Canyon's Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0 is a really tempting option if you want to travel fair distances in comfort at a decent speed. It's a tiny bit heavier overall – 490g – than the same size and similarly specced non-disc unisex version, losing a very slight degree of that excellent bike's 'twitchiness', but that could be seen as a bonus as much as a drawback, depending on how you like your ride.
I took delivery of the CF SL Disc 8.0 after a month or so of riding and testing the non-disc CF 9.0 Di2. The differences between the two are subtle but noticeable. It might help you to understand some of what I'm talking about in parts of this test if you read my review of the unisex model.
The CF SL Disc on test here is one of Canyon's new women-specific bikes, launched in May. The non-disc model mentioned above is a unisex frame with various parts specced to suit your average woman: essentially, a wider saddle, narrower bar and shorter cranks. The CF SL Disc is a complete redesign, as reported here.
Apart from the electronic groupset on the unisex bike, the two models are pretty similar spec-wise – deliberately chosen so I could get as true a comparison as possible.
I had a first ride on the CF SL Disc at its launch in Germany and was impressed – not surprising really, as I was riding the £5,000+ limited edition model – so I was looking forward to riding it for longer on home soil. By the time it arrived, it had quite a lot to live up to because by then I'd fallen for the non-disc unisex model.
Describing a bike as 'exciting' probably means it's different to the sort of bike you normally ride. (Can an exciting bike continue to be exciting once you've got used to it?) I found the non-disc version an exciting ride; light and flicky, and to be honest probably a little on the racy side for me.
I felt immediately more at home on the CF SL Disc. Not in a boring way, but an easy-to-live-with, ride-all-day, into the sunset, forever, kind of way. A ride with no surprises – with that being very definitely a good thing.
I'd had a similar experience in Germany: my first outing there was on the new women-specific Ultimate and that was a 'wow!' moment; moving on to the new Endurace was a case of 'ah, that's more like it'.
Compared with the non-disc model, the handling feels more solid and planted, more 'endu' than 'race'. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fast bike with loads of zip, and still light enough to move around when you need it to, it just feels slightly less 'flickable', less twitchy.
You can feel the difference on climbs too – it's not as nimble feeling as the non-disc model – but on descents, in the wet, and going fast on the flat, the disc brakes inspire huge amounts of confidence.
In terms of comfort, to be honest I found it hard to detect a huge difference; both are comfortable bikes to ride all day. The new CF SL Disc has a curved seat tube to add comfort at the rear end, with a shorter seat tube meaning more exposed seatpost to add a degree of flex and help dull road buzz or bumps. The seatpost itself is also curved with more setback, creating a 'bow-like' shape. It certainly felt good, even more so once I swapped the saddle for one more to my liking.
The new frame also has more clearance for wider tyres – up to 33mm if you so desired – so if you wanted to add more comfort through bigger volume rubber that you can run at lower pressures, or to use the bike on rougher terrain, there's a world of choice out there.
One of the things I particularly like about the new model is the 'aquamarin' colourscheme, and I was a bit disappointed to be sent a black test bike. Some might prefer the understated colour, and it's well finished in a shiny kind of way, whereas the aquamarin has a more matt look.
Like the non-disc version, the cables are internally routed, though one design feature had us scratching our heads in the office for a while. Between the bottle bosses on the down tube there's an extra hole, with a sort of 'bung' in it. We asked and were told it's there as a method for holding the cables in place so they don't rattle. And once you put a bottle cage on you won't be able to see it...
Compared with the unisex model, the CF SL Disc has a shorter top tube and shorter head tube. The stack and reach (the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) are shorter too, to better suit the average woman's anatomy, but it's all marginal: about 4mm difference in both top tube and head tube lengths; 3.2mm difference in stack, 3.7mm in reach.
What does that all mean? Well, you don't have to stretch as far forward for the bar, but you're not put in a more upright position, so things stay racy rather than sedate.
Canyon has put a lot of effort into this new range, using the 60,000-odd entries from female customers in its Perfect Positioning System to design the new Endurace and Ultimate WMN frames.
One of the key ideas was moving to 650B wheels in the smaller 2XS and 3XS sizes; I'd love to tell you how that feels, but the XS comes with 700Cs.
