You can tell at a glance that this bike is built for speed, with deep wheels nestled into elongated-profile tubes, but let me tell you how it rides: quickly.
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Aerodynamics aside, the taut pedaling platform is remarkable from the first hard pedal stroke. Standing and yanking on the bars, or just diving into a corner with the hips, and the stiff front-end responds similarly: let’s go!
Canyon Aeroad CF SLX Disc 8.0 highlights
- Highly aero frameset and wheels but with normal bar and stem
- Nearly impeccable Shimano Ultegra hydraulic group with 160 rotors
- Somewhat old school but still super aero 23/25 tires
- Seatpost that strikes a balance between aerodynamics and comfort
- Exceptional value
Plug and play with two NorCal test rides
Before jumping on, I swapped in a longer stem and set the angle of the handlebar. Nothing out of the ordinary there for most bikes, but something you absolutely cannot do on most high-end aero bikes that come with integrated bar/stem setups.
As a tester, it is hard for me to gauge how important adjustability is for most people, because once your bike is dialed — perhaps with the help of a fitter — you won’t touch it for months if not years. But I sure appreciate being able to quickly pop on a stem that fits me.
The Aeroad line ranges by region, but in North America there are seven bikes. The top four have integrated bar/stems.
This Ultegra bike is similar to Trek's Madone 9.0, in that it is an Ultegra aero bike with a standard stem (but an aero handlebar). The Madone 9.0, however, has a much taller head tube.
In any event, after getting the fit dialed I followed the Giro crew on a wonderful Northern California ride with punchy climbs and steep, winding descents, from the company's headquarters out to the Pacific Ocean. The following day we came back with the Pacific Coast Highway and a climb up Bonny Doon, which you may know from the Tour of California.
How the Aeroad CF SLX Disc 8.0 rides
I'll admit I had a slightly negative bias about the Reynolds wheels. I suppose I thought of their aero offerings as pointy and not as calm in sidewinds as comparable offerings from Bontrager or Zipp or ENVE. But holy cow do these wheels accelerate and then sail in the wind.
Acceleration — or, at least, my perception of the pedaling efficiency — is affected by a few things, including the frame stiffness, wheel stiffness and hub engagement. The net result on this build, though, is hugely gratifying. Whether starting a sprint or just starting to roll away from a stop sign, the acceleration is electric.
With racy angles (73.5 head and seat tube, on size M), the Aeroad darts and dives with the tilt of your hips or the flick of your wrists. Trusting the locals ahead and the Continental rubber below, I enjoyed slaloming down tight descents under a canopy of Redwoods.
The bike comes with Continental's 23mm Attack / 25mm Force combo. The idea is an aero front profile with a slightly more cushy and grippy rear. I can't tell you the last time I rode a 23mm tire, but honestly it didn't feel overly harsh. I did manage to flat it twice though, and the rear once, following a line of riders.
I didn't ride any strong gusts, but I did get to enjoy the sail effect of the tall wheels in the strong cross and then tailwinds coming off the Pacific Ocean. Strava is a dumb way to compare things, but there were a few little trophies at the end of the day.
Vertical compliance is in the middle of the road for aero bikes. It's no Cadillac-like Madone, but it isn't a bone-rattling Ridley Noah, either. I think you can chalk up some of that to seatpost, which is ovalized but still close to a standard size.
The stock R5 version of the Fizik Arione saddle treated me better than past Ariones have, likely due to the padding.
Shimano Ultegra hydraulics and mechanical shifting
The full Shimano Ultegra group leaves very little to complain about. The 52/36 crank makes sense on a race bike, and when paired with a 11-28 cassette gives you enough rope on all but the very steepest of climbs and descents. The hoods are comfortable and not, as some hydro levers, hugely tall.
Shifting is flawless; the braking superior. SRAM's Red HRD also feels good, but with much more lever pull for the same amount of bite.
SRAM will say this adds modulation, but for me, I prefer Shimano’s pull-to-bite ratio.The 160mm rotors look big, but conspired with the hydraulic calipers to deliver heaps of braking power. A few times I nearly overcooked corners on fast descents, but was able to pull it in with just the index fingers on the levers.
The only minor complaint I have is the inner lever’s habit of popping slightly out of place over sharp bumps.
Bottom line: great bike, great value
The Canyon Aeroad CF SLX Disc 8.0 is an aero bike that lives up to its billing as an all-out race bike. No one will find the stack height too tall; if anything, you may end up with more headset spacers than you are used to.
Cockpit adjustments are easy, which is a valuable thing I believe on any bike, but particularly so for an aero bike that you buy online.
Acceleration feels near-telepathic, and the deep, tubeless wheels sail through the air. The Shimano Ultegra hydraulic group, like the bike overall, is a high-value, high-performance proposition.
If you want a fast aero disc bike with an aggressively low position at a good price, you'll be hard pressed to find something better than the Aeroad CF SLX Disc 8.0.