The Canyon Endurace AL 7.0
      How I learned to love aluminium, again, and renewed my faith in the Germans
So there I was, and at my age for God’s sake, laying in bed counting the sleeps until I could play with my latest toy.  It went on for weeks, as the delivery time crept by with infuriating slowness, but eventually the big day arrived.  And it’s a big box the Canyon comes in, a very big box, but the bike is well protected by foam blocks, cardboard spacers and two members of the SAS.  Well, maybe not the soldiers, although there’s probably room in there.  In half-an-hour the front wheel was in, the saddle was fitted and the bars were aligned; I could hardly wait for my first ride.  There’s nothing quite like a new bike to awaken the senses.
                                                     Red or black?  Which to choose?
I had chosen the Endurace from a list of possibles because it’s Canyon’s version of an endurance bike, which is right up my street as I’m too old to race but too young to buy an electric motor.  It is made from aluminium, a material that has spent some years in the wilderness while carbon fibre has dominated frame construction.  But suddenly there are signs of a resurgence for this shiny, lightweight metal and, just like Craig David, it is winning awards again.  There have been improvements in shaping and moulding techniques to the extent that Cannondale’s CAAD12 picked up a coveted Bike of the Year prize as recently as last year. And I have fond memories of aluminium bikes, machines that carried me far and fast, frames that never broke or caused me hassle.  It was time to find out if yesterday’s material has matured into the 21st century. 
For a little over £1500 Canyon gives you a very pretty frame, in my case in a shade of red previously reserved for warning signs in nuclear submarines.  Subtle it isn’t but I’m a long-time believer that red bikes are, well, faster.  The geometry features a short reach, which I understand, and a high stack, which I pretend I understand, to fit with the search for long-ride comfort.  The seat stays are fashionably slender, the chain stays suitably chunky and everything else is as you might expect; except the head tube which is straight, with not an unnecessary taper in sight.  Another joy for the home mechanic is the bottom bracket, it’s good old English threaded which usually means a long and silent life.
The fork, however, is full carbon and is a seamless fit with the frame, giving the impression the two things were designed as a whole and not just introduced to one another on the way to the assembly line.
The narrow carbon seatpost promises a decent amount of flex and can be bolted in place with one of the two dedicated torque wrenches included in the box.  I’m not kidding, honest.
Gears and brakes are by Shimano's Ultegra hydraulic groupset.  And it’s complete, with no inferior bits and pieces sneaked in below the radar.  Even the cables carry the name as they disappear inside the frame; I know, I went down on my knees to check.  The levers share the family DNA, made only a little larger to contain the fluid reservoir and they are comfortable and secure when riding on the hoods.  The brakes are flat mount, very tiny and even a bit Star Wars, with their prominent cooling fins.  
With a 52-36 chainset married to an 11-32 cassette I should be able to winch myself up most of our steepest climbs.
I’ve never owned DT Swiss wheels before but the R24 Splines are through-axle compatible, will go tubeless and the spokes are uniformly taut.  At a muscly 1800g they are not for the weight watchers amongst us but instead they should give long service.  The internal width of 18mm means 28mm tyres can be fitted and why not?  As my wise old sergeant-major would say, any fool can be uncomfortable.  And I notice these same wheels are fitted to a magnificent new Italian bike that retails for £4700, such is their reputation.  The rear hub makes a splendid clicky noise that reminds me of a 1970s Campag set-up I once had;  spectators could hear me coming long before they could see me.  If you don’t like a bell on a bike, these are the wheels for you.
The Endurace comes with Continental’s top-of-the-range GP4000S II tyres in that whopping 28mm size and at a retail price of £65 a pair they are evidence indeed of Canyon’s determination to give value for money.  I have been known to criticise Conti rubber in the past, in fact I have said some terrible things about their cheaper products, and I looked forward to exploring the foibles of their more upmarket tyres.
The finishing kit is all good value, from the Fizik Ardea saddle to the gel bar tape.  There are no mis-matches in colour or finish and I get the impression the designer would be proud to ride his own work.  The weight is just shy of 8.4kg, which is respectable for a metal bike with discs.  Oh, I nearly forgot, the little bottle of Alpecin shampoo was as useful as it was unexpected.  A definite step up from Wiggle’s Haribo and a move in the right direction for this perennially unkempt cyclist.
               A blessing at the shrine of St Bernadette, patron saint of hydraulic fluid
Over the past few weeks I’ve given the Endurace a thorough workout in an effort to unlock its character.  Old byways, cycle paths and our steepest climbs have all featured in my daily rides and the bike has come up trumps every time.  The frame offers a very competent mix of performance and comfort, being rarely disturbed by poor surfaces and always feels willing and peppy.  Special mention should be made of its ability to descend at speed, it feels planted to the ground and tackles sharp bends smoothly and rapidly.  
After some experimenting I have settled on a tyre pressure of 80psi, which seems to offer a good compromise between performance and comfort.  For someone reared on 21 and 23mm tyres, pumped to the max, it is strange to look at those massive tyres, but the extraordinary suppleness they provide soon eased my fears.
And, on smooth tarmac, they hum like a thousand-quid juicer, announcing your arrival to the phone-obsessed pedestrians who litter our streets.  In short, I can’t find anything to bitch about with these tyres, they suit the Canyon very well.
After the cables had settled I gave the rear derailleur adjuster a half-turn to silence a faint chain noise and gear changes are now impeccable, right up there at Dura-Ace or Record level, even under my version of maximum load.  I cannot think of a single, sensible reason to spend more.
The hydraulic discs, after bedding in the pads, are simply superb.  They offer predictable and rapid stopping, wet or dry, and are almost noiseless.  I’ve a couple of friends who still reckon discs, especially the hydraulic variety, are unnecessary but I may be converting them as I consistently out-brake them into junctions and bends.  I have bet them both a pint that any new bikes they buy will have discs and I’m definitely in with a shout.
On the debit side of the account, the jury still hasn’t reached a verdict over the saddle, one day I hate it, the next it’s not so bad.  Who knows, I may yet learn to love it.  Also, given a free choice, my old knees would probably vote for a compact chainset, but I can’t say I’ve noticed too much difference between that and the ludicrously named semi-pro.
With 500 miles completed I can say this is the biggest single leap forward in cycling I have experienced and well worth the six week waiting time.  After five years with my current trio of bikes I guess I was slipping behind the curve and had been overtaken by progress.  The Endurace has brought me bang up to date and opened my eyes to the myriad advances made by bike designers over time.  It is lighter, quicker, more comfortable and easier to ride than any sportive machine I’ve ever owned, and by a large margin.
Canyon have dispelled any doubts I may have had about buying online.  Their website made it simple to get the right size and they have gone above and beyond the norm to provide a brilliant service.  I am still finding little examples of their attention to detail, the liberal use of invisible frame protectors and the brake bleed kit provided in the box spring to mind.  Other companies, who shall remain nameless, could learn from their example.
After some years living amongst them I knew the Germans wouldn’t let me down, it’s not in their nature.

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Comment by Mike the Bike on July 31, 2017 at 17:14

True, Dave, very true.  Spending money online, without a road test, is always a gamble but I consider myself a winner with this one. 

Comment by Dave Rowe on July 31, 2017 at 5:07

Awww MtB! You're in Love! Excellent write up, congratulations on your fab new purchase!

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