A SRAM Red Etap AXS groupset offers easier integration but perhaps less optimisation in a highly optimised discipline.
Canyon has announced a new UCI legal version of its recently updated Speedmax model ahead of the upcoming Giro d’Italia. Canyon has made no excuses with this bike, offering the CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) level spec only and only with disc brakes. This bike is clearly all about going fast, with price and style options well down the list in terms of importance. Oh, and let’s hope you wanted black, as that’s the only colour option.
The Canyon Speedmax has become somewhat of an icon in the time trial arena over the past decade, utilizing Canyon’s vast array of build options with a price point for almost any rider. Canyon updated the triathlon-specific Speedmax in November 2020, introducing a new disc-only frame with huge tube profiles, a fork wide enough to double up as a picnic table, integrated aero bars with a mono riser and one-piece extensions. The bike looked fast without even moving. But it wasn’t UCI legal.
Around the same time, the UCI relaxed its regulations on frame design for road racing and time trials. That combination of a new triathlon bike and relaxed rules created a breeding ground for speculation and rumours about a forthcoming Canyon UCI legal time trial bike. Fast forward to the Tour de Romandie, and we caught our first glimpse of this new bike under Team Movistar’s GC contender Marc Soler.
Canyon has now confirmed that new bike, which will formally debut at the Giro d’Italia prologue. The CFR TT is only available in one build kit featuring premium components throughout. That includes Zipp wheels and bar extensions, 1X SRAM Red Etap AXS groupset, Continental tyres, and Ceramic Speed pulley wheels. All in the new bike costs a cool £10,799. So what’s it all about?
The new frame, unsurprisingly, has a striking resemblance to the triathlon Speedmax announced last November. The horizontal top tube, deep profiled front forks and dropped seat stays all appear the same on first impressions but the frame does have some noticeable differences to comply with UCI regulations.
Let’s start with those UCI regulations. The new regs allow for increased tube profile length, which has allowed Canyon to increase the fork depth, head tube depth and possibly some other features unseen in the press release photos. But despite much speculation, Canyon has not opted to relocate the seat post or even retain some of the features of the old Speedmax.
One such feature is the so-called compensation triangle at the seat tube to top tube interface. If we cast our minds back to the outgoing Speedmax and its large triangle in this area and compare it to the new frame, it does away with this feature.
Similarly, if we look at the seat tube, bottom bracket, and down tube junction, Canyon has opted to leave this fairly standard looking relative to other modern TT bikes. This is in stark comparison to the triathlon frame, where Canyon has enlarged this area so much it has a built-in toolbox. This will be due to the UCI regulations limiting the dimensions of this part of the frame, but Canyon seems to have forgone the opportunity to get creative with water bottle placement to smooth out this area further, as seen on the Cervelo P5.
The seat stays are another area with noticeable differences from the outgoing Speedmax. Where previously the seat stays extended out from the compensation triangle mentioned above and gradually flared out to the rear hub, the new bike seems to feature a more pronounced detachment from the seat post creating a wider and straighter line to the rear end.
As mentioned many times, this is a feature we are seeing more frequently in modern aero frame design and the CFR TT’s seat stays are far from the widest even on the road.
Moving now to the front end, Canyon seems to have mixed elements of the new triathlon frame and outgoing UCI legal Speedmax.
The front forks are perhaps the most striking visual element of the new bike and although similar to those on the triathlon version of the Speedmax, the fork on this UCI legal rig is not quite as deeply shaped or as wide.
Undoubtedly the new forks are made possible thanks to the recent relaxation in UCI regulations on bike design. The fork features a super-thin frontal area paired to a super-deep profile which Canyon say is “sculpted for maximum aerodynamic performance.” In fact, just as it did with the frame, Canyon turned to its aero partner SwissSide to shape and test the new UCI-legal fork using CFD.
Interestingly the fork also includes a shield (read fairing, for anyone who is not a UCI commissaire) built into the front fork to integrate the front disc calliper. However, also missing from the tri bike setup is the air channelling gulley running between the fork and the tyre and leading onto the down tube of the frame. Most likely another casualty of UCI regulations.
Just as with the outgoing Speedmax and the triathlon-specific bike, the integrated fork extends the length of the frame’s head tube and effectively increases the front end’s aero profile without falling foul of UCI regulations.
The inclusion of disc brakes will come as no surprise to most of us, time trialling is the last of the rim brake strongholds, but the shift entirely to disc brakes seems imminent even here. This is partly due to increased development going into disc brake wheels, and I suspect partly also due to the efficiencies for world tour teams and mechanics in having just one braking system.
Rim brakes are said to be more aerodynamic, so in a discipline where every second counts, there may be some lingering reluctance to make the switch to discs. However, with most development now going into disc brake frames and wheels, many rim brake TT systems are in danger of being left behind.
This mismatch in development resources has many questioning if modern discs test much closer or even better in terms of aerodynamics to that of slightly older rim brake systems. The differences in setup requirements and that advancement in design mean it is nearly impossible to compare apple to apples with rim and disc setups.
