Bike

Deep Dive: The New Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc

We're providing Active Pass members with a close look at Canyon’s new disc-equipped, non UCI-legal superbike.

Review Rating


Basics

Integrated hydration and storage create a clean look on this sleek frame, and tinkering with your fit is made quite simple with the included kit.


Pros

Integrated and hidden hydration
Easy adjustment for fit with included fit kit
Five sizes (and 650b wheels in the XS)
Claimed aero gains of 9-10 watts over the last version
Super easy build out of the box (direct-to-consumer)
(Finally) disc brakes give more wheel options
Responsive ride

Cons

Embedded/integrated parts can make serviceability a little tricky
Advanced handling not for everyone
Price (though Canyon is also offering a new CF Disc at $3,800)
Aero grips are small and tight
Slightly rough ride up front
Not exactly featherweight


Our Thoughts

This is a fun and fast bike that’s truly designed for intermediate to advanced riders on race day. The impressively unique features are certainly a step in the right direction, but time will tell if this level of integration is a blessing or a curse.


Size Reviewed

M

Weight

20 lbs. 5 oz. (size M, all hydration removed)

Price

$8,000

Brand

Canyon


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There have been some exciting tri bike releases in the last month or so, between the new Scott Plasma 6, the new Orbea Ordu, and now the updated Canyon Speedmax line. Better yet, each of these three bikes all have unique roles to play in the tri bike market—particularly in a time when there has been a general dearth of tri gear releases, and of course almost no racing at all. While we’ll get into the other two bikes a little bit below (particularly the Plasma 6, as it’s so similar to the Speedmax’s upper-end bikes, the CF SLX and the SL), the upgraded Speedmaxes are probably the most notable because they combine the “hits” of the Ordu and the Plasma 6 into one line. (Read the original review here.)

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc Extended Review: The New Speedmax Line

The Canyon Speedmax Disc CFR Disc eTap

Before we get into the basics of the Speedmax CF SLX that we reviewed, first let’s take a quick look at the entirely revamped Speedmax line. From the top, we’ve got the super pro’d out Speedmax CFR Disc—a SRAM RED eTap-equipped bike that comes with Zipp 858NSW wheels and a dual-sided power meter, all for $12,000. Yes, that’s a lot of money, but you’re basically looking at top-of-the-line everything in a ready-to-race right out of the box package. Literally you could get this bike delivered to your door, have it assembled in an hour or so (it’s very easy), and race that same day.

The Canyon Speedmax SLX 8 Disc Di2

Just below the CFR is probably the most exciting model in the range, the CF SLX Disc. It’s exciting because it shares the same unique frame integration and cockpit as the CFR, but starts at a slightly more reasonable $8,000 for Shimano Di2, DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut, and even comes stock with a 4iiii powermeter. This build still gets you entirely race ready, but without some of the upper-end bells and whistles that push the CFR well over the $10k mark. As this is the model we received, this is also the one we’ll spend the most time reviewing below.

The Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc

Finally, the most accessible model of the revamped Speedmax line is the CF Disc range. The line begins at a VERY affordable $3,800 with Shimano 105 mechanical/Reynolds carbon wheels—particularly given the fact that this is a hydraulic disc-equipped bike—and goes up to $6,500 for a SRAM Force eTap/Zipp 404 Firecrest package. 

X-Ray image of the Canyon Speedmax CF Disc

While the frame design on the CF Disc series isn’t the same as the fully integrated models above, they still all come equipped with a large bento box on the top tube, integrated tool storage in the top tube, and space in the more standard aero bars for hydration in the front (the two upper-end models have a monopost aerobar that we’ll get to in a bit, preventing any bar-mounted hydration). Canyon also claims only a 0.2-watt aero loss between the world championship-winning former Speedmax model and the CF Disc—which is very notable. 

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc Extended Review: The Features

No wires, no problem on the surgical Speedmax CF SLX front end

There’s a lot to unpack in this bike, so we’ll start at the front and make our way back. The first thing that catches the eye on the CF SLX and CFR is the almost clinically clean front end/cockpit. Starting with an electronic-only setup using shifter wires routed through a very sturdy monopost aerobar, the cockpit finishes with a monopost riser stem—that’s a lot of monopost. The good news is that the aerobar post is very easily adjustable for length (the grips not as much, but we’ll get to that), and the stem/riser post can be raised, lowered, and angled (110mm of height and 3 or 6 degrees of tilt) with the use of spacers. The base bar is not adjustable, but Canyon says replacement base bars will be available in the future.

