While it's a pain to purchase for American customers, Canyon's Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL is a steal at just $6,700 for full Dura Ace Di2.

While it's a pain to purchase for American customers, Canyon's Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL is a steal at just $6,700 for full Dura Ace Di2 (click to enlarge).​

The Lowdown: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL

American cycling fans are undoubtedly familiar with Canyon Bicycles, even though the German brand isn't for sale on this side of the Atlantic. The Movistar WorldTour team of Alejandro Valverde races on Canyon, as does the Katusha and Joaquim Rodriguez. The bikes get plenty of podium time.

Canyon is also big in the triathlon world, thanks to recently crowned Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno of Germany. It's no surprise, then, that Canyon bikes are similarly ubiquitous with weekend warrior-level cyclists across Europe.

The bikes, however, are rarely spotted on this side of the Atlantic. But that trend could soon change. Canyon's popularity in Europe is due in part to its consumer-direct model. The German brand designs its bikes at the company headquarters in Koblenz, and then produces the frames in Asia, similar to most carbon bikes. But unlike American bike companies, Canyon cuts out independent bicycle dealers entirely from the cost structure. Customers simply log onto Canyon's website, choose their frame and spec, and then pay. Within two weeks, the bike arrives at a customer's door.

Canyon's aerodynamic cockpit - called H11 Aerocockpit - was more comfortable than other aerodynamic handlebars we've tried.

Canyon's aerodynamic cockpit - called H11 Aerocockpit - was more comfortable than other aerodynamic handlebars we've tried (click to enlarge).​

The model allows Canyon to significantly undercut its competition. For example, the carbon fiber 2016 Endurace 7.0 entry-level racing bike (spec'd with Shimano 105) costs a modest $1,590. On the other end of the scale, a top-end Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 LTD, complete with Shimano Dura Ace Di2, costs $9,662. The Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL model we tested is fairly easy on the wallet, with an MSRP of $6,705. By comparison, top-end Di2 racing bicycles from Trek, Specialized and Cannondale all tip the scales at no less than $12,000 MSRP. But how did the bike stack up? Read our full review below.

Size Tested: XL (59.2cm top tube) Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith WTS
Claimed weight: 15.2 lbs (size medium) MSRP: $6,705
Groupset: Shimano Dura Ace Di2Rating:
4.5 Stars
4 out of 5 stars
Stat Box


Pluses

Minuses
  • Affordability
  • Not available in North America (yet)
  • Compliance and ride quality
  • Braking noise
  • Handling on descents
  • Wheel selection
  • Easy assembly
  • Cable routing is non-convertible to
  • Parts spec (minus the wheels)
  • traditional cable set-up
  • Weight

Full Review: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL

Murmurs of Canyon's ambitious American plans have existed in the bike industry for years, but thus far, the German brand has yet to stake a claim in the USA. A Canyon representative said that the plan hinges in part on finding the right subsidiary partners here. "Putting everything in place just takes time…" the representative said. "We just ask for a little more patience."

We took the bike on punishing rough roads and were impressed with the smooth ride.

We took the bike on punishing rough roads and were impressed with the smooth ride (click to enlarge).​

Fortunately we got the chance to do some testing, logging time on a Canyon Aeroad CF SLX Team bike during a recent trip to southern Spain. The Aeroad CF SLX is the brand's flagship aero racing road bike, and it came equipped with a Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain and Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon Exalith wheels. From the moment the bike arrived, we were impressed.

Continue to page 2 to read more from our full review of the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 SL »



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