Another major design choice was making all the models disc brake only, something that Canyon product manager Katrin Neumann – who had overall responsibility for the new women's range – sees as 'the future'.
I began my non-disc Endurace review with 'Wow!' and though I'd like to say the same about the disc version, 'Squeal!' would be more apt. Not with excitement – just the noise it made whenever I tried to stop.
Ordering your bike direct from the maker, as you do with Canyon, means you rely on the people building it to make sure everything's working perfectly, rather than your local bike shop. Not being a disc brake aficionado, I wasn't sure whether something needed adjusting or just patience. Patience, as it turned out. Patience and a big long hill to gently apply the offending brake so it scrubbed off whatever was making the noise without scrubbing off too much speed.
Once quiet, the Ultegra-level Shimano BR-RS805 hydraulic discs worked brilliantly – the bike's biggest improvement for me over the non-disc version.
Another case of needing to be aware of what can happen if buying direct is with the gearing setup. The Di2 Ultegra of the non-disc model worked flawlessly, whereas the mechanical Ultegra here had one little glitch in that it was noisy in the fourth smallest sprocket, whether in the small or big chainring up front.
It probably just needed a tweak by someone who knew what they were doing, but if you don't it's something to bear in mind when buying, though I guess that applies equally to any mail/online orders.
Outside of that fourth sprocket, the gears performed perfectly, and as with the non-disc version the range was a perfect-for-me compact 50/34 up front and an 11-32 at the rear, ideal for hilly rides.
What struck me as slightly strange was that the crank length was longer on the new model: back to 170mm from the 165 of the non-disc CF 9.0. It's a marginal thing and I'm no expert on such matters but I can feel the difference and prefer a shorter length.
The cockpit on the CF SL Disc 8.0 is identical to that on the CF 9.0: Canyon's H17 Ergo AL bar and V13 stem, which I found could pass on a bit of road buzz so my hands got a bit tingly after a few hours. Both the stem length (80mm) and bar width (38cm) are the same, although the spec sheet from Canyon says the XS should have a 40cm. It felt fine, as it did on the CF 9.0, though my own bike has a 40cm.
The seatposts differ – a curved Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 CF on this model works with the 'Comfort Kink' of the seat tube, supposedly improving comfort over the straight S14 VCLS 2.0 CF on the unisex bike. And I found the Fizik Luce saddle here more comfortable than the Selle Italia on the CF 9.0, if not as comfortable as my preferred Specialized model.
The DT Swiss E1800 wheels and 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres roll easily and comfortably over rough and smooth roads. As with the DT Swiss PR1400s on the unisex bike, they're not deep-section wheels but still have the occasional 'moment' in a strong crosswind. To cope with the extra braking forces from the discs, Canyon has specced 12mm thru-axles front and rear.
For £2,199 the disc-brake Endurace WMN CF SL 8.0 offers very good value for money, that ability to buy direct really paying off – as long as you're confident about tweaking gears and scrubbing off brake squeal...
The same comparisons made in the non-disc review apply here too: Specialized's disc brake Ruby Comp with Shimano Ultegra is £2,650, while Giant's Liv Avail Advanced Pro 1, also with disc brakes and mechanical Ultegra, is £2,899 and Trek's Ultegra-equipped Domane SL 6 Disc Women's is £3,000.
I was sorely tempted to buy one of these bikes for my upcoming Ride Across Britain. It's a lovely ride, the disc brakes are excellent, and the comfort is right up there. If the unisex Endurace sounds a bit too much race and not enough endurance for you, the disc brake version could be just the right mix.
It's a fast, light, comfortable bike with the twitchiness toned down and the ability to stop improved dramatically. It could just be the perfect long-distance ride.
