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Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2 review

29 Nov 2022
Verdict:

The 2023 Ultimate is the people’s Aeroad

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£6,449 / $6,999 / €6,499
For 
Lightweight, Comfortable, Confidence-boosting, Great spec, Aerodynamic
Against 
None

The fifth generation of the Canyon Ultimate has been the subject to tweaks rather than wholesale changes and while the result raises questions of its necessity, there’s no doubting its capability.

With its geometry and cockpit brought in line with the Aeroad, as well as subtle aerodynamic improvements, there are valid questions about the Ultimate’s place in Canyon’s lineup, however the brand says it focussed on keeping the road bike aesthetic while upping performance for the amateur riders, rather than pros.

Thanks to that, this large Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2 weighs just 7.3kg, despite being neither the top tier (CFR) nor the top spec of the second level (CF SLX 9 Di2), and it’s cheaper than the previous generation’s CF SLX 9 too at £6,449 / $6,999 / €6,499.



The CF SLX 8 Di2 is specced with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150 12-speed groupset and 4iiii Precision power meter as well as DT Swiss ARC 1400 DiCut 50 wheels and 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres.

The performance of the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 makes it a difficult task to justify buying anything more expensive, although riders with cash to burn would no doubt appreciate knocking an extra kilogram of that already low weight.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest bikes further down the range – for example the CF SL 7 with Shimano 105 Di2 (£3,999) – would likely hit many of the same highlights too.

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 development

Bikes are getting better. Claims of ‘more aero, stiffer and lighter’ are frequently laughed off as marketing speak but they are, more often than not, true.

However, as aero bikes are getting lighter and more comfortable, and lightweight bikes stiffer and more aero, can companies keep upselling separate high-performance bikes? Canyon thinks so.

The Ultimate has traditionally been Canyon’s lightweight climber’s bike, but the latest updates see it adopting more features from the company’s aero racer, the Aeroad, which begs the question: why not just buy an Aeroad? The answer, says Canyon, is that the Ultimate isn’t just a climber’s bike, it is a ‘classic road bike’.

‘We had big discussions as to whether we still needed a classic road bike, because the Aeroad would be faster and the Endurace would be more comfortable for long rides,’ says Canyon product manager Matthias Eurich.

‘But we still see a strong demand for the classic appearance of a road bike. So we wanted to be clear – if you want the road bike, that’s the ultimate form.’

Puns aside, the thinking makes sense. While people want their bikes to be faster, not everyone wants their bike to look like an aero bike. Canyon has nudged the Ultimate closer to the Aeroad, but has made sure to maintain the simple lines and shallower tube profiles of a classic road bike.

While the new Ultimate is being raced at WorldTour level, notably by Jay Vine and Enric Mas at the Vuelta, its remit means it’s more suited for ‘normal’ people.

Eurich says one of his early goals for the bike was to build something for the hardest sportives, rather than for pro races, which could explain why the top-spec CFR model weighs a claimed 6.3kg for a size medium, considerably below the UCI’s minimum limit.

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX frameset

The Ultimate’s aerodynamic updates include tweaks to the geometry and the inclusion of a one-piece aero bar and stem with full cable integration, as well as subtle changes to the frame tube shapes.

While these things are borrowed from the Aeroad, Canyon has been careful not to go too aggressively aero – even the geometrical changes are minimal – and as a result the new Ultimate only saves 5 watts at 45kmh compared to its predecessor.

Canyon has pushed forward the features that amateurs look for too, boosting durability by adding extra carbon to strengthen key areas like the seatstays, as well as enhancing comfort via a new D-shaped seatpost, which has an internal clamp that holds the post low down in the seat tube to offer more flex.

Canyon also says there’s clearance for up to 32mm tyres, although that may be underselling it. Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Gianni Vermeersch and Mathieu van der Poel rode the CFR to first and third respectively at the 2022 UCI Gravel World Championships and had their bikes fitted with 33mm front and 35mm rear tyres.

It’s dangerously close to being re-labelled an all-road bike next time around.

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 geometry and sizing

Size 3XS 2XS XS S M L XL 2XL
Rider height (cm) <160 160-166 166-172 172-178 178-184 184-190 190-196 >196
Seat height 594-694 624-724 654-754 684-784 714-814 744-844 774-874 804-904
Seat tube 390 420 450 480 510 540 570 600
Top Tube 497 516 529 546 555 569 594 609
Head tube 104 88 107 121 142 162 188 206
HTA 70.2° 71.5° 71.2° 72.8° 73.3° 73.3° 73.5° 73.8°
STA 73.9° 73.9° 73.9° 73.9° 73.9° 73.9° 73.9° 73.9°
Chainstay 405 410 410 410 410 413 415 415
Wheelbase 958 975 979 982 988 1,003 1,029 1,042
Stack 483 498 520 539 560 580 606 624
Reach 358 372 378 390 393 401 419 429
Standover 697 720 748 775 801 828 851 874
BB offset 60 73 73 73 73 73 73 73
Stack+  558 573 596 613 635 656 681 701
Reach+  415 428 446 459 473 490 509 529
Crank length 165 165 170 172.5 172.5 175 175 175
Wheel size 27.5in 28in 28in 28in 28in 28in 28in 28in

This new generation of the Ultimate has seen Canyon align its geometry with the Aeroad's, which won't mean much to the average rider, but would help any pros switching between and is probably a cost-cutting exercise for Canyon.

