CANYON ULTIMATE CF SLX
Mail ordering a $5k bike – smart shopping or fool’s folly? Tim Robson takes the plunge with German brand Canyon.
GREG RYAN HAS BEEN BUILDING WHEELS FOR WORLD CHAMPIONS AND OLYMPIAN ON- AND OFF-ROAD RACERS FOR A COUPLE OF DECADES NOW
LAST ISSUE we introduced the latest addition to the Outdoor fleet; a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX road bike. It’s so much more than a roadie, though…
After another couple of months, the Canyon has been getting some real miles under the wheels… and new wheels at that. You might recall last time that I thought the stock wheels – a set of gorgeous Mavic Kysrium Pro Exalith SLs – might have been underplaying it for a larger rider, given their featherweight properties, so I decided to do something about it.
Now, most people are rushing out and buying carbon fibre wheelsets with price tags that rival those of a decent second hand car, and I wasn’t about to/ couldn’t afford to do the same. And because our Canyon uses rim brakes rather than discs, I wasn’t especially keen to compromise the braking performance. Most carbon rims need special brake pads, and the combination often struggles in wet weather – and that’s not something I want to think about on a big day out.
While it’s relatively easy to buy a ready-made set of wheels from various brands, I decided to go for the handbuilt option through Sydney-based wheel specialist TWE. Proprietor Greg Ryan has been building wheels for world champions and Olympian onand off-road racers for a couple of decades now, but he also offers regular wheelsets for regular riders. After a couple of emails, we teed up a final build over the phone, consisting of his 30mm deep alloy rims, with 28 holes up front and 32 holes in the rear, sealed bearing hubs and bladed spokes. Greg also added a little bit of gold coloured bling in the form of a pair of spoke nipples around the valve hole. There’s nothing fancy in the build, either; I can buy spokes anywhere, and the three-cross lacing pattern is simple and stable.
Weight wise, they came in at 1600g front and rear – some 250g heavier than the stockers, but when the bike weighs so little – 7.2kg stock – a little more strength in the wheels won’t hurt.
The first big test was the Tour Down Under Community Stage, a 167km epic that follows the fourth stage of the Tour ahead of the pros. Straight off the bat, I could feel the TWE wheels were vastly stiffer side to side, and complement the softer rear end of the bike perfectly. Braking is vastly improved, too, though that lovely black finish will soon wear off. And after the ride, and 400km or so after that, they are still running smooth and true. Best of all? Changeover cost from the fancy Mavics to the functional TWEs was minus $200!
Could I feel the extra weight? Not really. They might be a fraction slower to come up to speed, but that certainly doesn’t affect a hack like me.
I also added a Wahoo Elemnt computer to the bike, which I review over the page. Suffice to say it’s a big screen GPS with more info readouts than a fighter jet cockpit.
Next issue: wider bars.
Above The Ultimate is performing like an absolute champ with a few miles under its belt
Left: Custom wheels don’t need to be expensive, as TWE proves. Note the orange nipples either side of the valve hole.