In this article, I’ll guide you through a comparison between the Specialized Aethos and Canyon Ultimate; both popular road bikes among cyclists.
I’ll walk through the Specialized Aethos and Canyon Ultimate models lineup, their specifications, and retail pricing (USD). I’ll explain the carbon fiber technology used (Specialized FACT vs Canyon Carbon Fiber), and unique frameset features for each bike.
The goal is to help you get a better understanding before you make your final purchasing decision.
|Specialized Aethos||Canyon Ultimate|
|Type of bike||Lightweight, all-rounder||All-rounder|
|Frame material||FACT 12r carbon|
FACT 10r carbon
CF SLX carbon
CF SL carbon
|Frame sizes||49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61||XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Groupset||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc||Hydraulic disc|
|Price (USD)||$5,200 to $14,250||$3,999 to $9,999|
The Specialized Aethos is a lightweight road bike designed for hardcore weight weenies. Featuring a more traditional shape with rounded tubes and non-dropped seat stay, the Aethos weighs only 5.9kg for a complete bike.
Pronounced as Ay-thoss, the naming is based on the Greek word Ethos, meaning character.
With its weight below the minimum of 6.8kg mandated by the UCI, the Specialized Aethos will not feature in professional cycling. Like the Tarmac, the S-Works frames use the FACT 12r carbon, and non S-Works frame use the FACT 10r carbon.
There are five models in the Aethos lineup based on its groupset setup. It’s also available in frameset only for Specialized and S-Works editions.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|S-Works Aethos||FACT 12r carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Roval Alpinist CLX||$14,250|
|S-Works Aethos||FACT 12r carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Roval Alpinist CLX||$13,750|
|Specialized Aethos Pro||FACT 10r carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Roval Alpinist CL||$8,700|
|Specialized Aethos Expert||FACT 10r carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Roval C38||$8,000|
|Specialized Aethos Comp||FACT 10r carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||DT Swiss R470||$5,200|
Specialized Aethos vs others
The Canyon Ultimate is an all-rounder bike. Canyon claims that the Ultimate has an unrivaled stiffness-to-weight ratio, debunking the myth that a lightweight bike is not stiff enough to perform at the highest levels of cycling.
It’s the bike the pros rode to two World Championships and three Grand Tours wins in recent years with Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, and Richard Carapaz.
The flagship model, Canyon Ultimate CFR is the latest addition with the lightest setup weighing 6.52kg. The Ultimate CFR has the best electronic shifting groupsets from SRAM or Shimano. Next in line is the CF SLX weighing 6.98kg, and CF at 7.6kg.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Canyon Ultimate CFR eTap||CFR carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Zipp 353 NSW||$9,999|
|Canyon Ultimate CFR Di2||CFR carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||DT Swiss PRC 1100||$9,499|
|Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9 Di2||CF SLX carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||DT Swiss ARC 1100||$6,999|
|Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2||CF SLX carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R9200)||DT Swiss ARC 1400||$5,499|
|Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7||CF SL carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||DT Swiss P 1800||$3,999|
Canyon Ultimate vs others
Specialized vs Canyon carbon fiber
Specialized FACT Carbon
Specialized FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) is an advanced carbon fiber technology used in high-performance Specialized bicycles. It offers a lightweight yet strong frame construction with precise carbon layup, resulting in optimal strength-to-weight ratio and improved ride quality.
FACT carbon frames are engineered to efficiently transfer power, absorb road vibrations, and provide a comfortable riding experience. With continuous innovation and refinement, FACT Carbon demonstrates Specialized’s commitment to delivering top-notch performance and enhancing the overall cycling experience.
The carbon is available in three grades. The choice between FACT 12r, 11r, or 10r carbon depends on the bike model, your preferences, riding style, and budget.
- Specialized FACT 12r Carbon is the highest-grade carbon used by Specialized. Bikes (S-Works models) with frames made from FACT 12r carbon are the lightest and stiffest in the Specialized line-up. These frames are manufactured using the most advanced techniques and materials.
- Specialized FACT 11r Carbon used to be the highest-grade carbon until the S-Works Tarmac (SL5). Today, it’s the highest-grade carbon for the S-Works Roubaix.
- Specialized FACT 10r Carbon is two steps below 12r in the Specialized carbon hierarchy. While it doesn’t provide quite the same level of weight savings and stiffness as 12r, 10r frames are still very light and stiff, providing a high level of performance. FACT 10r carbon is used in all non S-Works models and is ideal for riders who want a balance of performance and value.
Canyon Carbon Fiber (CF)
Canyon’s innovative approach to bike design includes the utilization of advanced carbon fiber technology, resulting in performance-oriented bicycles that offer remarkable strength, reduced weight, and improved ride quality.
