New Canyon Ultimate first ride: classic looks but extra aero, comfort and integration

Fifth-generation Canyon Ultimate gets a subtle but significant redesign that's aimed at making it an all-rounder rather than a climbing bike

Canyon Ultimate
(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon has officially launched the latest version of its Ultimate model. First spotted at the Criterium du Dauphine (opens in new tab) and raced throughout the Tour de France by selected Movistar riders, it wasn’t easily identifiable as a brand new bike, and that’s because the fifth generation of the German brand’s lightweight climbing bike is an evolution rather than a ground-up redesign.

However, what to the naked eye may look like minor refinements have yielded some major improvements, according to Canyon. It lists the key areas where the new Ultimate improves over its predecessor as:

Better comfort: improved ergonomics and more tyre clearance – room for up to 32mm rubber.

Reduced drag thanks to optimisations made with aero experts Swiss Side – saving up to a claimed 10 watts for the frameset alone.

Invisible integration of cables and lines, all in a “user-friendly” setup (except for the Ultimate CF SL 7 and 8).

Easy fitting: cockpit with simple height and width adjustment, no steerer tube cutting needed, easier to transport (again with the exception of the lower end models).

Low weight: a claimed 6.3 kg (Ultimate CFR Di2: excluding pedals and accessories, size M), even with extra reinforcement in key high-stress areas).

Canyon Ultimate

(Image credit: Canyon)

In the words of Dr Florian Imgrund, Canyon’s global road category director: “With the new Ultimate, we wanted to make something that fans of classic road race bikes would love… a timeless design that hits the perfect balance of lightness, stiffness, aerodynamics, comfort, and toughness.”

By calling the Ultimate a “classic road bike” Canyon is deliberately moving away from previous pigeonholing of the Ultimate as a climbing bike and aims to give it a broader appeal, noting that “you don’t have to have Alpine passes on your doorstep to appreciate its astonishing all-round performance.”

It is, says Canyon, a “pure road bike made for a range of riders, from casual club riders through to committed performance junkies and pros. And everyone in between.”

Canyon Ultimate: what's changed?

Canyon Ultimate

(Image credit: Canyon)

Digging deeper into what’s new, Canyon says the extra comfort was achieved by using new optimised carbon-fibre layups, adjusting tube dimensions (seatstays, seat tube junctions), and engineering its own parts (forks, seatposts).

Canyon Ultimate

(Image credit: Canyon)

There’s an all-new aero D-shaped seatpost with a new internal clamp design that grips the seatpost down low, increasing its bending length and allowing the optimal amount of flex under load for incredible compliance. It comes in 20mm or zero setback options.

Canyon previously ran into trouble with a radical truncated seatpost design for the 2021 Aeroad, which suffered from premature wear (opens in new tab), but this one is different: “To keep mud and spray from the rear wheel away from the clamp, we moved it 180° and placed it safely on the inside of the frame triangle,” Canyon explains.

Canyon Ultimate

(Image credit: Canyon)

The Aeroad’s one-piece width-adjustable cockpit also caused issues for Canyon when it was first launched (opens in new tab), but that has since been fixed and now the CP0018 features on the new Ultimate too.

Canyon Ultimate

(Image credit: Canyon)

The new Ultimate now shares the Canyon Aeroad (opens in new tab)’s geometry. Canyon says this decision is backed up by many years of customer sizing data, but it also makes switching between the Aeroad and the Ultimate more straightforward for pro riders.

There’s no women’s specific geometry - the previous WMN models have gone. Canyon says the new Ultimate is “unisex” and that its approach is to develop bikes that work for all types of rider and not separate them by gender, so to this end it has added a new smallest 3XS size to make a total of eight sizes, one more than previously.

The two smallest sizes in the SL model come with 650B wheels while just the 3XS gets smaller wheels in the SLX version.

Canyon;s new 3D-printed out-front mount with a Wahoo computer

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon is also launching its first 3D printed out-front computer mount, which is designed to “combine seamlessly with the Ultimate cockpit.” It weighs 17g, has titanium mounting screws and has been tested over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, according to Canyon. This is available separately for 50 euros.

Models and pricing

There are three platforms - top-of-the-range CFR, then SLX and the SL. The difference between these is in the carbon and carbon layups used, which usually translates into weight, with the CFR being lightest with no stiffness sacrifice.

Canyon Ultimate

(Image credit: Canyon)

With the exception of the Ultimate CF SL 7 and 8, all models are equipped with integrated power meters. Additionally, all models have electronic shifting except those two models.

Pricing starts at £2,699/$2,599 for the Ultimate CF SL 7 with mechanical Shimano 105 and goes up to £10,899/$10,549 for the Ultimate CFR eTap with SRAM Red AXS and Zipp 353 NSW wheels. The previous top-of-the-range CFR was priced at £8,899 while the entry-level CF SL 7 was £2,199.

Go to canyon.com (opens in new tab) for more details.

First ride: Sam Gupta, video manager

First ride: Sam Gupta, video manager

Man riding a Canyon Ultimate against green woods

(Image credit: Roo Fowler)

We took to the lanes just above Goodwood. The stunning scenery along with the punchy climbs were perfect: this is of course where the Canyon Ultimate is most at home. 

For those unaware, the Ultimate sits as Canyon’s climbing bike and has always been lighter than most others in the category. 

The fifth-generation Ultimate has got all the usual claims that you’d expect to see from a big brand showcasing a new bike, but this time I’ll reserve my cynicism as Canyon are being very upfront that this is purely an evolution from the fourth generation and the improvements are very much in the detail. 

Man riding a Canyon Ultimate, head cropped off

(Image credit: Roo Fowler)

To the untrained eye, it would be hard to see the difference between the current offering and the new one as the frame shapes are remarkably similar - it’s only really the fork that offers any sort of differentiation. 

Canyon’s claim of a five per cent stiffer frame and 10-watt aero gain is always going to be hard to see and feel. However,  it’s when you jump on the bike that you start to feel a bit of a difference. 

My immediate thought was how smooth the ride was. I think it’s fair to put this down to the tyre choice and the use of a 28mm on the rear. It does make me think comfort and grip could be improved further still if Canyon switched out the 25mm front tyre to a 28, but alas, they wanted to improve the aero credentials by keeping it slightly narrower. 

There is good news for all those that like to run big rubber as this Ultimate can accommodate up to 32mm wide tyres, so, even gentle gravel is possible should the urge take you. 

The other key feature I picked up on was the adoption of the Aeroad geometry, which has resulted in a pointy, direct front end. 

Man riding a Canyon Ultimate uphill

(Image credit: Roo Fowler)

I found the ride to be playful and was put into a position that urged me down the road, however, this could also be put down to being surrounded by my fellow competitive cycling media comrades and occasionally being half-wheeled. 

I also found it urged me out of the saddle to attempt to dance up the climbs, and this could be where the claimed 5.8% stiffer frame could arguably be exploited. 

Once I’d crested and started to bomb down the other side, the key thing which struck me was the stability. Despite the direct front end, once I shifted my weight to the back of the bike and let the bike flow down the road, it felt rock solid and banked into the corners providing a confidence-inspiring ride. 

Really, I shouldn’t be suprised by the performance of it, as the previous generation of the Ultimate did win Bike Of The Year for two years here at Cycling Weekly, so it’s benefiting from some very good DNA. 

In a world full of bikes with dropped seatstays and deeply sculpted carbon, the Ultimate provides a breath of fresh air with its gentle lines, classic looks and colourways. 

I for one am excited to spend more time with the bike and see if it continues to perform so well in the long term.

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