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  • Journal
    Bicycles
    03.11.14

    Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

    A detailed inspection of the Movistar rider's aero road bike

    Words
    Timothy John
    Photographs
    Timothy John
Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

Dowsett received his Aeroad CF SLX the day before the Tour de Suisse. One of the first of the new model to leave Koblenz, it served briefly as the Movistar rider’s training bike (“It was quite novel travelling to races with a bike,” he remembers), but gained its first outing in a competitive fixture: a minor event called the Tour de Suisse. “The first ride on this was at the Tour of Switzerland. I hit 118kph on it in one of the passes. I was very confident in it. I was at home on it straight away.”

Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

Heavily sculpted tube profiles are the calling card of any road bike with pretensions to superior aerodynamics, and the Aeroad CF SLX, as the name suggests, is one whose chassis has been subjected to numerous windtunnel tests by engineers Wolfgang Kohl and Michael Adomeit. Their conclusion - that aerodynamic optimisation offers the greatest performance advantage, trumping even reductions in weight at all but the lowest speeds (typically recorded on the steepest gradients) - informs the Trident 2.0 profiles.

Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

The integrated ‘Aerocockpit CF’ - one that combines stem and bar into a single unit - is another aerodynamic showpiece launched at the public unveiling of the Aeroad CF SLX in Leeds, days before the launch of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. Eagle-eyed observers would have seen it at the Swiss national tour, however, where Dowsett rode it for the first time. “The handlebars are phenomenal,” he told Rouleur. “If I had any kind of sprint, it would improve it ten-fold. I’m thoroughly impressed.” He’s been using the 42cm bar pictured, but next season expects to roll out with a custom-made 39cm bar.

Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

Dowsett was among the first to receive Canyon's new Aeroad CF SLX, a testament, perhaps, to the value of his feedback. While at Team Sky, he tested Shimano's Dura-Ace 9000 groupset, and engineers at Canyon clearly value his opinion. "I'm mechanically minded," he told Rouleur. "I like understanding how it all goes together - perhaps they appreciate that. I haven’t really had a bad thing to say about any of the things I’ve tested - maybe that’s the feedback they like!"

Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

Canyon supplies two UCI WorldTour teams - Katusha and Movistar - and while the Russian squad’s alliance with Shimano has presented no issues with the direct mounting of front and rear brake calipers, for the Campagnolo-equipped Movistar, the design has resulted in the slight embarrassment of deploying un-stickered Dura-Ace units. There is an irony to their appearance on Dowsett’s machine: while at Team Sky, the Essex-rider was one of the riders chosen to use Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 in its development phase.

Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

The first sign of winter can be found in Dowsett’s wheel selection: the comparatively unsophisticated (everything is relative) Campagnolo Eurus: an aluminium rim, shod here with Continental Grand Prix 4000S rubber in a 23mm profile. During the season, his Aeroad CF SLX is more likely to be found rolling on the Vicenza firm’s carbon Bora Ultra hoop, in 80mm, 50mm or 35mm depths, as conditions dictate.

Pro tools: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Aeroad CF SLX

Dowsett has been an early-adopter of new technologies, and as a champion time triallist (Commonwealth Games gold and British 10-mile record added this year to a palmarès that already included three British titles), it’s little surprise to see him using Catlike’s Mixino VD2.0, even for a comparative ‘stroll’ around Richmond Park on a rideout with the public. “Trying to get the Spaniards to adapt to new ways isn’t the easiest of things,” he smiles. “Pablo Lastras won’t use the filled in helmet - he’ll put a cloth cap on beneath a ventilated helmet.”

A new bike can take some getting used to, unless, that is, you’re a professional cyclist riding in cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour, your employer is Movistar, and your name is Alex Dowsett. In that case, feel free to ride your new machine for the first time at the Tour de Suisse and to descend at speeds peaking at 118kph.

Dowsett smiles at the memory of the not-so-gentle introduction afforded to his Canyon Aeroad CF SLX, the latest machine from the Koblenz-based supplier to Movistar and Katusha, and an offering billed unashamedly as “a bike for the WorldTour”. Having recorded world number one status in the three previous seasons with Philippe Gilbert (2011) and Joaquim Rodriguez (2012, 2013), Canyon combined the strongest facets of its Ultimate CF ‘climbing’ bike and Speedmax CF time trial bike in a bid to top the table for a fourth consecutive season.

It would be churlish to point out that the goal was achieved with their lightweight climbing machine rather than the new aero-profiled road bike. A win’s a win, as they say, and a climber as adept as Dowsett’s Movistar team-mate, Alejandro Valverde, was never likely to choose the heavier, if more aero efficient option.

Not so Dowsett, who displayed the new bike to best advantage on home roads with a brilliant ride into yellow on stage six of the Tour of Britain, two days after being thwarted by a double puncture on what had given every appearance of a stage-winning ride. His aggression in Britain’s national tour earned him the greatest prize in cycle sport: the Rouleur Combativity Award...

The Commonwealth Games time trial champion recently rolled out in Richmond Park with guests invited by YourBikeTravel.com, so while Dowsett snatched a coffee between signing autographs and posing for photographs, we wheeled away the aforesaid steed - now relegated permanently to the status of training bike - to capture these images.

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