One fact that is worth considering is the lower yaw angles typically experienced at time trialling speeds, which will reduce any aero penalty from running discs. Coupled with the often more technically demanding courses the WorldTour pros race on and disc brakes start making a bit more sense. Integrated TT rim brake setups are notoriously poor, so this is one area where the performance benefits of disc brakes is surely beyond doubt.
Most time trials I compete in personally are on “out and back” drag strip style courses with little or no requirement for braking, in this scenario I would prefer to stick with rim brakes but the pros rarely tackle such straightforward courses.
Never the less, Canyon does seem keen to address the aero question marks with disc setups with that “shield” on the front fork. However, unlike the BMC TM01 disc, which has the disc callipers hidden both front and rear, the new Canyon appears to have the rear callipers similarly exposed to those of a standard road bike.
The new Speedmax got its first outing under Marc soler of Team Movistar at last week’s Tour de Romandie. Soler was using what appeared to be aftermarket carbon aero extensions which are increasingly more popular with time trial enthusiasts and World Tour pros alike.
Unsurprisingly these aftermarket extensions do not feature on the final Speedmax CFR TT spec sheet. It’s not all bad news, though, as Canyon has included the ultra-high-end Zipp Vuka Shift AXS 90 extensions with integrated AXS Clics and “brains”.
Somewhat disappointingly, given the level of integration of the extensions and the wireless groupset, the two wires from the Vuka Shift extensions to the brake levers route externally behind the risers and into the base bar.
Perhaps more disappointingly is the shift from the mono-riser setup found on the triathlon Speedmax to the more traditional twin riser setup on the UCI legal bike. The mono-riser configuration is presumably slightly more aerodynamic and offers much easier height adjustment for the elbow rest. The triathlon-specific bars also feature two-bolt adjustable reach and angle for the extensions, a system we like.
Again, Canyon designers most likely had their hands forced on this decision. Even with the relaxed UCI regulations, the spacers under the mono-riser at 90mm x 25mm would fail a UCI 3:1 aspect ratio inspection. Nevertheless, we wish Canyon had developed a UCI legal version of its mono-riser setup and instead of opting for what appears to be a slightly updated version of its H33 base bar.
Canyon has equipped the CFR TT disc with unquestionably fast and uber desirable Zipp Super 9 rear disc and front 808 Firecrest tubeless-ready wheels. I like this decision which is a change from the norm with many TT bikes delivered with mid-deep depth wheels, which do offer more versatility but usually get swapped out for a rear disc by most serious time trialists.
The decision to equip the bike with a true time trial wheel setup makes more sense here, given that many potential customers will be making the leap from rim brake TT bikes to disc brake rigs for the first time.
Those wheels get wrapped with the ever-popular Continental GP5000 tyres. Another solid choice, but perhaps surprisingly not the tubeless option.
A SRAM Red Etap AXS 12 speed groupset takes care of shifting and braking. Anyone who has ever built or serviced a time trial bike will undoubtedly be delighted to see the wireless setup as the only option.
However, marginal gains and time trial aficionados may be less pleased given the comparatively small 50t chainring and ten tooth sprockets, which can’t match the efficiency gains of a much larger chainring. We often see time trial riders now opt for 58tooth chainrings, which in turn means using larger sprockets on the rear for a double whammy of decreased articulation and increased drivetrain efficiency.
Although SRAM now offers larger chainring combinations right up to a 56, it’s not just as cheap or straightforward as swapping out a standard chainring. The rings equipped as standard on the CFR TT disc and the larger options from SRAM both include the built-in power meter, so unless you can find a shop willing to swap, this likely means a costly upgrade to an already costly component. Also, don’t forget to factor in a front derailleur as the larger chainrings are currently only offered as a 2x setup.
The marginal gainers will be pleased by the rear derailleur, though, as the bike gets a Ceramic Speed OSPW as standard, one less aftermarket upgrade to contemplate.
Does triathlon now own time trialling?
All in all, the new Canyon CFR TT looks like one seriously fast bike that I’d enjoy tackling a few time trials aboard, but it does seem very much a little sibling to the triathlon-specific bike. Again I want to stress: I don’t see that as a fault of Canyon’s, rather a knock-on effect of the stringent UCI regulations.
It seems to me that the UCI rules are so restrictive compared to what is achievable with a modern TT/Tri bike it is now to the detriment of time trialling. Is cycling losing the time trialling discipline to triathlon?
Major brands like Canyon appear to be focusing their aero development on triathlon ready frames that can be adapted to meet UCI rules for pro teams at the expense of outright speed and technological advancement. Is triathlon now the Formula 1, with road time trial bikes the general public’s road-going car with some trickle-down technology? Certainly feels like it.
Should we need any further convincing, we need only look at the similarities of the new high-end CFR TT Disc to the triathlon ready mid-range Speedmax CF 8, which is effectively the same bike minus that integrated fork and head tube.
The new Canyon Speedmax CFR TT Disc is now available in three sizes from small to large at Canyon.com
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