Tarmac SL7 S-Works vs Canyon Ultimate CFR

Please help me choose my first road bike from these two options. Here are some considerations.

  1. For the Tarmac to be affordable and comparable, I would use my current wheels (Zipp 303 Firecrest).

  2. I live up in the mountains and most of my riding is climbing. However I do have a couple of “flat” routes I like a lot (70 miles with 4000ft climbing)

  3. The Tarmac seems to be the best all around bike. Great reviews and user experience. It also seems quite balanced between light and aero.

  4. The canyon seems like great value. Just the wheels and the drivetrain are 8k. It’s also significantly lighter. I think more than 1 pound. Perfect climbing bike.

I’m really torn on this one. Value vs Name, Weight vs Aero.

I appreciate any insights

Can’t go wrong! Those two are on my short list as well. If you have a great mobile mechanic, it might help with buying the Canyon sans shop. I’m leaning toward the Canyon due to price and the possibility that the SL8 will be out in a year.

And don’t tell Annemiek and MVDP they’re riding “value” bikes. :wink:


Here’s the geometry comparison:

Here’s a pic of the Canyon:

Love those wheels :heart_eyes:


I don’t think you can go wrong with either but fwiw, I was recently in a similar dilemma and couldn’t be happier about my choice to go with the Ultimate. For me, I couldn’t overlook the value as most of the comparable alternatives were ~$2K more expensive and I really appreciate what Canyon has done for our local cycling scene in San Diego, and in particular their support of a couple close friends that are washed up BMX racers. Nevertheless, amongst my circle of friends, the Ultimate and SL7 are the two most popular bikes and I can’t say there’s any real discernable difference between them. Also worth noting is the Canyon online buying experience couldn’t have been easier and I returned the first bike I got because it was too big.


Interesting, so the trade offs between climb vs aero cancel each other simetrically ?. How about feel of handling?. Is one more “nervous” than the other?

One thing I don’t like about the Ultimate is that I can’t choose the gearing. I’d prefer something like a compact, it allows me to do z2 in the climbs.

I really like the color of your bike BTW. :metal:t3:

Another issue at the moment is that you can’t pick handlebar length…

I have an S-Works and it’s a great race bike; super responsive feeling (moreso than the Cervelo S5 I had) and nimble without feeling twitchy. Ugh, that sounds like every bad bike review. It’s probably overall faster the Canyon, as it’s more aero, but that different might be so marginal as to be non-existent.

What’s the Canyon BB standard? Aesthetically, which do you like better? I’m not crazy about the way the seats stays on the Canyon join up to the top tube, but maybe you love that.

Oh, when I got mine, I didn’t have the Roval Rapide CLX wheels. Got them later and they’re amazing. Very, very fast setup overall.

I’ve spent very little time on the SL7 so can’t say for sure but it’s not like one bike clearly outperforms the other. Heck, look at the World Tour, Specialized and Canyon are the two most popular brands and both get their share of wins. Canyon does have an aero and a climbing bike and on the teams that allow the riders to choose, many of them go with the Ultimate, especially in the mountain stages. Just look at the podium from La Vuelta: Remco SL7 :1st_place_medal: & Mas Ultimate :2nd_place_medal:.

Again, can’t comment on a direct comparison but the Ultimate is definitely “twitchier” than my Madone which took a little getting used to but now with a little more than 1000 miles on the bike, I don’t even think about it. Worth mentioning is the compliance on the Ultimate is excellent; I can feel a slight bit of flex in the seat post which is really nice but the power delivery is excellent and my best adjective for the bike is it’s “snappy.”

Mine came with 12s Ultegra - mid-compact in front and 11-30 in back that I swapped for an 11-34 which allows me to do Z2 on climbs up to ~9%.

Thank you! It looks even better in person and I’ve never received so many compliments for anything cycling related…

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I’ve heard you can specify a different stem length and handlebar width at time of ordering the Canyon

I have a 2021 Ultimate and 2021 Aeroad. Both are aboslutely trouble free brilliant bikes. Almost the same geometry but ride very differently. The Ultimate is more responsive at lower speed and surprisingly a slightly harsher ride due to the DT Swiss wheelset.

