With the expected price growth that loomed ahead and never became real, manufacturers introduced for next year a series of budget and entry-level models that make up really good deals. Ok, the price of the top notch bikes didn’t change, but then again, basic and mid-level models’ prices dropped or, in other cases, remained the same, but a better specifications charts was added. This latter situation is the best way to describe Canyon’s RoadLite AL, now at the 7.0 version, an aluminum road bike with a good, if not really great, quality/price ratio.
So, what’s the deal with the RoadLite AL? Let’s start with the spec’s chart listed on the manufacturer’s website. Thus, we’re facing an aluminum road bike, now with a full-carbon fork, fitted with the full Shimano Ultegra 2014 groupset (yup, 11-speed, baby!), Ritchey cockpit, Canyon’s own VCLS seat post, a Fizik Ardea saddle, and a pair of Mavic Aksium wheels. Further info includes the weight of 7,95 kilograms, and the 1.299 euro pricing. The general picture looks good, but the chance to ride it proved to have the power of the final verdict.
Not by far, but clearly, the frame stands out, and it’s the kind of frame you’d expect to find on a bike that’s specified with the Ultegra groupset. Very simple, but stiff, it embodies the German spirit of technical efficiency that doesn’t pay that much attention to aesthetics. Then again, simplicity is beautiful in its own way, but the performance of this frame relates to its stiffness level, which is really good, in the sense that the bottom bracket area hardly flexes. Partially, the achievement resulted by using the Maximus seat tube which has a width almost equal to the bottom bracket shell’s one in the point of welding. In addition to this, the properties of the 6061 aluminum used become obvious, all things adding up to a really efficient road machinery.
As for comfort, things look promising, though the bike seemed to lack the magic touch that the VCLS seat post promised. I later found out that its perks are noticeable only on long distance rides, but on the other hand, I felt enough comfort coming from the Fizik Ardea saddle and from the cockpit section. A required mention is about this cockpit, which was really clever picked, since the Ultegra levers and Ritchey backsweeped handlebar make a harmonious whole. The tape bar adds to this ergonomical and comfortable duo, the end result being unlikely to not impress you, or anyone for that matter.
Performance is further fuelled by the Ultegra 11-speed groupset, which doesn’t require any other introduction, since it features trickled-down technologies from the Dura-Ace set. So, I’ll pass on through to the minuses of this bike. Basicly they’re two, clearly the fork and, arguably the wheels. The fork, although it’s now a full carbon one, lacks the stiffness that made this material famous. Weight is decent, of 350 grams, but for one reason or another, it’s either not stiff enough or there are some issues in the headset area, the bottom line being that it has a play or some kind of forward-backward movement. It’s not something that alters significantly the quality of the ride, still I am sure that a perfectly stiff/fixed front end would make more people happy.
About the wheels, they’re strong, and a bit aero thanks to the spokes, living up to the Mavic name from these points of view. The dissapointment kicks in in terms of weight or when you want more aero performance, the Aksium pair simply not being manufactured for these purposes. In other words, I’d expected, and probably others too, a greater wheelset given the groupset, yet I also have to keep in mind that for the given price, they’re fair enough. So, it basicly comes down to your own point of view.
In the end, the RoadLite AL 7.0 represents one of the best choices in terms of budget models, and quality aluminum ones, being a noteworthy choice if you either want to make your debut on the road with something more performant or if you plan to upgrade your bike in time, given that only a handful of components really need replacement.