Excellent option for long rides, at speed, in comfort and safety
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0
Size tested: XS
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME CANYON ENDURACE WMN CF SL
FORK CANYON ONE ONE FOUR SLX DISC
HEADSET CANYON | ACROS
REAR DERAILLEUR SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
DERAILLEUR HANGER DERAILLEUR HANGER NO. 40
FRONT DERAILLEUR SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
BRAKE/SHIFT LEVERS SHIMANO ST-RS685, 11S
BRAKES SHIMANO BR-RS805
CASSETTE SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
WHEELSET DT SWISS E 1800 SPLINE DB
TYRES SCHWALBE PRO ONE
CRANKS SHIMANO ULTEGRA, 11S
CHAINRINGS 50 | 34
CHAIN SHIMANO CN-HG700-11
BOTTOM BRACKET SHIMANO BSA
STEM CANYON V13
HANDLEBAR CANYON H17 ERGO AL
HANDLEBAR TAPE CANYON ERGOSPEED GEL
SADDLE FIZIK LUCE
SEAT POST CANYON S15 VCLS 2.0 CF (25 / 13 MM SETBACK)
SADDLE CLAMP CANYON INTEGRATED SEAT CLAMP
PEDALS NONE INCLUDED
FRAME SIZES 3XS (27,5), 2XS (27,5), XS, S, M
COLOUR STEALTH SHINY | AQUAMARIN
WEIGHT 7,8 KG (SIZE S )
INCLUDED IN DELIVERY
TOOLS CANYON TORQUE WRENCH
FRAME PROTECTION CANYON FRAME PROTECTION
HANDBOOK CANYON MANUAL ROADBIKE
ACCESSORIES CANYON ORGANZA BAG, CANYON TOOL CASE, CARBON ASSEMBLY PASTE, REFLECTOR SET
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Canyon says: "If you are looking for a fun bike to help get you training for your first sportive, the Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0 will give you that leg-up on long distance excursions. To make this the perfect bike for women roadies, we adjusted the geometry of the Endurace to allow women to settle into the same riding position as men in spite of the anatomical differences between them. Therefore, the Sport Geometry has been optimised to suit women riders with small but important tweaks like raising the seat dome so that the flex of the seatpost offers even more comfort and lowers stand-over height. Not only has a 3XS frame size been added, but important benchmarks like the reach and stack have all been completely reworked to offer an ideal mix for the type of women rider who wants a perfectly balanced bike with agile handling. To keep the nimble handling and design proportions consistent across sizes, the two smallest frames come with 650b wheelsets. The slightly smaller wheels guarantee that you won't be hampered by toe overlap and can be just as confident in cornering and descents as any medium sized rider. This will mean that you can enjoy nimble handling without sacrificing comfort levels that extended hours in the saddle necessitate. With sizes ranging from a 3XS to a medium, the Endurace WMN CF SL Disc will be able to accommodate women between 152 and 184 cm tall. For components, the Shimano Ultegra mechanical kit hits that perfect balance between high performance and a reasonable price point. And you'll still be getting the Canyon-adjusted lever reach so you'll feel comfortable and confident you can get a good grasp on the levers for all shifting and braking needs. The lightweight DT Swiss E1800 wheels will work in conjunction with the Shimano disc brakes to provide responsive acceleration and just as responsive stopping power. The S15 VCLS 2.0 seatpost has been combined with Fizik's Luce women's specific saddle to make sure you'll get all the comfort and support the spring leaf design guarantees, so you'll never be tempted by a sore bum to cut a ride short. With the Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 8.0, you'll be buying the perfect women's road bike for long distance comfort."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Endurance more than race.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Stack 537.8, reach 362.3; this puts it slightly shorter and slightly lower than the unisex model.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yep. And nope.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
No surprises, not flighty, or twitchy. Felt comfortable and confidence-inspiring.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
For me the saddle wasn't ideal, but that's a very personal matter. I prefer shorter cranks – as on the unisex version of the same size.
When the bike arrived the gearing wasn't perfectly adjusted – something to bear in mind when buying direct.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It didn't like being in the fourth smallest sprocket, paired with either the big or small ring up front.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
Yes, the wheels worked well. Like the DT Swiss ones on the unisex Endurace, these aren't deep section but did catch strong sidewinds.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
No problems, good grip, no punctures.
A bit of road buzz got through, a little sooner into my rides than I'd have liked.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes – I was sorely tempted.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a really good bike for riding long distances at speed, with the disc brakes enhancing safety in all weathers.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.