The new disc-equipped Canyon Speedmax CFR and CF SLX tri bikes have been revealed and are even faster than their 5x Kona-winning predecessor.
Both new models use the same highly-optimised frame design with the pro-level Speedmax CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) model boasting a slightly lighter, stiffer carbon layup. The CF SLX and CFR models range from £7,999 to £12,399 with various Shimano and SRAM spec options.
Canyon has also launched the slightly slimmed-down Speedmax CF – check out our coverage on that bike for a look at what all this new tech means for Canyon’s more accessible tri bike range.
- Canyon Speedmax CFR and CF SLX – Headlines
- Speedmax CFR Aero Development
- Riding Dynamics
- System Integration
- Fit and Comfort
- Models and Specs
- Final Thoughts
Canyon Speedmax CFR and CF SLX – Headlines
- New disc-specific frame design that’s 9-10W faster at 45kmph with a rider
- Integrated drinks bladder, bento box and BB tool storage
- Mono-extension cockpit with single riser pillar
- Pro Armrest Upgrade Kit option
- Optimised for 25mm front and 28mm rear tyres
- Power meters included across the range
- Race-ready specs with different bar and gearing options
Speedmax CFR Aero Development
How To Beat A Record-setter
With a pedigree that includes a win in Kona every year since its launch in 2015 under Jan Frodeno and Patrick Lange plus the iron-distance world record, the rim-brake Canyon Speedmax has proven itself time and again as one of the top-performing bikes in pro triathlon.
Ironman star Lionel Sanders even switched to Canyon specifically because he wanted to be on the same course-shattering bike as triple Hawaii winner Frodeno while other Canyon riders include Laura Philipp, Sarah Crowley and Daniela Bleymehl.
So how do you top a bike with such palmares? In pursuit of creating a new speed weapon that will continue the Speedmax legacy, Canyon’s engineers have focused on three areas:
- Speed and control – encompassing aerodynamics, disc brakes and riding dynamics.
- Maximising integration of hydration and storage – balancing drag-reduction, practicality and looks
- Improved fit and comfort – giving all riders the opportunity to find their ideal position
To achieve improvements in all these areas for the new Speedmax CFR, the Canyon team had three aces up its sleeves. First, the experience of its own engineers within a decade of Speedmax projects, secondly, the company’s willingness to work with other performance partners and thirdly, Canyon’s stable of world-class athletes to test the new designs.
“We’ve been working together in an almost un-changed team for 10 years,” says Speedmax product engineer Wolfgang Kohl. “Developing the third generation Speedmax with virtually the same team has taken us another step forward. We were clear, right from the beginning, that we wanted to set a new standard. We’ve never stopped improving our bikes – and between the season’s big races, we tested many features together with our top athletes.”
For the new Speedmax, Canyon has worked with more external performance partners than ever before. These include ergonomics experts Ergon, aerodynamics gurus Swiss Side, hydration specialists Hydrapak and long-time design collaborators Artefakt.
“Think of third-party experts as a kind of training partner,” says Kohl. “They push you and your expertise to a new level. It’s not always easy. But at the end, it’s a gain for everybody.”
With all this lined up, Canyon was ready to shoot for its goals in creating an even faster, more integrated and more adjustable generation of Speedmax bikes.
Reverse-engineering The Speedmax
When it comes to cycling aerodynamics, there are few companies more respected than Swiss Side and in combining this expertise with its own mastery of bike construction, Canyon was in a great position to start development of the new Speedmax.
Rather than working in CFD then validating in the wind tunnel, the new Speedmax’s development began with wind tunnel testing of the previous model. This same configuration was then simulated in in CFD, using Swiss Side’s latest 3D simulation models in various with and without rider configurations, and 2D CFD for tube profile optimisation – allowing the team to assess areas for aerodynamic improvements.
