Pro bike: Alexander Kristoff’s Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Paris-Roubaix

Top 10 finish for Katusha rider at cobbled Classics race

The podium of this year’s Paris-Roubaix was occupied by so-called ‘endurance’ bikes. But Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff scored a well-earned ninth place aboard the recently redesigned Canyon Ultimate CF SLX road racer, with just a few minor equipment changes to survive the pavé.


Canyon team liaison manager Andreas Walzer said the frameset was designed from the outset to accommodate the higher-volume tires required for Paris-Roubaix’s notorious cobbles. Indeed, Kristoff’s Mavic-badged FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars fit through the frame and fork as promised, albeit without much (if any) room to spare.

As an added bonus, the standard head tube length also meant Kristoff didn’t have to go to any extreme measures to achieve his desired position, although it’s only in these rarified circles that a 140mm-long stem can be considered commonplace.

When we arrived at the team hotel for photographs the day before the race, Kristoff had his tires mounted to Mavic’s M40, wide-profile carbon tubular wheels, which won Paris-Roubaix under Johan Vansummeren in 2011. 

Kristoff switched to Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels on Sunday, though, sacrificing the supposedly smoother ride and lighter weight of the M40’s bulbous all-carbon rims for the surer braking performance of the SLR’s textured Exalith aluminum sidewalls.

Additional pavé-induced equipment choices included two layers of Ritchey handlebar tape, flatland-friendly 53/46T matched Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 chainrings, and aluminum Elite Ciussi bottle cages.

Canyon incorporates basalt fibers into its vcls carbon fiber seatpost, which supposedly improves flexibility and shock absorption:
James Huang/Future Publishing

Basalt fibers in the VCLS carbon seatpost should improve flex and shock absorption

Otherwise, Kristoff’s machine is essentially the same as when the overhauled Canyon Ultimate CF SLX frame was first presented to the public at the 2012 Tour de France. The latest model retains the predecessor’s nominally roundish tube shapes, gradual transitions, and ultra-oversized 1 1/4in to 1 1/2in tapered front end, but with more refinement that brings the claimed weight down to under 800g.

The previous model was remarkably comfortable out back, and judging by appearances we – and surely Kristoff – are hoping Canyon has continued that trend this time around.

Cable routing is newly internal and, like many Shimano-equipped riders at this year’s Paris-Roubaix, Kristoff opted for the company’s previous-generation Dura-Ace 7900 group. 

Like many shimano-equipped riders at paris-roubaix, alexander kristoff (katusha) passed over the fancier dura-ace di2 group in favor of the previous-generation mechanical version. several riders have suggested to us that the longer throws are more forgiving on the cobbles and the extreme vibration can sometimes confuse the di2 brain:
James Huang/Future Publishing

Kristoff passed over Dura-Ace Di2 in favor of the previous-gen mechanical version

According to several riders and teams we’ve spoken to, the shift levers’ longer throws are less likely to unintentionally change gears when pinballing across the pavé. Should Kristoff decide to switch to the new Di2 setup, his mechanics will have to build a whole new bike – the routing isn’t convertible. We doubt Kristoff troubled himself with such minutiae during Sunday’s grueling slog across the cobbled countryside, though.

Total weight as pictured is a light-for-Roubaix 7.25kg (15.98lb).

Complete bike specification

  • Frame: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX, size medium
  • Fork: Canyon OneOneFour SLX
  • Headset: Acros integrated, 1 1/4in to 1 1/2in tapered
  • Stem: Ritchey WCS 4-Axis for Canyon, 140mm x -6 degrees
  • Handlebar: Ritchey WCS Logic Curve, 42cm (c-c)
  • Tape/grips: Ritchey cork, double wrapped
  • Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 w/ SwissStop Yellow King carbon-specific pads for Mavic
  • Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
  • Derailleurs: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7900
  • Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
  • Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 11-23T
  • Chain: Shimano Ultegra CN-6701
  • Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7900, 172.5mm, 53/46T
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace press-fit
  • Wheels: Mavic M40 tubular (switched to Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR tubular on race day)
  • Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7900
  • Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Trans Am Team Edition
  • Seatpost: Canyon VCLS
  • Bottle cages: Elite Ciussi (2) (switched to black cages on race day)
  • Computer: SRM PowerControl 7

Critical measurements

  • Rider’s height: 1.81m (5ft 11in)
  • Rider’s weight: 78kg (172lb)
  • Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 790mm
  • Saddle setback: 80mm
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 495mm
  • Tip of saddle nose to c of bars: 600mm
  • Saddle to bar drop: 115mm
  • Head tube length: 150mm
  • Top tube length: 549mm
  • Total bicycle weight: 7.25kg (15.98lb)