Canyon Speedmax CF 8 vs Ribble Ultra Tri: which is the best triathlon bike?

One costs twice as much as the other but is it twice as good? Which tri bike of the two is a better value for money?

Canyon Speedmax cf 8 vs Ribble Ultra tri
(Image credit: Canton/Ribble)

You might say this isn't a fair comparison, pitting the Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 against Ribble Ultra Tri, because although they are both excellent triathlon bikes, the base setup of the former costs twice as much as the latter. But as we all know, just because something is more expensive, that doesn't mean it's necessarily better, or more like as much better as the price would suggest.

After all, there is a reason why both tt bikes are on T3's best triathlon bikes roundup: they are the pinnacle of tri bike engineered and design. Both the Canyon and the Ribble performs amazingly in races and are a step up from road bikes, especially if you're happy to stay in aero position for more than five seconds.

How do they compare? Is the Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 worth the extra money or should you opt in for the cheaper Ribble Ultra Tri 105? 

Canyon Speedmax CF 8 vs Ribble Ultra Tri: price and availability

The Canyon Speedmax CF 8 is available to buy directly from Canyon, prices from £4,499.

There are at least 13 different versions of the Speedmax CF 8, including the beautiful Speedmax CF SLX DISC Kona LTD selling for £9,749.

The Ribble Ultra Tri is available to buy directly from Ribble, prices from £1,899.

There is a range of customisation options available which can bump up the price of the bike significantly, such as adding the Level RB88 PRO Carbon Clincher 700c wheelset to the mix.

Ribble Ultra Tri

(Image credit: Ribble)

Canyon Speedmax CF 8 vs Ribble Ultra Tri: frame and fork

The Canyon Speedmax sports a Canyon Speedmax CF DISC frame coupled with a Canyon FK0077 CF Disc fork. Both are 'aero optimised' and the fork has even been 'CT scanner tested and approved', according to Canyon. This is a carbon frame so get ready for some rigidness but in return, the Speedmax slices through the air like a knife in hot butter.

The Ribble Ultra Tri features a Toray T1000/T800 Full Carbon Monocoque frame and a Ultra Tri Full Carbon Fibre Monocoque fork. Same as above, the carbon lends stiffness to the bike while 'monocoque' is just a fancy word, really, and no one really understands what it really means. For some, a monocoque frame means it was built from one piece as opposed to fused together whereas in reality, monocoque refers to the part having a structural, kind of like a load-bearing skin.

The weight of the bikes are very similar with the Canyon being somewhat lighter (Canyon – 9.32 kg, Ribble – 9.95 kg).

The Canyon features a top tube snake, bottom bracket toolkit and integrated bento box. The former is a long, flexible storage bag that stores two CO2 cartridges, an adapter and a set of tyre levers to have all the tools you need to fix a flat tyre.

The Ribble also has plenty of storage options, including a rear storage bento box, a top tube nutrition bento box and a bar-mounted hydration system too. The location of these boxes makes the Ribble Ultra Tri a bit top-heavy, though.

Overall, the Canyon has the competitive edge here.

Canyon Speedmax cf 8

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon Speedmax CF 8 vs Ribble Ultra Tri: groupset

The Canyon Speedmax CF 8 has a Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset which includes Ultegra front and rear derailleurs, cassette and crank. The shift lever is the even more advanced Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 TT 2x11s while the bottom bracket is Shimano Pressfit BB72.

The Ultegra is Shimano's 'second best' groupset after the Dura Ace and represents amazing quality. The shifts between gears are buttery smooth with the front derailleur featuring a disc brake-optimised shorter cage design.

The Ribble Ultra Tri opted in for a Shimano 105 R7000 TT groupset which is slightly less impressive than the Ultegra but not a terrible choice either. Using the Shimano 105 is a great way to find the optimum balance price and performance which makes the Ribble Tri Ultra the better choice for beginners.

Ribble Ultra Tri

(Image credit: Ribble)

Canyon Speedmax CF 8 vs Ribble Ultra Tri: finishing kit

The Canyon TT bike features the not only beautiful but also triathlon-specific Fizik Mistica saddle on a Canyon SP0048 TT CF seatpost. The handlebar is Canyon's own Canyon H30 Basebar Flat CF design while the aluminium aero bar helps keeping the overall weight down. The cockpit is mounted on a Canyon V21 stem, designed specifically for our Speedmax CF range.

The Ribble Ultra Tri uses the 400 mm Ribble Ultra Tri Base Bar on top of a Ribble Ultra Tri Alloy stem with a Zipp Vuka Alumina Race aero extension. The seatpost is Ribble's won Ribble Ultra TT / Tri Carbon and the saddle is the not too shabby looking ISM PN 1.1.

The saddle has a softer padding making it more ideal (and certainly more comfortable) to ride on wearing thin, 'triathlon-style' shorts. Including a more comfortable saddle is in line with the ethos of the Ribble Ultra Tri: this bike doesn't want to sacrifice all the comfort for performance.

Canyon Speedmax cf 8

(Image credit: Canyon )

Canyon Speedmax CF 8 vs Ribble Ultra Tri: verdict

To no one's surprise, the more expensive Canyon caters for those who're after marginals gains more than comfort. The more premium components and the marginally lighter overall weight enables riders to shave off those crucial split seconds where they're needed the most.

On the other hand, the Ribble Ultra Tri is probably the perfect beginner tri bike: it's a great value-for-money bike, certainly in a good sense. None of its components are class leading but the combination of them will provide riders a proper tt bike experience, especially those who are upgrading from a cheaper road bike.

But coming back to the original question: is the Canyon Speedmax CF 8 worth twice the price? Knowing Canyon and the fast that I actually tried the Speedmax series before, I would argue that these bikes are worth every penny. Canyon might use premium components but they can keep the prices down by selling their bikes direct to customers.

Sure, someone who's only dabbling with triathlons shouldn't get the aforementioned Kona Edition for £10k but for those who take triathlon racing seriously – and there are more and more of these people – spending £4.5k on an excellent tri bike is not unreasonable. If you're a beginner, I would advice doping for a less pricey model first, though.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.