Bike

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL Triathlon Bike Review

Value reigns supreme—as always—with Canyon’s high-end race-ready carbon beast. The Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL might be a mouthful, but it’ll get you to T2 ready to run.

Basics

A $10K bike for 3/4 the price with top-end parts, a slippery (and smooth) frame, and a ride that is actually beginner friendly. (Tested with Ultegra Di2 components and DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut wheels (60mm/80mm).)


Pros

Good value

Great stability, even in crosswinds

Feather weight

Cons

Not the snappiest

Super limited size run

No disc brakes?


Size Reviewed

M

Weight

18 lbs. 12 oz.

Price

$7,500

Brand

Canyon


It should be no surprise to anyone reading this that Canyon has produced another well-valued bike in a line that’s already punching far above its weight class. Using their direct-to-consumer model that lets you buy their bike directly from Canyon’s website and ships right to the customer, they’re able to offer mind-bending components and wheels for a price that quite frankly concerns their competitors. All of this would be moot if Canyon didn’t also put in the aero work on their frames, and a few Kona wins in the last five years speaks well of their race-tested pedigree in horrible conditions (the Big Island). Though the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL is far from a cheap bike, if you’re in the market for a race-ready superbike with all of the trimmings, save yourself about $2K and read on for more about this category killer.

Related: Triathlete’s 2020 Bike Buyer’s Guide

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL: The Ride

First off, this is one of the best-riding “advanced” bikes we’ve tested—if you throw out the non-double-diamond bikes with their obvious flaws (complete lack of acceleration, missing tubes, high weight, etc.). Surprisingly soft yet stable, after a few rides on this bike it’s easy to see how both Jan Frodeno and Patrick Lange ride very well, but come off the bike looking fresh as daisies. People give those two guys a hard time for not pushing the bike leg, but what’s the point if you’re there to win the whole darned thing? So it’s no surprise when you ride this bike for hours and still don’t feel beat up from rough roads or tense from unpredictable crosswinds. You don’t hear much about this being the “perfect Kona bike,” but if you’ve won the race a few times, I don’t know what’s more perfect than that. Buttery smoothness and laser-line tracking with minimal input aside, it’s not the most horizontally stiff bike we’ve ridden when compared to others in this price range, and it doesn’t slice through corners like an Argon—but triathletes should put that pretty low on their list when considering whether a good tri bike is great.  

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL: The Good

The ride (see above) is probably one of the best things about this bike, and that’s saying a lot given the all-star cast of components on this bike: We love the integrated hydration system on the front end that blends smoothly with the top-tube storage; we love the little details like Ergon grips that probably do a lot to smooth out the high-frequency road chatter and stealth top-tube storage for an emergency kit (included). In fact, this actually helps to illustrate the fact that this bike is still 18 pounds despite details like the heavy grips, storage, and deep DT Swiss wheels. Somehow it’s ridiculously light and therefore great for courses where weight is a concern.

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL: The Not-So-Good

There’s a couple of weird things that prevent this bike from being an overall category winner. First, the fact that there are no disc brakes may not truly affect the way this bike races, but it certainly puts it a little out of step with its competitors in this price range. Though you wouldn’t necessarily need new wheels, given how excellent these DT Swiss hoops are, not having even disc mount bosses might limit your wheel choices in the next few years. Though it’s not a universal complaint, it’s also worth mentioning that Canyon’s prebuild is not quite on par with Quintana Roo and Ventum—there are still more steps than the average triathlete might be up for, but it also doesn’t require a mechanic either. Finally, the big one is the lack of sizes for this build. The integrated basebar means that some people could be reaching for a lot of aerobar spacers or simply riding high on the next size up if they don’t fall into the pretty narrow sizing band of small, medium, or large. That said, some of the other models of Speedmaxes do offer a full five-size run from XS to XL, but this build does not.

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL: Conclusions

If you were to compare the amount of words in the “Good” column versus the words in the “Not-So-Good” column it would look like this is not a great bike, but you’d be wrong. Because the ride of this bike is so exceptional, some of the minor details like disc brakes (do you really need them?), assembly (we’re looking at maybe an extra hour, here), and sizing (just get a different model) seem almost meaningless. But they’re important to mention. This is a bike that looks like a short-course slicer, but rides like an ultra-man steed. Again, there’s no coincidence that some of the fastest runners in the sport hop off these bikes in Kona to break records and win titles, it’s just a matter of asking yourself what you’re actually looking for your bike to do. If you’re looking for it to ride quickly—even on hilly courses where weight matters—and get you to T2 fresh and relaxed, then it’s tough to beat the Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL.