2019 Ironman season on a Canyon!

After racing on my canyon wheels this year….thought I would share my experience…Lots of people have asked me about the Canyon… so here goes…

Choosing and buying
After racing in 2018 on my cube road bike + aero bars, I decided that I wanted to go a bit faster… and the obvious step was a TT bike. I boiled down my selection criteria to the elements that would give me speed:

1. Comfortable aero position possible
2. Good deep section carbon wheels
3. Ultegra level gears as a minimum.

Electronic shifting was ruled out – too expensive for no massive speed gain. I figured that it must come down in price as an aftermarket kit at some point and I would convert later.

After spending a few weeks surfing and window shopping a Canyon Speedmax CF with nice DT Swiss wheels, Ultegra Group-set and Profile Design bars was added to the basket.

I double checked my size using the online tool, also adding/removing a couple of cm from the numbers and I was consistently a medium.

Picture from Canyons website….

Total cost : 3049euro including 50euro delivery.

This was straightforward….. however the included toque tool was pretty much useless. I had my own park torque wrench (TW 5.2) which was necessary. The included assembly paste was fine, but having a tube of Fibre grip gel and grease makes some sense anyway.

Strangely the rear wheel came with a horrible looking plastic guard behind the cassette . To remove it I removed the cassette which required a chain whip and cassette tool. It could have been cut off, but this is a bit of a faff.

The annoying bit of plastic

If you have tools and confidence, self assembly is fine, otherwise get a mechanic.

Job Done…. on the turbo for sizing….

First rides
The first ride was terrifying! I headed out my house and downhill (-12%) to a local bicycle path…. at this point I realized that the drops were not remotely level…. descending on them meant my hands were slipping off the bars. I returned home to level everything off and repeat. I would also recommend a spirit level for the assembly toolkit.

After the first ride…. bars still in the sudden death configuration…

The rides over the first weeks gradually got more comfortable. The bike was undoubtedly fast, however riding in the aero bars took time to get used to. After a few rides, I added some extra spacers to bring the bars up around 40mm… this felt more stable.

My impression was of a very fast, nimble bike. I also did some big climbs and descents and found the bike fun to steer into the corners. I felt much more stable in the aero position while cornering, although this takes some commitment not to be close to the brakes

I also noticed that my existing helmet / sunglasses combo meant that I was constantly looking up and down, and adjusting… So I decided to change to a Giro Vanquish helmet with a visor… not full aero, but in the ballpark. I love this helmet… not having sun glasses is nice and you don’t notice the visor on its magnetic clamps.

Mushroom headed robo-cop
This time with level bars…..

During the season I dialed in my supplementary equipment… and settled on…

Pedals – Garmin Vector 3– So I can swap them to my road bike. (I have a Garmin 1030)
Bottle on the back – I had a mount with the Fizik Mistica saddle and added a standard cage with a X-Lab Aero Pouch 300 tool carrier. (This can be found cheaper than Amazon.)
Frame Bottle – Elite Crono CX Bottle
Between the bars X-Lab Torpedo Versa 500 – Carbon including Garmin mount.

So far I have only used Canyon service once. A bolt fell out of the saddle mechanism, and needed replacement.
I called Canyon, to get this express shipped before my next race in week. The operator told me no chance. I then published my experience on the Canyon facebook page… and magically someone sent the bolt by express courier. (70 euros for a bolt!!!!)
Unfortunately it arrived too late. In the meantime I had arranged for a small part to be machined and fixed the problem myself.
I would be cautious of buying a Canyon if you are dependent on fast service. I was fortunate enough to have access to a machine shop.

The missing bolt…

According to Strava I have cycled 2300km on the Canyon this year. This is about 30% of my total. I also completed a bike marathon in September on my road bike, so this ratio is about right.
It was very important for me to train on this bike… riding and holding Aero. I found holding power to be different than on a road bike. (My Road bike FTP = 300W, TT Bike in Aero FTP = 270W)
I also took on a coach this year, and aside from the bike fit (later described)…we focused on the following elements during the season.

1. Cadence – Lots of drills to ensure I held 90-100rpm
2. Back strength – Working to avoid lower back pain – lots of planks!
3. Core Strength – Working on improving the strength of my connection with the bike.
4. Endurance – long rides up to 5hrs… always followed by a run

All in all I found the Canyon to be a fine companion when training, however I did mostly avoid it when there was high winds… I did some rides in cross winds and was confident I could handle the bike. I found the stress of holding the bike straight offset any training focus.

One important lesson I learned early in the season, was to be careful of my ride timing as I don’t have lights on the TT bike… I managed to strand myself 100km from home and had to get rescued!

also check out my pain cave set-up for the indoor training.

First Race HIM St Pölten, Austria
This was my warm up race for the season… see the links above for details on the whole event.

Dawn on Transition

The bike handled well… and bombing up the Autobahn at 42kph was a joy for the first 25km… then through the villages and down to the Danube was fine.

