We first saw the Canyon Inflite AL cyclocross bike at the Eurobike show in Germany, and were keen to get out and test it in some proper British mud.
HIGHS: Well specced, mud-friendly
LOWS: Bit too weighty for racing
BUY IF… You see a cyclocross bike as a great way to explore beyond the tarmac
It has an aluminium frame with a tapered head tube, wide down tube and press-fit bottom bracket, providing plenty of stiffness without feeling overly harsh on rough terrain. Mud clearance is helped by bridge-less chainstays. The geometry – 72-degree head, 73.5-degree seat angle – gives a predictable, stable ride, while still retaining the nippiness required for twisty courses. The carbon fork has loads of mud clearance, and comes with forward facing dropouts to counter the risk of disc brake forces pulling the wheel out.
The Canyon is one of a slew of new bikes taking advantage of the lifting of the UCI’s ban on disc brakes. Production models will have Shimano‘s new BR-CX77 disc brakes; CX75s were specced originally, but were recalled by Shimano (our test bike came with TRP’s Spyre SLC cable discs). Discs offer the advantage of not having a braking surface that is constantly dunked in mud, and the result is reliable, consistent stopping.
Shimano’s 105 provides slick shifting, its 46/36t ‘cross-specific FC-CX50 chainset and 11-32 cassette serving up an impressive gear range that’ll get you up muddy climbs without losing a reasonably high top gear at the other end. The 175mm cranks offer plenty of leverage.
Mavic’s Crossride 29 wheels were originally intended for 29er mountain bikes, but with ‘cross bikes now having disc brakes and the same spacing as mountain bikes, it makes sense that they’re used across disciplines. They’re not the lightest, but their wide rims give Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron tyres a good profile, resulting in plenty of grip in loose conditions.
All the kit is decent quality. The Ritchey bar has a shallow drop, a comfortable shape and comes with Canyon’s gel tape. The flat-topped Ergon SM30 saddle was more comfortable than we expected, while Canyon’s VCLS 2.0 seatpost was a revelation to testers who hadn’t used it before. Two semi-circular carbon sections are bolted together lower down the post, before splitting, giving an incredible amount of comfort. The only drawback is it doesn’t offer any scope for moving the saddle back for a more stretched position.
While it may be a bit weighty for racing, the Inflite’s components mean it’s ideal for those who see a ‘cross bike as a great way to explore beyond the tarmac.