The German company Canyon made a splash on the cycling scene a few years ago with a major pro tour team sponsorship and innovative direct-to-consumer sales model. The company also developed a cyclocross bike that Steve and Lucie Chainel's Chazal-Canyon team rode in 2017, and as of the new year, Mathieu van der Poel, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Nikki Brammeier are all on Canyons as well.
Folks have noticed Canyon’s bigger play in the cyclocross market for a couple of reasons. One is the can’t-miss kinked toptube design that the company claims is for shouldering comfort. Based on the comments on our profile of Lucie Chainel’s Inflite, the top tube design is a love it or hate it kind of thing. Canyon’s direct-to-consumer model for sales in the U.S. has also garnered attention.
Canyon’s cyclocross line includes four different builds. The Inflite CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race is its top-of-the-line, followed by the Inflite CF SLX 9.0, Inflite CF SLX 8.0 Pro Race and the alloy Inflite AL SLX 8.0 Pro Race. The Pro Race models come with SRAM 1x groupsets, while the CF SLX 8.0 comes stock with a 2x Shimano Ultegra grupo.
Our Cyclocross Magazine team currently has a $3,300 Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 under review. This spotlight takes a first look at the carbon cyclocross race bike with a rather unique look.
To start, let’s for a moment ignore the uncommon design features of the Infinite CF. None of the geometry parameters stray far from established cyclocross race bikes. The 72.5-degree headtube is just a hair steeper than common, the bottom bracket drop is an old school Euro 6.2mm—which is now considered "high"—but otherwise everything else is similar to other ‘cross race bikes from the last decade.
CF in the name stands for carbon fiber, which makes up the Infinite SLX frame in a monocoque construction. A medium frame has a claimed weight of 940g. The frame geometry is fairly standard for a cyclocross race machine. Our medium size test bike has a 55cm seat tube combined with a 56.2cm toptube. The 146mm headtube sits at an angle of 72.5 degrees from the ground combined to a 73.5-degree seat tube angle. The chainstays are 42.5cm and the wheelbase is 101.8cm. Those measurements give a stack height of 57.2cm and a reach of 39.3cm. The least common measure compared to cyclocross bikes of recent manufacture is the bottom bracket drop which is 6.2cm, which is high by comparison.
The Canyon Infinite has some unique design features, a couple which seem obvious to the casual observer. First is the odd top tube-seat tube junction. Canyon representatives told us that this is to maximize the main triangle space for reaching to shoulder the bike and offer the maximum amount of exposed seatpost for a bit of flexure to aid comfort and control when in the saddle. Canyon is not the first company to use a unique top tube / seatstay junction, as Wout van Aert's old Colnago Prestige also had an unorthodox design.
A seatpost set screw accessible from the front of the seat tube substitutes for the seatpost clamp. This helps stay away from rear wheel spray and provide a clean look. The frame accepts a 27.2mm diameter seatpost, and with the amount of post exposure, the design allows for some flex at that diameter seatpost.
Another unique aspect of the Inflite is Canyon’s custom handlebar/stem combination. The post mount disc brake full carbon fork has a 1 ¼" straight carbon steerer rather than the more typical steerer that tapers from 1 ⅛" to 1 ¼" from the top to the fork crown.
As a result, Canyon designed the H31 Ergocockpit CF with a combination carbon bar and stem with a flat top section that has an ergonomic bend back toward the rider. The handlebar/stem combination tightens to the steerer via two set screws that push against a plate.
Canyon delivers the H31 Ergocockpit CF in set combinations of stem lengths and widths matched to the frame size. Our medium review bike has a 42cm wide bar (center-to-center) and a 9 cm stem length. The compact curve is flat on top and at the drops which is what you would want. If you like the levers higher, just move them up. Canyon claims a 42cm handlebar and 10cm stem weighs 335g.
