Canyon launch Endurace 'comfort' bike - first ride
German firm's new machine, available in four builds from Shimano 105 to Shimano Dura-Ace, strives to balance comfort and performance
by George Scott
Canyon have unveiled their first 'comfort' bike - the Endurace CF. The German firm's latest machine takes a three-pronged approach to comfort - frame design, geometry and spec - and will be available in four builds from £1,399 to £2,599.
The Endurace fills an obvious gap in the firm's high-end, carbon fibre road range, which otherwise includes three race-focused bikes: the super-light Ultimate CF SLX, its more affordable sibling, the Ultimate CF SL (itself a comfortable race bike which we reviewed earlier this week), and the aero Aeroad.
Canyon say the Endurance represents not a new bike, but a new philosophy, and this is likely the first machine in a new category of bikes for the Koblenz-based company. That said, Canyon are keen to emphasise that the Endurace is still a race bike (the clue is in the name) to be ridden fast, and, as a result, Canyon say the frame has been designed to strike the best balance between comfort and performance, and it shares many of the features found on their race-driven steeds.
Vertical Comfort, Lateral Stiffness
Comfort is the calling card of a bike like this, however, and Canyon's three-way approach is dubbed the Integral Comfort Concept. Starting with frame design, Canyon's VCLS technology - or Vertical Comfort, Lateral Stiffness - refers to the holy grail of bike manufacturers, to create a bike which is both comfortable and stiff, without one making a concession to the other. Comfort, Canyon say, is something that makes you fast, in saving energy during a ride for that sprint finish to the line.
The Endurace's VCLS features are subtle, engineered into a frame which doesn't have a standout, headline-grabbing feature like its competitors, whether that's Trek's IsoSpeed decoupler on the Domane, the Zertz inserts on Specialized's Roubaix, Bianchi's Countervail carbon layup on the Infinito CV, or Cannondale's helixed tube profiles and weight-saving Power Pyramid on the Synapse Hi-Mod.
The Endurace's tube profiles are very similar to those found on the Ultimate series. Crossover features include the latest design of Canyon's Maximus seattube, which, when viewed head on, has a profile which is broader than it is deep, in an assymetric design which Canyon say increases stiffness around the bottom bracket. The tube then slims as it rises to allow for more flex.
The profiles of the downtube and toptube are also familiar, with the box-section design of the former to resist what Canyon call 'twisting' forces, and the flattened profile of the latter to resist the 'bending' forces created when stamping on the pedals - both intend to create a stiff, rigid platform.
Where the Endurace differs from the Ultimate series is at the seatstays and fork. The Endurace's seatstays are, as you'd expect, super slim, again to help soak up vibrations kicked up by the road, and they are closer together at the junction with the seatpost (an area Canyon call the 'VCLS Module') than the Ultimate to improve comfort.
The new One One Four SL fork design, on the other hand, is particularly neat. The fork steerer is, as you'd expect, tapered (from 1-1/2" to 1-1/4") but the taper is more severe and starts lower than on Canyon's existing One One Four SLX fork. The thinking is that while a tapered steerer increases front-end stiffness, a round tube allows for more flex and so Canyon have effectively extended the amount of fork steerer that adopts that profile and kept the taper to a smaller area. The result is a claimed 12 per cent improvement in comfort. Both the seatstay and fork design compromise some stiffness, however, and so Canyon have increased the size of the downtube by 10 per cent to compensate.
Aesthetics are important, too, and while the Endurace's geometry (which we'll come on to) is more relaxed than the Aeroad and Ultimate series, Canyon have raised the fork crown by six millimetres to create a more upright riding position without succumbing to an overly extended headtube, and so helping to maintain the Endurace's racy looks.
Claimed weight for the frame is 1,040g, which is competitive for a 'comfort' bike, while the fork adds 340g, and the frameset as a whole (including seatclamp and Acros Ai-70 Fiber headset) is a claimed 1,470g.
Where the Endurace most obviously differs is the geometry, and it uses what Canyon call a 'Sport' geometry, compared to the more aggressive 'Sport Pro' setup on the Ultimate Series and super low and long 'Pro' geometry of the Aeroad, weapon of choice for Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez.
Still, the Endurace is not a sit-up-and-beg sportive bike. It's available in seven sizes, from XS to XXXL, and to take a medium (Canyon's equivalent to a 56cm frame) as an example, the headtube is 159mm long, though remember that's an effective length of 165mm when taking into account the raised fork crown. Still, it's a fairly compact front end as sportive bikes go.