It's not a bad thing though, the Aeroad's geometry was brought closer to the previous Ultimate's design in its latest update, so it's more a reflection on the Aeroad being more comfortable than the Ultimate being too racy.

Canyon has produced the CF and CF SLX bikes in the range from XXXS to XXL, while the top level CFR only drops to XXS, however where canyon.com states most of the CF SLX 8's sizes as 'Coming soon', the XXXS model states it's 'Sold out', suggesting customers wanting that size may be waiting a while for this particular spec.

Riding the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8

It should come as no surprise that the Ultimate is a pleasure to ride. It strikes a very agreeable balance between comfy and racy. Eurich describes the new bike as ‘flat-out fun’, and that tagline feels appropriate – it’s just an incredibly enjoyable bike to ride no matter the gradient.

Obviously the light weight means climbing is a doddle. It breezed up Spain’s Colláu Fancuaya among other climbs, and it’s suitably stiff for quick and easy accelerations and for maintaining high speeds.

It’s nimble too. I got great confidence from the bike’s handling, pushing the limits of what my inhibitions were comfortable with on descents, and although it did begin to feel twitchy at the highest descending speeds, that’s splitting hairs.

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 verdict

I struggle to speak negatively about this bike’s feel and performance. It ticks all the boxes I’d ask for in both riding and racing.

I’ve actually ridden both the top-of-the-range CFR and this, the CF SLX 8, which has a slightly heavier frame and more affordable components. However, at 7.3kg and with Shimano Ultegra Di2, it’s barely missing out in the performance stakes, especially for a saving of almost £4,000. Even if money were no object I’d find it hard to justify that jump for a rider who isn’t a pro.

And even then, doesn’t that miss the point? The CF SLX 8 is still lightweight, stiff, comfortable and aero (in fact it’s more aero thanks to the deep section wheels compared with the CFR’s shallow, lightweight DT Swiss Mon Chassérals). Plus, now you know you can take it off-road too, what more could you want?

As long as Canyon keeps pushing the Ultimate further down the ‘ride’ rather than ‘race’ route, it’s in no danger of losing its place in the world.

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Canyon Ultimate spec

Brand Canyon
Price £6,449
Frame Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc
Fork Canyon FK0104 CF Disc
Weight 7.3kg
Sizes available XXXS, XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Headset Can GP7172-01
Levers Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8170
Brakes Shimano MT800
Rear derailleur Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150
Front derailleur Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150
Crankset Shimano Ultegra R8100 52/36 4iiii Precision power meter
Bottom bracket Shimano Pressfit BB72
Cassette Shimano Ultegra R8100 11-30 12-speed
Chain Shimano CN-M8100 12-speed
Wheels DT Swiss ARC 1400 50/50
Tyres Schwalbe Pro One Skin 28mm
Bars Canyon CP0018 bar and stem
Stem Canyon CP0018 bar and stem
Seatpost Canyon SP0055
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow Ti316

Products reviewed by Cyclist are independently selected and tested by our editorial team.Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Readour reviewspolicy.


Canyon Ultimate alternatives

Canyon Ultimate CFR Di2

At the top of the Ultimate tree is the CFR Di2 (£10,399), built with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and DT Swiss Mon Chasséral wheels, which weighs a claimed 6.3kg for a size medium.

Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 

At the other end of the range is the Ultimate CF SL 7 at just £2,699. It comes with a Shimano 105 mechanical groupset and DT Swiss Performance LN wheels, leaving you with cash for upgrades or heating bills.

Pick of the kit

Ass Savers Win Wing mudguard, €26 (£22), ass-savers.com

Bikes like the Canyon Ultimate aren’t built with mudguard mounts, but they still flick up muck in the same way every other bike does. Ass Savers’ latest innovation, the Win Wing, brings its signature lightweight blade closer to the source, attaching onto the seatstays using a wishbone frame to sit just above the back tyre rather than on the saddle.

Although it’s not the perfect solution – it doesn’t account for your front tyre – it’s hard to argue it won’t save your ass. And a claimed weight of just 64g means winter miles won’t be slow.

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