Chainstays are typically the limiter for tire width, but the Infinite CF SLX has comfortable clearance for a 38mm tire and can manage a 42mm tire like the WTB Resolute on 21mm internal width rims with a tight squeeze. The larger Infinite CF SLX models will not fit a 650b road plus wheel if you are looking to use such a wheel size for gravel. The two smallest sizes, the 3XS and 2XS, come with smaller 650b wheels the maintain the same geometry, but they too will not fit the pumped-up road plus tires.
Both the seatstays and chainstays use a bridgeless design that provides a good aesthetic while maximizing tire and mud clearance. The downtube has a bend at the top that arguably provides clearance for the same, but can also serve to provide steering clearance for a suspension fork.
There is a pressed-on cover at the bottom of the PF86 BB that accesses the internally run derailleur cables for the front and rear. The brake control line also runs internally to a flat mount on the left chainstay.
The Infinite CF SLX has two water bottle cage mounts in the expected places, but that is all. There are no provisions for fenders or racks. This is a bike intended for racing.
Unlike the other Inflite Pro Race models, our CF SLX 9.0 review bike has a 2x Shimano setup. It has Shimano Ultegra 8000 derailleurs paired with ST-RS685 hydraulic brake / mechanical shift levels paired with BR-RS785 flat mount calipers. Canyon paired the derailleurs with a Rotor 3D crankset with 46/36t round chain rings.
The Shimano Ultegra 11-speed cassette is an 11-28, giving a racing gear spread. The new Shimano Ultegra 8000 levers and calipers were not ready to ship when the bike was introduced, but we expect them to be spec’d in the upcoming year.
The wheelset is DT Swiss CR 1600 Spline, a 1700g (claimed) set with 23mm deep aluminum rims laced with straight-pull bladed spokes and aluminum nipples to DT Swiss Ratchet System hubs that look curiously similar to the Bontrager Aeolus 3 Pro hubs. The rims have a 21mm internal width and came mounted with Schwalbe X-One tubeless ready 33mm tires.
The 27.2mm diameter Canyon branded carbon seatpost has 25mm of setback. A Selle Italia SLR light saddle completes the package.
Initial Ride Impressions
At 17.8 pounds without pedals, the Inflite frame and DT Swiss wheel combination is pretty light. Combined with a high BB and hard SLR Light saddle, the Inflite CF SLX 9.0 feels like a race bike.
That feeling was reinforced by our first few rides. From the first pedal stroke, the Inflite takes off and makes you feel like there is no wasted effort. The bike steers intuitively and has responsive handling. We could not help but notice the control and enjoyable ride right away.
The components worked as expected—precisely—and have a proven record on previous test bikes. The Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 cylcocross bike fits our tester well, but it's worth noting that swapping stems or bars will be a difficult task due to the unusual 1-1/4" diameter at the top of the steerer.
Since the Inflite is a race bike, riders looking for a versatile gravel and mixed terrain bike may also want to look at Canyon's Grail gravel bike with its own very interesting cockpit design.
Stay tuned for a full review after we put the Inflite CF SLX 9.0 to the full test.
Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 Specifications
MSRP: $3299 as tested
Frame: Canyon Carbon Fiber, 940g claimed weight
Fork: Canyon Carbon Fiber with 114 carbon steerer: 1 ¼" straight steerer
Weight: 17.8 pounds, no pedals; 10.5 lbs without wheels or pedals
Shifters: Shimano ST-685
Crankset: Rotor 3D, 46/36t chain rings
Brakes: Shimano RS785, Shimano RT-99 rotors 160mm front, 140mm rear
Cockpit: Canyon H31 carbon bar/stem combination
Seatpost:Canyon carbon fiber 25mm setback, 27.2mm diameter
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR light
Wheels: DT Swiss CR 1600 aluminum tubeless clincher
Tires: Schwalbe X-One tubeless easy, 33mm
Warranty: 6 years, frame and fork (original owner)
Country of origin: Germany
More Info: canyon.com