Canyon Ultimate V

This post post started as a sort of sanity check. I was reading about the new ultimate and was like: is that all? I have Canyon in high regard, although with the DT Swiss LN wheels they are nagging at that regard. They make good products (I ride 2 of their bikes) and seem like a company where the Engineering dept. is valued.

The changes of the Ultimate mk 5 vs mk 4 I found:

  • More aero 10W at 45kmh, 5W with a rider on the bike
  • Heavier/increased stiffness/more durable/more impact resistant
  • Clearance from 30 to 32mm
  • D-shaped seattube
  • Hidden cabling
  • New cockpit (only saves a couple of watts or so, I’ve read)
  • Seatpost binder better protected

Overall these changes seem very small. The bike is probably a bit sturdier, takes a tad wider tires and the looks have been enhanced. What intrigues me is the improvement in aerodynamics. The 10W enhancement that boiles down to 5 W rider included especially. Why in the first place would a manufacturer state anything without a rider? These pills cure cancer, well on our animals in testing trials. People get marginally better from them.

The 5W real world gain was achieved by some frame tweaking, hidden cabling, the new cockpit and a D-shaped seattube. How much of this is done by each individual part is not stated, but it must be small. In this light the move to a proprietary seatpost seems mind boggling.

And what are the gains for integrated cabling in general? I’ve heard a couple of times that loose cabling offers a disadvantage aerodynamically, but again here it seems very small. Because Canyon compares the mk 5 to a mk 4 it might be that they only compare 2 cables vs integrated. And I know further Canyon has tight cable bends vs some other manufacturers. It might be that 4 loosely routed cables have an appreciable aero disadvantage vs fully integrated. Has anyone seen any data directly comparing integrated cabling vs not?

The new cockpit is a bit more aero but the biggest thing in my mind is more adjustable. Being able to adjust the riders position can lead to substantially bigger aero gains or a nicer ride. And it’s good for the wallet/environment.

This certainly is nog meant as a rant against Canyon. It might be more of a realisation that improvements are hard to get. In defense of Canyon it’s good that they stated the aero gains and context. Now at least we know more. And on the other hand it says that the mk 4 was already a very good bike.

I personally found it refreshingly honest from a bike manufacturer; finally none of the 40% this and 10% that. It makes me appreciate Canyon more tbh.

Kind of puts the normal marketing cr*p in perspective right?

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I think you hit the nail on the head. There are not many aero gains from “upgrade” to “upgrade”. The biggest aero-upgrade is you and your body position on the bike. Save money and start streching more to ride more comfortably in a more aero position.

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Yep, the fifth-gen version definitely feels like an incremental gain over the fourth-gen model, and certainly not enough to justify buying the new one if you already have the current model. The draw would be stronger if you’re coming from a substantially older bike, but otherwise, it’s definitely not a sea change, which is perfectly ok.

In the grander scheme of things, I think that although you’re only talking about the Ultimate here, the issues apply to the road bike landscape in general. The fact of the matter is that road bikes have been exceptionally good for a really, really long time, and it’s hard to make them appreciably better than they already are.

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It also means that if the top end is staying in place, the mid and lower end are getting better and better relatively speaking. Unfortunately, prices are increasing far faster than any gains in performance OR quality.

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