TESTED: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 – Bike Magazine Australia

by Sebastian Jayne    Photography: Robert Conroy and Tim Bardsley-Smith

The chasm between speedy race bike and all-day adventurer extraordinaire is a rift that has been attempted to be crossed by many bike crafters. A ‘one bike to do it all’, and do it well, is the holy grail for cyclists who are keen to keep the n+1 algorithm and the bank account within relative check. Canyon’s attempt at filling the void – albeit with a very race-heavy bias – is the aptly named Ultimate. 

And due to Canyon’s direct market sale option, which cuts out the middle men and means bikes go straight from the factory in Germany to the customer’s door, there are some very competitive prices on offer. When it comes to testing a bike like the Ultimate, conditions need to feature the most extreme terrain in order to push it to its absolute limits. So we simply had to go to the mountains.

But first, we had to build the Ultimate out of the box. Thanks to Canyon’s attention to detail in packaging it was an a dream – as much as building a bike can be, at least. It meant less time worrying about nuts and bolts and more time enjoying the all-important looks of the bicycle. And the Ultimate is one very good looking machine. 

The CF SLX Disc 9.0 is one of the top tier regular models of the Ultimate range and comes equipped with Shimano Dura Ace running gear and new hydraulic disc brakes. The test models’ silver paint scheme glistened in the sunlight, while the overall subdued colourway made the tiny red accents ‘pop’ off the frame. 

Canyon’s attention to detail is highlighted by subtle choices being made across the bike that makes it a premium product. The tyres are 25mm Continental GP 4000s II, a size that has been shown to be the fastest option thanks to its rolling speed, comfort and aerodynamic efficiency.

The gearing runs a semi-compact 52-36 up front and a 11-28 at the rear to give riders a wide range to tackle both the flats and climbs with ease, depending how fresh you are of course! Aiding your climbing speed is the 820g frame that helps get the weight down to 7.5kg total, which for a disc brake equipped bike is very good.  

The front and rear thru axles do work against the Ultimate being a feather-light machine, but these have been chosen by Canyon to please the rider, not the scales. What an interesting concept.


Canyon’s attention to the rider’s happiness is immediately noticeable within the first few metres of the first ride. The sum of the Ultimate’s parts work in perfect harmony to hum a melody of forward momentum. In many ways, the Ultimate is in the ‘super’ class of bikes, and it’s nice when things live up to expectations. 

After the first few pedal strokes on my first ride, I encountered an obnoxious section of road with a rough surface of bumpy bitumen that tested these lofty first impressions. It’s a section of road I often ride, very reluctantly, although this time was different. Armed with a ‘superbike’, I was now transported across the bumps by the Ultimate’s magic carpet ride. 

A large part of this effect was aided by the 25mm tyres, which provided buttery smoothness without the ‘squigyness’ that the larger volumes can be known for. I don’t usually like addressing parts like tyres in reviews as they are ‘perishables’ on bikes, which means at some point they will be changed. But once this set was done, I would definitely go out and just buy another set of 25mm tyres for the Ultimate.  

The large tyres work due to the frame’s overall stiffness. The stem and handle bars are an integrated one piece unit, the wheels are DT Swiss carbon and there are through-axles front and rear, all to provide the stiffest platform possible. The frame that these features adorn is also incredibly stiff with very little compliance, which is in line with the racing pedigree of the Ultimate.

The two contrasts offered by the plushness of the tyres and stiffness of everything else works in parallel to provide the best ride possible. It was a fact amplified when I used too much air in the tyres. The ride was suddenly harsh and uncomfortable, though dropping pressure immediately returned the synchronicity I had enjoyed. 

Much of the test took place in the Victorian Alps, covering routes that tackled climbs and treacherous descents, which offered a great insight into the Ultimate’s abilities. The ascents were taken care of with with pleasant efficiency. The hum of the wheels was met by the gentle clicks of the Dura Ace gears, always effortlessly engaged of course, to keep you comfortable. The Fizik Antares R5 saddle also added to the comfort, though the Dura Ace hoods did break up the party a tad. 

The hoods house the hydraulics of the disc brakes so they are ‘oversized’ compared to normal options, which meant I never really got comfortable – even with my largish hands. The same goes with the handle bars, although in contrast they were slightly on the ‘too small’ side of things, being quite narrow. I eventually got used to them as the test progressed but it was noticeable. 

At the top of the climbs, it was time for happy snaps, which the Ultimate played up to with ease. It really is a nice-looking bike with Canyon’s sharp angling of the Ultimate’s frame shown off beautifully thanks to the sleek internal cabling. Although not an aero bike, the Ultimate still offers that ‘fast-while-standing-still’ kind of look.

On the descents, the Ultimate is a dream at full flight – with a stable base giving unprecedented confidence and a certain balance offered in the corners that lets you always feel in control, even when you’re possibly not! This balance is aided by the thru axles which give great stiffness to the frame under cornering loads. It means you can carve corners much tighter knowing there won’t be any flex-induced understeer to lead you astray. 

The disc brakes add more confidence to the descending prowess of the Ultimate. They are incredibly powerful, which is awesome when you need to stop on a dime. But they are also great when you only need a small amount of braking, such as through a corner. You can feather the levers to keep the perfect amount of pressure running though the brake pads. This feathering is a big benefit over rim brakes and once mastered did seem to increase cornering speed. It’s kind of funny how better brakes make you faster!

Making you faster is one thing the Ultimate proved itself very good at throughout the test. The sum of its parts seem to work so well together, with only a few niggly issues – most notably the narrow bars and oversized hoods, which may actually prove not to be an issue for everyone. 

Our take 

“The Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 is the best bike you can buy for all your road racing adventures.” That’s the bold claim Canyon make themselves, but did the Ultimate live up to those heights? From the first ride over that obnoxious piece of bumpy bitumen to the sweeping descents of Mt Hotham, those lofty ambitions from Canyon were achieved proudly and repeatedly. 

The Ultimate proved to be a balanced speedster that was capable of racing at the highest level one day, while backing up with a gravel adventure the next. Looking over the bike at the end of the test, I struggled to find anything I would drastically change. Every component and angle of the frame has been thought out to create a ride that could traverse the grand canyons of each buyer’s expectations and deliver one conclusion, this really could be the ultimate. 

Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0

Weight 7.5kg
Price $7,699
From canyon.com