Canyon Ultimate AL SLX 9.0 SL

Cycling Plus

Cycling Plus Race Bike of the Year

£1699 Carbon’s not the only kid on the block… Canyon has reworked its aluminium Ultimate AL SLX frame for 2014, keeping the oversized chainstays, bottom bracket shell and down-tube while trimming 60g and upgrading the fork to the tapered all-carbon SLX. It’s the second lightest bike on test, beaten by just 20g by Canyon’s £1899 Ultimate CF. The geometry is racy and aggressive: a tight 995mm wheelbase, 170mm head-tube and steepish angles. The ride is lively and hard to better for a race bike. Accelerate and the SLX responds with an intoxicating sharpness. We think it feels more involved, balanced and – yes – comfortable than its carbon sibling. The AL SLX continues Canyon’s reputation for quality kit. Its Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheels are unheard of at this price, contributing to a great climbing ability. But though the Yksion tyres are impressively grippy in all conditions, on our weather-scarred roads they were prone to punctures. As a race-ready bike at a bargain price, we can’t think of a better-equipped ride SRAM’s Force 22 groupset shifts positively and quietly, has a front mech that doesn’t need trimming and won over even devout Shimano and Campagnolo fans, while Ritchey’s classy WCS cockpit and the buzz-killing VCLS Post did a great job of keeping you comfortable on the aluminium frame. Its low weight will be your friend in the hills, but we didn’t find the 53/39 and 11-speed 11-25 setup quite as kind. If you’re a strong climber that won’t be a problem, but the rest of us might benefit from the compact chainset and wider ratio cassette that are among the few kit options available. As a race-ready bike at a bargain price, though, we can’t think of a better-equipped ride.

If you want a race-ready bike for not much cash this grand Canyon will take some beating. The best choice for when you want to fight your way to the front. 4.5/5.0