Canyon has unveiled its new flagship, aero-profiled race bike, the Aeroad CF SLX, just days before the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France.
RoadCyclingUK first encountered the new bike in Megève, on a recent visit to the French Alps for the Critérium du Dauphiné, but the official unveiling took place earlier this week in a Leeds hotel, attended by Movistar’s Alex Dowsett and world number one, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). Canyon supply bikes to the teams of both men. RCUK was among the invited guests.
It is billed as “made for the WorldTour” and is an uncompromised race bike, designed to complement a range to which a machine with concessions to comfort –
the Endurace CF – has recently been added. “If you have a wider range, you can focus more on each platform,” chief designer, Wolfgang Kohl, told RCUK.
The Aeroad CF SLX is billed by Canyon as combining the aerodynamic benefits of the Speedmax CF time trial bike with the lower weight and greater comfort of the Ultimate CF SLX road bike, and is the German brand’s attempt to create a machine able to top the UCI WorldTour rankings for a fourth consecutive year, having done so in 2011 with Philippe Gilbert, and in the last two years with Rodriguez.
Three engineering teams worked to create the Aeroad CF SLX, including industrial design agency, Artefakt, who worked with Canyon on the IF award-winning Speedmax CF and Ultimate CF SLX and were tasked with creating the new bike’s striking silhouette. It is a concern with the aerodynamics of this wind tunnel-tested machine, however, and the integration of frame and components that lies at the heart of the Koblenz firm’s latest offering.
We’ll bring you the full story behind the Aeroad CF SLX – including interviews with designers Kohl and Michael Adomeit – in a subsequent
longform feature. For now, we’ll focus on the new steed of Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff – winner of the 2014 Milan-San Remo, and a rider ready to roll out in Leeds on Saturday for the Yorkshire Grand Départ.
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Canyon Aeroad CF SLX
Two trends have dominated bicycle design in recent years - weight and aerodynamics - and the Aeroad CF SLX is Canyon's latest take on the latter. The latest addition to the Canyon range, launched in Leeds, is billed as combining the aerodynamic benefits of the Speedmax CF time trial bike, thanks to the German firm's aero-profiled Trident 2.0 tube shape, with the lower weight and greater comfort of the Ultimate CF SLX road bike. This machine belongs to 2014 Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff.
Signed, sealed, delivered
Few new designs depend on UCI certification as much as the Aeroad CF SLX, a machine to be placed at the disposal of two WorldTour teams, with the governing body's 3:1 aspect ratio for aero-profiled tubes the greatest consideration. The UCI's technical regulations have been criticised as too restrictive, but the engineers behind this bike - those attached to Canyon and from Darmstadt industrial design agency, Artefakt - each told RCUK they had not been hampered by the rules. Designer, Michal Adomeit, said the geometry of the new bike is similar to the Aeroad CF, and a comparison of the charts reveals only subtle differences. The principal distinction lies in the shape of the tubes, rather than their lengths and angles.
A new tube profile, the Trident 2.0, is central to the Aeroad CF SLX's performance and its visual identity, and reflects an approach in which Canyon hired an external industrial design agency to work alongside its aerodynamicist and chief engineer. The long top-tube and cliff-edge trajectory of the flat-backed seat-tube call to mind the Speedmax CF, but the shape differs significantly from the tube profile deployed on the time trial bike, most obviously at the downtube. The Trident 2.0 is wider at the rear and less tapered, intended to perform better in cross winds and at the lower speeds at which road bikes are typically ridden. Canyon claim a stiffness improvement of 11 per cent on its predecessor.
Front to back
Integration is increasingly the watchword for manufacturers, and while, in our opinion, the Aeroad CF SLX falls short of the level achieved by LOOK and Factor, frame and components are more closely aligned than on its predecessor and on many of its rivals. Canyon has deployed a modified version of Shimano's Dura-Ace direct mount front brake on the seat-stays (taking care to reposition the shoes) in the belief that not only is a conventionally-positioned rear brake more usable for its clientele of WorldTour teams and their mechanics than a chainstay mounted unit, but that it is more aerodynamically efficient too. Eagle-eyed observers at the launch noted that the Movistar-liveried bike also sported Shimano’s top-tier direct mount caliper, despite the Spanish squad's alliance with Campagnolo. The Dura-Ace stickers had been removed.
The most striking of all the features of Canyon's new bike is the one-piece handlebar and stem, dubbed the Aerocockpit CF. Internal cable routings and a recess beneath the stem to conceal a Shimano Di2 junction box reflect a concern with aero purity for which Canyon claims a 5.5w saving over a conventional Ritchey WCS bar and stem. Note also the aero profiled stem spacers, a design developed in tandem with bearing manufacturer, Acros, more of whom below. The aerodynamic agenda extends even to handlebar tape: the area for taping is recessed, placing the tape at the same ‘height’ as the bar centre and presenting an unbroken leading edge.
A tube of two halves
The three design teams attempted to balance concerns for weight, stiffness, and aerodynamics with the Aeroad CF SLX, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the seat-tube. The lower section broadens into a fairing to reduce turbulence around the rear wheel in homage to the Speedmax CF, while the upper section follows a more conventional profile to limit the weight penalty of the aero shield below. The seat-tube is home to the new Aeropost CF, another component shaped with the Trident 2.0 profile and available with a choice of two clamps to allow offsets of 0-15mm or 15mm to 30mm. The neat, reversible design allows the clamp to be flipped to extend the adjustment to positive or negative offsets.
Canyon has directed a similar focus to the aero efficiency of the front end. The headtube is another to use the Trident 2.0 profile. While most modern performance bikes use a fork with a tapered steerer tube, allowing the designer to limit the weight penalty from using more material at the lower end of the headtube to create a better junction with the downtube, Canyon has opted for a straight 1-1/4" fork steerer and a prow-like front profile. The design has been achieved with very compact bearings, made especially for the task by Acros. The minimal design - the bearing has an external diameter of 44mm - also yields a claimed 30 per cent weight saving on that used in the Aeroad CF. The headtube on Kristoff’s 56cm machine measures 147mm – just 3mm lower than its predecessor.
Inside the cockpit
The cockpit will be offered in four different stem lengths, from 90mm to 130mm, and with a choice of two different bar widths for each length - 410mm or 430mm. Canyon is urging riders to try a bar width 10mm less than their usual - a challenge already accepted by Movistar's Alex Dowsett, RCUK understands. Joaquim Rodriguez will use the bar at the Tour de France. Canyon’s teams will not be forced to use the new cockpit, however, and the bike will be sold with an optional conventional bar/stem set-up, despite Canyon’s claims of a 5.5w saving over a bike equipped with a Ritchey WCS bar and stem.
The hubs of Kristoff's Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheels are marked with Katusha stickers. The French wheelsmiths provide neutral service support at ASO races, as well as wheels to rival teams, such as the Cofidis Pro Continental squad, and the Russian Katusha team are clearly keen to keep hold of their supply. Kristoff’s hoops were wrapped in 22c Mavic Yksion Griplink tubulars, a narrow and increasingly unpopular profile. Canyon’s team liaison to Katusha and Movistar, Andreas Walzer, told RCUK that the Milan-San Remo winner was more likely to race on 25c tyres, especially on the British stages.