Not long ago, German bikes were rare in Britain, but not any more. Teutonic brands Focus and Cube sell their well-priced bikes through ‘real’ bricks-and-mortar bike shops, and they’ve been joined by click-to-purchase cycle purveyors Rose and Canyon, who arguably offer even better value. But just how good is Canyon’s entry-level aluminium road bike?
- Highs: Performance, weight, components
- Lows: Saddle contributes to firm ride
The Roadlite AL 6.0 comes with a complete 105 groupset, including the chainset and brakes, which are often downgraded for penny-pinching reasons. It also has Mavic’s Aksium wheels – much more common at twice this price – and quality Continental tyres. If you were to add up the prices of the kit, Canyon is pretty much giving the frame away. Canyon doesn’t offer as many component choices as (for example) Rose, but you can choose a triple chainset.
The Canyon has a 105 groupset with no cost-cutting anywhere
We just went for the VCLS (Vertical Compliant, Laterally Stiff) seatpost, which is designed to take the sting out of the ride. It’s not as cushioning as Canyon’s VCLS 2.0 – which adds more to the base price – but does a good job. We still found our first rides firm, but swapping saddles made the Roadlite easily comfortable enough for long, hard ride across miles of bumpy, semi-surfaced, hard-packed gravel and loose grit. It means that it’ll capably handle sportives and long days out without leaving your rump battered.
Canyon describes the geometry as ‘sport’, which means it’s less overtly racy than its Ultimate road bikes. The Roadlite’s frame angles are similar to the Ultimate’s, but it has slightly longer chainstays and wheelbase, a marginally longer top tube and – most noticeably – a head tube 20-25cm taller, depending on frame size. The wheelbase is still under a metre and the oversized head tube is stiff, making out-of-saddle efforts very rewarding, and it’s got a great turn of speed. The handling from the frame and lightweight carbon fork is faultless. It’s good to see frame protectors too, preventing cable rub.
The Roadlite is pretty much as good as it gets at this price, offering low weight and great performance
The Roadlite doesn’t have a press-fit bottom bracket or internal cable routing, factors that may look old-school but are boons to the home mechanic. The outboard bottom bracket keeps the bearings away from the shell and makes it easier to swap parts, and the cabling is easier to maintain, even if it is more open to the elements. It weighs just 8.3kg, which is very impressive for the price. Although ‘heavy’ compared with today’s top road bikes, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Tour de France-winning bikes regularly dipped below this. So if 18.3lb (it sounds lighter in imperial) was good enough for Messrs Hinault, Roche and Delgado…
Canyon’s £899 Roadlite AL 6.0 SL has the same frame but with SRAM’s hill-busting Apex groupset and Mavic tyres, and £1199 will get you Campagnolo Athena or 11-speed Shimano Ultegra. But in this guise, the Roadlite AL 6.0 is one of the very best sub-£1000 road bikes you’ll find. You will need to spend 10 minutes or so setting it up, but you’ll have nabbed a genuine bargain that’ll give you a massive performance boost over a £500-£600 bike – and beat most £1000 bikes. A very grand Canyon indeed.