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6x World Champ Mathieu van der Poel’s Canyon Inflite “CFR”: CX Pro Bike Check

MvdP Pro Bike Check: Canyon Inflite CFR is actually a CF SLX cyclocross bike
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Mathieu van der Poel’s bikes are near the top of our most-covered Pro Bike Checks’ list, and he gets another one with a new Canyon Inflite “CFR”. MvdP had a whole fleet of white Inflites to race for a 6th UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championship title in Tábor, Czechia over the weekend – on the same course where he earned his first Elite rainbow stripes almost a decade earlier.

Yet while his bikes undeniably got the integrated cable routing upgrade of the latest evolution of Canyon’s carbon cross Inflite, van der Poel’s frames seemed like they were having a bit of an identity crisis – each labeled Inflite CF SLX on the side of their seat cluster, but CFR on the top of their toptubes…

So what gives?

Canyon Inflite CFR of 2024 World Champ Mathieu van der Poel

Canyon officially introduced a higher-spec, more integrated CFR spec of their carbon Inflite cross bike at the start of this cross season. All built around their ultralight Canyon Factory Racing carbon construction.

And Mathieu van der Poel was racing on it from day one.

On the outside, this still looks a lot like MvdP’s Inflite CF SLXes that we featured in 2018 & 2019. He’d already won CX Worlds on this same bike in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023, and now adds a 2024 win. Only his first Elite win, also in Tábor back in 2015, was on a different bike – a camouflage Stevens Super Prestige.

So, why the Inflite CF SLX vs. Inflite CFR identity crisis?

My first guess would have been that the new CFR frame was simply not yet on the UCI List of Approved Models of Framesets for road/cross/track racing. At least not as recently as the February 1st update – the day before CX Worlds kicked off.

All of van der Poel’s bikes featured a UCI-approved sticker with the number R059 – the number approved for the CF SLX back in July 2017.

In fact, no Canyon bikes seem to have been added to that list at all in 2023.

But it seems that all of the CFR models on Canyon’s own website have that same R059 designation. So there really is nothing different between a CFR & a CF SLX frame, it seems

The big new feature on the recently introduced Inflite CFR model was its clean fully internal cable routing. Now with cables directed inside through the Aerocockpit borrowed from the road, and via the headset into the fork. So the CFR frames shouldn’t need external cable routing ports, but there still are 3 of them on the sides of the headtube.

What is new though is the CFR fork.

The standard CF SLX had a 1.25-1.5″ tapered steerer. But the CFR uses a 1.125-1.5″ tapered steerer with an opening at the top to allow the rear brake cable to enter the frame internally. And then a 1.25″ sleeve extending down from the cockpit (kinda like an old quill stem) fills in the gap to the same 1.25″ upper headset bearing in the CFR/CF SLX frame.

Race-ready CX bike

Presumably, that’s a minimal enough change to not warrant going through the hassle of getting the UCI to approve an entire new frame. And apparently, the UCI doesn’t ask too many questions about this fork – with Zwift logos and no external cable ports – not being separately on the approved list.

So, essentially the same carbon Inflite as for his previous four championship titles while riding Canyon.

Also the same Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 2x 12-speed wireless electronic groupset that Mathieu van der Poel has raced since its introduction back in the summer of 2021. He’s been on the latest disc brake Di2 groupsets ever since his first Elite Worlds title nine years ago.

It all is a hard formula to argue with. And Mathieu van der Poel continues to dominate professional cyclocross racing on this Canyon Inflite CFR. And especially so, in tough conditions like the unrelenting mud of the Czech course for the 2024 World Championships.

A big help falls to a huge fleet of bikes and a support staff with a fresh, clean bike every half lap. See van der Poel with a clean bike here mid-race, after having just exited the pits.

And mud-ready tires!

And of course, reliable mud traction.

Like fellow Dutch World Champ Fem van Empel, Mathieu van der Poel was also racing on Dugast Rhino tubulars.

What’s different, his tires don’t have any labeling on them. Presumably, that’s to appease official Alpecin-Deceuninck tire supplier Vittoria, even though they actually own Dugast. Anyway, with no logos, we can’t be sure if his tires feature Monsoon rubber or neoprene sidewall treatment. But they are the max 33mm width allowable for cross racing by the UCI.

Van der Poel’s mechanics glue his tires up to deep Shimano Dura-Ace C50 carbon tubular wheels, the same he often races on the road.

Muddy enough to get a fresh bike every half a lap

And yes, there was plenty of mud during the race, when mechanics had to be quick getting the bike cleaned and ready to head out again. But during training, they had a little bit more time to spare. So we caught up with bike #1 getting a bath, for a closer look.

The latest Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset sees the R9270 levers mounted to the 3-piece adjustable-width Canyon Aerocockpit handlebar + stem + integrated carbon quill combo. It’s a tidy, aero setup. And no displays to distract Mathieu while racing – or warming up apparently.

His Inflite CFR gets a classic pro cyclocross 46/39T Dura-Ace double chainring crankset setup there under a full lap’s mud. An a trusty set of XTR SPD pedals. (Trust us, they’re under there.) No power meter though. When you are swapping bikes every half a lap – or roughly every 1.5km – collecting data across several bikes would simply be a mess.

So van der Poel sticks with a simple Whoop wristband fitness tracker, instead.

Everything gets clogged up with mud & grass in a proper cross race. So when time allows before the racing, MvdP’s mechanics use a Morgan Blue pulley that slides onto the 12mm thru-axle to really get in and clean every nook-and-cranny with the wheels off. There’s also a ton of mud stuck up in that saddle. And with its ergonomic cutout – also van de Poel’s backside.

He rides maybe the saddle with the longest name in the industry, the Selle Italia Flite Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow MVDP edition. And no, this isn’t a custom saddle. We saw several other racers sitting on Mathieu van der Poel’s initials to race.

Muddy kicks, and pro cleaning tips, too.

Mathieu van der Poel has long run the top shoes in Shimano’s line-up. And often can be spotted wearing development prototypes that don’t always make it to production. His shoes this year are Shimano’s latest S-Phyre XC903 iteration of their top mountain bike shoe. Now with a redesigned laser-perforated upper, the latest Ultread rubber sole, and tweaked lacing guides. And of course, for muddy racing van der Poel is running a set of the optional toe spikes.

His pro team secret here, besides having lots of fresh shoes to change into while training? Team mechanics pressure wash his muddy shoes after a course recon pre-ride. Then, they use an air compressor to blow all the water out of them immediately after. With their synthetic construction, they come out surprisingly dry when the mechanic is done with them.

2024 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Champion Mathieu van der Poel

With that setup, MvdP stomped his way to another emphatic World Championship win aboard his Canyon Inflite CFR.

Now with racing for the Dutch National Team done, he can go back to a fresh rainbow-striped Alpecin-Deceuninck skinsuit. And most likely, it’s time for Canyon to figure out a new rainbow-themed paint job for his Inflite CFR race bikes. It’s the 5th World Championship win on this Inflite platform. So, Canyon’s graphic designers are going to have to come on with some creative new ideas.

Any design theme suggestions?


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4 months ago

The grammar in this article is atrocious.

4 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Please begin your comments with a conjunction to avoid violating BR style guidelines.

Mitch Erwen
Mitch Erwen
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Don’t care. Here for the bikes, not grammar.

4 months ago

2×12 kinda suprise

4 months ago

I guess Shimano is not planning to release a clutch 12 speed, until new GrX.

4 months ago

“And of course, reliable mud traction”

Never saw it like this, but, wow, so true!

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