“WE’RE IN AN ENGINEERING RACE, AND WE WANT TO BE THE BEST”Wolfgang Kohl – Speedmax Product Engineer
Using the existing bike as its basis, the team looked at the effect of the front wheel’s proximity to the down tube, how aerodynamics is affected by steering the front wheel and how cockpit stack height, the proximity of the rider’s arms to the base bar and storage/hydration systems made air behave around the front end.
All this led to the major changes in frame shape between the new Speedmax CFR and its predecessor. Canyon first defined the new geometry around integrated hydration and storage, then looked at the cockpit area as well as head tube size, lower bottom bracket area volume and fork leg profile length.
This also included the relationship between the fork and the disc brake calliper – an obvious upgrade for Canyon to make on the new bike, providing riders with more braking control and the confidence to take more speed to be taken into corners.
Back To The Wind Tunnel
The new design was 3D printed using special carbon-reinforced laser sinter material usually reserved for Formula One cars. This prototype was then wind-tunnel tested, with the team honing different mono-extension cockpit setups, seat stay chord length (the distance between the leading and trailing edges of its airfoil shape) and how external down-tube bottles affected performance.
All the testing was once again conducted as bike-only, with Canyon’s special carbon fibre leg dummy (dubbed Ferdi) and with a complete athlete on the bike.
In total, the new Canyon Speedmax CFR underwent 456 CFD test runs and 97 wind tunnel validation runs to create the final frame shape, a process Canyon says is the most comprehensive any bike has ever undergone at Swiss Side’s facilities.
Compared to the previous model at 45kmph, the new design saves 8.9W for the bike alone, 8.0W with ‘Ferdi’ aboard and 9 to 10W across Canyon’s pro triathlete testers.
Of course, all the aerodynamic precision in the world means little unless the bike’s stiffness to weight ratio is also dialled in, which is why Canyon’s engineering team worked in concert with Swiss Side to achieve the best compromise of aerodynamics, frame strength and real-world performance.
Wrapped up in this is the reduction of overall frame weight to offset the small penalty of the disc brake setup, minimising sidewind sensitivity and optimising weight distribution to maintain good handling characteristics.
While reducing frame weight and increasing stiffness is an oft-cited shorthand for carbon bike evolution year after year, the weight distribution puzzle on the new Speedmax was a little more complex.
In the end, Canyon moved the bike’s toolkit storage to inside the frame just above the bottom bracket, got the bladder as low-down in the down tube as possible and spread nutrition storage along the top tube. By lowering the centre of gravity with this positioning, Canyon says torque created by the mass of the bike is minimised, making the handling more agile.
In terms of sidewind performance, the removal of external nutrition and storage features was key, but Canyon also reduced the surface area of handlebars and fork. This avoids riders being thrown around in tricky wind conditions – such as those regularly felt in Kona – while making best possible use of the sailing effect caused when wind interacts with the frame’s shape.
One other interesting choice is that Canyon’s engineers have opted not for 700c but 650b wheels on the XS frame size – something Felt stopped making provision for when moving from its DA to IA platforms a few years ago.
Canyon says the choice means smaller riders can also benefit from the bike’s outstanding riding dynamics, though the availability of 650b wheels and tyres could prove a challenge for those loyal to certain wheel brands.
As we’ve already noted, integration was a key factor in making Canyon’s redesigned Speedmax as fast as possible but Canyon hasn’t sacrificed practicality with these changes.
Designed in collaboration with Hydrapak, the Speedmax CFR and CF SLX feature a custom bladder, which is situated in the bike’s large down tube to minimise the effect on the bike’s handling while eliminating any aero penalty that comes with an external drinks system.
Frame sizes XS and S get a 600ml bladder while M, L and XL include a 700ml bladder. A long flexible drinking tube with a bite valve pops through a special cap in the middle of the integrated stem behind the aerobar risers, making it easy to sip without taking hands from the bars. There’s also a magnet to keep it in place while you ride.
It’s a similar system to that found on the previous generation of Specialized Shiv bikes – as well as on the original Felt IA FRD (but was removed from production bikes) – and not too dissimilar from the new Scott Plasma 6‘s built-in headtube bottle.
Behind the straw is a specially developed opening for refilling the bladder from a drinks bottle while riding. This port features a closed valve that only opens when pressing a bottle down from above to avoid any spillage.
The top tube is also used for storing nutrition, the Bento Box that used to sit on behind the stem on the previous Speedmax bikes now integrated into the frame itself – again eschewing any extra drag. The sides and bottom are made from carbon and Canyon says this also helps to improve the bike’s stiffness-to-weight figures.
A high-grade cover flips open to give easy access – as opposed to the many designs out there with slitted rubber access port that can make finding what you want tricky. Canyon says that the bento box has room for at least two energy bars and one gel.
The integration of both the hydration and nutrition storage systems saves around 200g compared to using the older bike’s additional accessories.
Storing tools and spares above the bottom bracket isn’t entirely new but with the Speedmax CFR and CF SLX, the toolbox becomes part of the bottom bracket area itself, even contributing to increased BB stiffness.
Hidden away behind a sliding lid, the toolbox offers storage for a spare tube, a pair of tyre levers, two CO2 cartridges and a CO2 adapter. A custom neoprene holder ensures no rattling while the bike’s in motion.
Fit and Comfort
The Speedmax CFR and CF SLX feature a completely new cockpit setup, each bike shipping with a fitting kit to take advantage of all the customisation options.
Mono Extension Cockpit
Canyon has chosen a mono extension system designed to reduce frontal and surface area for improved aerodynamics while also allowing easy length, width, angle and grip adjustment.
The single pole comes in three basic lengths, each of which can be adjusted between 35 and 52mm, giving a total length adjustment of 110mm. At the end is a pair of grips which can be shimmed for width and feature stepless angle adjustment to find a comfy hand position.
The supplied fitting kit includes extension height adjustment from 0 to 110mm with angle options of 5, 8.5 or 12-degrees while the armpads have 54mm of fore/aft and 96mm of left/right adjustment for athletes to get into their aero position of choice.
Ergonomic Contact Points
Working with Ergon, Canyon has also refined all contact points to keep riders comfortable and slow down rate of fatigue. This included all-new pads, extension grips and base bar.
The pads use an Italian material, which Canyon says costs eight times the industry norm and is grippier and more comfortable than standard foam. Likewise, the extension grips are designed to avoid any slipping no matter the conditions.
The base bar, which is SRAM- or Shimano-specific to accommodate each brand’s lever shapes features special rubberised grips to maintain rider confidence, especially while descending. It also comes in two flat and two riser versions so you can dial-in your setup just how you want it.
Pro Armrest Upgrade Kit
There’s also the option of the Pro Armrest Upgrade Kit (€299), which is coming soon and based on the custom solutions created for many pro triathletes.
Jan Frodeno said such setups “Improved handling in demanding race situations and more comfort thanks to the reduced pressure resulting from the larger contact surface”.
Indeed the new setup is based on the prototypes made for Frodeno in 2019. Canyon has now adapted these longer cradles for mass production to give more athletes access to pro-level comfort and forearm support.
Another area that Canyon has optimised comfort is in the bike’s tyre clearance. The front of the bike is optimised for 25mm tyres in order to provide the best aero performance, but will take tyres measuring up to 28mm wide.
Meanwhile at the rear, where the wheel is tucked behinds the seat tube and there’s less of an aerodynamic consideration, the bike is designed to take a 28mm tyre but riders can choose a tyre that measures up to 30.5mm wide. Canyon has even adjusted the new Speedmax’s BB height to compensate for the extra height at the rear.
Finally, in working with gebiomized’s bike fitting team, the entirety of the new Speedmax range is specced with shorter cranks than on previous models. However, it’s still only the XS size across the line-up that has 165mm cranks. Adopted by many triathletes regardless of height or frame size, shorter cranks allow a lower position thanks to knees not travelling as high on the upstroke.