The chainstays have been lengthened by 5mm to 415mm to account for the slightly shorter reach and to ensure the wheelbase is not too compact, but it's still relatively tight at 989mm (9mm longer than the Ultimate series on a medium) and that keeps the handling stable but quick. The headtube angle on a medium bike has also been slackened by 0.85 degrees to 72.4 degrees. Those numbers vary across the seven sizes (for example, the wheelbase is shorter on the Endurace than the Ultimate in sizes L-XXXL, and the head and seattube angles are the same - so check the Canyon website for the full geometry table) but overall reflect that Canyon still pitch the Endurace as a race bike, but with a more forgiving and upright geometry than elsewhere in the range.
Spec and pricing
The same frame is used on all four models, which cover a Shimano 105 build (using the new 11-speed version of Shimano's mid-range groupset) at £1,399, a Shimano Ultegra setup for £1,699, a Campagnolo Chorus spec for £2,199 and a Shimano Dura-Ace bike for £2,599. We've come to expect competitive pricing from Canyon - thanks to their direct sales model, which bypasses the national distributor and local retailer, and allows customers to order online and have the bike delivered in a box straight to their door - but you won't find many Dura-Ace equipped bikes for that price. Of the four builds, the Ultegra and Dura-Ace bikes will be available to order from the Canyon website almost immediately for dispatch in late June, while the Chorus and 105 builds will hit the market later this year.
Groupset aside, the same spec features across the range, and, like geometry, the build kit is crucial to the Endurace's position as a 'comfort' bike. How so? First up, every bike comes with Canyon's excellent VCLS 2.0 seatpost. The seatpost and saddle is the most important connection between bike and rider, Canyon say, as it supports 70 per cent of the rider's weight. While it's available as an optional upgrade across much of the rest of the Canyon range, the VCLS 2.0, and it's ability to flex a claimed 20mm is integral to the Endurace and so it comes as standard.
Each of the four bikes also come with 25mm Continental GP4000S tyres - a nod to the current trend for plusher tyres, and there's clearance for wider rubber still. Canyon say the DT Swiss R23 Spline wheels, which have a claimed weight of 1,520g, allow the tyre to adopt an even wider stance and increase the contact patch on the road. As a result, Canyon say the tyre's effective width is 27.5mm. Saddles come from Fizik's Bull range and the finishing kit is from Ritchey.
First ride impressions
We were given the chance to swing a leg over the Shimano Ultegra-equipped Endurace CF 9.0 at the bike's launch in Berlin. While our 30-mile ride was on unfamiliar and largely smooth German roads - and so we can't give a full verdict on comfort until we get the Endurace in for a longer review on our local test loops - we can offer some first ride impressions.
The Endurace launch comes hot on the heels of our review of the impressive Canyon Ultimate CF SL and, having ridden the Ultimate prior to departing for Germany, gave a useful initial comparison of the two. The Endurace's more stable geometry feels just that, compared to the lightning fast handling of the Ultimate CF SL. Still, the Endurace still feels like a race bike - stiff in the right places, eager when pressing on the pedals, and with fast, direct and responsive handling - but the Sport geometry strikes a good balance between that and the 'all day comfort' that is associated with a more relaxed position.
Claimed weight for our machine is 7.30kg (we didn't have the chance to weigh it for ourselves) so it remains a very light bike - and certainly for a 'comfort' bike at the £1,699 asking price. The frame's stiffness and relatively light weight ensures it feels a fun bike to spend time on and we felt at ease on it almost immediately, which in some ways is Canyon's objective in creating a comfort bike which still pays respect to the firm's racing DNA.
We can comment less on the Endurace's ability to smooth out the road until we get it home. There are a heap of factors at play when it comes to determining a bike's comfort (and Canyon have acknowledged that in their approach to the Endurace), from the frame design and geometry, to wheel/tyre combination (and tyre pressure), and, in this case at least, the seatpost choice, but it certainly felt very smooth on the few rough sections (and a handful of short stretches of fairly tame cobbles) we encountered on our initial ride. How smooth - and how it fares against other 'comfort' bikes - will warrant further investigation.
We'll determine In which direction the Endurace most obviously leans - whether that's comfort or performance - over the course of a longer test and that will start with the 120km Berlin Velothon sportive on Sunday.