2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero Review
- Price: $4885
- Frame: Carbon
- Tires: 650c / 700c × 25 carbon
- Gear: 2×12 electronic
What we like about it: Lightweight and aerodynamic design.
What we don’t like about it: The body weight is a bit forward, but that’s good news for hill climbing.
With three Grand Tour victories, two world championship titles, and appearances in a variety of the world’s most prestigious races, it’s safe to say that Canyon is one of the most important German bike brands.
Canyon builds on the good reputation of the Ultimate series, whose models seem to do most things very well. Certainly, this series aims to combine speed, comfort, and stiffness with lightness and agility to make you fall in love with bikes all over again. Therefore, building on the previous generation of the Ultimate series of bikes that focused on climbing performance, more aerodynamic performance has been incorporated into the latest generation of the 2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero, making it a comprehensive road bike that combines speed with climbing and all other road performance.
Below we break down the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero regarding road riding, climbing performance, key features, components and specifications, and other versions.
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Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero Road Riding Review
My first “general” performance road bike was the third generation of the Ultimate series. Now it’s a radical change from the climbing-focused road bikes of yesteryear.
As I ride the Texas Hill Country Loop, following the wildflower-strewn route from McKinney Falls State Park south to Gruene, I’m faced with numerous ups and downs and scenic roads. Although it was a bit bumpy, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the ride!
The bike is a great riding experience. Because of its combined performance, it is a good experience on any road, and I can even spend some energy enjoying the scenery around me. It has a very sturdy frame that transmits the feeling of pedaling very well, and the tubing does not deform even when pedaling very hard.
It is worth mentioning that the saddle of the Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow S is very comfortable. The saddle has a large cutout in the middle and a very short nose that allows me to have more leg room.
Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero Hill-Climbing Performance Review
Being a bike series famous for its climbing, it probably goes without saying that the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero also has good climbing performance. When I’m looking for climbing performance, the weight of the bike is often my priority. So the very light frame material of the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero was one of the reasons I chose it, I didn’t want to be exhausted after every long climb.
The feedback on the climbing route was immediate, and as I crested the hill I could immediately feel the height I had gained through the clouds around me immediately. The climbs themselves were tough, as was the physical and mental exhaustion built up from repeatedly pushing to the limit, but I’m glad I rode a good road bike. Undoubtedly, its lightweight body and stiff frame gave me great support, and the right gear ratios allowed me to ensure efficient pedaling on any grade.
On a very steep grade, I had to increase the gear ratio and get out of the saddle, putting my full body weight on the pedals to get more climbing efficiency. I was often worried that the front end stem would be too short and make me very unstable in handling, but I didn’t feel this in my actual climbing experience. The reason is that I don’t have a high speed when climbing, so I don’t have to pay special attention to the operation at this time. And the short stems also provide good steering when I go downhill, which is very useful.
It is different from the common race bike and even the previous generation climbing frame of the same series is not quite the same. First of all, the frame still has a thin tube design and a very lightweight. But the suffix of the bike’s name shows that a lot of aerodynamics must have been added to the design of the frame to make it more versatile. In addition, the frame and components are carbon laminated, and the CFR model becomes even lighter.
Like the Giant, the Canyon uses a PF86 pressed-in center shaft, which supports a wider lower fork as well as a rear lower fork, which the Canyon does. And the bottom bracket is large, but the upward-facing seat tube becomes flattened in the lower third to maintain aerodynamics.
And the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero hides the seat tube clamp and all cables inside the frame tubing, which gives the frame a very clean look and no excess drag.
Like most racing bikes, the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero has a relatively aggressive geometry designed for it. When I sit on the bike, the very short head tube (142mm) makes my body feel in a long, low position, which is perfect for maintaining a low stance for long periods during cycling races. And the high Reach (393mm) also allows me to ride with more stretch and without lower back pain from prolonged low-lying positions.