Models and Specs
Aside from components and exclusive graphics, the main practical difference between the Speedmax CFR and the CF SLX is the frame material. The CFR gets Canyon’s most advanced carbon layup for lighter, stiffer construction.
As usual, there are also customisation options as part of the online purchase process. We’ve already mentioned four base bar options – a choice of flat or riser and long or short. There are also three mono extension lengths specced as short for XS, medium for S and M, and large for L and XL frames by default.
In terms of gearing, there are three choices of cassette – 25 to 30t for Shimano 11-speed and 26-33t for SRAM 12-speed.
You can also choose to swap out the standard Fizik Mistica KIUM saddle for the much-lauded Cobb Fifty-Five.
You’ve also got the choice of CeramicSpeed upgrades for the BB and jockey wheels.
Speedmax CFR Models
There are two options for the Speedmax CFR – Shimano or SRAM.
The Shimano option (£10,299) features Dura-Ace Di2 with matching brakes and power meter-equipped 53/39t crankset. The 80mm deep, tubeless ready wheels are DT Swiss ARC1100 Dicut DB 80, which, like the bike itself, were developed in cooperation with Swiss Side.
The SRAM version (£12,399) gets the US brand’s 12-speed Red eTap AXS groupset with 50/37 power-equipped cranks. The SRAM model rolls on sister-brand Zipp’s 858 NSW wheelset, which is also tubeless ready.
Both options include Continental GP5000 tyres – 25mm up front and 28mm at the rear.
Speedmax CF SLX Models
There are three models in the Speedmax CF SLX range, two Shimano and one SRAM.
The first is equipped with Ultegra Di2, a 52/36t Ultegra crankset with 4iii power meter and DT Swiss ARC1400 Dicut DB 62/80 wheels. This version comes in at £7,999.
The second model, is a women’s specific version of the same bike, only available in XS, S and M sizes and in the Pacific Purple colour way. It’s the same price as the other Ultegra Di2 bike at £7,999.
Finally, there’s the SRAM Force eTap model (£8,999), which comes complete with Force eTap AXS 50/37t power meter cranks and Zipp 404/808 Firecrest wheels.
As with the CFR, the CF SLX bikes all use 25 and 28mm Continental GP5000 tyres.
At the start of the new Speedmax project, Canyon had backed itself into a corner: trying to improve on what’s arguably the most successful triathlon bike of all time – and certainly the most successful in recent years.
It’s reassuring, then, that instead of a complete ground-up redesign that’s often touted as the route to new levels of innovation and performance, the Canyon team started with what had gone before and improved from there.
As far as the CFR and CF SLX models go, Canyon has indeed made some major improvements no doubt aided by the continuity of the team members working on the new bike and Canyon’s drive to seek out the best performance partners in the business rather than keeping everything in-house.
Integrating everything into the bike means it’s not only fast but looks incredibly clean too. And while you might need to add an extra rear bottle or down tube gel bottle to see you through an Ironman, whatever’s added to enable long course racing will still leave the Speedmax less encumbered than virtually anything else out there.
The cockpit is equally impressive – the mono extension design set to ideally balance adjustment, comfort and aerodynamics while showcasing Canyon’s attention to detail. That eye for minutiae can also be seen in the finishing touches like the bladder refill port and different tyre width optimisations front to rear.
Meanwhile, the brand’s claims of overall aero-savings in the region of 9 to 10W at 45kmph should make Canyon’s pro riders – and those who have the cash to shell out a minimum of £7,999 on a new bike and hold such speeds – very happy indeed. Despite Canyon not being able to launch the bike amid the fanfare of another Ironman Hawaii victory, next month’s PTO 2020 Championship at Challenge Daytona should show the bike at its best under Frodeno and Sanders to name just two.
While we don’t know what innovations are coming around the corner for tri bikes, by improving integration, speed, comfort and adding disc brakes, the entirety of the new Speedmax range is as future-proof as its possible to be – and sure to add yet more palmares to its already outstanding reign at the head of the sport.