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Canyon Aeroad CFR first ride review: Canyon’s fastest bike ever

7 Oct 2020
Verdict:

The new Canyon Aeroad claims to be the new benchmark in aerodynamics, while shedding considerable weight over the previous bike

Cyclist Rating: 

The new Canyon Aeroad has finally hit the market after being glimpsed in the WorldTour peloton throughout the latter part of the season, and claims to be the most aerodynamic bike on the market.

Developed through CFD and wind tunnel testing at the GST the wind tunnel in Immenstaad in conjunction with SwissSide wheels, Canyon describes the Aeroad as ‘the new benchmark in aerodynamic road bikes’, saving 7.5 watts over the previous iteration of the bike.

Despite the aerodynamic gains, the top-tier Aeroad CFR, which stands for Canyon Factory Racing weighs in at only 7.3kg, just 500g above the UCI minimum weight. The frame weighs only 915g – a full 168g lighter than the outgoing Canyon Aeroad disc frame.

Canyon has evidently reconceived the bike from the ground up, taking rideability, handling and speed all into consideration. Aerodynamics is certainly the main attraction, though.

Aerodynamics

Canyon claims that independent testing, yet to be published, places the Aeroad ahead of major rivals such as the Cannondale SystemSix and Cervelo S5. 

However, it’s worth remembering that these tests often rely on a specific wind-tunnel, speed, and a specific angle (or range of angles) of yaw – the angle at which the wind hits the bike.

The bike was developed in conjunction with wheel brand and aerodynamic experts Swiss Side, who used what the brand argues to be the best computational fluid dynamics (CFD) available to develop the bike.

It was then tested in the GST the wind tunnel in Immenstaad, where German Tour magazine also does its comparative aerodynamics analysis. There, it was tested at yaw angles of +/- 20° and at a speed of 45kmh. The results showed a substantial step up compared to the previous Aeroad CF SLX.

Canyon claims that as a bike in isolation, in these settings, the Aeroad is 7.4 watts faster than the previous Aeroad. However, to make the testing a little more reflective of real world riding Canyon developed a set of carbon fibre legs called ‘Ferdi’. 

With Ferdi’s legs in place, the bike was 4.4 watts faster than the previous Aeroad, and 5.4 watts with water bottles in place.

Intriguingly, the eventual R065 frame was not the fastest Canyon tested, as a ‘Geometry 19’ model outperformed it. Canyon engineers sided for wider practical performance on offer from the final frame.

Indeed, all around performance has been a serious consideration for the Aeroad.

Practical thinking

The last generation Aeroad was a surprise hit amongst pro cyclists, with many siding for the Aeroad even for the likes of cobbled classics.

‘More or less all of our pro riders wanted to test the last bike,’ says Sebastian Jadczak, director of development for road at Canyon. ‘They have often continued with this bike for several years, and it’s an interesting perspective as they still need performance when climbing but see the Aeroad as working in all areas.’

‘Even when riding in a small mountain breakaway group you can still be going super fast for 25 or 30km. So maybe it also makes sense to go for Aeroad even in those situations,' he adds.

While the new Aeroad looks more dedicated to speed, there is a lot of consideration for practicality.

For instance, the Aeroad uses an adjustable integrated handlebar, which uses ‘Cockpit wings’. The CP0018 bar effectively comes apart, both drop bars detaching from bolting points beneath the stem, and fold down beside the fork.

This will prove a big advantage for travel, and of course delivery given Canyon’s direct-to-consumer model. The other benefit is the width of these bars can be adjusted by up to 20mm on either side. There’s also a more aggressive CP0015 bar that will be far flatter to effectively slam the stem. For now that’s only available to pro riders.

At the rear end, we’re pleased to see that the deeper seatpost hasn’t compromised comfort. Canyon uses what it calls the SP0046 seatpost, which is effectively two parts, with the rear half of the seatpost being effectively a hollow carbon shroud. The front half is where the seatpost clamp attaches, offering a little more flex.

First Ride Impressions

Encouragingly, the geometry on the Aeroad has reverted back closer to its rim brake predecessor. The chainstays, for instance, have shortened to 410mm, making the rear end a little more tight and the handling a little sharper. 

From the outset, the Aeroad is simply rapid. Recently I’ve taken to ‘riding blind’. That is, riding with Strava on my phone but no head unit. I was genuinely surprised when I returned home to see how quickly I’d been cruising along my usual loops. 

On a wet and windy day I rode one quick 11km loop and looked back to see a 37kmh average, around 2kmh faster than I’d been riding in recent months. There’s a sense of rigidity that means the bike just leaps forward with every impulse. 

Importantly, though, that rigidity fits very well within the wider system of the bike. For instance, the SP0046 seatpost really manages to sooth the rear-end of the bike. That’s really important for overall handling, and efficiency. Ultimately - you can’t deliver a huge amount of power if you’re constantly being bounced up and down and out of your most efficient and powerful position. 

The front-end also complements that – the Aeroad’s CP0018 handlebar also has an agreeable level of flex to it. That dialled-in flex helps balance what appears to be a stiff headtube and fork, meaning that the bike handles very positively and decisively but doesn’t deliver that stiffness to aching forearms.

A really interesting choice in terms of spec for this bike has been to opt 25mm tyres on the front, but 28mm tyres at the rear. Canyon’s engineers argue that modern aero wheels are developed for 25mm tyres, so they haven’t followed the trend to use wider tyres on the front wheel. 

But at the rear, the aerodynamic cost of a wider tyre really isn’t felt, as the air has already had to travel over the rider and frame to hit the front of the rear wheel.

The benefit, of course, is that you can have a wider contact area, and run lower psi for more overall comfort.

A little unconventional is the choice of DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut 62 wheels. These are fairly deep, and these days, especially at the front, you may more commonly see 35mm or 50mm rim depth, as that will be disturbed a little less by cross winds. 

For me, having ridden 80mm front wheels in the past, I wasn’t disturbed by the slight wind-effect on the steering, but some people may prefer a shallower rim that offers a little more stability.

At the same time, there are clear gains to that deeper front wheel, and Canyon argues that the bike even effectively has a sailing effect in the right sort of yaw angle. For our part, we’d have to see a little more data to verify that.

Flat-out speed

What strikes me around the new Aeroad is that where other brands have watered down their aerodynamic road bike offering – for instance Specialized removing the Venge from its range – Canyon has actually committed the Aeroad even more to speed.

In that sense, perhaps it won’t have the versatility of some of Canyon’s other road bikes, but for those people that really love speed above all else (and I’ve certainly been one of these in the past) this is a real dream bike. 

It has the speed, the handling and the excitement you’d expect from an aero road bike. With the success the Aeroad has already enjoyed, the improvements of the new Aeroad while retaining that same DNA are really promising. We look forward to putting together a comprehensive full review in the months to come.

Pricing and spec

There are three tiers of the Aeroad: The CFR, CF SLX, CF SL

The top-tier Aeroad CFR, discussed above, comes in at £7,699. That’s higher than the Euro price of €7,499, which we expect is down to exchange rate and tariff uncertainties involving Brexit. Optimistically, we could perhaps see these prices come down into next year. 
The frameset only option comes in at £4,449.

Below the CFR sits the CF SLX, which adds a little weight and sacrifices some rigidity compared to the CFR. This starts at £5,199, and is electronic groupset-specific.

Below that is the CF SL, which shares the shape of the CFR, but uses external cabling and a conventional cockpit of handlebar and stem and is mechanical groupset-specific. It starts at £3,399.

For more information on the entire Canyon Aeroad range, visit Canyon.

Price: 
£7,699

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