Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 road bike costing £1,899 is the perfect bike for the aspiring racer

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Pros:

  • 
Low weight means it’s ready to race
  • 
High specification at a low price

Cons:

  • Purchase lacks the personal touch of the LBS
  • Shiny finish option would broaden its appeal

Product:

Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 road bike

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1,899.00
This product is featured in: Canyon unveils Aeroad CF SLX model.

Think ‘race bike’ and it’s easy to be put off with negative ideas about cost and comfort. Surely an out-and-out racer is supposed to be as stiff as a board and prohibitively expensive, right?

Well, apparently not. As well as supplying race-winning bikes to top-level professional teams like Katusha and Movistar, Canyon has garnered quite a reputation for providing high-spec bikes at great prices to Joe Public, and the Ultimate CF SL 9.0 is perhaps the best example we’ve come across yet. Weighing in at 7.45kg and coming equipped with a whole list of big-name brands, it’s ‘race-ready’ in the truest sense with no need for any upgrades before hitting the local road race or criterium.

Canyon is also pretty keen on giving its customers options, with a slick website that allows the buyer to configure the bike how they want it. Typically, this machine would have come supplied with a compact chainset (50/34) but we requested a more race-focused 53/39 setup that came fitted at no extra cost. Similarly, those seeking a little assistance on hilly sportives will be pleased to hear that they can even ask for a triple chainset with an 11-28t cassette.

Frameset
There’s something a little industrial about the silver matt effect finish with its blue accents. The other colour option is black and white, which also relinquishes a lustrous sheen in favour of a stealthier look.

The frame itself is angular and purposeful in appearance. That said, though many had positive comments on the price and specification, far fewer remarked upon the Canyon’s looks.

The carbon-fibre frame is bang up to date with internal cabling for clean lines and improved aerodynamics with a real emphasis on stiffness.

The One One Four SLX fork is another nod toward racing aspirations with a design that Canyon claims contributes towards “stiffness for the sprint” together with a unique i-Lock headset system that does away with a top-cap and clamping cone, further reducing weight and, quite frankly, looking pretty neat.

For all this stiffness, something had to give. Literally. Canyon’s approach to rider comfort starts with the asymmetric chainstays, continues to the seatstay/seat tube junction and ends with the VCLS seatpost. Not only does this cleverly-designed post provide a little bit of suspension, it also offers a massive range of fore and aft adjustment, so riders who prefer a lot of layback are well catered for.

Components
Given this is a sub-£2,000 machine, Canyon has been pretty generous. In addition to a complete Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset, the contact points have been equally well-specced with Ritchey WCS handlebar and stem.

The bars have great ergonomics with a slight curve back to shorten the reach and a fairly shallow drop together with padded, oval tops for climbing comfort. The  Fizik Antares saddle is another welcome addition to this top-quality line-up.

Wheels
The wheels come courtesy of French firm Mavic. The Ksyrium Elite wheelset is well known for its low weight and all-round ability, making it a great choice whatever the terrain. After 800 miles of mostly wet-weather riding, they’re still spinning freely and running true despite some rim-clanging pinch-punctures through puddled potholes without suffering so much as a dent.

The ride
Even after a short ride, you’re left in little doubt as to this bike’s purpose in life. Everything about it feels direct. It accelerates like a race bike should, with very little sense of flex even under the duress of a sprint. It turns fast too and drops eagerly into corners with a high degree of feedback that lets you know exactly where the limit is, even on the standard Mavic Yksion Pro tyres. If ever there was a bike built for the club criterium, this is it.

Shimano’s latest version of its second-tier Ultegra groupset means a total of 22 ratios to choose from, and shifting is never anything but slick. The front mech trims perfectly with a light ‘semi-click’ of the shifter to avoid chain rub throughout the cassette’s vast range. Braking is assured, providing ample, consistent stopping power, even when the pads are biting on a wet rim.

Canyon’s wide range of road and race bikes is on their website: canyon.com

Verdict

This bike wants to go racing, that’s obvious. But it would also make a superb sportive bike. Indeed, the few concessions Canyon has made to comfort — compliant seatpost, quality saddle and ergonomic bars — add up to more than their apparent sum. In fact, the only thing that’s lacking is the personal touch you can only get from buying from your local bike shop. Provided you know exactly which version you want, there’s little to rival the Ultimate CF SL 9.0. Particularly for those struggling to resist the lure of their first fourth-cat race…

Details

Contact:www.canyon.com
Frameset:Canyon Ultimate carbon-fibre
Gears:Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
Brakes:Shimano Ultegra
Chainset:Shimano Ultegra
Wheels:Mavic Ksyrium Elite
Tyres:Mavic Yksion Pro
Handlebar:Ritchey WCS Evo Curve
Stem:Ritchey WCS 4-Axis
Saddle:Fizik Antares
Seatpost:Canyon VCLS
Size range:50, 53, 56, 58, 60, 62, 65cm
Weight: 7.45kg
  • RacingCondor

    Someone criticising my use of the English language should probably recognise an example.

    My point is that a good relationship with a shop is an easy way to a bike that works and continues to work even after years of use and abuse. Something that many Canyon owners (not picking them out, it’s just the source of the article) fail to realise as they buy a new bike every year pretending it will make them faster.

    I know it’s the internets but sarchasm can be avoided if you choose. Useful on the occasions when an open mind and intelligent discussion are the order of the day.

  • jsmythe

    Learning new skills as a “wrench”?? Can’t you speak proper English?

    And you are prepared to spend hundreds of pounds “building a relationship” just so you can get a hub repaired for nothing?

  • RacingCondor

    You sir need a good LBS.

    The internet won’t spend 1/2 hour with you taking your rear hub apart for free because ‘something feels odd’. Build a relationship with a shop and they might. They’ll also repair the damage caused by you learning new skills as a wrench… Yes it costs you money (you will need to buy a bike or two from them) but it really will make your life easier over the years, that’s why it’s a relationship.

  • dourscot

    Yeah, the personal touch of a local bike shop indeed – “Here, sir, why not buy this over-priced and under-specced Specialized.”