Bringing back the Cycling Cap one Domestique at a time

Showing posts with label Look. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Look. Show all posts

Review: 2015 Canyon Aeroad 8.0 CF SLX

Canyon isn't exactly a household name in the world of cycling. With its origins dating back to the mid eighties, the German brand was formed in 2001 in the city of Koblenz; a relative youngster in an industry where some players boast of being established in the 1800s. While not exactly a mass market name, the Canyon brand is a familiar name for those in the know as it supplies frames to professional powerhouse teams Katusha and Movistar.

Canyon is known for its direct sales business model. Customers order their bikes via Canyon website and expect direct to doorstep deliveries in a few weeks (or a few months). By eliminating the whole distributor-dealer chain and commissions, Canyon able to offer their products at an exceptional value and with equipment levels several rungs up their competitors' offerings.

And a few months is what it took to get my hands on my current road bike and subject of this article, the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 8.0 Di2.

Author's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 8.0 Di2 (upgraded to 9.0?)
Unfortunately, the Philippines is not among those countries Canyon serves. Acquiring this bike required a bit of creativity but we managed to pull it off. A few months into ownership, I'd say the whole exercise was well worth it!

The Aeroad 8.0 spec sheet is pretty impressive. Full Ultegra Di2, Reynolds Strike SLG full carbon wheels and a finishing kit worthy of bikes more upscale.


The Frame


The aptly named Aeroad is Canyon's entry to the ever expanding aero-road niche. Unlike other brands which offer different carbon layups of the same frame design in the hopes of upselling, all aeroad frames from the bottom range model to top-of-line feature the same carbon composites and differ solely on bundled equipment.

On its second iteration, the current Aeroad is a thoroughly modern design with the expected aerodynamically optimized tube shapes and profile. If there's one thing which the Aeroad screams, it's the word "Fast". The frame features Canyon's Trident 2.0 tube cross-sections which are a varied mix of different Kamm style shapes; some feature longish truncated foils like the down tube and some are much shallower like that of the seatpost.



As in almost all modern aero-road bikes, the rear seat stay is mated to the seat tube well below the top tube level. The overall look is very sharp, with the top tube itself almost horizontal. The rear wheel is shielded from the wind by the lower seat tube which was reshaped to double as a cowling. The top of the forks blend smoothly with the headtube, again for aerodynamics.

Aero moderne: shielded rear wheel and low mounted seat stays

Smooth Fork-Frame transition
Adding to the overall sharpness is the Aeroad's electronic integration. The Di2 battery is tucked inside the downtube, nowhere to be seen. The junction box is also cleverly hidden, this one under a small compartment underneath the handlebars, resulting in one of  the cleanest full electronic installs in the market. 

Also worth mentioning is the adjustable rake feature of the Aeroad. By repositioning aluminum shims at the end of the fork, users can set the rake (fork offset) to two positions: Agile or Stable. The shims did not feel flush when mounted in Agile mode so back they went to the default Stable.

The body is finished in matte black, accented with gloss black accents and logos. While I'm all for the "murdered out" black look, I felt there was nothing wrong with a little brand recognition, hence the sticker job.

The choice of sticker color was deliberate. We wanted to offset/match the Dura Ace cranks, hence silver.

The Components 

Groupset

The Aeroad 8.0 comes with full Ultegra Di2 components. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this as we immediately replaced this to Dura Ace Di2. I was hesitant to go electronic as I found nothing wrong nor room for improvement with the Dura Ace 9000 mechanical group. But seeing how prices and components were laid out in the Aeroad lineup, going electronic was almost a no brainer. (not to mention I wanted the H11 handlebars and the Reynolds Wheelset).

Di2 is indeed better than mechanical. Consistent shifting, front and rear, every single time. Auto trimming on smaller cogs, programmable long press behavior and shifting speeds.... This is not something a mechanical 9000 user would exactly crave for but once you go Di2, it's very very hard to imagine going back to mechanical. Another bonus: you will see your mechanic less for tuneups. A lot less.

Another first for us are Direct Mount brakes. Arriving at the same time as the bike were a pair of Dura Ace BR-9010 front brakes to replace the Ultegra Direct mounts which came with the bike (the Aeroad does not use the rear-specific design). The only difference we see with the direct mounts versus regular brakes are the two mounting screws versus only one on regular brakes. I can't really comment on how well these work compared to the run of the mill Dura Ace brakes since it has been a while since I was on regular BR-9000s but they compare well to the TRP aero brakes on our Argon 18 Nitrogen. And those have a lot of stopping power and good modulation.   

Contributing to stopping power are the updated Reynolds Cryo Blue POWER brakepads. These are a whopping 44% larger than the regular Reynolds Blue pads. Indeed, carbon braking has come a long way and these parts already perform no different from their alloy counterparts.




