Review: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL

German speed machine put to test — and how you can get one in the USA

Road Bike
The bike comes almost ready to ride right out of the box. Less than 20 minutes of assembly time required.

The bike comes almost ready to ride right out of the box. Less than 20 minutes of assembly time required (click to enlarge).

Canyon ships its bikes almost entirely assembled in an ultra-long cardboard box to accommodate the rear wheel’s spot in the rear dropout. The front wheel and handlebar are fastened to the frame with a series of reusable foam-padded Velcro straps, strategically placed to avoid any scraping. The entire bike lifted out of the box as one solid unit, thanks to the straps.

Canyon sends along a simple torque wrench along with tension settings for each bolt.

Canyon sends along a simple torque wrench along with tension settings for each bolt (click to enlarge).

Along with a detailed assembly guide complete with tension instructions for each bolt, Canyon also sends along a simple torque wrench, multiple hex wrench heads and even tubes of orange assembly paste to prevent seat post slippage. Assembling the bike took less than 20 minutes. We didn’t even need to put air in the tires.

What we liked

We took the Aeroad CF SLX on a series of bumpy, rough rural roads north of Murcia, and then on multiple rides from Granada on the climb up to Sierra Nevada. Unfortunately, we do not have independent data from wind tunnel testing, but the bicycle felt extremely aerodynamic during hard efforts on flat roads.

We climbed to the Sierra Nevada ski area several times aboard the Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL, and enjoyed both the climb and the descent.

We climbed to the Sierra Nevada ski area several times aboard the Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL, and enjoyed both the climb and the descent (click to enlarge).

It was on rough roads and twisting descent from Sierra Nevada, however, that the Aeroad CF SLX really showed its worth. In both scenarios we expected the bike to perform like other ultra-stiff aerodynamic frames, which traditionally sacrifice compliance and maneuverability in order to cut through the wind.

Not so with the Aeroad CF SLX. The bike absorbed the bumps well enough, and even cut through a long section of gravel without sending shockwaves up our spine. After a long 85-mile day in the saddle on sun-baked tarmac, our back and neck felt surprisingly fresh.

The bike also performed admirably on the 5,000-foot climb to Sierra Nevada, its chunky bottom bracket and chain stays providing strong power transfer. On the descent, the Aeroad CF SLX cut clean arcs through the swooping turns, and required no braking even on a few decreasing-radius hairpins. While the compact geometry did not allow us to perform a full superhero-style tuck over the handlebars, the bike dropped down the mountain fast enough to catch multiple riders up the road.

Traditional front-mounted brakes provided powerful braking, but when paired with the Mavic Cosmic wheel they also produced a deafening screech.

Traditional front-mounted brakes provided powerful braking, but when paired with the Mavic Cosmic wheel they also produced a deafening screech (click to enlarge).

What we didn’t like

Canyon positions its brake calipers in the traditional fore and aft positions, which makes for strong and responsive braking. But the brake and wheel combination created a loud screeching noise during both heavy and light braking. We’re not talking about a light hum or a creaking here — the piercing howl was loud enough to pierce through our earbuds and drown out our iTunes play list.

The bike’s internal cable routing cuts down on the drag, but it does present a challenge for novice mechanics. And the routing for the Di2 model, unfortunately, is not convertible to traditional cable-pull components.

These are all minor problems, of course. The only major gripe, in our opinion, is the lack of U.S. distribution. As you will see below, this not a complete deal breaker.

Getting the bike in the USA

Buying a Canyon bicycle is not altogether impossible for Americans, however it does require both patience and personal connections in Europe. Greg Phare of Denver, Colorado, currently owns four Canyon bicycles, including the 2016 Ultimate CF SLX. Phare first test rode a Canyon during a vacation in Mallorca, Spain in 2013, and said he quickly became a convert.

Phare has an aunt who lives in Rome, and said he simply has the bikes shipped to her address. From there, he used the bike shipping company Bike Flights to send the bicycles to his home in Denver. Bike Flights handled the import paperwork as well as the VAT taxes. When all was said and done, Phare said, the shipping and taxes added less than $500 onto the final price tag.

For one of his other Canyon bikes, Phare simply planned a European vacation around his purchase, and returned home with the bike in tow. That mode trimmed the delivery price by $350 or so. “The bang for your dollar is definitely there, and it’s cool to have a bike that’s unique,” Phare says. “Even with the shipping costs it was a good deal.”

Would we buy it?

Budgetary constraints would prevent us from dropping $7,000 for this bicycle, but when compared to its competitors in the market, the Aeroad SLX is a steal, even with the purchasing headache. We would definitely buy the Aeroad’s Ultegra model, the CF SLX 6.0, which costs $3,750.

For more information visit www.canyon.com

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Comments:

  • Scott says:

    Canyon has been asking Americans to be patient for too long. I ended up buying a nice Propel on closeout. Too bad, I would have loved a Canyon, based on what I have read. Maybe for my next bike – but knowing Canyon, more likely the bike after that…or the one after that.

  • Anyone world wide can purchase a Canyon. Just organise an International courier to pick up the bike from Canyon and then deliver anywhere in the world you like.

    easy

  • Mike says:

    Felt Bicycles does just the opposite. It’s dealer only. What a disaster. Try purchasing one of their higher end road frames such as the F1. They don’t ship or conduct online sales. You have to go to a dealer and order without seeing the product. They only stock the cheap bikes. You’ll pay local taxes and the middleman markup. Pass on Felt. Poor customer service as well.

  • Sue George says:

    Thanks to Greg Phare for using BikeFlights.com to ship his Canyons – we appreciate the mention and always enjoy reading customer reviews. We do assist our customers by completing necessary customs paperwork for international shipping, whether they are travelling with a bike, are having a bike repaired or are selling/purchasing a bike online. But we wanted to clarify that BikeFlights.com only charges for the shipping service. All duties, taxes and/or clearance fees are due by the recipient to the appropriate customs authority – they are not included in BikeFlights.com’s shipping rates.

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