I’m a sucker for a budget bike but I also enjoy certain luxuries (such as electronic shifting), more than I’m often willing to admit. Viewed through this somewhat skewed lens, I present the Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 Di2. It’s a time-trial or triathlon bike that will appeal to many and with good reason.
While the CF 8.0 Di2 is not the cheapest time-trial bike in Canyon’s Speedmax line, it's also half the price of the top-of-range model at £4,099 / €4,449.99 / $4,999 / AU6,399. For the price, you'll get a slippery carbon frame and fork, DT Swiss carbon wheels and Shimano’s excellent R8050 Di2 groupset. Want to save a grand? Go with the CF 8.0 and get the same frameset with mechanical Ultegra and Mavic wheels.
However, if you’re on the hunt for a time-trial rig that strikes a nearly perfect balance of pricing and performance, the Speedmax CF 8.0 Di2 is surely Canyon’s standout model.
A Fizik saddle, Profile aerobars, and a complement of Canyon’s smart house-brand components round out a package that is quite the looker. With a low-key, matte-black finish and matching carbon seatpost, base bar, and wheels it cuts an imposing profile.
Dialling in fit on the Canyon is a cinch compared to many modern time-trial machines. The adjustability afforded by the standard 1.125-inch steerer tube, semi-integrated stem, carbon base bar, and Profile clip-on aerobars is a breath of fresh air after muddling through the same process on other more “integrated” front ends.
I did end up installing a different stem to suit my dimensions, but this wasn’t a big concern. Sure, it didn’t look quite as clean, but I was in a more efficient position.
The only fit limitation I found was with the Profile aerobars. It was difficult to get the arm rests narrow enough for my position. But that’s due to my narrow shoulders. I think most riders will be just fine on Profile’s latest J-bracket clip-ons.
Behind the stem is Canyon’s own integrated Energy Box, inside of which is the Di2 junction box/charging port. This bolt-on bento box is an essential for triathlon and great on long rides.
It’s still at home on short jaunts as it improves airflow over the frame. It’s also nice to have such quick access to the bike’s charging port. On other, pricier Canyon models, you have to remove a stem cover to access it.
This is where the front-end integration ends though on the CF 8.0 Di2. Spend another grand or two and Canyon includes a hidden brake in the front forks, an integrated drink system, and its own modular aerobar/base bar setup on the Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL model.
But to be frank, I wouldn’t spend that extra cash there. Instead I’d look at a professional bike fit and book an aero consultant to help dial in a fast position.
Sure, the exposed brake cables and Di2 wires will cost you some time, but not nearly as much as a bad position. So I recommend you have a mechanic tidy up the front end as much as possible once you’ve dialled in the Speedmax.
The Canyon S31 CF seatpost is also easy to use. It has a massive range of fore and aft adjustment and I really liked the independent fore/aft and tilt system. It also features a set of threaded inserts on its trailing edge, which can be used to attach Canyon’s accessory bottle holder.
Another upside to the Speedmax CF 8.0 Di2 and the CF 8.0 is the Ultegra direct mount brakes. While they aren’t as sleek as some may like, they provide powerful stopping and great modulation, a brake’s primary function.
All of the bike’s drivetrain also comes from Shimano. Ultegra delivers near Dura-Ace performance at a significantly lower cost. The only downside is a slight increase in weight, which is not the biggest concern for time trialists or triathletes.
The Di2 shifting worked perfectly throughout testing and suits the time-trial bike application perfectly. In many cases, it can be quite the task to smoothly route mechanical shift cables in the tight confines of aero bikes.
With two-button shifters on the aerobars and single-button shifters on the base bar brake levers, you can shift from both positions. Front shifting can only be performed on the aerobars. The ability to customise the button feature via Shimano’s E-tube software is nice, though the stock layout seems like the most logical to this rider.
The Canyon really does deliver on nearly every point that matters, but I have one criticism. Long crank arms may be in fashion for some, but they can make getting into a low position difficult. The size Medium I tested arrived with 175mm Ultegra crank arms. To be fair, I could have ridden either a Small or Medium, but I went with the Medium, as I wanted the longer top tube for my long arms and torso.
The smaller size would have likely arrived with the same 172.5mm crank arms I use on my road and gravel bikes. But for time trialling I like an even shorter crank. If I were to purchase the Canyon (it’s tempting…), I would install a set of 165mm arms. They suit my high-cadence style and allow me to fold myself into the aerobars without restricting my hip angle. Other riders may love the longer arms though.
The gearing on the Canyon is commonplace now on time-trial and tri bikes. A 52/36 semi-compact crank is paired with an 11-28 cassette. While at first, this may sound like gearing for a mountainous gran fondo, it also makes a great deal of sense for a time-trial bike.
Mere mortals shouldn't need a chainring larger than a 52 and the 28-tooth cassette allows a rider to stay in the big ring longer. With the 36 inner ring, climbing, even in the aero position, is made much more possible.
If you have strong opinions about time-trial gearing, you’ll likely change the rings on nearly any bike you buy. If you don’t, then the stock gearing will get you a long way down the road to discovering your own preferences. Ultimately, it’s nice to see bikes made for regular riders instead of pushing trickle down pro gearing on the average consumer.
The DT Swiss Arc 1400 Dicut wheels use DT Swiss 240 hub internals and a rim shape developed by Swiss Side. The 62mm front and 80mm rear rims are 25mm wide and have an internally width of 17mm. Though tubeless compatible, the wheels arrive with inner tubes. Wrapped in Continental Grand Prix Attack and Force tires (23mm front, 25mm rear), the DT Swiss wheels impressed out on the road. They spun up quickly, felt stable in blustery conditions, and have a nice, smooth brake track.
Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 Di2 on the road
Getting out on the road is a quick affair thanks to Canyon’s user-friendly components. Once rolling along, the Speedmax is efficient and comfortable. Even with the requisite deep section wheels and stout carbon frame, there was nothing jarring about the Speedmax. It made longer rides much more welcome.
As clichéd as it sounds, the Canyon delivers comfort without foregoing efficiency. Out of the saddle, the Speedmax winds up quickly, transmitting your efforts to the road without fuss. None of your toil is wasted by the Canyon.
Even with a forward position that places a lot of weight on the front wheel, the Speedmax handles nicely through corners. This is thanks to a combination of good geometry and killer stopping power. You can leave the braking late with the Ultegra direct mounts and DT Swiss rims. It’s fun to whip the Speedmax around, doing your best Fabian Cancellara impression through twisty sections.
Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 Di2 verdict
While I would never say a $5,000 bike is a cheap one, I will say the Speedmax CF 8.0 Di2 brings a lot to the table for its price tag.
You could buy this bike on a Monday and race it at a midweek time-trial pretty easily. There is nothing that requires immediate attention, other than dialling in your fit. The wheels are fast, the shifting and braking are phenomenal, and the frameset is more than worthy. I give the Speedmax two thumbs up.