Wheelset

As with the group, the Reynolds Strike SLGs which came with the Aeroad were likewise replaced with Reynolds Assault SLGs before ride number 1. While the Assault SLGs are a modern design featuring a 25mm width which mates perfectly to 25mm tires, its 62mm depth is a bit too deep for all around riding. The 42mm Assaults, however, are just right. They also weigh 120 grams less at 1515g. Tires are GP4000 S2's from Continental. These come in staggered configuration with 23mm for the front and 25mm for the rear.


Cockpit

While certainly not the first implementation of an integrated bar and stem, the H11 Aerocockpit CF may be the first to do so for aerodynamic purposes. Frontal area is reduced by flattening the bar and airflow improved by rounding out the shape.

As previously mentioned, the Di2 junction box B is housed in a groove underneath the stem portion of the bar. Canyon claims 5.5 watts of aerodynamic improvement over a conventional rounded bar and stem. We'll have to take their word for that. What we can tell is that this is a beautifully crafted piece of carbon fiber. And while we'd rather have shallower drops, found the 128mm drop on our bike quite workable.

Junction B feels cozy in there


Worth mentioning are the minor design details which show the Germans think of everything. The "stem" cutout is diagonal to more evenly distribute clamping stress and the aero shaped headset spacers have pegs which keep allow them to stack like loose lego bricks.



Optional Bits & Other Pieces

We also got a couple of optional parts specific to our needs. First is the 9mm seat clamp for carbon railed seats. We needed this to mount our SMP Compost CRB. Next is the Garmin Edge mount for the H11 cockpit. Why give up all those aerodynamic gains by using the Garmin rubber band mount? Do we need to mention it looks really snappy?

1Also installed was our incumbent SMP Composit CRB saddle, KMC X11SL DLC black chains and KCNC Skewers.

H11 with the optional Garmin Mount



On The Road

Believe the hype: The Aeroad is a legit race bike.

Ride leisurely and the Aeroad behaves like any other carbon bodied bike. Stable, compliant and dare we say... almost borderline comfortable considering the bike's primary mission. Pile on the wattage and the Aeroad comes to life. Whether it's the frame's stiffness or the aerodynamics, the Canyon will keep up with your best effort; rewarding you with more and more speed the more you put into it. The 23mm front tire turns quicker than when using 25mm tires. A small advantage, but it's there.


Finishing off the build with a Stages Power Meter and Keo Blade 2 Ti Pedals


And it's not just an aero-road bike but a talented all rounder.

The bike weighs in at around 14.9 pounds with Look Keo Blade 2 Ti pedals installed and while not a dedicated climber, it does adequately well in climbs and is perfectly stable in fast descents. More proof of the Aeroad's flexibility: Alexander Kristoff of Katusha opted to use one for the torturous 2015 Paris-Roubaix instead of Canyon's all rounder Ultimate CF SLX. He finished a decent tenth place in a field of 133 finishers and 67 DNFs and OTLs. Oh, and he used an Aeroad to win the 2015 Tour of Flanders, a race with cobbles, climbs and sprints and everything in between.

Alexander Kristoff's Aeroad - Photo c/o Bikeradar
The Aeroad is almost universally acclaimed by the world's press, and personally I find it hard to fault. As of the end of 2015, this may not only be the best bike for the buck...but possibly the best bike out there.




Verdict

We're in love! It's hard to think of any negatives for the Aeroad. Acquiring one, if Canyon does not service your country, is another matter altogether.




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Review / Update - My Scott Foil 20


I just recently found out that Scott has moved from the US to Switzerland. I guess I can stop dreaming of having a Euro bike since I already have one (harharhar!). Anyhow, it's been three months since I switched to Scott.  And I have grown very fond of my Foil 20 and its quirks. Coming from a previous generation superbike, the 2010 Cannondale Supersix Hi-Mod Liquigas, and moving to a modern mid-level frame isn't much of  a 'downgrade' as i had initially expected.


The fruit of Scott's F01 project, the Foil is one of a slew of frames to incorporate aerodynamic considerations into the standard roadie. Indeed, if one isn't aware that the Foil is an aero frame, it just looks just like any other modern all carbon frame. But those unique triangular tubes are what makes the Foil unique. Instead of replicating the standard airfoil shape, Scott just took the leading edge of this shape and formed a rounded triangle from it. Brilliant; but why reinvent the wheel? Simple - the airfoil shape, while being the most aerodynamic, is not good in the stiffness department.  By forming the triangle, both stiffness and aerodynamic requirements were served. 



Chillin out in MoA

The brains behind this is aerodynamicist Simon Smart, whose name is now prominently featured in uber chic Smart-Enve wheelsets. With great experience designing Formula One suspensions, Smart certainly has qualifications in creating wind cheating, high strength  tubes. He reckons that the Foil shape is the best compromise to the often conflicting stiffness and aerodynamic demands of the project. 

Being a tech-head and gear-head, I was sold. 

Made with HMF-NET high modulus carbon fiber, the mid-level Foil 20 can easily pass for a top of the line model few years ago. The mid-level label does not do the Foil 20 justice. It's only mid-level since there are Foil models made with an even more exotic kind of carbon fiber, which Scott calls HMX-NET. At the top of the Foil food chain sits the likes of the  Premium and Team Issue editions. These are even lighter and stiffer that the HMF Foils.  

