Recently I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to try out the 2017 Canyon Aeroad. While this wouldn’t be a full on long-term test, it would be enough to get a ‘taste’ of the bike. As I had yet to ride one of the new crop of aero road bikes, I was looking forward to my rendezvous.
Nothing beats bunking off work early, the fact that I was going to play on a bike made it even sweeter! I was going to be riding the Aeroad CF SLX DISC 8.0 DI2, the same frame that is used by Team Katusha Alpecin. I must admit to having preconceived ideas that aero frames would be heavier and a bit unwieldy compared to their ‘normal’ road going brethren. And of course completely useless in a side wind. None of this was based on any actual experience; nothing like a bit of ignorant bias!
My worries about aero frames being a liability were mollified when Jack – my guide for the day – mentioned that it hadn’t bothered Luca Paolini when he rode the Aeroad to victory in the 2013 edition of Het Nieuwsblad. Despite vicious cross-winds and bone jarring cobbles, he rode the Aeroad to victory; with 80mm deep section rims as well. Evidence that my wrong-headed notions of all things aero needed readjusting.
Canyon’s offices are hidden away on a business estate in Surrey, only a few kilometres away from the Surrey Hills. The Surrey Hills are a beautiful place to ride a bike, I recommend you take a spin if you’re down that way. So there would be plenty of scope for getting in a good ride and a decent coffee! The lack of cobbles or raging headwind wasn’t a problem.
Waiting in reception was my bike for the day and what a beauty it was. The glossy red paint job makes it stand out in the office. The black highlights and logos match the finishing kit and black 60mm wheels, this is a lovely looking bike.
The flat top tube and lowered seat-stays really convey a sense of speed. I also like the way the down tube between the seat-stays and bottom-bracket is painted black. It seems to make this section disappear and accentuates the Aeroad’s angular, ‘concept’ bike look. What can I say? I haven’t tried the bike and already I like it!
My Aeroad for the day came fitted with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 groupset, which I’d only ridden twice before and the novelty still hasn’t worn off. Shimano Ultegra discs were taking care of the braking. 160mm rotors provide the braking surface and 12mm through axles hold everything in place. Flush fitting flat mount calipers keep everything neat and seem to be becoming industry standard?
Disc brakes seem to be one of those Marmite products at the moment, love ’em or loathe ’em you can’t ignore them. While I’m used to them off-road, I hadn’t previously considered them necessary on the road. Would today’s, admittedly short ride convert me either way?
I had chosen a size small for the day and the guys at Canyon had managed to set the saddle height perfectly for me. Not bad as I hadn’t given them my preferred saddle height. My only quibble around the fit would have been a slightly longer stem, but that comes from a lifetime of riding race bikes, with stems long and low. Saying that the Aeroad is unequivocally a race bike. An aggressive low front end prompts you onto the drops and makes this old man feel like a sprinter again, shame my body has other ideas!
The bars were a little narrower than I would normally ride, not by much. It’s all part of getting the rider as aero as possible as well. No point riding an aero frame if you’re going to sit bolt upright, with cow horn bars! Canyon’s H11 Aerocockpit CF is a one-piece carbon construction “that offers an aero advantage of 5.5W at 45km/h compared to conventional cockpits”. It’s also good-looking and comfortable, at least for my short ride. Cables for the Di2 junction box are tucked neatly into a recess under the bars, helping save those watts.
Clipping in and setting off and straight away everything feels ‘right’. Like I said the saddle height was spot-on and the bike felt eager to be off. Clicking through the gears – is that even a thing with electric gears? – and the Aeroad is off! Aero bikes sluggish? Nope. So that’s one preconception done away with. I tried to see if I could drop the chain or get a mis-shift out of the Ultegra groupset, but failed. Shimano have got this electric shifting sorted. And if you’re racing I think Ultegra is perfect. Good looking, robust and won’t completely bankrupt you if need to replace parts.
While I can’t confirm how aero the Aeroad is I can confirm it’s more than happy to be thrown around. I tried a few surges and the response is there. Whether closing a gap or making a break the Aeroad doesn’t feel like it will let you down.
And how were the brakes? Well while I’ll be sticking to good ol’ fashioned rim bikes on my own bikes – at least until that lottery win – given the choice I would swap. I’d want access to all the tools, or a very friendly mechanic, to keep them running, but yes, they impressed. I thought they might be a bit on/off in their operation, although I don’t know why as my old Mtb isn’t!
There’s some play before the power really comes in, so you can feather your brakes, but if you need it the power is there. Aero and weight penalties are minimal enough that it really isn’t a thing. The major downside for me is that you still can’t race with them. Hopefully this will be sorted one way or the other. Although I’m still concerned about racing in a ‘mixed’ bunch. Will there be crashes caused by panic braking with discs? Probably the same amount we see at the moment with rim brakes, maybe it’s a rider problem rather than a technology thing?
A short climb up to the site of the old Dauphin Cycles shop, now rebadged as Destination Bike while hardly Alpine, did give a glimpse of the bike’s climbing ability; it’s good! Now riding on a fresh new bike always feels good, but how much of the positive feel I’m getting today is just down to the honey-moon effect?
Well it’s difficult to say, the bike just feels fast and eager, it wants you to go faster. And with disc brakes it can slow you down when needed! Obviously a longer test is needed, maybe a couple of long days somewhere sunny and hilly? But based on today’s short ride the Canyon Aeroad is a winner. Check around and see what people are saying. Canyon have got an amazing bike here and for a lot less than comparable bikes.
No sooner had this article been published than British Cycling put out a news release to the effect that you can now race with disc brakes in UK races. So now there’s no reason not buy the Canyon Aeroad! You can ride your local race with one of the best aero frames around, with discs. And that keen price point will help with the “do you really need another bike?” argument as well!.