Canyon have only recently started working on their women's specific frames.
The bikes are still in production, but in the mean time they specced out some of their unisex frames with female specific components to make them more comfortable for us to ride without expensive changes to components.
The existing women's bikes - both road and mountain bike - have narrower handlebars, women's saddles, shorter stems to cater for the shorter wingspan (arms) that Canyon's data says we have, and lower gearing.
TWC had the exciting opportunity to get our hands on the very bike that the Canyon//SRAM pro team ride - the Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 Di2 Women, and the Nerve AL 7.0 Women's MTB.
Up close: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 DI2 WMN
When the Canyon Ultimate first arrived at the office we were, admittedly, a tiny bit intimidated. Weighing a smidge over 6kg, it comes equipped with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 throughout, super light Mavic R-STS SLR WTS Exalith 2 wheels, and an H36 Aerocockpit developed in house by Canyon to offer an integrated handlebar and stem system.
- ULTIMATE CF SLX 9.0 DI2 WMN
- Dura Ace Groupset
- Canyon H36 Aerocockpit
- Mavic R-SYS SLR WTS Exalith 2 Wheelset
- Claimed weight: 6.3kg
- Price: £4,699
- Canyon Ultimate prices start from £1,349
The Ultimate has been in the Canyon stable for years, and it’s only seen small tweaks in its 2016 version. The emphasis has always been on low weight and impeccable handling – this is a racer's bike through and through – but it's also remarkably comfortable, a quality that often goes out the window with race pedigree.
For this year the frontal area has been made slighter, and an integrated seat clamp added to conserve a few extra watts - these changes total to a 14 per cent decrease in aerodynamic drag when compared to the previous design according to the manufacturers.
Canyon have also tried to make it a little bit more comfortable by lowering the seat post clamp into the frame - this increases the amount of flex available to dampen out the bumps in the road, and therefore improves compliance.
The Di2 system also comes with added sprinters buttons on the drops, designed to aid quick shifting in the heat of the moment and a great touch that racers with ambition will love. However, in a nod to practicality, we also notice that Canyon have lovingly added splash guards to the front derailleur cable exits, to prevent debris from the great British roads dampening the shifting.
Rolling the bike out the front door I felt a little spike of excitement, a little pinch of nervousness and mostly exhilaration. At £4.6k, this I’ll admit is the most expensive bicycle I’ve ever ridden. You see, it’s not so often that bicycle manufactures go out of their way to make women’s bikes to this level of spec – let alone look to market them via reviews.
The bike and I travel down my road to the country lanes of Surrey, I hold my breath waiting for the first climb – this bike is as light as a feather and I know it’s going to feel excellent. My suspicions are confirmed as the road ramps up - climbing is this machine's speciality and the blend between low weight and power delivery is excellent.
Whooshing around an upcoming bend we drive around the corner – the flightiness and willingness to work with me are all there. This bike follows the line you ask it to and moves with you exactly as you want it to.
Comfort isn't number one on the list of offerings from the Ultimate - I can feel the bumps in the road keenly, but not so much so that I'd want to swap the immaculate handling or powerful forward propulsion for a little more dampening.
With its space age handlebars and integrated seat post, I was concerned making adjustments might be difficult – but Canyon supply all bikes with a selection of spacers that can lower the saddle to bar drop, and raising the seat post is as simple as a twiddle with an Allen key in the space just above the rear (Dura Ace) brake caliper.
Of course, not everyone has over £4,000 to spend on a bike, and Canyon recognise that. Models start at £1,349, and the first women's version is available with a full Ultegra groupset, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and a claimed weight of 7kg for £1,849, that's a pretty incredible deal you won't find easily elsewhere.
Up Close: Canyon Nerve AL 7.0 WMN
Whenever a company markets a mountain bike as the "ultimate all-round performer", we're always a little hesitant. It's a very bold claim to make. A bike that can climb efficiently and comfortably, while being able to tackle steep technical descents... that's a tall order.
Instead of producing an entirely separate range of women's bikes, currently Canyon bridge the gap between gender specific and unisex models. They do this by taking a model, and making the necessary adjustments to the set-up to suit male and female riders alike. Although Canyon doesn't offer gender frame geometry options currently, this is something that is in development.
The men's Nerve model is available with two front travel options, and two wheel size options, whilst the women's Nerve is only available with 120mm front travel and a 27.5" wheel size. Another difference is of course the saddle. The women's model is equipped with a Selle Italia X1 Lady Flow for additional comfort.
- Canyon Nerve AL 7.0 WMN
- Fox 32 Forks 120mm
- Shimano SLX group set
- 3 x 10 Drive train
- Weight: 12.3Kg
- Price: £1549
- Nerve WMN prices start £1199
Equipped with a Fox suspension set-up, Shimano SLX group-set, DT Swiss wheels, and a 3 x 10 drive train, the Canyon Nerve AL 7.0 certainly has all the makings for an all-mountain trail steed.
Canyon have forgone the luxury dropper post, in favour for a remote rear shock. This enables the rider to stiffen and soften the rear end via a cabled remote on the cockpit.
With a shiny SLX cockput on a full matt black stealth bike, I couldn't wait to get out on the trails and give this beauty a blast.
Venturing off into the heart of the Welsh countryside where the valleys give way to steep, rocky, and exciting mountain trails, I took the Canyon Nerve on her maiden voyage.
In typical Welsh weather style, myself and the Nerve were hammered with rain, wind and even hail, but that didn't stop us from tackling a 18Km technical trail that surely pushed the Nerve to its potential.
First and foremost, this is an exceptionally good looking bike. Matt black with blacked out components has the Nerve looking stealth. Although, this stealth mountain assassin of a bike has some exquisite and subtle features as both wheel hubs and headset are finished in a polished rose gold colour.
The handling of the Nerve was smooth and controlled, the geometry of the bike was comfortable to ride. With a head tube angle of 69.5 degree, it doesn't have the same aggression as you would find on a more enduro bike, but it's slack enough to not feel awkward on the downhill sections.
With a Shimano SLX group-set, I felt confident indexing smoothly through the gears, and in control with the braking system. The bike as a whole responded how I wanted it to, gliding around the berms and sailing up the climbs. The Selle Italia women's saddle was comfortable for the duration of the ride, a relief to find a non-standard-factory saddle as most bikes come equipped with.
Any changes I would make to this bike would be purely down to my style of riding and comfort, but even then, changes would be minimal because this bike really has it all. With prices starting at £1199, and a number of build options to choose from, the Nerve range is ideal for XC and all-mountain riders, especially riders who are getting into the sport and looking for a reliable, affordable and good looking bike.