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Canyon Ultimate CF Evo Disc 2020 review

22 Nov 2019
Verdict:

Such an immediately tangible performance advantage uphill is very hard not to like, especially with no obvious concessions

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Incredibly low weight flatters your every uphill endeavour • Handling and stability are still on point and comfort is excellent
Against 
Getting less for your money (and quite a bit of money at that)

When I first got into racing in my teens, having a light bike meant taking matters into my own hands. Thus I spent countless hours weighing components on my mum’s kitchen scales and working out ways to shave off every possible gram.

I even took parts to school so that in my lunch breaks I could use the pillar drills in the technology workshop to remove any possible excess material from bolts, bars, stems, seatposts and crank arms.

Not always wisely, I might add. I once peppered a chainring with so many holes that it simply folded like a piece of damp cardboard the first time I rode it.

I quickly learned there was a line not to be crossed. But getting as close as possible to that line meant noticeable performance gains, in both the physical and the psychological sense.

Fast-forward 30 years and there’s no longer any need for dodgy DIY weight-shedding. Canyon’s latest Ultimate CF Evo Disc 10.0 Ltd has entered the record books as the world’s first sub-6kg stock production disc brake road bike.

Although I’m guessing the company weighed a size small, because our size medium came in a smidgen heavier at 6.16kg, but that’s still incredibly light.

There’s light, then there’s light

‘Disc brakes are becoming ubiquitous,’ says Canyon’s road brand manager, Matt Leake. ‘We wanted to make a statement against the stigma that there is a weight penalty to having disc brakes by creating a new benchmark.’

Canyon has succeeded and then some. This new Evo slides in under the UCI weight limit by nearly three-quarters of a kilo. Leake suggests that pro riders such as Rik Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) raced it during this year’s Tour de France, slotting in deeper section aero wheels to bring the weight up to the UCI minimum limit of 6.8kg.

If you’re thinking the bike looks very similar to the Ultimate CF SLX, which has been a staple of Canyon’s range for more than four years, that’s because it is. The new frame comes from the same mould because, according to Leake, the company’s engineers were completely satisfied with the tube shapes and geometry, so why spend money creating new tooling?

The big changes, Leake says, have happened beneath the surface. New, more premium types of carbon have been used along with a new layup schedule to cut weight without compromising the frame’s stiffness.

There will be those who say that weight is secondary to aerodynamics in performance terms, and some will consider it less important than comfort, but there’s no denying low weight brings the most immediately perceptible advantage when you’re out on the road.

A super-light bike doesn’t just improve your odds against gravity, it’s also easier to accelerate and stop, as well as change direction, which is why lighter bikes have a more responsive and reactive ride feel.

But when we so often measure our performances up hills, it’s hard to ignore the simple pleasure of having your every effort flattered. And never before have I been rewarded quite so much as on this bike.

Show me the hills

So how do you test a crazy-light bike? You go and find some big hills, of course. On one such 150km ride, zig-zagging around Dorset in search of every painful ascent I knew, I totalled a little over 2,800m of climbing, with many of the ascents up to 20% in gradient. It was a ride that provided ample opportunity for the Evo Disc to impress, and it did so immensely.

I’ve ridden and tested a few notable sub-7kg disc brake bikes, but this feels like a world away even from those. That extra kilo feels exponentially more. It translates into an incredibly agile and animated ride feel and the frame felt stiff in support of my many climbing efforts. I was able to launch up climbs where I would usually expect to feel more like I was trudging up a wall.

Further to testing it on home soil, by good fortune the Evo Disc arrived just in time for me to take it to the Pyrenees for an event called the Figure of Hate, a brutal 195km sportive with 5,000m of climbing.

There was no question it would be advantageous over a course with such a mountainous parcours, but even I was surprised by just how much. At times it felt like I was cheating.

On steep descents, the Evo Disc initially had me cautious. Such low weight bordered on being a little too flighty, but any nervousness soon evaporated once I’d reset my own parameters.

The Evo needs just the deftest of touches compared to most of the bikes I’ve been testing recently, and once I’d got the measure of it my caution quickly turned to exhilaration and my confidence in it only grew, to the point where I hit a personal record of 92kmh on one steep descent.

There was not a jolt of harshness to the ride feel, which is mainly thanks to the seatpost. Canyon was the first to clamp the seatpost lower down inside the seat tube to allow it to flex along more of its length, which is still the case on the Evo Disc.

But the Schmolke carbon post – weighing just 87g – was also a significant contributor to the comfort on offer. It’s by far the most compliant seatpost I’ve ever tested, bringing a perceptible amount of flex to soften rear-end strikes.

The one-piece cockpit was also more forgiving than I expected, given it is a sizable hunk of carbon. The shape worked well for me, plus the increased surface area spread the load on my palms and as a result road shocks felt well dissipated up front, too.

To its credit, Canyon hasn’t achieved the Evo Disc’s low weight purely by speccing ultra-light components that are impractical for everyday use. Admittedly, I did have to ditch the 59g full carbon saddle.

That was a step too far for my backside, but that’s a tiny detail. Otherwise the 25mm tyres and tubeless-compatible DT Swiss wheels were superb all-rounders and robust enough to cope with real-world riding.

A question I was asked several times during my testing: can a road bike ever be too light? The answer is yes, but that’s definitely not the case here. The Evo Disc has very few compromises in its handling, poise and demeanour on the road, so all I would say is sit back and enjoy the feeling of having a turbo boost up the hills.

Spec

Frame Canyon Ultimate CF Evo Disc 10.0 Ltd
Groupset Sram Red eTap AXS
Brakes Sram Red eTap AXS
Chainset Sram Red eTap AXS
Cassette Sram Red eTap AXS
Bars Canyon CP20 Carbon one-piece cockpit  
Stem Canyon CP20 Carbon one-piece cockpit
Seatpost Schmolke TLO UD carbon
Saddle Selle Italia SLR C59
Wheels DT Swiss 25th Anniversary Ltd Edition PRC 1100 Dicut, Continental GrandPrix TT 25mm tyres
Weight 6.16kg
Contact canyon.com

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Price: 
£9,099

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