Canyon launches brand new Ultimate

A first look at the all-new Canyon Ultimate

Canyon has today released the fifth iteration of its mainstay bike, the Ultimate.

The latest update to the bike, which Canyon describes as its “all-rounder”, comes six years after the last major overhaul of the range first launched in 2004. Since then, Canyon has released sub-range updates, including the CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) edition in 2020.

The new Canyon Ultimate has been in the public eye for some time having been ridden by the Movistar Team and Canyon//SRAM, appearing at races like the Critérium du Dauphiné and the men and women’s Tours de France.

Now though, full details of the new bike have been revealed. Canyon says the aim of the latest Ultimate is to use its latest technologies to create a road bike with the “perfect” balance of, you guessed it, aerodynamics, stiffness, weight, and comfort.

The latest line-up of the new Canyon Ultimate features 11 different models across three ranges: the CF SL, the CF SLX, and the CFR. The main difference in these three ranges is the carbon layup of the frames, but the CF SL is the only range that offers a bike with mechanical shifting and non-internal cable routing. All the other bikes are equipped with electronic groupsets, while the CF SLX and the CFR take electronic groupsets only, and come with full integrated cable routing. Only one bike, the CFR Etap, comes without DT Swiss manufactured wheels.

Canyon says the new Ultimate is designed for “casual club riders through to committed performance junkies and pros. And everyone in between”. Price points for the latest Ultimate start at €2,699 for the CF SL 7, up to €10,999 for the top of the range CFR Etap.

Frame changes

Canyon is keen to note that the updates on the Ultimate are “evolutions” on the previous edition, rather than wholesale changes. The new Ultimate doesn’t look starkly different to the previous iteration, but the German company has made some improvements to keep the same climbing prowess of the last model while making it a more accomplished all-rounder.

The most noticeable development is the adjusted tube shapes and bulking up of particular points in the frame it calls “high-stress areas”. Canyon says it has added 30g of carbon fibre across the range of new Ultimate frames, creating a more durable bike built for versatile riding and not just climbing. The seat tube junctions, the seatstays, and the bottom bracket have all been strengthened, while the fork and head tube have been redesigned to make the front end stiffer and more aerodynamic.

While the new Ultimate is not lighter than the previous model, Canyon says it has still managed to create a bike weighing just 6.3kg in the CFR model (size medium, Di2) and 6.8kg for the CF SLX despite the added carbon in the frame layup. The weight penalty because of the extra carbon “significantly improves lifespan of the frame”, Canyon claims, aiming to create a more sustainable product.

Canyon says the new model is 15% stiffer in the head tube compared to the last Ultimate, despite the fact the frontal surface area of the bike has been reduced to make it more aerodynamic. The main aerodynamic change has come in the fork, which was dramatically redesigned in conjunction with Swiss Side. Canyon says the new aerodynamic touches to the Ultimate makes it 10w more efficient at 45kph compared to the previous model when wind-tunnel tested with the same components and wheels.

The redesigned fork also plays into adding comfort to the bike. Canyon says the biggest difference to comfort is running wider tyres at lower pressures, so has thus fitted the new Ultimate with the ability to fit 32mm tyres front and back to add a real slice of versatility to the bike. Despite being able to fit larger tyres, all of the CFR, CF SLX models and the CF SL 8 Aero are all fitted with a 25mm front Schwalbe Pro One tyre and a 28mm rear tyre. That’s because, Canyon says, the 25mm tyre at the front is more efficient aerodynamically, while the comfort and traction the 28mm provides at the rear is worth sacrificing aero gains for.

Contact points

Other key changes on the new Canyon Ultimate are the contact points of the bike. Gone is the round seat post of the previous edition, replaced by a new D-shaped proprietary carbon post. Combined with a new seat clamp which grips the post lower, Canyon claims this creates greater compliance and comfort, allowing the post to bend enough to absorb vibrations and road buzz.The clamp is moved from the rear of the bike between the seat stays to inside the rear triangle under the top tube, keeping it out of sight and maintaining the “pure aesthetic” Canyon says it is aiming for.

Another major addition to the new Canyon Ultimate is the CP0018 Aerocockpit, originally designed and featured on the Canyon Aeroad. As well as keeping an aero front end, the key selling point of the integrated bar and stem is the ability to change bar widths and heights easily.The adjustable bars offer 20mm of width change, while there are two stem heights available. The removable wings of the bars also make travelling with the bike simpler and easier. The cables are fully integrated through the bars as standard on the CFR, CF SLX and most of the CF SL models, with the CF SL 7 and CF SL 8 the only two bikes in the new Ultimate range to feature the older H36 aerocockpit to allow for mechanical gearing.

Geometry and sizing

The geometry of the Ultimate has had a change too, Canyon saying it has made a singular “tweak” to improve the handling of the bike for larger riders. The chainstay length gets longer proportionally as the bikes get bigger from size large upwards. This allows, Canyon says, smaller riders to keep the same ride feel as before on the more compact bikes while taller riders will find better handling thanks to the adjusted stays. The new Ultimate has also been made to fit identically to the Aeroad, according to Canyon. This is primarily to benefit the pro teams it supplies, allowing riders to switch between the two bikes with no change in feel depending on the type of stage or race they’re riding.

Canyon has released eight sizes for the CF SL and the CF SLX bikes, ranging from 3XS to 2XL. The CFR has a slightly smaller range of sizing of 2XS to 2XL.

The 3XS size is new to the Ultimate and is one of two (along with the 2XS) in the CF SL range that will feature 650b wheels. In the CF SLX range, only the 3XS will feature 650b wheels. Canyon introduced these on smaller bikes in its women’s range back in 2017, saying it helped the bike maintain the same handling as those in a bigger size. The CFR range features no 650b wheels, with Canyon saying it’s because the mechanics on the pro teams using these top-end bikes require the “easy serviceability” of 700c wheels.

First ride, initial impressions

I was lucky enough to ride the new Canyon Ultimate at a launch event in the South Downs National Park in the UK, an ideal setting to test out a bike billed as an all-rounder. The model I had for the ride was the CF SLX 8, equipped with the latest Ultegra Di2 groupset and DT Swiss ARC 1400 50mm wheels.

It’s hard to judge a new bike on one short ride, but I’d previously ridden the last iteration of the Ultimate a few times over the years so was in a position to get a comparable feel at least.

The previous Ultimate was a great climbing bike, so uphill it was difficult to really tell much difference between the two as the new one seemed just as lively, responsive and light on the ascents. Likewise on the descents (aside from some brand new disc brakes that needed bedding in) it felt agile, but some proper riding on longer descents would really put the limits of the bike to the test.

There’s some quite rough roads around the Goodwood area of the South Downs and the new Ultimate didn’t suffer from much road chatter or buzz at all, but again I wouldn’t have said the previous edition did significantly either. I’ve gotten quite used to riding with 28mm tyres so using the 25mm on the front was a distinct change. I think on UK roads I’d be happy to sacrifice the aerodynamics: this might provide to get a bit of extra comfort through the front end with a wider tyre.

I think the most noticeable difference in the new Ultimate is its feel on the flat. I’m a big fan of the Aeroad and the new Ultimate’s feel when pushing on the flat or sprinting up a slight rise does feel more akin to the handling of the former, though it certainly doesn’t quite have the same aero bike feel to it. I think this is where any added stiffness becomes most noticeable.

More information on the new Ultimate is available at the Canyon website.

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