I have had the experience of training on a CANYON SPEEDMAX CF for more than 3 years.  With the launch of TARMACANDIRT I felt compelled to write a review of my experience.

My CANYON SPEEDMAX CF did not come assembled because I took an early delivery of the frame, fork and handlebars, I purchased my own components, and assembled the bicycle.  Bicycle assembly typically reveals information about the design and manufacturing that is otherwise missed.  For example: are the holes clean, do the BB cups align, do the cables route through the bike without interference, are the press-fits and threads dimensional tolerances appropriate, or do adjustments need to be made?  The complete assembly time was less than 1 hour, and needless to say, the process went well.  Shawn Tyrone, General Manager for Las Vegas Cyclery who completed the assembly let me know that TT/ Tri bikes are notorious for long and laborious assembly, and this was a significantly faster assembly than most other TT/ Tri bike assemblies.  All aspects of the bicycle are superbly well-engineered and integrated, and this includes the shifting wires and brake cables. Compared to other TT/ Tri bikes, the CANYON SPEEDMAX CF rises above most.  It is in a special class of top-level design and integration.

The dimensional precision and manufacturing tolerances insures that the air-flow over the surface of the SPEEDMAX CF is uninterrupted.  The mechanical function of the integrated handlebars, brake/shift-levers and  brakes calipers is flawless. In some poorly integrated systems turning the handlebars can cause the brakes to open and close. This can be dangerous, and it’s not the case with the SPEEDMAX CF. The SPEEDMAX CF was flawless.

The relationship of the bottom bracket and drop-outs is superb.  The chain-stays are relatively short for a TT/ Tri bike, and although long chain-stays are often promoted by frame designers as a method to increase stability, I enjoy the instant power and responsiveness the short chain-stays offer.  Furthermore, the short chain-stays do not compromise the chain-line and shifting. The chain-line is ideal for big gear power. I can shift all 11 gears in Dura-Ace Di2 in my 54 big ring, 39 small ring, and 11/28 rear set-up.

The brake actuation is superb. I have had decades of experience with special TT/ Tri bicycle brakes as a wheel designer, manufacturer and tester, and brake performance is typically a compromise between aerodynamic design, and performance, with stopping power usually lacking.  The SPEEDMAX CF rim brakes are solid and powerful. The rim brake calipers on my Speedmax CF work as well as my Dura-Ace Caliper brakes on my CANYON ULTIMATE CF.  Furthermore, the left-right-center adjustability, and open/close width is robust.

The handlebar mounted hydration system functions equally well compared to other integrated systems. There is nothing special about the SPEEDMAX CF hydration system that makes it any better or worse than competitors’ systems. Although the handlebar mounted hydration system slides into place on a rail, it does not lock-down, and it is not tightly secured.  There is a significant friction generated by an interference fit, and I was never fearful that it may inadvertently detach; I was satisfied with the security and performance of the design. The hydration system is difficult to assemble/ disassemble and clean, but this is typical with all integrated hydration systems. The hydration system is difficult to drink from, and for me, it’s easier to grab a bottle from a cage than to struggle with a straw.  I prefer a frame mounted bottle with an aerodynamic shape.  I should mention that wind tunnel tests preformed by CANYON suggest performance benefits when the hydration system is attached, so racing with the hydration system mounted, but empty may also be an option to consider.  I have not validated that claim, but I am familiar with the fastidious nature of the CANYON engineering team and the rigor of their test protocol, and I believe that their improved performance claim is valid. 

Despite the benefits of the hydration system, I decided not use the integrated hydration system and I removed it because:

  • The handlebar mounted hydration system is aerodynamically designed and integrated, but I found that it creates adverse steering input in high-velocity cross-winds (not noticeable on a calm day).  With the handlebar mounted hydration system removed the bicycle is comfortable to steer in a high-velocity cross-wind.
  • The fluid mass on the handlebars means that I have to give extra effort when steering to overcome it’s inertia. While this is symptomatic of all handlebar mounted hydration systems, I don’t like the feeling.
  • The hydration system requires more separation between my arm pads than I prefer. I want to put my arms/ elbows closer together in the aero position.  Removing the hydration system allows for my forearms to literally touch each other, closing off my chest to airflow which reduces drag.

The Arm Pads are slippery when I am sweating, and I am sweating most of the time.  A pad solution with more grip to make me feel like my elbows are firmly anchored would be a welcomed improvement. 

I would prefer that the hand grips on the wing-bar to be positioned farther forward. The position is too far rearward by 100 mm. Moving the hand grips forward would open up the chest and breathing while climbing.  The CANYON SPEEDMAX CF is such a great climbing bike that this additional improvement for hand position would make this TT/ Tri bike a climbing machine. A more forward hand grip position would also provide better steering control for high-speed maneuvers.

The SPEEDMAX CF is stiff. It is a race bike. The short chain-stays contribute to the stiff rear triangle, and the nearly vertical straight fork adds to the stiff feel.  If the ride is too stiff you can soften the feel with carbon saddle rail options, and saddle designs that minimize vibration and absorb road roughness.

The SPEEDMAX CF steering feels predictable and accurate under power, however with no power input when coasting through a high-speed tight turn, especially if it's slightly off-camber, the SPEEDMAX CF will over-steer slightly.  Steering is not the strong suit of any TT/ Tri bike, and I want to emphasize that the SPEEDMAX CF is as stable as any other TT/ Tri bike, so just be aware- small steering inputs work best.

Despite any of my small criticisms, the CANYON SPEEDMAX CF is possibly the best TT/ Tri bike you can race.  If you're considering a TT/ Tri bike and your research begins and ends here, you can confidently make your purchase of a CANYON SPEEDMAX CF.

As the previous owner of FASTER Wind Tunnel, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Wind Tunnel, and I have posted a report TT VS ROAD BIKE- HOW MUCH FASTER? comparing the CANYON SPEEDMAX CF to the CANYON ULTIMATE CF.

Paul Lew, "Bicycles make friends"