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Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 7.0 2020 review

18 Feb 2020
Verdict:

Most of the superbike performance without the superbike costs. Although you may want to change wheels.

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
• Aero road bike on a budget • Flawless 105 groupset • Disc brakes
Against 
• Wheels are not very versatile • 23mm front tyre slightly outdated

Have you ever noticed that Canyon and Lidl are actually very similar companies? No, really, hear me out.

Firstly, both are German. Secondly, while Lidl relies heavily on the strength of its own-brand products, Canyon is also heavy on pushing its own brand components. That, like Lidl, keeps costs down and helps them offer higher-end products at more reasonable price.

Both also have the tendency to be passed over by a snobbish section of the UK market for their more expensive counterparts.

It is the same type of people who fork out extra for an identically tasting food product at Sainsbury’s or Tesco that would dig deep into their coffers for a Bianchi or Colnago over a Canyon.

Buy the Aeroad CF SL Disc 7.0 now from Canyon

But, crucially, both Canyon and Lidl manage to produce top-of-the-range product without associating it with high-ticket pricing.

The recently released Canyon Aeroad CF CL Disc 7.0 is case in point - the frame is the same shape as Canyon's top of the range aero superbike of the same name, which is among one of the fastest frames available on the market, but dressed in Shimano’s mid-range 105 disc groupset and Canyon’s own componentry the bike meets a price point that’s as competitive as an aero bike has ever been.

A frame’s a frame

One cost-cutting method Canyon employed in this latest setup was by using its CF SL frame as opposed to its CF SLX option.

In layman’s terms, this means Canyon constructed the frame from a lower grade of carbon. It adds around 100g in weight - dependant on frame size - and also concedes some lateral stiffness but is ultimately cheaper to manufacture.

This does not compromise speed, as Canyon points out stating ‘the frame mould remains the same across the range meaning aero optimisations are equally effective at reducing drag on the SL and SLX versions.’

I found this was borne out on the road. Putting your foot down on the Aeroad CF SL still gives you that incredible feeling of acceleration associated with the range’s high-end models.

Akin to being in a modded Subaru, I was surprised by how quickly this bike got up to speed and then even more so by how well it held it.

It felt fast and my feelings were proven correct. Returning home and uploading my ride to Strava, I noticed my average speeds pushing a few kilometres an hour faster than usual.

In reality, it seems the loss of lateral stiffness seems negligible in real terms. Sprinting on this bike feels just as stable and efficient as it does on the SLX and no slower than other top-of-the-range aero bikes I have ridden.

The speed of this bike cannot be fully attributed to the frame. Realistically, its the choice of Reynolds’ AR 58/62 deep section wheels are just as important in bringing the speed to this bike.

Riding on lovely flat roads with no wind, I could really feel the benefit of these wheels. They cut through the air with ease and help build the pace as I pushed harder and harder.

When the road was not so flat and the atmosphere was not so still, that's when I started to experience problems with the wheels.

Riding uphill, the wheels felt slightly lethargic and at 1730g for the set I could feel the added weight plying against me, especially out of the saddle.

It was also apparent that the wheels caught any significant crosswind.

While Reynolds claims its ‘refined, wider rim shapes have been optimized for crosswind stability at a variety of yaw angles’ I found that even my sturdy 90kg rig was regularly pushed from side to side.

Canyon has also opted to fit the bike with a 23mm front tyre with a 25mm rear tyre, that while is argues ‘provides the greatest drag reduction’ of any tyre combination seems slightly behind the trend of running larger tyres at lower pressures.

Truly, I feel that Canyon over-egged the cake with the wheel/tyre combination and that compromising speed for a more sensible set of wheels and tyres would have been a perfectly reasonable switch to make.

Luckily, where the cake is perfectly mixed is in Canyon’s use of its own H16 aero aluminium handlebars and stem - although they do compromise speed and weight compared to Canyon's slicker carbon H31 integrated cockpit - they keep costs attractively low.

Star performer

I own the previous Shimano 105 groupset. It’s fitted to my own personal Orbea Orca and I have ridden it to death. I know it like the back of my hand.

So I can safely say that Shimano has somehow come on leaps and bounds with this update. There’s a significant improvement in shifting efficiency and the braking power of the 105 discs is now no different to that of Dura-Ace or Ultegra.

Trickle down technology has clearly worked for Shimano and it feels as if 105 is now closer to being considered a top-spec groupset than its usual placing as ‘entry-level’. If anything, it makes quite a lot of sense for who I feel this bike will be most suited to.

Buy the Aeroad CF SL Disc 7.0 now from Canyon

At £2,899, the Canyon Aeroad CF SL disc is probably the aero bike on the market with the best bang for its buck. Considering what’s on the bike and how it performs, paying under £3,000 seems like a bit of steal. For any rider looking to race but not willing to remortgage the house, the Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 7.0 should be taken into consideration.

The question is now, when will Canyon break its direct-to-seller model so I can pick up my Aeroad at the local Lidl?

Specification

Frame Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 7.0
Groupset Shimano 105 R7020 Disc
Brakes Shimano 105
Chainset Shimano 105 
Cassette Shimano 105
Bars Canyon H36 Aero AL
Stem Canyon V13
Seatpost Canyon S27 Aero VCLS CF
Saddle Fizik Arione R5
Wheels Reynolds AR 58/62 C
Weight 8.1kg (medium)
Contact canyon.com
Price: 
£2,899

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