However, I think I can manage without the 20% extra stiffness and 100 or so less grams of weight. I appreciate the additional bills in my wallet though. Given the erratic supply of bicycles locally, I was forced to scour the local classifieds for my new frame. I found a slightly used Foil 20 frame, recently replaced by Scott because of the then unresolved seatpost clamp issue. The frame came in matte black which, in my mind, sealed the deal. 



Click Thumbnails to Enlarge


The Foil 20 is a definite upgrade over the Cannondale in all but one department: ride quality. The Foil's ride can easily be described as harsh especially coming from the superb ride of the Supersix. However, I choose to look at it in another way... the Foil is a pure racer. 

With the frame question resolved, time to move on to the second biggest bike build dilemma... the gruppo. Fortunately, I had this problem was solved even before I decided to switch frames. 

The groupset of choice is Shimano's excellent Dura Ace 9000. I had it on the Super Six for a few weeks and transplanted it to the Foil. In my opinion, this is the best all around groupset available this moment, especially if you factor the price. Vastly improved over the 7900, the 9000 has almost supernatural braking, flawless smooth shifts, consistently light shifting action, funky modern looks, much improved ergonomics, 11 cogs and a sub 2000g total weight - the latter two firsts for Shimano. In case you haven't noticed yet, yes, I love this group.   

Countless people have gushed at how good shifts feel and actuate....  and boy, does it indeed! What took a while to warm up to were the cranks. While I initially hated the assymetric 4-arm cranks, I have to say that they have grown on me and now actually like the look. It can't be stated enough: This group is excellent!

The WH-9000-C24-TL wheelsets also got carried over with the group, but I eventually decided to go aero all the way and replace them with WH-9000-c50-CL hoops .  This change added quite a bit of weight to the bike; around 400 grams, give or take, but doing so solidified the setup's wind slicing intentions.  It also helps the aesthetics as well. ;-)   


Tires of choice remain Continental's Grand Prix 4000s. I temporarily swapped out the 23c's in favor of 25c's for a comparison review, but will go for a staggered setup (FR: 23c, RR: 25c) once this has been written. The GP4000S has been scientifically proven to be the best all rounder tires by Tour magazine. If you guys read any of their past tests, you know how hardcore and thorough these guys are when it comes to technical testing.  



Click Thumbnails to Enlarge

Wanting to maximize the 11 speed cassette, off went the 11-28 climbers and in came the 12-25. The advantage of the 11 speed cassette is essentially negated with the 11-28 since I wasn't using the 11T and the 28T that much. With a 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25 gear setup, the 12-25 is perfect suited for the rides I do nowadays.

I'm probably the last person anyone would mistake for Tony Martin, so going to standard cranks is not yet an option. I prefer compact cranks. My original choice, the 52-36, is still nowhere to be found but I do plan to switch to these eventually.   

Keeping things black and gloomy, I pulled a color switch on my Antares 00 from white to black. Of course, the bartapes had to match. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any black S-Wraps and had to settle for Ritchey corks.

For the cockpit, I switched from FSA's OS-99 CSI and K-wing to 3T's Arx LTD and Ergonova LTD. This was done for purely aesthetic purposes (color matching). The K-Wing may be the most user-friendly bars I ever used; raised tops, internal cable routing and all. The silver lining in this is that I dropped more bits of alloy and swapped them with with UD carbon.... a good 84 gram weight savings.   

The old reliable Look Keo Blade Ti's got carried over and are paired with zero-float cleats. The blades are tight and look very nice. At 186 grams a pair, these are among the lightest non-speedplay pedals out there. On a side note, I strongly recommend zero float cleats to everyone with knee problems. Yes, you read that right. Float may actually be one of the causes of knee pain and using floatless cleats may relieve it. It may be hard to believe but I switched to these and ain't coming back.   

My mile counter is the recently deprecated Edge 800. And while it's a bit of a brick, it does come with a large touchscreen. I got this unit Stateside so it came with a North America map. Haven't had the time to research how to install a free one for the Philippines. I love the size of the display as all the data fields I need are shown at once: Distance, Speed, HR, Cadence, Calories, Time and Time of Day. Having a touchscreen is a godsend as there's no fiddling around with buttons while in the middle of a sufferfest.  The Edge is mounted on Garmin's Out Front computer mount. This makes the cockpit look particularly clean and neat. 




Click Thumbnails to Enlarge

At its lightest, the Foil got a bit below the UCI 15 pound weight limit at around 14.9 pounds, however, the switch to the C50's and some other heavier bits got me back up to around 15.6. Not entirely super light but still very very very acceptable.  All I need now is a setback Foil seatpost and everything will be just right! Just have to find time to drive to the dealer in Quiapo to order the part though. 

Well, I guess that's it. Only a true bike geek would have read and made it this far.

Congratulations!  

~Armand

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