Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review: one of the fastest and sharpest road bikes around

The Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 is an ultra-light carbon fibre road machine that doesn’t scrimp on the specs nor does it cost the earth

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review
(Image credit: Canyon)
T3 Verdict

A savagely fast race bike that pulls in some of the best components on the market but doesn’t command a savings-draining price tag. Canyon has created a stunningly lightweight speed machine with the Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0, though it could be too stiff for some.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    High performance

  • +

    Cutting-edge components

  • +

    Ridiculously light

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Extremely firm ride

  • -

    Aero cockpit gets annoying

  • -

    There are newer frames around

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The Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review in a sentence: a serious bike that's also serious value. I use the term in quite a relative way of course, because the Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 – one step above entry level in Canyon's road bike range – is not what you'd call cheap. You do get a lot for your money with this bike, however.

Just as well, as the mid-range carbon race machine market is positively heaving with excellent contenders these days. Big-name brands like Specialized, Bianchi, Merida and Kuota all offer very good, carbon fibre machines that are dripping with Shimano’s top-of-the-line shifting systems. However, very few come as seriously sharp and deliberately wind-tunnel-friendly as the Canyon Aeroad CF SL.

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Its frame might be a few years old now, but the latest Disc 8.0 version has arguably the best selection of components to date, with the 1700g Reynolds AR58 DB going the rest of the featherweight package justice, ensuring the end result tips the scales at just 7.83kg, making it one of the lightest bikes in this price bracket.

If it is a fast, direct and sometimes unforgiving ride you are looking for, this bike offers it by the bucketload. Although some may find its stiff carbon chassis a little uncomfortable on the backside, many more will appreciate the brilliantly efficient power transfer.

Canyon Aeroad CF SL: price and release date

• The Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 is on sale now.

• This model costs £3,049. It come in men's and women's versions and seven frame sizes.

• Browse the Canyon Aeroad CF SL range at Canyon, from £2,499

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0: the set up

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon’s frame looks sharp enough to slice fingers, its blunt tubes deliberately shaped to carve through the air as efficiently as possible. Its geometry is unashamedly sporting, with a compact rear triangle for excellent power transfer. 

Canyon’s integrated H36 Aerocockpit CF is also designed for maximum aero efficiency and features a flat top surface, as opposed to the rounded bars many are used to this. The has the obvious benefit of saving a few watts but it means there are fewer comfortable spaces to place the hands and you’ll require a special “out front” mount for your bike computer (£30-£40), because the typical rubber O-rings won’t wrap around the cockpit effectively.

Still, the overall package looks extremely neat, with very limited cabling flapping in the wind or looking messy. In fact, the top-down profile is about as clean as things come and it looks pretty special when viewed from the side, too.

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0: the kit

As previously mentioned, the finishing kit has been revised recently and the components offered here represent superb value. Shimano’s Ultegra Disc brakes are extremely powerful, with plenty of adjustability and control over stopping power. Similarly, the Ultegra mechanical gear shifting is as precise as you can get before opting for the motorised Di2 version. It’s so crisp, it sometimes makes you wonder if Di2 is really worth the additional outlay.   

The Selle Italia SLS saddle is predictably firm but offers all the support in the right areas. Saddles are a very personal thing, so this could be an area that’s swapped out by many customers, as there are definitely more comfortable units out there.

On thing that’s here to stay is the carbon fibre seat post, which likely plays a starring role in bringing overall weight down but it can be a bit of a faff to adjust and often requires torquing up slightly higher than the recommended levels. A slightly scary prospect but necessary if you don’t want any unwanted saddle slamming mid-ride. 

Canyon also offers its own special carbon fibre greasing paste in the well-presented delivery box, which is great for lubricating areas like the seat post to prevent that annoying carbon creaking that blights some bikes.

One small gripe with the bike straight out of the box surrounds some of the carbon finishing, which felt a tad shabby, especially around some of the holes drilled for the internal cabling. The test bike featured a couple of slightly frayed areas that, in a more expensive bike, would have been capped with rubber or plastic to neaten it up. 

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0: the ride

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon boasts a comprehensive bike measurement guide on its website and offers a really wide range of frame sizes (2XS to 2XL), which makes nabbing a sweet-fitting bike really simple. I’m a bit of a short-arse, so like to keep the frame small and extend the seat post out for a bit of additional suspension. In this respect, the Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 instantly felt comfortable to throw a leg over.

There’s a minor amount of adjustment available over the stem in the form of some small and rather cheap-feeling plastic spacers. These can be removed and stacked as you wish but feel surprisingly flimsy when off the bike. That said, there’s plenty of room and adjustability for bottle cages but those using a bike computer will need to get a devoted out-front mount due to the awkwardly-shaped aero bars.

The first thing to smack you out on the open road is the superb power transfer efficiency. Stamp on the pedals and the Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 positively flies, with almost zero flex felt through the frame. Surprisingly, it manages to be pretty forgiving on the bumpier surfaces too, soaking up the small imperfections without the horrible jarring some (particularly older) carbon bikes suffered from.

That said, this pointy machine will feel skittish to anyone coming off a more endurance or comfort orientated road bike. Everything is so stiff and focussed, it sometimes feels like it’s skipping across a surface. 

But the effortless speed offered by the set up is addictive. The 58mm x 19mm carbon front rim is paired with a deeper, wider rear rim that measures 62mm x 21mm. They offer that pleasing deep dish “whoosh” as you carry speed through the quiet country lanes and roll really nicely. It’s amazing how little power you need to put through the pedals to get this featherweight machine cruising. Step it up a notch, increase the workload and it’s an impressively rapid ride.

I’ll also admit to being one of those bores who find disc brakes a tad overkill but I was impressed with the control and adjustability of these Shimano units. I can imagine, in the wet, they offer that extra level of security on the fast declines that traditional rim brakes fail to do. Better still, Canyon offers proper quick release on its rims, rather than the annoying Hex key rivals, which makes the prospect of a flat slightly more palatable.

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0: the verdict 

Canyon Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0 review

(Image credit: Canyon)

Canyon has always represented good value and its high end Aeroad bikes feel very close to what the professional peloton would use on race day. On top of this, the specification of the CF SL Disc 8.0 feels excellent, making it a very appealing overall package. It’s clearly struck a chord with buyers, because there’s now a hefty waiting list for most frame sizes. That's testament to the build quality and price bracket. 

The only warning note I would send about this superb bike is that you should be aware it is quite uncompromisingly for speed and as such, probably not what most people would want as their everyday commuting ride. Unless the place you live has really excellent, fresh tarmac-coated roads, anyway.

Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. When he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing. He's also a man who knows his tools, and he's provided much of T3's drills coverage over the years, all without injuring himself.