The new 5th generation Canyon Ultimate road bike looks just like the last generation until you get into the details. But that’s where you will find subtle refinements that boost aerodynamics, integration, stiffness, durability, and even comfort with bigger tire clearance. Not everyone wants or needs an aero road bike. And the new Ultimate does a solid job of matching a classic outline with modern performance…
2022/3 Canyon Ultimate gen 5 lightweight road bike
Canyon calls their Ultimate road bike the “pinnacle” of their performance road line-up, balancing modern features with more classic diamond frame looks in a lightweight package. It is a bike that’s been winning pro tour races since 2007, road World Champs since 2009, and even a Grand Tour win as recent as last month’s Vuelta in this latest evolution.
But with a broad 8-size range (39cm XXXS – 60cm XXL) and complete carbon bike pricing that starts as low as 2700€ and climbs to 11,000€, this really can be a killer bike for everyone from casual weekend roadies to full-on World Tour professional road racers.
So what’s new?
Swiss Side aerodynamic optimization & integration
Canyon set out to make the Ultimate faster, but decided to keep the traditional frame tube layout that differentiates this bike from their aero road Aeroad. With that constraint in mind, they tasked aerodynamics experts Swiss Side to tweak the Ultimate, reducing drag by a claimed 10W for the frameset vs the 4th generation – comparing v5 to v4 with the same wheels & components. (Interestingly, Canyon admits that the real relative savings of old vs. new Ultimates get limited to around 5W with the rider on the bike, as the muddier airflow around rider legs cancels out some of the frame-only gains.)
Frame tube shape optimization was pretty minimal to retain the desired overall profile, but small improvements added up to reduce drag.
Like raising the front of the chainstays together with tweaked internal cable routing meant the stays were more horizontal and finished with a smoother dropout. Or revising a more round shape of the fork’s crown combined with a horizontal edge off the headset, which smoothed airflow turbulence coming off the spinning front wheel, while also saving weight by reducing the material needed to fill the older, more D-shaped crown design. And moving to an aero seatpost shape vs. the old trusted round tube of the previous generation.
And of course fully internal cable routing.
On the integration front, the new Ultimate gets the same aerodynamic 3-piece adjustable Aerocockpit CP18 carbon handlebar+stem of the Aeroad, with +/-20mm of width adjustability and fully internal cable routing. TBH, my first thought was that it was a sketchy concept. But after using it, the bar does work well, feels totally secure, and gives real adjustability so riders can decide what’s best for them.
The end result was a measured average 218W of drag for the complete Ultimate vs. 202W for the newest Aeroad in the GST wind tunnel with Swiss Side and their Ferdi leg dummy. Canyon also offhandedly mentioned a claim that the Aeroad measured 11W faster than the Tarmac SL7, making this new lightweight bike pretty close to their competitor’s ‘one bike to rule them all‘ aero bike.
Stiffer, more durable & bigger tire clearance
In addition to changes on the outside, the upgraded carbon construction led to a 15% increase of headtube stiffness for improved handling precision. At the same time, all-day comfort remains key and Canyon says the new cockpit helps improve ergonomics, while bigger tires boost comfort & control. Officially the new Ultimate has tire clearance for up to 32mm tires (based on standard road 4mm clearances to the frame). But we’ve seen that to be a rather conservative estimate, with at least enough room for a few millimeters wider, too.
Another big upgrade inside is additional carbon reinforcement around key high-stress zones like across the top of the toptube, around the entire toptube in front of the seatpost, at the top of the seatstays, and where the chainstays meet the bottom bracket. By adding about 30g of extra carbon in these locations, Canyon says the new Ultimate is much more durable and will last riders even longer.
Canyon doesn’t really talk about the new Ultimate being lighter than before – I mean the ultra-high-mod, ultra-high-tension Ultimate debuted the whole CFR Canyon Factory Racing except with a 641g frame after all – but instead that the top-spec CFR Di2 bike is already UCI-illegal at 6.3kg with a power meter & ultralight DT Mon Chasseral wheels.
Tech details & Geometry
The new Canyon Ultimate’s top two carbon frame tiers are electronic shift only with their fully integrated cockpits. But, the more affordable SL line adds its own mechanical shift-specific frame with conventional internal cable routing ports on the sides of the downtube to direct the shift lines outside of their handlebar. These mechanical shift frames (available only in 2 complete builds) are otherwise identical, and could be upgraded to a fully integrated wireless setup down the road.
The frame now also includes a new IPU bumper chip inside the headset to limit rotation so you can’t damage the internal brake lines accidentally. In its shift to an aero seatpost, it also moves the wedge-style post clamp back inside the main triangle, in that little web between seat & top tubes. The bike features a cleaned-up flat mount disc brake tab, 12mm thru-axles with a single removable lever/tool, and a PF bottom bracket.
As a general rule, the new Ultimate’s geometry is identical to the new Aeroad, developed along the concept of creating a seamless transition for pro riders wanting to swap from one bike to the other depending on the race of the day. But frame Stack is a just few mm higher, and the overall wheelbase is +/- a couple of mm depending on size, adding a few mm to the chainstays of the largest three sizes for a more consistent ride feel, while the smallest sizes are a shade slacker to help fit those bigger tires.
But bike geometry is one place where things get a bit more complicated, as it varies a tiny bit depending on spec level. The top CFR frame comes in a limited 7-size range (2XS-2XL) and is 700c only to work with neutral race support – all sizes sticking with the same fork a-c length & offset. CF SLX frames add an 8th size (3XS) that shifts to 650b wheels to preserve handling without compromise. Then, the CF SL bikes go with the wider 8-size range, but with 650b wheels for the 3XS & 2XS sizes.
New Canyon Ultimate – Options, pricing & availability
There are so many options here to suit all types of riders – 11 models in total – and all are available in stock today. The new Canyon Ultimate comes in three different carbon frame spec levels – CFR, CF SLX & CF SL – all sharing the exact same external tube shaping, and each with options for a colorful or a subdued paint scheme.
The top-tier CFR is available as a complete bike or a new frameset plus brake kit concept due to its increased integration and Canyon’s consumer direct model. Buy a 5000€ Canyon Ultimate CFR frame+brake kit and you get frame, fork, headset, 1-piece integrated bar, seatpost, and a set of wireless Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifters & brakes already installed… then you just supply the plug-and-play Di2 drivetrain, wheelset, & touch points of your choosing without worrying about routing everything inside.
The mechanical shift Ultimate CF SL 7 opens up the lower price tier at $3000 / 2700€ with mechanical Shimano 105 & alloy DT wheels, while the Ultimate CFR ETAP tops it off at $11,000 / 11,000€ with SRAM Red eTap AXS & Zipp 353 NSW wheels.
We’ve been testing an XS Canyon CF SLX 8 Di2 in Iced Berry purple for a couple of weeks, and plan to publish more detailed long-term impressions in a future review.
In the meantime, it’s an undeniably fast-feeling bike that climbs like a rocket, with big tire clearance to make it feel increbibly versatile…