal, we never found ourselves wishing we had opted for a lighter machine.
This is in part down to the frame’s excellent stiffness characteristics, something that has the power to induce a grin the first time you get out of the saddle and put the hammer down.
Clearly £2699 is a lot of money to spend on a bike, but the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 offers superb value for money.
The wheels alone retail at £1150, then factor in an Ultegra groupset has an RRP of around £1000 and the same frame as used by Dowsett, Valverde, Rodriguez and Kristoff. The great value of this bike is clear to see.
Turn up to a group ride or prop it up outside a café and the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 instantly draws attention. This isn’t just a bike that performs superbly, it’s a stealth bomber that gives you a thrill, offering super bike performance at a realistic price. It is impressively light, dances on the climbs and sings on the descents. There is a saying in aircraft design, “if it looks right, it will fly right.” The Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 6.0 looks more than alright.