Regular readers will recall the opening installment of our High and Mighty series for oversized riders.
We began proceedings with a visit to Canyon’s UK HQ in Kingston, where we were measured and a 3XL frame recommended for our Ultimate AL 9.0 Di2 test model.
The bike came equipped with an electronic Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, and Mavic Ksyrium Elite WTS wheelset shod with 23c Mavic Yksion PRO tyres. The finishing kit contained a Ritchey WCS EvoCurve handlebar and stem with a Selle Italia race saddle paired to Canyon’s own VCLS (Vertical Comfort, Lateral Stiffness) carbon seatpost.
The frame is nicely constructed with aluminium tubing incorporating Canyon’s patented Maximus seat tube, intended to increase the lateral stiffness of the frame in the bottom bracket area over that provided by a conventional round tube.
The TIG welded tubeset we felt created an impressively proportionate frame, even in the jumbo size tested: the largest of Canyon’s seven-size range. The fork is Canyon’s full carbon One One four SLX, equipped with a tapered steerer tube to provide additional diameter and subsequent load transfer. Frame and fork are united using Canyon’s patented i-Lock headset system, one intended to remove the need for conventional clamping cones, to save weight and protect the carbon steerer tube from mechanical stress and damage.
An initial once-over revealed a large but nicely proportioned matte black frame highlighted with matte grey detailing and clean lines, thanks largely to internal cable routing for brake and Di2 cabling. The subtle shift from round to box-profile tubing eliminates the spindly look a lot of large frames suffer with giving the Ultimate AL a fast stealthy look pleasing to the eye.
We bolted on some pedals and tweaked the final fit measurements with tape measure and plumb line, alongside personal preferences transferred from my previous steed, although this time the intention was to move toward a more ‘race fit’ with lower stem and handlebars.
Our first impressions were of a very stiff, responsive frame. Even when pounding on the pedals out of the saddle very little flex was notable. The same was true through tight corners where we were impressed by the refined handling. Climbing is a positive affair with the power transferred quickly through the boxy rear end, creating a reactive steed seated or out of the saddle stomping.
Bar and stem offered a good fit with the frame, and the stem length suggested by Canyon (135mm) provided plenty of cockpit room for this knuckle dragging pilot, albeit a longer option may yet be considered for a more ‘stretched out’ fit. The 46cm bars were appropriately rigid and provided a variety of comfortable areas to place the hands, although this rider would prefer wider again, but sadly these aren’t readily available.
The Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifting was a smooth and precise affair even under power. The buttons were well positioned, although in winter gloves they felt a little small and lacked substantial feedback. Braking was consistent and suitably powerful, successfully dragging this lump down from substantial velocity when required.
Availability can be an issue with machines of such atypical size, but Canyon offer this model – 3XL, in black, with a compact chainset – from stock. You’ll need to factor in shipping times to Europe (Canyon’s HQ in Germany) and then to the UK, so allow between two and three weeks from placing your order to receiving the bike.
The Canyon Ultimate AL proved to be a faithful companion on two of the more demanding events on the sportive calendar: the Tour of Wessex and the Ronde van Vlaanderen sportive.
Check back soon for a report on our experiences at the Tour of Wessex.
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Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL
Price: £1977.01*- correct at time of publishing