In addition, the slightly looser head tube angle (73.3°), when matched to the short wheelbase of 983 mm, allows for an ideal balance of fast cornering as well as stability.
Components and Specifications
Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150 2×12 Drivetrain
While the Shimano Ulregea isn’t the top-of-the-line kit for road bikes, it has narrowed down the performance to an imperceptible level with the top-of-the-line Dura-ace kit. So unless you want to lose a little weight or you’re willing to pay more, there’s no need to upgrade because the Ultegra R8170 is just as good. And with a 4iiii precision power meter on the disc, riders can better understand their power instantly.
The latest electronic shifting makes it smoother and faster to use, and it also eliminates the alignment section at the bottom of the frame, which makes for a cleaner look.
Shimano Ultegra R8170 Hydraulic Disc Brake
The new brakes can even be found in the same progressive feel as Shimano’s GRX kit. At first, you only feel a slight deceleration, and as the hand movements gradually increase, you can feel the degree of braking from less to more. This feeling is very subtle and allows me to control my brakes more precisely while riding. If I need to stop quickly, a full squeeze of the brakes will not allow the tires to lock up to create an accident.
And I also like the feel of the brake lever. It has a very snug grip that allows me to ride long distances without my palms feeling numb, even on long rides.
Continental Grand Prix 5000 700×25/28mm Tires
Continental tires are known for their excellent wear levels and the slimmer width reduces the rolling resistance of the tire, allowing it to stay faster while riding. I marveled at the grip of the Continental tires while riding. Even on wet roads, such a thin tire width gave me great traction, and I could press downhill with confidence. Even though it doesn’t use vacuum tires, I think being a race bike, having open tires certainly makes it easier to fix and replace. This is important for emergencies in the race, and vacuum tires can be replaced if needed.
What’s more, the bike has a hybrid tire setup of 25mm at the front and 28mm at the rear, which the Canyon team claims is designed to provide the best balance of aerodynamic benefits, comfort, and grip. And the wider rear tires are shielded from wind resistance by the seat tube at the front.
DT Swiss ARC 1600 50mm Tires
Surprisingly, the bike features wider carbon rims that don’t make it look like a climbing bike, which is the realm of aerodynamic design. Perhaps Canyon is trying to push it into a more integrated road bike riding arena rather than just a climbing bike, and the whopping 50mm width gives it better performance when cruising on the flat.
In the past, climbing road bikes were equipped with rims of almost invisible width, which were very disadvantageous on flat stages, causing climbers to be pulled away from the road before reaching the uphill section, and such a design might well balance this gap.
Last but not least, the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero offers 650B tires for smaller sizes, allowing smaller riders to get a similar geometry and the same riding experience.
Other versions of Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero
In this review, we tested the latest generation of the formerly climbing Canyon Ultimate series, the 2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero, and experts have found that aerodynamics plays an important role in climbing, which is also reflected in this new bike. The new bike is a good example of this, with its flat tubing, hidden alignment, seat tube clamps, etc. The performance of the bike was indeed felt in this review.
For this, we also found its previous year’s version, the 2019 Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Aero. They use the same frame design, but the 2019 Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Aero uses a cheaper wired shifting system. Not only does this complicate the alignment of the frame, but the two sets of components also differ by one gear, which in my opinion is very important for a climbing bike to have an extra gear. But the 2019 Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Aero will be $1200 cheaper, so if you don’t have the budget for it, it’s a good choice.
What we like about it
- Lightweight and aerodynamic frame.
- Narrow front and high rear carbon wheelset with high frame.
- Electronic speed change system.
- All the internal alignment and the rear hidden seat tube clip design.
- Radical and easy-to-handle geometric design.
- Precision power meter on dental discs.
What we don’t like about it
1、The body weight is a bit forward, but it is good news for climbing.
1、 What type of rider is Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero suitable for?
The Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero is an all-around race bike for riders who enjoy the climbing experience and have a good experience on the downhill as well as on the flat.
