Canyon doesn’t necessarily have the heritage of some other brands, but despite this it’s now one of the biggest names out there, and while the Aeroad may be the most race-attuned model in the company's range, the Ultimate is still the flagship model. The new Canyon Ultimate, now in its 5th generation, sees it drift further from its previous guise as ‘the climbing bike’ - a role it fell into upon the inception of the Aeroad - into a much more rounded, all-purpose race machine.
It’s a model with an impressive set of results packed into a relatively short time frame, racking up wins at grand tours, including a pair of GC overalls, wins in sprint stages, a monument victory at Il Lombardia, and two world championships. So, what’s new with the new Canyon Ultimate, what options are available, and how much are they going to cost you?
While this is nominally ‘the climbing bike’ in the range, this has become a moniker that Canyon appears to be keen to eschew in favour of a more rounded view of the New Ultimate. It is the lightest bike in its road range, and by extension, the most lightweight bike the company produces (if you ignore the birch LIKEaBIKE balance bike, pedants), but it isn’t a record-shattering featherweight.
Instead of optimising one characteristic at the expense of all else, Canyon has aimed to produce what it sees as the perfect blend of improved aerodynamics, comfort, weight, and other lesser considered (or at least less shouted about) characteristics such as durability and, interestingly, aesthetics. In a world of data-driven design philosophy, it is rare to see a bike launch openly admit that ensuring the end product was aesthetically pleasing and desirable was a key deliverable for the project.
As such, the improvements in each of these fields have been relatively minor on their own, leading to a new model that is more evolution than revolution, but Canyon hopes that the collective improvement will be greater than the sum of its parts, and lead to one of the best road bikes on the market.
It is more or less unheard of now for a new bike to launch without it having improved aerodynamics. The new Canyon Ultimate is no different, with a 10-watt gain being cited for the frameset, although this drops to five watts once you actually add a rider. The gains are primarily produced by using the CP0018 integrated bar and stem combo, originally seen on the Aeroad CFR, and with it the fully integrated cable routing, as you’d expect on a bike at this level. The previous Ultimate also had a one-piece unit, but it wasn't the all-out aero one you see here.
The frame itself hasn’t been entirely untouched, but the modifications are extremely subtle, partially to maintain the aesthetic value of the bike. The fork shoulders are more angular, encouraging air to flow along the sculpting at the base of the headtube. The bottom bracket is slightly bulkier, but not to an extreme, and the junction at the seatstay/seat tube/top tube has a squared-off kammtail rear, to flow into the new D-shaped seatpost. This is available in a 20mm or 0mm setback version, with the 0mm being stock on the top-of-the-range CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) models.
The new Canyon Ultimate isn’t the lightest bike on the market (though it could still challenge most of the bikes in our best lightweight bikes list), but weight improvements have been made across the frame, forks, and the bar-stem and seatpost. As this is a race bike, ultimately destined for the pro peloton under the riders of Canyon-SRAM, Movistar, Alpecin-Deceuninck and more, it appears that the design and engineering team at Canyon saw no point in making a bike that could go drastically under the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit.
The near range-topping CFR Di2 build comes in a full half a kilo beneath this limit at 6.3kg, and in this guise definitely has the feel of a climbing bike, but the eTap version with its deeper Zipp wheels looks much more of an all-rounder. Even the second-tier CF SLX 9 build still comes in bang on the limit, so it's clearly no anvil.
Weight is important, but not at the expense of durability and longevity, which is why the engineers added an extra 30g of carbon to high-stress areas (primarily the tube junctions). It’s also why the frameset features integrated protection on the drive-side chainstay, and a chip in the head tube to stop the bars from over-rotating and colliding with the top tube in the event of a crash.
Despite weight not being the absolute be-all and end-all, Canyon has also developed a new computer mount, 3D printed and designed to bolt directly onto the cockpit, and weighing in at a sprightly 17g. It doesn’t feature a replaceable insert, as the mount is printed directly into it, so you have to choose your computer system and stick to it.
Smoother is faster
Comfort is no longer the dirty word it used to be (though looking at the all-carbon saddle on the CFR you may be forgiven for questioning that statement). The new Canyon Ultimate follows the trend across all disciplines with greater tyre clearance, 32mm front and rear to be precise, along with additional flex coming from the combo of the D-shaped seatpost and a lower clamping mechanism borrowed from the brand Exceed hardtail XC MTB, that's slightly reminiscent of the Specialized Roubaix, though not so extreme.
The tyre widths that come as stock vary depending on the model, with the lower tier models opting for 28mm front and rear and the higher tier options running a 25/28mm front/rear setup.
An all-around race bike then? It seems that while some brands are focussing on making their aero bikes a more multi-purpose offering, Canyon is trying to do the same with its former climbing bike, leaving the Aeroad for the specialists.
Builds and pricing
The new Canyon Ultimate comes in three flavours: The pro-level CFR, the second-tier SLX, and the third-tier SL. Each frameset platform features two distinct paint jobs, and a number of builds from mechanical 105 at the lower end to SRAM Red eTap and Dura-Ace at the upper echelons, making a total of 11 models.
The sizing is unisex, with eight sizes from 3XS to 2XL on offer. For the SL platform, the smallest two sizes are built with 650b wheels, as is the smallest SLX size. The CFR platform is exclusively 700c however, given its pro-tier use case; 650b wheels are not supported by neutral service, or teammates should an emergency wheel swap be necessary.
We've already spent some time with the new Ultimate, so head to our early Canyon Ultimate 2023 review for the lowdown, or check out the builds and pricing below:
|CFR||Stealth||Di2||Dura-Ace Di2 w/ Powermeter||DT Swiss Mon Chasseral||€10,499 / £10,399 / $10,999 / AUD15,349|
|CFR||Cold Crystal||eTap||Red eTap AXS w/ Quarq powermeter||Zipp 353 NSW||€10,999 / £10,899 / $10,999 / AUD16,099|
|CFR||Stealth||Frameset||N/A||N/A||€4,999 / £4,949 / $N/A / AUD7,399|
|SLX||Frozen Black, Iced Berry||9 Di2||Dura-Ace Di2||DT Swiss ARC 1100 50/50||€8,699 / £8,599 / $8,999 / AUD12,749|
|SLX||Frozen Black, Iced Berry||8 Di2||Ultegra Di2 w/ 4iiii powermeter||DT Swiss ARC 1400 50/50||€6,499 / £6,449 / $6,999 / AUD9,549|
|SLX||Frozen Black, Iced Berry||8 eTap||Force AXS w/ Quarq powermeter||DT Swiss ARC 1400 50/50||€6,299 / £6,249 / $N/A / AUD9,299|
|SL||Black Snow, Deep Polar||8 Aero||Ultegra Di2 w/ 4iiii powermeter||DT Swiss ARC 1600 50/62||€4,999 / £4,949 / $N/A / AUD7,399|
|SL||Black Snow, Deep Polar||8||Ultegra||DT Swiss Performance LN||€3,199 / £3,199 / $3,999 / AUD4,799|
|SL||Black Snow, Deep Polar||7 Di2||105 Di2 w/ 4iiii powermeter||DT Swiss Performance LN||€3,999 / £3,999 / $N/A / AUD5,949|
|SL||Black Snow, Deep Polar||7 eTap||Rival AXS||DT Swiss P1800||€3,799 / £3,799 / $4,699 / AUD5,649|
|SL||Black Snow, Deep Polar||7||105||DT Swiss Performance LN||€2,699 / £2,699 / $2,999 / AUD4,099|
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