If you made me choose only one it would be the Aeroad. It is only 250 grams heavier and an absolute weapon on the flats and perfectly fine on the climbs. You could swap out the cassette to get the gearing you need; use the factory one on your trainer. I believe the current offering from Canyon has a 48/35 chainring. Also the handlebar width can be adjusted and the stem height adjusted without cutting.

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Not exactly Ultimate but i rode Endurace CF SLX for 3 years and it was really a good value for the money. There were some chronic issues on Aeroad on seatpost and cockpit but i don’t know if these things are addressed now. you can search on youtube. Also I was rejected by couple of bike shops here in Germany just because Canyon’s direct marketing model. Not a big issue but i had to be able to do some simple maintenance.

I also have an SL7 tarmac, I always thought how crazy man must be to pay such a price to a bike. Then one day i visited a shop having exactly my size. I still agree that this is unreasonably expensive but it feels really great to ride it.

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I’ve asked in the Canyon chat a few days before release.

This was possible until last winter or so.
Right now the answer is that you need to buy one separately.

Cycling tips however mentioned that Canyon promised a return to customisation.

Tbh I really can’t see how people can spend >6k and have no option on stem at least.
They’re losing out on many customers I take, which I mean is fine for them as long as they have very few bikes in their inventory.


One factor that can decide it for me is if one bike inspires more confidence in fast descends than the other.

I would love to have 1-1 highest gear ratio (33-33)

I can stomach the stem but chainrings and cassette?….too much of an ask.

With the shallow DT Swiss wheels (27mm?) that came on the bike, it was bombs away on the descents. I remember telling my son after my first ride that riding the bike downhill was so fun it was like sitting in the front row of a rollercoaster. However, when I added the deep section wheels (44F 54R), a modest crosswind is definitely felt and can be a bit sketchy. The one downside to the bike that I can think of.

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Bottom bracket: SRAM Pressfit RED DUB

A tie, but I like the fact that you don’t see those wheels in the Canyon in the streets

How’s the descending with those deep wheels? I think I will pick the one that feels better in this area.

This is a very important factor indeed.

Jean-Paul Ballard said in an interview, they made weight vs aero calculations for different terrains. The result was, that aero ist almost always better than less weight (like if you compare Aeroad vs Ultimate) – unless it’s an uphill finish.
Maybe that’s why almost only Aeroads were seen during Tour de France (only Movistar went with the new Ultimate).
Best Aero perfomance has the Aeroad.
Tomorrow the Tour magazin will release the Ultimate wind channel test results.

I guess right now, we‘d have to buy what’s in stock. (In Germany: none of the bikes)

You’re right that aero almost always wins. Given that WorldTour teams have access to very light parts and that WT riders generally ride smaller frames, aero bike builds can also be done at or very near the UCI weight limit, perhaps eliminating any benefit at all of the lighter frames.

Movistar going with the Ultimate is such a Movistar thing to do.

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Aeroads were far more popular than Ultimates but Nairo and some of the other guys on Arkea would go back and forth between the two models. I heard an interview with Jay Vine where he said he would like the option of riding the Ultimate but Aplecin has decided the aero benefits of the Aeroad make it the only bike they use.

Personally, I thought the Aeroad was the bike I wanted but after test riding the Aeroad and Endurace in the Canyon NA parking lot, the Aeroad felt like an absolute weapon but a bit too aggressive for my taste, and the 3+ hour rides I like to do, while the Endurace felt too relaxed. In hindsight, I feel like I made the right decision going with the Ultimate and have no regrets but @rb250660 clearly has more experience with the two, so I found his comments pretty interesting.

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Not directly on point, but I was surprised in the Grand Tours this year how much the Jumbo Visma team were on their Cervelo S5s. The R5 was pretty much only used on the true mountain stages and does have some aero attributes. The difference between the Aeroroad and Ultimate is less stark than the S5 and R5.

I think the Tarmac SL7 vs CFR Ultimate choice really comes down to value and personal preference. The value difference is very pronounced with the top end groupsets.

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