X-Ray image of the Speedmax CF SLX

As we move towards the tail of the bike, we get to see one of the big highlights of the CF SLX/CFR series: the integrated hydration and nutrition storage system. Using a hydration bladder and drinking tube that exits the stem and magnetically attaches to the aerobar monopost, Canyon has tucked 600mL-700mL (depending on size) of hydration into the front of the downtube. 

Open bento box (left) and hydration access port (right)

The bladder attaches to a fitment that cleanly clips into the top tube with nothing but a small, spring-loaded “beak” that barely pops out above the flush mount. This “beak” allows the rider to refill the hydration bladder on the go with the spring-loaded, one-way valve that opens when a water bottle nozzle is pressed down. Just behind the hydration port rests one of the cleanest top tube storage doors we’ve seen, as the bento box is literally built into the top tube with tons of room for gels or bars.

Stealthy integrated tool kit compartment

Further down the bike is the final piece of the integrated trifecta, the tool storage compartment located above the bottom bracket. Not only is this compartment incredibly clean against the frame, but the door itself is very easy to use—super helpful when you’re already struggling to deal with a flat or other mechanical on the road. It’s also worth noting that Canyon includes a tool kit that fits snugly inside the space.

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc Extended Review: The Fit

Though Canyon didn’t make a huge deal about fit when they released this new line, that’s simply because as a direct-to-consumer brand, they’ve always had to be very careful about making sure their bikes are heavily (and easily) adjustable. Canyon doesn’t assume you’ll have access to a knowledgeable fitter (though for sure you should get one if you’re spending $8,000 on any bike). That said, the CF SLX Disc comes in a very impressive five sizes, and (this is a big “and”) they’re offering the XS size with 650b wheels. This is actually a big deal because smaller riders will actually be able to get on a bike with proper handling for their size (conversely, this will obviously limit wheel choices…). It’s also worth noting that these five sizes are entirely unique sizes, meaning none of them share the same stack or reach numbers—unlike a few other bikes (like the new Ordu, for example).

Fairly adjustable front end with monopolist aerobar and (tight) grips on their widest setting

In the cockpit, each size has 110mm of play with the armpad stack (using spacers) and around 50-55mm of armpad reach adjustment (also 20mm of play on aerobar length). While not as easy to adjust as some other monopost “seatpost-style” stems like the Ordu or the Cervelo P5, the spacer system means a slightly more solid construction with no possibility of slippage. The armpad width is adjustable by 35mm per pad, and the grips are only slightly adjustable width-wise (they come very, very tight), but have an infinite amount of angle adjustment. On the rear, Canyon claims a seat tube angle of 80.5 degrees for each size, but their sliding seatpost fore/aft adjustment leads me to believe there’s more variability than that.

Canyon’s fit kit

While the fit adjustments are extremely easy to make—everything is in a very clearly labeled included “fit kit”—it’s important to note that this is not as flexible of a setup as something like the new Ordu. This isn’t exactly a problem, it’s actually more of a function of the fact that a bike like the new Ordu only really comes in three sizes, so there’s more of a need for cockpit/rear-end adjustability per size. Like we said before, the Speedmax comes in five very distinct sizes. Also, don’t’ forget that Canyon is effectively a mail order-only situation, so be sure you have the proper size before you buy!

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc Extended Review: The Ride

As I prefer a smaller bike per size than some other triathletes (years of short-course racing will do that), I used a medium for my tests, though a large would have been fine too. On the medium, I had lots of room to go lower, but not a ton of room to go higher and create a super relaxed position if I needed it. This may seem like a matter of fit, but it’s important to note for the ride/handling as well.

Out on the road, I did find the front end to be a little twitchier in the aerobars than I expected—even when compared with bikes of a similar top tube length. My best guess is that this feeling is a function of a higher monopost stem shim (it wasn’t maxed, but fairly close) that I’ve also experienced on the new Ordu and Cervelo P5 as well. The only difference I found on the Speedmax CF SLX was that on massively steep downhills it felt quite twitchy in the aerobars, where the Ordu took some getting used to, but was at least consistent at higher speeds. On the other hand, the Speedmax felt surprisingly stable in crosswinds, even with the included 62mm/80mm wheel combo—this indicates a very dialed-in setup of components, something that’s not easy to do. Of course one man’s “twitchy” is another man’s “sharp handling,” and this bike did cut corners very tightly. In the right hands (read: experienced tri bike rider), this is a very agile machine. 

