Canyon’s Ultimate SL sits below its ultra-light EVO and pro-grade SLX in the race-bike hierarchy. That doesn’t mean the SL’s a porker, though — a frame weight of around a kilo and a complete weight of 7.5kg for an XL bike is still impressive stuff. Canyon bases the Ultimate SL around its Sport Pro geometry, which is lower and longer than its Endurance platform, but shares the racy geometry of its more expensive Ultimate brothers.
- The Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 ride experience
The geometry isn’t as low as Cervélo’s R3D or even Cannondale’s Synapse with its 613mm stack (R3 is 605mm, Synapse is 610mm), but it is longer with its 418mm reach (R3 is 396, Synapse is 393mm). This makes for a pretty comfortable ride position, while remaining fairly low and stretched out.
On the road, it’s an easy bike to get up to speed, aided by a light set of wheels in DT’s PR1400s, weighing 1447g in total. The 52/36, 11-28 gearing combination also adds to the speed potential, and it’s being driven by Shimano’s latest iteration of Ultegra Di2, which is something special.
Shift quality and accuracy are stunning, and the newly revamped brakes and latest IceTec rotors provide noise-free braking and plenty of feel at the levers.
On winter-scarred tarmac, it’s a different story. The back-end does still doesn’t allow much in the way of road vibrations through the classy Fizik Antares saddle, but up front road noise and chatter comes through to your hands pretty much unfettered.
When you get into the hills the SL shines. The chassis is seriously stiff from the bottom-bracket shell, while light wheels and low overall weight add up to a capable ascender.
On the way down, the SL is surefooted and stable, although I did feel a bit of flex between the front and back end, but not enough to induce any twist, or to even make me think of backing off. Other testers had no such issues on smaller frame sizes.
Canyon has specified the cool-looking H36 Aerocockpit, which is well shaped and undoubtedly aero. Its stiffness doesn’t do anything to help the chattery ride over rougher surfaces, but Canyon has built in a simple solution with the SL Disc chassis and that’s in the clearances. At the fork, there is 10mm either side of the wide-for-a-25, Continental GP4000 S II tyre and more than 10mm above.
At the rear the clearances are even greater. I’d love to see Canyon adopt a similar plan to the likes of Trek and Cannondale and spec the SL with 28mm tyres. The increase in volume and ability to run slightly lower pressures would add comfort in spades to the ride.
The Canyon has a huge amount going for it, the spec is as good as you can expect for the money. The Ultegra Di2 group being something very special. If the road chatter issues at the front could be countered it would be one of the best disc brake-equipped race bikes around.
- BikeRadar would like to thank Life Cycle Adventures, Sanremo Bike Resort, MET Helmets, Le Col, Mercedes Benz and Brittany Ferries for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.