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.
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.
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.
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