- Stiff, comfortable, fast, light... you name it, the Ultimate has it!
- It's personal, but I just can't get on with the Fizik saddle
Price as reviewed:
The Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 remains one of our favourite bikes.
Coming with 48mm deep wheels, the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 offers superb straight line speed as well as the same comfortable frame that we love, that’s why it’s on our Editor’s Choice list this year.
Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc: A 10/10 frame
Previously, we rated the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 as a 10/10 bike for its excellent frame and light weight. The good news is that despite being an 8.0 rather than a 9.0 model, the bike’s frame remains the same.
The frame has the same sharp angles that the Ultimate has become recognisable for, especially at the front where the fork is so straight that it looks like it could have been drawn with a ruler. The rear end is slightly less aggressive and the top tube/seat tube/seat stay junction is particularly smooth, with the lines leading from one into the other beautifully. Meanwhile, the seat stays are thin, the better to absorb road buzz.
In fact, the Canyon’s frame is exceptionally comfortable for a performance carbon fibre road bike.It’s marginally less compliant than other top end bikes such as the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 or the Cannondale SuperSix Evo but it still offers all day comfort and retains a lively feel.
The bike is stiff and explosive, with an attitude that just makes you want to ride harder out of the corners on climbs. It rewards your efforts, making them that bit easier.
The bike’s 48mm DT Swiss wheels do give the bike a nod to aerodynamics and boosting straight line speed while still retaining its climbing ability. I do believe that a good set of carbon wheels can climb very well and it’s a spec choice that we’re seeing more and more on ‘traditional’ climbing bikes.
Faster on the flats
Deeper wheels also have the added benefit of flying along on the flat. With the majority of my own riding being flat this is exactly how I’ve used them and so far they’ve been great for my rides to work or for my loops of Richmond park, where I’ll often rarely scrape above a couple hundred meters of elevation.
The straight line speed of the DT Swiss Pro 1400 Dicut db wheels is undeniable, and once you wind them up they just keep rolling, adding three or four kilometres per hour to my riding speed. The wheels are a nice match to the Canyon’s aerodynamic one-piece cockpit.
The bike comes with a SRAM’s Force AXS HRD groupset that is excellent. SRAM’s new gear ratios can take some getting used to, on this particular bike the 48/35 and an a 10-28 cassette is the equivalent of (or closest to) a 52/36 with an 11-28 cassette. It’s good though, because it pushes the range on to the cassette rather than keeping it at the front and I have found myself staying in the big ring for longer.
The Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 also comes with a spindle based Quarq Dzero power meter that, according to Quarq offers +/-1.5% accuracy. It’s a nice touch if you’re someone who loves training with power and it’s easy to set up – simply pop off the protective plastic outer, unscrew the Quarq cap and fit the battery. No tools required.
In general, I still find that the brakes offer less modulation through the levers than Shimano’s equivalents, making it harder to scrub off speed. However, I still don’t doubt that disc brakes are the best match for the aggressive frame and fast descending Canyon Ultimate.
Ultimately, the Canyon Ultimate Aero model depends really on the type of riding you do. Its deep section wheels lend it to flatter profiles where their rolling speed will give you a noticeable boost in speed, especially if you already own a shallower set of disc brake wheels for climbing days. Most importantly, though, the frame is superb.
A note on sizing
Canyon’s sizing is a little different to how other brands would size up their bikes. It offers a 55cm frame and a 57cm frames instead of a 56cm one, which is my usual size.
On Canyon’s website there’s a sizing feature to help you get the best size and the brand will also recommend any changes, for example a longer stem or narrower bars.
The Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 8.0 eTap is the full package for a high end bike. It's amazingly light, stiff and has excellent power transfer.