Review: Canyon Speedmax SLX and Speedmax CF
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 1, 2019
Over the past three years, riders aboard the Canyon Speedmax SLX have absolutely dominated the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Jan Frodeno took titles in 2015 and 2016, and Patrick Lange won in 2018 and 2017, improving on his 2016 second-place and setting a new World Record in Kona. ALL of these aboard the Speedmax SLX. Now, it's certainly unfair to attribute a win solely to a bike, but when high-profile athletes ride a particular frame, the riding public will always take notice. Even without these wins, the Speedmax has been one of the most highly-anticipated products that USA customers haven't been able to buy, until now. After years of delay, direct-to-consumer Canyon tri bikes are finally available to US customers, and athletes are excited. Is that attention deserved in this case? I'll say, even as the maker of a competing product the answer is without a doubt, yes. But why? Let's take a look.
The new Speedmax is the direct successor of the previous "Concept Speedmax," a bike I disliked for several reasons. First and foremost, its geometry was decidedly road-inspired, with a seatpost angle of about 74 degrees, and some heavily forward-offset seatposts to try to remedy that for the tri market. Moreover, the bulk of its features (and even its name) were quite certainly "inspired" (to put it mildly) by Trek's own Speed Concept. And where it did copy the Speed Concept, it didn't do a particularly noteworthy job.
The new Speedmax and Speedmax SLX are completely new animals. While the SLX still features a number of Trek-inspired integration, and truncated airfoils much like Trek's KVF (Kammtail Virtual Foil), Canyon is really blazing its own trail here. The new Speedmax and Speedmax SLX are their own breed of bike, and very much worth a look. In some cases, these new bikes compare favorably to the Speed Concept, most notably in its integrated hydration and storage options. In other cases it fares a little worse, in terms of aerobar fit and paint options. But if you've got the itch for a new ride, these bikes are well worth your consideration. We will get into all the details on the following pages. First, we'll look in detail at the higher-end SLX, and then move on to the lower-end Speedmax model. Hit the jump and let's get started!
The Speedmax SLX is an undeniably clean bike. It has smooth lines everywhere, no weird gimmicks, super clean cable routing, and great transitions from one part to the next. Its highly-integrated setup does pose some problems, especially at the aerobar, but it is an overall excellent ride. The newest versions of the bike have an updated front end which we reviewed in Kona last year. It's a bit of an aesthetic (and probably aerodynamic) upgrade, but still doesn't really address our concerns about fit.
The lower-end Speedmax is much like its bigger brother, but foregoes the integrated front-end and integrated brakes, keeping virtually everything else. It's a very high-value proposition. Unfortunately Canyon doesn't sell a bare frameset, but on the plus side the lowest-price build is just $2500, and easy to upgrade. Our final build is a fair bit MORE desirable than the SLX, at a much lower price point.
Mavic Comete Clinchers
Along with the HED Jet series, this might be the best set of rims on the market. A textured aluminum track provides braking power and modulation superior to ANY carbon rim, while offering aerodynamic performance equal or better to virtually anything else on the market.