VIDEO Review: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Di2 WMN
April 25th, 2016
April 25th, 2016
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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We've got our hands on the stunning Canyon Ultimate CF SLX, in the brand new women's (WMN) colour way. I say colour way rather than model, as the sizing and geometry is exactly the same as the men's, but with a different paint job. The men's (or perhaps unisex) come in Stealth Asphalt Grey or a full frame and fork matt metallic Gran Turismo Blue. Check out our video for a closer look:
The Mavic R-Sys SL WTS Exalith 2 wheelset is quite a mouthful, but on first seeing these beauties I felt a posh lengthy name suited their elite looks quite well. The R-Sys are one of the few clincher wheelsets below the 1300g mark, and are said to be the most laterally stiff and strong. The R-Sys doesn't use standard spokes, which Mavic say can lose tension and therefore stiffness in the wheel, so instead they use round and hollow 'tube' spokes so that they won’t buckle when compressed. Mavic say that the spokes help them to be 30% stiffer laterally than any other wheel in its weight category, but also allow for vibration damping to aid comfort in the ride. At around £1,350 a pair on their own, it's easy to see what a bargain the Ultimate 9.0 is. Add full Shimano Dura Ace Di2 and you're laughing.
The Dura Ace is a favourite amongst amateur elites and aspiring professionals; it's smooth, light and durable. The Di2 version is no exception; electronic shifting speeds up gear changes, and there are even shifters by your thumb for when you are in the drops. The Dura Ace brakes work well and the Exalith 2 braking surface on Mavic R-Sys rims (designed to shorten stopping distance by 20%, wet or dry) helps with this, but they do make an awful squeal when put on full power.
The fast handling of the Ultimate has only been increased by the addition of the H36 Aerocockpit, which is a one-piece handlebar and stem. Not only do they hide the cables and Di2 workings in a sleek and seamless manner, but they create a stiff platform for out-of-the-saddle pedalling, and Canyon say they reduce drag by up to 14%. The aerodynamics of the bike were surprisingly noticeable compared to a standard road bike, but the real highlight for me was the fact that the H36 supports your upper body firmly, leaving your energy to flow entirely through the legs. There's no need to wrestle the entire bike on flexing bars here, so no sapping your energy through your upper body. It's a real game-changer in the hills.
All in all, these components only enhance the Ultimate's true purpose; road racing, and I mean real racing on real roads, poor tarmac and all. The low weight of the bike, and the smooth nature of the wheel bearings and electronic gear shifting, coupled with reduced drag from the aero design and carbon spokes that not only remain laterally stiff, but dampen road vibration, all work together to keep you feeling fresher and stronger, so you can ride longer, further and faster.
Acceleration is so easy that it seemed pointless to not constantly put the power down, and before I knew it, I'd smashed all my PBs and got back home sooner than I expected. It got up to speed so easily that it seemed to almost be egging me on to see what I could do. Short bursts to catch up with pelotons would clearly be shrugged off as par for the course, and the nippy handling compliments the acceleration perfectly, allowing it to cut through the pack like a hot knife through butter.
The position is obviously a racey one, somewhere between the Endurance and the Aeroad, but, despite being an avid fan of taking endurance bikes out on long adventures, I was surprised by how forgiving the position was. My weight distribution just felt right, like every part of my body took its share of the burden. After a few hours I did not feel beaten up at all, and the following day I was feeling fresh for the same again, and again the next day as it happened... in fact, I felt like I'd peaked for a stage race. I couldn't help but take it out any chance I got to see what I could do.
the nippy handling compliments the acceleration perfectly, allowing it to cut through the pack like a hot knife in butter.
It's a very light frame at 780g, but without unduly sacrificing the stiffness-to-weight ratio. After all, the Ultimate is designed to be thrashed by World Tour professional teams like Katusha and Movistar, and now the all-women pro team Canyon//SRAM Racing.
I can see why it's hard to find these on the secondhand market; not only are Canyons already incredible value for money, but the Ultimate is just too good to part with. It was a sad day when I boxed this test bike up and sent it back to Canyon. There is an Ultimate shaped hole in my collection now. The quality of carbon in the frame and wheels offers a beautiful magic carpet feel that completely eradicated tarmac buzz. So much so that I had to stop and check I didn't have a slow puncture. It was like riding on brand new roads the whole time, and this contributed to a race bike that could go the distance too. This, coupled with the incredible price tag, and the fact that it shifts like the proverbial poo off a shovel, makes the Ultimate a winning super bike. You can feel the bike cutting through the air, and it will give everything to help you cut through the pack of a road race too.