I have never enjoyed road cycling. Yes, I did just say that and, yes, I know which magazine I work for. I should probably amend that statement to ‘I never enjoyed road cycling… until I got my Canyon Aeroad.’
Up until that point, I’d only ever been uncomfortable on a road bike, rattling about all over the place on something that was supposed to be fast but made me feel incredibly slow.
But when I started track racing, it involved going out on training rides with teammates who actually knew what they were doing, and bloody hell were they fast. My trusty old gravel/commuter bike couldn’t keep up and I needed all the help I could get.
What We Ride is our occasional feature showcasing the bikes Cyclist staff ride day-to-day, including custom builds, long-term testbeds, commuters, and more.
My battle-scarred Canyon Aeroad
Enter the Canyon Aeroad. Through various connections, I knew someone who had a damaged ex-team frame for sale which they offered me at a very kind price. This frame had been through the wars, with extensive damage to the chainstays and seatstays from what I think was a snapped derailleur.
Fortunately, the seller was friendly with a guy renowned for his excellent carbon repair work, he got it fixed and then sold it to me.
Given that money wasn’t flowing at the time, I originally specc’ed this bike with a 105 hydraulic groupset – sturdy, reliable, not extortionately expensive.
But the Aeroad had decided it had quite enjoyed life as a broken bike, during which time it developed some of the most irritating creaking I’ve ever heard. Thinking it was a write-off, I sold the groupset, bit the bullet and bought a whole bike from an online retailer. It came with the newly released Ultegra 12-speed Di2, so I wasn’t complaining too much, but in the end that bike never ended up leaving the house.
The Aeroad returns
Resurgent, like Christ from the cross or Doctor Who, the Aeroad came back to life. Long story short, it was repaired again, the 12-speed groupset was transferred across, et voil?.
To say that the bike feels fast is an understatement. It feels stiff and nippy and really takes off when I’m putting power down out of the saddle.
My friend was kind enough to include the fork and some Canyon one-piece bars when I purchased the frame, which I wrapped with Supacaz bar tape because it was what I had in the cupboard.
In hindsight, I underestimated my reach when asking for the 90mm stem version and occasionally feel like a curled-up prawn on longer rides, so that might get changed in time.
The wheels are Hope RD40s. With a Hope hub on my gravel bike, these were an obvious choice, and the carbon rims aren’t too deep to be impractical.
With my mechanic’s hat on, the hubs are beautifully serviceable, and I am a firm believer in investing in products that I know will last.
The tyres are Grand Prix 4 Seasons and were gifted to me, second-hand, by a customer that decided he wanted to go tubeless.
I love tubeless for off-road riding, but London has too much road debris for my liking and I frankly couldn’t be arsed with the hassle.
They’re grippy, have decent puncture protection and don’t feel sluggish. Win, win, win.
Clich?d as it is now to say, but my Specialized Mimic Power saddle is phenomenal. It doesn’t hurt after hours on the bike (except for when my bibs are drenched and then it’s almost inevitable) and I like it. It’s as simple as that.
Making an aero bike (slightly) more practical
I started road riding as training for track cycling, so when I was looking to buy a power meter, I wanted something that I could easily swap from bike to bike. I hadn’t heard much about Favero at the time, but the Assioma power pedals were highly recommended by a friend.
I especially like that you can purchase the one-sided set and then upgrade that to dual-sided in the future without having to duplicate what you already have. I’m sure it’s just a smart marketing move on their side, but it feels more user-friendly and less wasteful.
I’m sure many people will be weeping at these images, but I did put mudguards (fenders) on my aero bike and I won’t apologise for it. Like a lot of people, I can only afford to own one fancy bike.
I go on group rides and don’t want to be that person causing their friends to literally eat dirt. So the bike has been bedecked with SKS Raceblade mudguards and they work a treat.
All in all, it’s a stunner and I do not feel worthy of riding or owning it, but maybe that’s part of the magic of it. Every time I ride it, it feels exciting and I love the bike more so for it.
Charlotte’s Canyon Aeroad custom build spec
Canyon Aeroad CF SL
Canyon Aeroad fork
Shimano Ultegra 12-speed Di2 R8170
Shimano Ultegra R8170 disc brakes
Hope RD40 RS4 carbon clincher disc wheelset
Continental Grand Prix 4 season tyres 700x28c
Canyon CP10 integrated cockpit
Canyon Aeroad seatpost
Specialized Mimic Comp Power saddle 168mm
Favero Assioma UNO power meter pedals
SKS Raceblade Pro clip-on mudguards
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Photos: Honor Elliott