Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0

Today I’m going to try to convince you which Speedmax to buy.

I wrote, some weeks back, about Canyon’s Speedmax CF 7.0. This was a great value at $2,600. But I’m going to write about a better value (for many of you) that Canyon offers. It’s the CF 8.0, and Canyon has quite a few configurations of the Speedmax but let me tell you why this is the most bike for your money, if you're my target reader today (and it'll become apparent if you are).

This particular bike delivers two things that the 7.0 doesn’t: Zipp Firecrest wheels, really great wheels, an 808 in the rear and a 404 in the front. Shop around. When you’re done, you’ll discover that replacing the wheels on the CF 7.0, assuming you could get a credit back for them, applying the credit to the Firecrests, you’ll spend an extra $2100 at least. So that takes you up to $4,700 from the base price $2,600 that the CF 7.0 would cost you.

The next big difference – and the most important difference, for you – is moving from mechanical to electronic. When I look at the difference between late-model 105 mechanical to Ultegra electronic, that upgrade should be about $1,000. About $650 of that is just mechanical to electronic (you’re only changing shifters and derailleurs, and adding a junction box and some wires); and then I’m saying maybe a $350 upgrade from 105 to Ultegra (which also includes cranks, cassette, brake calipers, chain).

Then there are some smaller differences, such as the Conti versus Mavic tires, but I won’t count any of this. The 8.0 is, so far, a marginally better value. It’s a fair-priced bike, maybe a couple of hundred more than fair, when comparing to the 7.0.

You save yet more money buy just getting this bike with its upgrades as OE equipment, because you don’t have to buy a second set of wheels, rendering the first set superfluous and, while nice to have on paper, you’re really not going to ride these superfluous wheels. You’ll spend all your time on the Zipps because they’re bulletproof and because you’ll need to know what those wheels feel like in whatever race weather and conditions you encounter.

None of this is the real value of this particular Speedmax build. Yes, the wheels are terrific to have, but the big value is in the electronic shifting, because of the nature of this bike; because of the nature of this sales platform; and because of you.

I know you. I know what you can and can’t do. Check that. I know what you will and won’t do. And one thing you won’t do is shorten the cable and housing to its proper length. This is why you need an electronic bike in general, and why you really need it if you’re buying it directly from the manufacturer.

Electronic Shifting and the Speedmax

There are three reasons you want your Speedmax to be electronically shifted. And, look, see below? I took the bike out of the box, got rid of the reflectors, took off the plastic cassette guard, put the wheels on, plugged the Di2 wire into the RD, put the saddle in, and got it basically rideable, in 20 minutes. This bike is easy. Here it is after 20 minutes of ownership, from the time I began to tear into the box.

However, we’ve gotten just to the point where you need to make your bike your bike, meaning, it is now time to position yourself appropriately aboard the bike. This means the right number of pedestals under the pads. The right extension length. The right fore/aft placement of the pads on the pad brackets.

Pad fore/aft on these Profile Design Subsonics? Easily done. Plenty of adjustment. Pad height on the Subsonics? Again. Easy. And for the great, great majority of you, you won’t need to remover that head tube “extender” that brings the armrests up a few centimeters, and that’s because: 1) the bike is already sort of a long and low geometry if you remove that piece; and 2) that aerobar, the Subsonic, aids and abets lowness. The bike is easy. Easy peasy. That’s how easy.

That said, on this bike with these aerobars you will almost certainly need to pull the aerobar extensions out of their holders, cut them shorter, and replace them. Again, this is very easy. You can do this with a tubing cutter. Which is best, because then you don’t have to get the wire out of the way. But you can also just cut the darned things with a hacksaw, or a Sawzall. Just, cut them you will. Unless you’re an orangutan.

Here’s what this means: You’ll need to decable the bike. Pull the shift cables and housing out of the derailleurs, and up through the inside of the frame. Pull the shift cables out of the bar-end shifters. Cut the aerobar extensions to suit. Put them back in the aerobars. So far, so good. I can have that all done in 10 minutes.

But then I must reroute the housing and shift cables. Not quite so straightforward. Plus, I promise you, you’ll play hell trying to do this with the shift cables that came with the bike. Start with a fresh rear cable at least 2000mm long (you can repurpose the rear cable for the front derailleur). This rerouting is what’s going to take some time and a little skill. Except…!

If your bike has electronic shifting! Because, if it does, then the “shift cable” doesn’t run from the shifter to the RD and FD. It only runs to the junction box (the thing in the pic above), which sits inside the top tube storage. All you have to do is pull the two bar-end shift cables out of the junction box, pull out the aerobar extensions, cut them to length with a tubing cutter ($20 at Harbor Freight or Home Depot), stick them back in, lay your arms on them, if they’re not the right length pull them out and cut a little more off, and when they’re right then push the wire back toward the junction box, plug it back in, gather any excess wire in the junction box, you’re done.

That whole process of cutting your extensions to size, that’s another 10min job. But only if your bike is electronically shifted. This is why this version of the Speedmax, if you can pop $5,500, will in the long run save you grief, money, time.

What about an electronically shifted Speedmax that sells for, say, $3,600 or $3,800, without the fancy wheels? Great idea. But Canyon doesn’t sell that. It does sell a bike for the high-$4,000s with electronic shifting and Reynolds race wheels instead of Zipps. That’s a defensible option.

I said there are 3 reasons you want this bike to be electronically shifted. First is the aerobar. You will certainly need to shorten the extensions. I love this aerobar! And I love it on this bike. But you will have to shorten the extensions which means you will need to decable the bike. Second is the frame itself. I wouldn’t mind decabling the bike to shorten the extensions if the cables ran externally. Or, if they did what few bikes do, and you pushed the cable in the front of the bike and it popped out the back.

My third reason is the sales channel. I remember that Felt, every year, took pride in it’s sub-$5000 electronically shifted tri bike. No one else offered that. But a lot of corners had to be cut. Here you have a $5,500 tri bike and if you just take off the wheels, the entire rest of the bike sells for about $3,000. How? Because of the sales channel. No middleman. But the flip side of no middleman is that you are the middleman. You get to shorten the extensions. You get to reroute cables. Unless you want to take this bike to a mechanic, you need this bike to be ride-ready easily, quickly.

Then there's the 4th reason for electronic, which is not specific to this bike. It's impossible to drop a chain or miss a shift with a Shimano Di2 system.

Everything else about this bike is explained in my review of the Speedmax CF 7.0. You may read more about the Speedmax CF 8.0. Also, you know that our Reader Forum has a discussion thread solely devoted to helping you find the right size Speedmax, and how to configure out to match your fit coordinates perfectly; it's (as of this writing) 6 months old and already has north of 400 posts. This is separate from the Speedmax CF Owners Thread, which you'll also find helpful.