We test the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 Aero, Canyon's lightweight allrounder with an aero twist
One of our favourite climbing bikes has received an aero facelift.
Coming with 65mm deep wheels, the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 Aero 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.
Newly updated for 2019, the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 Aero offers an aerodynamic twist on the excellent Canyon Ultimate. Previously existing with deep section Zipp wheels and a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset, the bike has now been fitted out with DT Swiss Pro 1400 65mm deep wheels and SRAM Red eTap.
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.
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 all of those parts remain the same on the aero version, but with the addition of some wind cheating wheels.
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. Even with the deep section carbon wheels the frame remains comfortable, only jarring on the biggest hits – and most of that will be because of the wheels.
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.
However, Canyon has added deep section DT Swiss wheels to the frame, giving the Ultimate something of an aerodynamic facelift. It’s an interesting decision, especially considering that Canyon already makes the Aeroad, its dedicated aero bike.
Faster on the flats
From my time on the bike, I can see how it would benefit those riders with another pair of shallower, disc brake wheels, who then have the option of the 65mm deep section wheels with an aero benefit for flatter loops and shallower wheels for climbing days. This is exactly how I’ve used them, with the majority of my own riding being flat 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.
Compared to the shallower wheels that I’ve used with this bike before, the deep section wheels don’t climb as well. But that was to be expected, and importantly, the straight line speed of the DT Swiss Pro 1400 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 top of the range Red eTap HRD groupset that is good, if a little dated compared to the offerings from Shimano. I got off to an unfortunate start with the brakes, finding one of the rotors had become bent, leading to squealing and an always-on front brake.
In general I 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.
The Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 Aero is the full package for a high end bike. It's amazingly light, stiff and has excellent power transfer.