When I reached the Danube, I got hit by variable cross winds… and I began to let my cadence drop. Almost on cue my lower back started to ache and I started sitting up… making the cross wind effect worse.

At the end of the cycle was a hill and I found that I got my mojo back on this, able to sit up and stretch. With hindsight I guess this then pushed my COG back over my knee in the power phase.

The flat section in the middle was about 10-20W down on power

The total bike time was 2 hrs 46 minutes, about 20 minutes slower than I estimated from my FTP… I think driven by my poor mid section performance in cross winds.

I did however enjoy the rest of the race, rolling in in 4:57, not bad for my first HIM. (I skipped the HIM step on the way to IM.)

Bike fit

I wish I had done this sooner!!! I only got the bike fit after some months of training and my first race done. It turns out that I had my saddle too low, cleats wrong, and my COG too far forward… making getting any real power an issue. My back was also bent resulting in the experienced pain.
After some adjustments, it immediately felt much more comfortable. Now when I ride the bike, dropping into the Aero position feels second nature, and the back pain has gone.
I still need to do some micro adjustments, and I will experiment with a more aggressive aero position, however comfort on the bike is not a limiter for me. Significantly more of the race can be spent Aero, dramatically reducing the work I need to do.

I will probably start each season now with a bike fit on all my bikes – it’s basically cheap speed and less fatigue. I think it needs repeating regularly as my core strength/flexibility changes or I modify the set -up.

Second race Challenge Roth

This was my A list race for the year and I was determined to produce a respectable time… You can read the race report on the link above.

With the bike, I was setup I had agreed a strategy with my coach…. First 120 km race efficient, then more gas on the last 60 km. This was also the first race using tailwind

On the day I found the bike fast and comfortable. I was concerned that a few people were passing me, however I was not too worried as this is normal for a 1:03 swim. The bike responded well to the course and the ride was straightforward. I just had a small misshap with my tool bottle opening and looking for some CO2 canisters. (Since then I replaced this with the x.lab system)

Training Peaks Power/altitude profile

The last 60km went really well and I enjoyed pushing the effort up. Significantly , no back pain to slow me down. I seemed to be passing a lot of people who were looking tired. When I looked at the data afterwards, I notice that both bike course loops were almost the same time, to within one minute. Even though my perceived exertion had increased, my actual output must have remained flat. Given that I have the least experience in cycling, (since Nov 2017)… this is a nice outcome.

An overall bike time of around 5:20 was on target for me, but more importantly I felt fresh into the run. I think this might also have been down to Tailwind nutrition working on the day. The run had its own challenges, you can read in the race report!

Third race HIM Slovenia


Racked the day before

I entered HIM Slovenia on short notice, I had just completed the Oetztaller Mountain Marathon (237km/5500m)… but due to a mechanical issue, had not the time I was after.. so wanted to end the season on a higher note.

Race Morning with nutrition and shoes added.

Being honest, I did not study the course in too much detail and forgot to notice the 1400m of climbing on the profile. My bike strategy was simple – hold W between 200-250… average around 195W and NP at 220W… avoid power spikes. In the end this strategy held as it was not speed time dependent… a good lesson for me.

This would be the first race where I used the full x.lab / elite setup for nutrition and this worked perfectly. BTB bottle with 2 scoops, Gel bottle with 4 scoops, Behind the saddle with 2 scoops. I grabbed one bottle in the aid station after the climb and topped up my BTB bottle with out any issues.

In the bento box was 2 cliff bars cut in half, just to have something solild in my stomach, rather than any need for calories. I also had some extra salt tabs in case the sun appeared.

The cycle itself was fine, although the extra climbing than anticipated, meant a longer bike leg… and I realised that sub-5 probably wasn’t going to happen.

217NP, 195avg, 2hrs;52ish

The bike itself was perfect, in particular, I had dropped my tyre pressure to 95 PSI and found this really comfortable. I also observed that I was descending pretty fast. I was really happy that the bike was allowing me to produce dependable results – that was 2 races as per plan.

All in all I am really happy with this bike, its fast, comfortable and reliable. My last 2 races after the bike fit really demonstrate that I can depend on it to give solid results.

Pros –
1. Price
2. Speed
3. Love the wheels!
4. Love the saddle!

Cons –
1. Canyon service shaky
2. Storage
3. Possibly gears over the longer term.

Would I buy the same model bike again?

– Maybe. Same brand – Yes,

1. I ended up spending too much money on bolt on hydration and tool storage, this has now become more standard and integrated…
2. I would consider electronic shifting again… as the price falls, this is becoming more attractive. I hate dialing in my shifting.
3. The bike itself is super fast and comfortable, with Canyon delivering dependable race results. (Unlike their service!)

In the end, the price jump is still significant to the CF SLX, but I am sure the shifting and storage will trickle down and would recommend keeping an eye on the outlet.

Let me know if this was useful! or any ways to improve it.

Please note that some of the links are affiliated with Amazon and I make a small amount of cash. this in no way changes my opinion or any items

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