2、 What kind of tires does Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero use?
With Continental Grand Prix 5000, also compatible with vacuum tire installation.
3、 Which height is Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero suitable for?
The size chart for the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero is as follows.
(These sizes are only a general guide, the true fit may vary from person to person and the easiest way to find your size is best to go for a test ride.)
|5’2″ – 5’6″||XXS|
|5’4″ – 5’9″||XS|
|5’7″ – 5’11”||SM|
|5’9″ – 6’1″||MD|
|6’0″ – 6’4″||LG|
|6’2″ – 6’6″||XL|
|6’4″ – 6’9″||XXL|
2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero Specs
|Frame||Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc, the Latest 5th-generation Ultimate frame., Classic road race design, engineered for the perfect balance of comfort, toughness, Axle dimension: 12×142 mm, Material: Carbon (CF)|
BB Standard: BB86/BB92, Press Fit
Colors: Black Snow; Deep Polar
|Fork||Canyon FK0104 CF Disc, Carbon fork optimized for lightness, stiffness, and strength., Material: carbon, Steerer: 1 1/4″, Axle dimension: 12 x 100 mm, Brake mount: flat mount|
|Bottom Bracket||Token Ninja Lite BB4124, Thread-Fit Technology reduces chances of bearing misalignment. BB86 Road standard, compatible with 24 mm axles., Weight: 83 g|
|Saddle||Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow S manganese, Saddle with modern short-nose design and unisex ergonomics., Width: 130 mm (S), Rail material: manganese, Weight: 208 g|
|Seatpost||Canyon SP0055, Custom carbon seat post with aerodynamic D-shape profile., Setback: 10 mm, Weight: 110 g|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150, 12-speed, Electronic 12-speed rear derailleur. 58% faster shifting., Maximum cassette size: 34T|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8150, 12-speed, Electronic front derailleur for 2×12 shifting setups., Maximum chainring size: 50-52T, Mounting interface: braze-on|
|Crank||Shimano Ultegra R8100 4iiii Precision Powermeter, Number of chainrings: 2|
|Power Meter||Shimano Ultegra R8100 4iiii Precision Powermeter, Number of chainrings: 2|
|Shifters||Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8170 2s, Left-hand electronic shifter. Wireless operation: no shift wires or ports. Unparalleled ergonomics refined with pro With lighter, smoother lever action and enhanced modulation. | Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8170 12s, Right-hand electronic shifter. Operation: no shift wires or ports. Unparalleled ergonomics refined with pro feedback.|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra R8100,12-speed, 11-30T | Shimano CS-R8100 Ultegra 12-speed Cassette|
|Chain||Shimano CN-M8100 12s, Chain featuring SIL-TEC ultra-low friction surface treatment on an inner plate for precise shifting and improved durability. Extended inner plates also improve chain engagement and retention. With quick link for fast fitting and assembly. | Shimano CN-M8100 12-speed Chain|
|Brake Levers||Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8170 2s, Left-hand electronic shifter. Wireless operation: no shift wires or ports. Unparalleled ergonomics refined with pro With lighter, smoother lever action and enhanced modulation. | Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8170 12s, Right-hand electronic shifter. Operation: no shift wires or ports. Unparalleled ergonomics refined with pro feedback.|
|Rims||DT Swiss ARC 1600, Modern deep-section aero wheel., Axle dimensions: 12 x 100 mm, Rim material: carbon, Rim height: 50 mm, Inner width: 20 mm | DT Swiss ARC 1600 Dicut, Rim height: 62 mm, Rotor mount: Center Lock|
|Tires||Continental Grand Prix 5000 25mm, High-performance foldable clincher tire made from high-grade BlackChili compound, with Vectran breaker for enhanced puncture protection. Tan wall sidewall., TPI: 330, Weight: 225 g | Continental Grand Prix 5000, 28 mm, skinwall, High-performance foldable clincher tire made from high-grade BlackChili compound, with Vectran breaker for enhanced puncture protection. tanwall sidewall., TPI: 330, Weight: 240 g|
