Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 SL review

A rapid and well-specced TT machine, just missing a few touches for the discerning tester

Cycling Weekly Verdict

This bike is a great mid-range TT bike with some really glowing highlights, let down slightly by its triathlon pedigree and clunky shifting - but hugely bolstered by the provision of ready to race wheels.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great wheelset

  • +

    Value for money

  • +

    Fast and smooth ride

  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Clunky shifting

  • -

    Slightly geared for triathlon

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Canyon bikes have been well-represented in recent years, with plenty of memorable performances being played out on the German brand’s machines.

We’ve particularly seen Canyon's time trial bikes on show recently, with Alex Dowsett riding the flagship TT machine the Speedmax to a sixth national title last season, and Mathieu van der Poel helping secure his Tour of Britain overall victory.

So here at Cycling Weekly we wanted to test one of their mid-range Speedmax setups, the CF 8.0 SL, to see how fast these bikes are at their core.

At £3,349 this model is right in the middle of the Speedmax catalogue, which ranges from £2,000 to £9,000 at the top end.

>>> Buy now: Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 SL at Canyon for £3349

With a mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset, this bike comes with a reliable and mid-priced spec, always welcome for any testers trying to hit PBs without paying WorldTour prices.

Canyon have designed this bike with some triathlon and long course ready features - evident in the lower and flatter cockpit geometry and the storage slot tucked behind the stem.

>>> Best time trial and triathlon bikes 

For the pure time triallist focussed on shorter distances, this may detract from the appeal as the slot doesn’t look great and the aero bars may need an immediate upgrade for anyone keeping up with current aero trends.

All of the cables disappear nearly into the frame in front of the storage box, keeping them out of the wind. Of course this adds a little difficulty to maintenance, but this is pretty much par for the course in any aero frame now and to be expected.

The size medium frame I had on test came with a stack/reach of 533mm/425mm - there's a lot of adjustability available in the Canyon H30 basebar, including adjustable Profile Armpads - but I began my testing with the front end dropped to its lowest and maintained the same position throughout testing. This allowed me to find an aggressive position, which was perfect for chasing summer personal bests.

The wheelbase, at 1020mm is relatively long, leading to a stable ride and plenty of control on more sporting courses.

As per its existing aero road bike - the Aeroad - Canyon has opted for a curved seattube, which hugs the rear wheel and aims to cut drag.

There's more aero profiling at the chainstay/toptube join - and though it's hard to offer concrete comments on aero savings without windtunnel testing, the bike shares the same frame features as Dowsett's National title winning machine, so it's hard to argue with its results.

An aero Canyon 31 TRI CF seatpost completes the wind cheating rear end. The clamp is located on the top tube, in front of the seatpost, and whilst sometimes these can be fiddly, I found adjustments were easy.

The saddle is a TT specific Fizik Mistica. Seat choice is pretty personal, but this one is designed with the racing position in mind so may well suit many testers and triathletes. If not, it's a high end model retailing at £155, unused it should hold a good resale value.

The most exciting bit of kit on this bike, for me, had to be the wheelset: the DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicuts, which retail at just under £2,000.

Getting these highly-rated aero wheels on a bike of this cost is a huge attraction, and these wheels go a long way to making this bike the course-smashing machine it is.

The rim sizes come in at 62mm for the front and 80mm for the rear and they can get pretty sketchy in crosswinds and beware of potholes as these wheels have almost no give in them whatsoever, but that all contributes to the speed on a nice fast and flat course.

Many TT riders might be keen to upgrade to a disc rear on the wheel straight away, but in reality these wheels are plenty fast enough for most people and I managed to put plenty of rivals on more expensive bikes behind me with this wheelset.

The wheels come shod with the popular Continental GP 5000 tyres - with a 23mm at the front and 25mm at the rear. Being a benchmark but reliable tyre, it's hard to argue with that spec.

The groupset does offer one of the few flaws in this overall great bike however, as the mechanical shifters on the aero bars felt slightly archaic to me - and they don’t match the streamlined aesthetic of the rest of the bike.

Shifting on this groupset also came with a fair amount of clunk, as you really felt every gear change through the bike and it detracted from the otherwise smooth and efficient ride.

Canyon has specced this model as a rim brake bike. Whilst we are seeing plenty of disc brake time trial machines around, I found the rim stoppers perfectly adequate. The callipers aren't covered by any sort of fairing - but they are streamlined with the bike so shouldn't represent lost watts.

Interestingly, my size Medium came with 175mm cranks. Used to riding a 172.5mm, I only discovered the discrepancy when trying to ride with my single sided power crank fitted - of course, pedalling with one crank at 172.5mm and the other at 175mm is going to cause problems. I did actually manage to win a club 10 this way, but with one very sore hamstring, so it's worth noting: if you have power cranks, you might need to purchase a pair should you discover Canyon has specced a longer arm than you're used to.

Riding the 175mm cranks as a pair (as is traditionally advertised!) I noticed minimal difference to my normal set up, and the longer arm is said to provide a longer lever, potentially resulting in power gains when up to speed.

While weight is often fairly low down on the priority list of a tester, this bike does hold it’s own compared to the other bikes in the Canyon Speedmax range.

At 8.4kg, you won’t want to take this to your club’s hill climb, but it comes in a step lighter than the 8.8km, £2,000 model and a respectabe 200g behind the top end Movistar edition, Canyon’s £8,800 pure time trial model.

This bike is great value for money, with an admirable specification that can certainly hold its own against more expensive and more pure-bred TT bikes out there.

>>> Buy now: Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 SL at Canyon for £3349

A few minor tweaks from Canyon could go a long way to making this the perfect mid-range time trial bike still capable of winning races, but as it stands it’s still a great bike at a great price.

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