The problem with aluminium frame self builds is that the market isn't particularly saturated with aluminium framesets. The market wants carbon fibre, and those who would buy an aluminium Frame would most likely purchase a complete bike, such as the Giant Defy, or Specialized Allez. Spend enough time on the internet, and you will find plenty of articles telling you that a quality alu frame is better than a cheap carbon fibre frame. It was this logic that influenced our decision to build a Canyon Roadlite Al bike, and we were not disappointed with the final result..
The frameset weighs in at 1872g for a size 54cm. This includes the headset, seatpost collar and derailleur hanger. For an alu frameset, the weight isn't particularly heavy, nor is it particularly light. Weight can be kept down with quality components, which is what we were aiming for. We opted for Shimano 105 5700, with the exception of the chainset which was an FSA Gossamer Pro. Shifting was faultless, if not a little agricultural in comparison to Shimano's 11-Speed groupsets. Canyon include a Richey 4 Axis stem, which is light and stiff enough for our needs. The carbon seat post is proprietary and light at 225g. For the contact points we mounted RaceFace Cadence 42cm handlebars, a San Marco saddle(later changed to Fizik Arione), and Deda bartape. The wheels are WHR550, which we had lying around. Paired with Michelin Lithion tyres, the wheel package is sturdy, but with a tendency to performance.
Out on the road, the Roadlite AL is surprisingly lively. It reacts well to sudden accelerations and climbs well without ever feeling sluggish, like many aluminium framesets often do. The ride is not as smooth as carbon fibre framesets, but we felt that the lively feel was worth trading some comfort for. Rides of over 100km left us feeling a little beaten up, but this also depended on the quality of the roads.
The frame is fun to ride and provides plenty of feedback to the rider. The steering isn't as sharp as higher end frames. Despite that, understeer was never a problem. Paired with quality components, a build of less than 8kg is easy to achieve.
The colour scheme appears to have been created by a child with masking tape, and falls into the dull "stealth" category. Bottom bracket choices are limited to threaded types.
In the limited market for aluminium framesets, the Canyon provides good value for money and should be on anyone's shortlist. The ride can be tuned for the local criterium, or for longer rides, depending on the rider's wishes. In this case, we would tend to agree that it shames the lower level carbon fibre frame bikes. Only the aesthetics deny it a higher rating, because if a bike looks good, the rider is more likely to want to ride it.
|Frame & Fork||2014 Canyon Roadlite AL 7.0|
|Seat Post||Canyon Carbon Fibre 27.2mm|
|Hanblebar||RaceFace Cadence 42cm|
|Stem||Ritchey WCS 4 Axis 120mm|
|Chainset||FSA Gossamer 50/39/30|
|Cassette||Shimano 10sp 105 12-25|
|Shifters||Shimano 105 5700 10sp Triple|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano 105 Triple|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano 105 10sp Medium Cage|
|Brake Callipers||Shimano 105 5700 w/Shimano Cartridge pads|
|Wheelset||Shimano R550 w/Michelin Lithion Tyres|
|Saddle||San Marco Ponza|