Canyon employs three main types of carbon fiber in their range of bikes; CFR, CF SLX, and CF SL, each offering unique benefits to cater to your needs and budgets.
- Canyon CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) Carbon is the top-tier carbon fiber used by Canyon, designed for maximum performance. Bikes built with CFR carbon are the lightest and stiffest in the Canyon line-up, favored by professional racers and serious enthusiasts alike. The CFR series represents the pinnacle of Canyon’s engineering prowess and innovation, employing state-of-the-art materials and advanced manufacturing techniques.
- Canyon CF SLX Carbon is a step below CFR, but it still offers exceptional performance characteristics. It used to be the highest-grade carbon in Canyon’s arsenal until the introduction of the CFR series. Bikes with CF SLX carbon frames provide a perfect balance of weight, stiffness, and comfort, making them highly versatile for a range of riding conditions.
- Canyon CF SL Carbon is the entry-level carbon fiber in Canyon’s range, but it still offers excellent performance. While it doesn’t quite match the extreme weight savings and stiffness of the CFR and CF SLX grades, CF SL frames are still impressively light and stiff, providing excellent performance for the value. Ideal for cyclists who desire a high-quality, performance-oriented bike without breaking the bank, the CF SL series is a testament to Canyon’s commitment to delivering value and performance.
Frameset technologies and innovations
Specialized Aethos and Canyon Ultimate framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
|FACT carbon||Functional Advanced Composite Technology (FACT). A carbon fiber construction method that balances lightweight, stiffness, and compliance in Specialized bike frames. |
Available in two carbon grades; FACT 12r and 10r. A higher number indicates a higher grade of carbon.
S-Works models use the FACT 12r carbon and Specialized Pro and Expert models use the FACT 10r carbon.
|Rider-First Engineered™||Rider-First Engineered™ is a design philosophy used by Specialized that ensures every frame size delivers the same predictable and responsive ride characteristics. This concept was first introduced with the 2015 Tarmac, and the idea has been incorporated into all models since.|
Instead of simply scaling frame sizes, Specialized takes into account that riders of different sizes have different weights, which are distributed differently. This means that each frame size experiences different forces. Therefore, each frame size is engineered independently with different carbon layups and tube dimensions, ensuring the optimal balance of rigidity, weight, and responsiveness for each size.
In short, no matter what the frame size is, the ride quality and performance remain consistently excellent.
|Win Tunnel||Specialized utilizes advanced tools and technologies to pursue aerodynamic excellence, such as the Win Tunnel, FreeFoil Shape Library, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and Data Acquisition (DAQ) system.|
The goal is to optimize aerodynamic performance by conducting wind tunnel tests, developing new airfoil shapes, simulating fluid flow, and collecting real-world data to improve rider position and enhance overall performance.
|CFR Carbon||Canyon Factory Racing (CFR) Carbon is the highest-grade carbon fiber used by Canyon. It’s designed for ultimate performance, with CFR carbon frames being the lightest and stiffest in Canyon’s range. This carbon is employed for the most performance-driven models in Canyon’s lineup.|
|Pro Geometry||Pro Geometry is Canyon’s design approach that tailors each bike frame’s size with specific tube dimensions and carbon layups, optimizing performance and ride characteristics for riders of different sizes. This ensures that every rider, irrespective of their size, enjoys a consistent and optimal cycling experience.|
|Adjustable Cockpit CP0018||The Canyon Ultimate CFR and CF SLX feature the innovative Cockpit CP0018, designed for aerodynamic efficiency and versatility. With fully internal cable routing, it offers a clean look and enhanced aerodynamics. The unique wing design allows for easy bike packing, eliminating the hassle of dealing with internal routing. |
Its innovative width adjustment feature lets you switch between narrow, medium, and wide settings (390-430mm) using just one tool. It provides a total adjustment range of 40mm (+/- 20mm on each side), allowing you to fine-tune your fit for comfort and efficiency.
|Ultimate System Complete||This design principle ensures that the Canyon Ultimate is developed as a complete system, incorporating frame, fork, seat post, stem, handlebar, and even spacers into the design process. The goal is to maximize performance and rider comfort, making the Ultimate a highly-efficient and enjoyable bike to ride.|
|Aero Testing||Canyon uses cutting-edge technologies and tools to achieve aerodynamic efficiency, including wind tunnel testing and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). |
These tools help them simulate and analyze airflow over the bike, enabling Canyon to refine the design for optimal aerodynamics. Canyon’s rigorous testing approach ensures the Ultimate offers superior aerodynamic performance.
Where to buy
- Specialized online shops. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States
- Specialized retailers. Use this tool to find your nearest Specialized retailers.
- Canyon online shop. Available to ship to most countries worldwide.