In terms of road dampening, I found the rear end to be quite comfortable—about on par with other high-end carbon bikes in this price range—but the front end picked up a bit of high-frequency road chatter. While both low- and mid-frequency bumps and jumps were fine on the front and rear (never a need to come out of aero for bumps), my best guess is that the front chatter is due in part to the absolute monster front fork and appropriately stiff aluminum monopost stem shim. (If it was carbon, it wouldn’t be that reliable.) The ride wasn’t harsh by any means—and certainly never wore me out—but it’s worth noting anyway.

Power-wise, the Speedmax wasn’t the stiffest bike out there—that honor still belongs to the Cervelo P5 in my not-so-scientific opinion—but it does belong in the “lively” category of transfer from the pedals to the wheels. Though there was some side-to-side movement, it was a responsive movement that you sometimes feel in really dialed-in road bikes that feel more like they’re catapulting you along. 

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX Disc Extended Review: Conclusions

There is a lot to like on this bike—the integrated, tri-only features, the aero gains, and the insanely clean look that’s free of wires, cables, bento boxes, even unsightly rear seat tube storage. It looks more like a super dialed-in track bike than some sort of Frankentri bike (not naming names here…). On the other hand, this is not the first tri bike to have truly integrated hydration—Ventum has had it for years in their tri line, the Specialized Shiv Disc also has it (though in the rear), and now the Scott Plasma 6 joins the ranks. In terms of bikes that are similar to the Speedmax CF SLX and CFR lines, the Plasma 6 is actually a dead ringer, and though we haven’t tested it yet, many of the features look very very similar. The big difference with the Speedmax line and the new Plasma series is the Plasma 6 starts at $9,000 and they’ve yet to announce anything below that. The trickle-down effect on the Speedmax line isn’t exact just yet, but the fact that you can now get a hydraulic disc brake bike for under $4k that’s almost as fast as what Lange and Frodeno rode to win Hawaii is pretty amazing.

The little nitpicky things on this bike are way too small and few to turn away anyone looking to spend around $8,000 on a race-ready ride, and the new Speedmax CF SLX Disc is certainly breaking new ground while cementing a few trends that we hope will stick around for a long time. 

Canyon Speedmax Line: Selected Specs

SPEEDMAX DISC CFR DISC eTAP

FRAME Canyon Speedmax Disc CFR
FORK Canyon FK0080 / FK0081
BRAKE SRAM Red HRD Disc Brake
WHEELS Zipp 858 NSW Disc Brake
TIRES Continental GP5000 25/28 + TPU
CHAINSET SRAM Red eTap AXS Powermeter
GEAR RATIO 50/37 | 10-28
COCKPIT Canyon CP0019 / CP0021
SADDLE Fizik Mistica 55 mm
SEATPOST Canyon SP0049 Aeropost CF
COLORS Dark Chrome
SIZES XS, S, M, L, XL
PRICE $12,000

SPEEDMAX SLX 8 DISC Di2

FRAME Canyon Speedmax Disc CF SLX
FORK Canyon FK0080 / FK0081
BRAKE Shimano Ultegra Disc Brake
WHEELS DT SWISS ARC1400 Dicut db 62/80
TIRES Continental GP5000 25/28 + TPU
CHAINSET Shimano Ultegra Di2 / 4iii Powermeter
GEAR RATIO 52/36 | 11-28
COCKPIT Canyon CP0019 / CP0021
SADDLE Fizik Mistica 55 mm
SEATPOST Canyon SP0049 Aeropost CF
COLORS Pro White
SIZES XS, S, M, L, XL
PRICE $8,000

SPEEDMAX CF 7 DISC

FRAME Canyon Speedmax Disc CF
FORK Canyon FK0077 / FK0078
BRAKE Shimano 105 Disc Brake
WHEELS Reynolds AR 58/80 DB
TIRES Continental GP5000 25/28
CHAINSET Shimano 105 Disc
GEAR RATIO 52/36 | 11-30
COCKPIT Canyon H30 Basebar CF Profile Design
SADDLE Fizik Mistica 55 mm
SEATPOST Canyon SP0048 Aeropost CF
COLORS Flash Yellow
SIZES XS, S, M, L, XL
PRICE $3,800