|Disk Rotors||Shimano MT800, Light, high-grade centre lock brake rotor. Featuring Ice Freeza technology for superior heat management, creating consistent braking performance and increasing brake pad life. Featuring Ice Freeza technology for superior heat management. Heat management., Mount: center lock, Avg. weight: 88 g | Shimano RT-MT800 Brake Rotor 140mm | Shimano RT-MT800 Brake Rotor 160mm|
|2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 eTap||$4,699||Rival eTap 2 × 12 Electronic||Hydraulic Disc||Continental Grand Prix 5000 700×25c||Click View|
|2023 BMC Teammachine SLR THREE||$5599||Ultegra Di2 2 × 12 Electronic||SHIMANO Ultegra – RT-MT800 Rotors||Vittoria Rubino – 700×25c||Click View|
|2023 Giant TCR Advanced Disc 1+||$4500||105 Di2 2 × 12 Electronic||Shimano 105 Di2 hydraulic||Giant Course 1, tubeless, 700x25c||Click View|
|2023 Trek Emonda SL 6 eTap||$5099||Rival eTap 2 × 12 Electronic||Hydraulic Disc||Bontrager R2 Hard-Case Lite 700×25C||Click View|
2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero vs 2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 eTap
The two bikes come from the same series of front and rear iterations, with little difference in frame geometry and the same wind-breaking thin tubing as the perfect design for a comprehensive model.
The Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero uses Shimano’s electronic shifting 12-speed kit, while the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 eTap uses SRAM’s electronic shifting 12-speed kit. Identically, both are equipped with power meters.
It is worth mentioning that the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 eTap uses a traditional climbing frame with a bottom bracket aluminum wheelset, while the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero has a high-frame carbon wheelset. The two wheelsets are almost equal in weight due to material and width, but the seventh generation offers better climbing performance, while the eighth generation focuses on climbing performance while taking into account the design of downhill and flat road riding, which is a good representation of “Aero”.
2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero VS 2023 BMC Teammachine SLR THREE
This BMC frame has a more compressed rear fork design, which provides a more direct pedaling feel and is better at climbing.
Like the previous bike, the BMC Teammachine SLR THREE has a traditional aluminum low-frame design, but the wheelset seems to be a bit heavy for this pair, which may require an upgrade at a later stage.
Geometry-wise, the BMC Teammachine SLR THREE uses a more comfortable geometry for a smoother ride, but this will undoubtedly come at the expense of its pedaling efficiency. This isn’t good news on the almost insane uphill sections, where no one will be putting their butt in the saddle.
2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero VS 2023 Giant TCR Advanced, Disc 1+
The Giant TCR Advanced, Disc 1+ features the ultimate in lightweight tubing and even has an integrated seat tube. Obviously, it’s a cost-effective climbing bike, and the carbon low frame wheelset gives it the ultimate in lightness, which makes it a much more efficient climber. This is indeed a good choice.
However, the lower price also leaves it with just the normal Shimano 105 electronic shifter, no power meter, and an external alignment in the handlebar area. Undoubtedly, these are all things that the Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero has, and if you want them, you only have to pay the $300 difference.
2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero vs 2023 Trek Emonda SL 6 eTap
The Trek Emonda SL 6 eTap is a classic of the Trek family, featuring a full internal alignment design as well as a power meter and top SRAM components all in one. The rival Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero also has Shimano’s top components as well as a power meter and lightweight wheelset.
But the relatively thick frame gives it some weight, which can be fatal for a bike that climbs hills. The Canyon Ultimate CF SL 8 Aero, on the other hand, balances this out nicely. The Trek Emonda SL 6 eTap is excellent in comparison to flat roads, but the higher weight on climbing sections can put a greater burden on the rider.
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