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First look: Canyon Ultimate CF Evo

James Spender
21 Mar 2017

Canyon Ultimate CF Evo is nearly £12,000 worth of carbon niceness

Canyon’s got previous when it comes to lightweight racers. In 2004 it produced the Project 3.7, a wee slip of a thing at just 3,784g.

Based around a pared down Canyon F10 carbon frame that bore the designation Ultimate, it was apparently rideable, although there were trade-offs.

For starters, the entire groupset bar the front mech was proprietary – and even then it had a ‘tuned’ Dura-Ace front mech, filed and drilled to weigh just 65g.

And there was more than just the odd quirk besides.

The front shifter was down tube-mounted like days of old; there were only 16 gears; the brakes had about as much leverage as a pair of nail scissors; the one-piece seatpost and saddle had no adjustment; the Fly Sports Propeller Titanium cranks were prone to failure, and the cleats for the AeroLite pedals were all but impossible to walk in. 

It was a superb exercise in PR at a time when sub-7kg was considered very light, but it was never put into production. How times have changed.

‘We’ve been working on the Ultimate CF Evo for around two and a half years,’ says Canyon’s UK market manager, Nick Allen.

‘The 10.0 SL version [pictured] first showed as a one-off at Eurobike 18 months ago, and it’s only now that we’ve been in a position to bring it into production.

‘But it isn’t just a bike to grab lightweight headlines – we wanted it to retain the characteristics that have made the Ultimate so popular.’

Indeed, the last Ultimate revision was very well received at Cyclist. Put the Evo up against it and in silhouette you’ll not notice much difference.

But pick this Evo 10.0 SL build up and you’ll start to understand what makes it so special. It weighs just 5.14kg on the Cyclist scales.

‘I think your scales need calibrating,’ says Allen. ‘It’s a sub-5kg bike. Someone must have used too much tub glue!

‘A medium frame weighs 665g, compared to 790g for the Ultimate CF SLX. The fork is 5g lighter at 270g. What’s really scary is this bike could have been even lighter.’

What gives?

We weren’t able to verify the frame weight, but if the Germans are true to their word that means the Ultimate CF Evo is arguably the lightest production frame in the world, beating the Cervélo Rca by 2g while costing £4,650 less at £2,949.

However, Allen is keen to stress that the weight aspect is more of a by-product of the Evo project: ‘Canyon wanted to answer the question, “How close can we get to creating the perfect road bike?” so while weight came in to it, it was more about the total package.

‘Lightening the frame was one area, so we’ve scraped back as much material as our engineers were comfortable with, and used different fibres and titanium bolts.

‘The only external difference is the front mech hanger, which is now carbon and moulded into the frame.’

Allen reckons the CF Evo preserves the stiffness, handling and comfort levels of the Ultimate CF SLX. It also retains the elastomer-sleeved seat tube set-up, which intuition would say is heavier than a regular seat tube.

Into this is inserted Canyon’s VCLS 2.0, a leaf-spring style seatpost that again is heavier than a regular carbon type.

Add to this an alloy stem that can be found on sub-£1,500 Canyon bikes and you might start wondering what’s going on.

‘Every part was picked for a reason – it had to be the best-performing part and the lightest part for what we wanted it to do,’ says Allen.

‘Therefore the stem – that’s testament to what a good stem we think it is, regardless of what levels of bike it features on – and the seatpost are there because when you put a set of wheels like Lightweights onto a bike it totally changes the ride quality.’

Canyon argues that it wanted to spec components such as Lightweight’s stiff Meilenstein Obermayer tubular wheels for their race-level performance, but without creating an uncomfortable ride.

The trade-off was to put in a seatpost ensemble with lots of built-in flex, and a relatively svelte stem and bar combo for good shock damping.

That, though, is the limit of the concessions made to practicality or price.

The brakes are 145g carbon THM Fibula with Tune brake shoes, the cranks are THM’s top-level 291g Clavicula SEs and the tyres are Continental Podium TT tubulars, 225g each and a potentially bone-rattling 22mm wide.

Tot that list up price-wise – £4,500 for the wheels, a grand for the brakes, another grand for the chainset and £140 for tyres – and the £8,999 tag almost looks like a bargain.

Luckily, though, if that’s too cheap for you there’s always the SRM power meter and Sram eTap equipped Ultimate 10.0 LTD for £11,599.

Which even then comes in at a claimed 5.8kg. Does Canyon know something about UCI rule changes we don’t?

Page 1 of 2First look: Canyon Ultimate CF Evo

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Page 1 of 2First look: Canyon Ultimate CF Evo