Here is our review of the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX time trial bike, the updated version of the previous Speedmax CF.
Following his move to Katusha, this is the frame that world time trial champion Tony Martin will be racing on in 2017. Considering this and that I spent considerable time on the previous Speedmax, I was keen to test the updated version, which claims to be even faster.
How does the new Canyon Speedmax CF SLX differ from the old version? Firstly, Canyon claims the frameset is around four watts faster at 45kph, but the use of the integrated water bottle and ‘bento box’ can make it even faster. The Canyon Speedmax CF SLX is UCI legal, with the integrated front bottle and bento box removed. It is however perfectly legal to use the integrated bottle for CTT events and according to Canyon, you should use it, as it is reported to save 7W at 50kph over a standard round bottle on the down-tube. The bottle is easy to slide on and off depending on your preference.
There is also a neat integrated toolbox in front of the seat post clamp. This is an aerodynamic solution for storing a multi tool, inner tube and CO2 inflator.
TT bikes are often plagued by terrible brakes and the old Speedmax was no exception. Thankfully the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX bucks that trend, with redesigned, integrated brakes offering improved feel and power.
The brakes are protected behind a flexible polymer cover too, making them easier to access for assembly and maintenance — a much better design solution than the mechanical vector wings on the Trek Madone. The fork dropouts can be adjusted too, something Canyon calls ‘Rake Shift’.
It’s a cool idea that enables a rider to tailor the handling of the bike. I prefer the longer ‘stable’ rake for most TT courses, but more technical courses could benefit from the short ‘agile’ rake. Arguably, the biggest change to the frame is the dramatically steeper seat tube angle, allowing riders to sit further forward over the bottom bracket.
This complements the new UCI rules better and will be welcomed by riders wishing to use stubby saddles. The only slight criticism I have is that I would like an easier way to access the Di2 junction box and see the battery level, rather than unscrewing the stem top plate. However, I expect this to be addressed with the new Shimano Dura Ace Di2 R9150, which now has better junction box options.
The spec here is top drawer, with Zipp Firecrest 404/808 clincher wheels and Dura-Ace Di2. There are TT shifters on the tri-bars and satellite shifters on the base bar. These make a significant difference, as being able to change gear when on the base bar can save time in technical sections or when accelerating out of the saddle.
Tyres are the very fast Continental Grand Prix TT, with 23mm on the front for better aerodynamics and 25mm on the rear for comfort and superior rolling resistance. Even the inner tubes are an intelligent choice, with Continental Supersonics supplied for their low rolling resistance. I am a big fan of the tri-bars and Ergon armrests on the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX. They are comfortable, well designed, and crucially, easy to adjust, allowing you to tailor your position.
The cockpit on the Cervélo P5, for example, has far less adjustability.
Video – How much speed can you buy (riding the old Canyon Speedmax)
The new Speedmax is bullet train quick. I have ridden it in a number time trials and was considerably faster on the same course in similar conditions than when I previously rode the old model. So how did it compare? I had for a while been just above the 20min barrier for 10 miles, but was finally able to achieve a ‘19’ with this rapid machine (using the same wheels).
The Canyon Speedmax CF SLX may be slightly more aero than the last one, but the biggest difference was the ability to achieve a more aerodynamic TT position thanks to the revised geometry. Stiffness is everything it needs to be, but compliance is good too — it won’t beat you up by TT bike standards. Put into context, I found it to be much more compliant than the Cervélo P5 and Specialized Shiv on rumble-strip roads. I should point out that I did swap the Zipp wheels for a Hed GT3 front and Lightweight Autobahn disc for some races, including the 19.
The inclusion of the base bar satellite Di2 shifters is great because every time you accelerate out of the saddle (typically at a turn or when setting off) you can simultaneously change gear. I estimate that this can easily save a couple of seconds in a 10 mile TT.
The Canyon Speedmax CF SLX is a top-spec machine aimed at the serious time triallist. Although the price is high, when you compare equivalent specs from, say, Specialized and Cervélo, the value offered is excellent. Furthermore, I consider this to be a much better bike in performance terms than many of the rivals too. You may also wish to take a look at the more affordable Ultegra Di2-equipped 8.0 model at £4,899.
For more information, head over to Canyon
*note that the price is as reviewed. 2017 bikes will have updated pricing and components, but the frame remains the same.
Canyon makes my life difficult — I’m always trying to find the downside to its bikes but can’t seem to find one. The Canyon Speedmax CF SLX not getting a great score because of its value, it’s getting a great score because it is simply an awesome bike. The performance and value is outstanding, the specification is intelligent and to top it off, the designers innovate by incorporating novel details and clever features that enhance the overall design. If I were buying a TT bike, without question, this is what I would get. I regard it as a class leader and so I am giving it an elusive 10.