Inflite AL 8.0, 11/2013

Canyon kicks a goal with its first cyclo-cross bike, a good example of a modern, versatile disc-braked crosser.

Versatile disc-equipped cyclocross bike perfect for fun in the woods or racing.

Canyon's new Inflite AL 8.0 is the German company's first ever cyclo-cross bike. We first spotted it at Eurobike a few months ago where it was turning a few heads, and now I've spent some time riding it I can say the head turning was fully justified: it's a fast and fun bike suitable for playing in the woods or going racing at the weekends.

Jump aboard the Inflite (cyclocross-style of course) and the bike instantly feels just right. The size large has a good reach with plenty of space for maneuvering through the trees and the necessary shapes you throw in the process.

Mud clearance is vital for a cyclocross bike, and the Inflite has loads of it. There's plenty of space around the tyres at the fork, and by omitting the chainstay bridge in the rear triangle there's more than enough space for mud to drop through.

Canyon produce really nice alloy road bikes, and they've transferred that expertise well in their first cyclocross bike. The frame is oversized in the down tube with a bit of gentle profiling along its length, and houses the internally routed gear cables. The top tube has a square shape where it meets the seat tube, to give a flat underside surface for shouldering. The rear brake cable is kept out of the way, routed along the top of the top tube.

The Maximus seat tube is borrowed directly from the Ultimate AL road bike, and there's the same press-fit bottom bracket as well. This ensures the bottom bracket zone is hugely stiff - you certainly notice it when pedalling hard, there's no discernable deflection or twist no matter how angrily you stand on the pedals.

You get an impressive build kit on the Inflite. First up is the unique seatpost, the VCLS Post 2.0. Made from carbon fibre, the post is essentially a flat spring, comprising two sections bolted together at either end, and designed to flex. And by jingo it really works. It's most noticeable on bigger impacts, and there are plenty of those riding offroad - rocks, roots and other obstacles - but is also noticeable on smaller stuff.

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For racing and riding around the woods, the Inflite is a cracking example of the modern disc-equipped cyclocross breed. The aluminium frame, carbon fork, geometry and the disc brakes are winning formula.