All top end bikes are amazing rides, but once in a while, a certain bike will beckon more than the others. For me, that bike is the Canyon CF SLX 9.0 LTD. I received the bike in March of 2016, and have logged over two thousand miles on it since then. To the hard core cyclists out there, this may not seem a huge number, but please consider that I am in the envious position of having many test bikes in the stable at once, all begging to be ridden. So, why does the Canyon speak out more loudly than the others? With Canyon’s imminent arrival in the States, that’s something I’ve been contemplating quite a lot these past few weeks.
First, the overall design aesthetic of the frame and fork is simply gorgeous. The bike looks fast just standing still. Matte black is fairly commonplace these days, but the CF SLX has discreet logos and design cues that take it to another level. From the integrated handlebar stem combo to the hidden seat post binder bolt, it is obvious the engineers spent long hours thinking through each and every detail. One particular design feature that stands out for me is the junction between the top tube and the seat stays. It is a clever piece of design that differentiates itself from all other bike frames, and also contributes to the wonderful ride characteristics of the bike. Ultimately, the design aesthetic falls under the “form follows function” philosophy, with every design detail in pursuit of an excellent riding bicycle.
And this brings us to the ride itself and why I have such a fondness for this particular bike. This is a top level race bike, so it is fast. It is fast on climbs, partially due to its scant 14.2 lb weight for a large, and also due to the stiffness of the frame. All pedaling power is transmitted directly to the road on the CF SLX. The bike tackles climbs as if on fire. It is also very fast on descents. Actually, it is one of the most stable descenders I’ve ridden. It calls out to reach speeds I don’t normally reach on other bikes, all with a sure footedness that instills extreme confidence. There are no surprises when reaching a sharp turn on a descent, just smooth and predictable handling. The bike begs to be ridden fast, both up and down, and gives you the feeling that anything is possible. This is proven daily when watching the Tour de France, or any other major cycling event, where some of the world’s best riders put the CF SLX through its paces.
But, there’s a little bit more to why this bike is so excellent, something not easily recognized when watching the pros – the CF SLX is incredibly comfortable. This is a bike that can be ridden all day, every day. In the past, top end race bikes were not necessarily the choice for a casual 80 mile ride with friends, as comfort was not something bike companies used to think about. Times have changed, and comfort definitely plays a part in design. With different lay-ups of carbon fiber, many different characteristics can be achieved at once. Canyon has excelled in creating a frame that does everything well, and this bike is always my top choice for a long day in the saddle.
My particular Canyon came equipped with a complete Campagnolo Super Record groupset, including Campagnolo Bora One wheels. It would be a huge oversight not to mention this, as the groupset from the Italian company is perhaps one of the most beautiful on the market. The brake/shift levers are a pleasure to hold onto, and the feel of the braking and shifting is precise and exact. The wheels are of particular note, as they have some of the best bearings I’ve ever had the chance to ride. And, these aren’t even Campagnolo’s top offering. This build is a wonderful addition to an already perfect package. That said, Canyons are available with any groupset you choose, so if SRAM or Shimano are what you fancy, it can be configured so. Disc brakes are also an option. The choices are endless.
August will be an exciting month for the cycling consumer in the States. The rest of the world has already had the chance to enjoy Canyon bicycles, but the States have been the last piece of the puzzle for Canyon. Their consumer direct approach via online sales is not necessarily unique, but Canyon has turned this sales platform into an art form. Everything is very clearly listed on the website, from complete component specs, to geometry, to complete weights, something many manufacturers shy away from. Pricing is yet to be announced for the States, but if it is in line with European pricing, the bikes will be very competitive in the US market. For those who would like to see a Canyon in person, head to Carlsbad, California, where Canyon has opened offices and a showroom. I, for one, couldn’t be happier to welcome Canyon to the US. Roman Arnold, the founder of Canyon, has done a brilliant job nurturing his start-up into a major force in the cycling world, introducing exciting and innovative bicycles that demonstrate what a passion for cycling can do to transform the industry.