Canyon Endurace AL 7 review
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Canyon Endurace AL 7 review

Nov 14, 2023

The gateway to race-bike performance doesn't need to be carbon

This competition is now closed

By Ashley Quinlan

Published: November 23, 2022 at 9:00 am

The Canyon Endurace platform has been a value standard-setter for the past five years or so. Back in 2017, the rim brake version of the previous-generation Endurace AL won our Budget Road Bike category for Bike of the Year, while just this summer Simon Withers called the Canyon Endurace CF 7 eTap "a near-faultless endurance road bike".

That's high praise, indeed, and different permutations of the bike over the years have never scored lower than four stars in testing.

Happily, the latest Canyon Endurace AL 7 is still one of the best aluminium road bikes you can buy, especially if you value a lively handling bike that you won't feel a need to upgrade out of the box.

The Endurace AL 7 is an incredibly well-specced bike for the money, and can more than hold a candle to carbon-framed bikes with arguably racier aspirations, and which cost a chunk more cash.

The Endurace AL 7 frameset is constructed using double-butted tubing, which Canyon says contributes to low weight and high stiffness.

That's a claim repeated by almost every bike brand time and again, but for the record it yields a claimed frame weight of 1,375g in a size medium. My test bike is a size large, and tips the scales for the whole build at 9.39kg.

What strikes me about the Endurace frame is how neat and smooth the weld junctions are. Canyon says simply it files and sands away offending welded segments to achieve a smooth aesthetic.

It might only be an aesthetic, and the result of what is a very simple solution, but you get an extremely well-finished frame.

The frame features partial internal routing of the hydraulic brake hoses and gear cables. The front brake hose enters into the fork shoulder and exits at the front caliper.

The rear brake hose and gear cable enter at the top section of the top tube in adjacent ports, running down the down tube until they exit together out of a vent-like hole on the underside of the bottom bracket.

From there, they split and run externally along the corresponding chainstays to their destinations.

The exit hole is capacious and, instinctively, I wonder if it leaves the inside of the frame (as well as the cable and hose housings) a little exposed to the elements, especially as the Endurace AL frame doesn't include mudguard mounts.

The top tube houses something of a party piece – mounting points for a bento box, which you normally see on bikes geared more towards gravel riding.

Interestingly, the seatstays aren't dropped one iota, joining to the top tube high up, as they do on the brand's carbon Endurace and Ultimate range of bikes. Clearly, Canyon's design ethos leads it to think such a design feature isn't necessary here.

You get a round, 27.2mm-diameter hole for the seatpost – the Endurace hasn't yet received any update to a D-shape seatpost, as the Ultimate benefited from earlier this year.

The fork is made of carbon fibre, featuring a 1-1/4in steerer tube, which is said to offer greater stiffness and rigidity. The pronounced shoulders allow the crown to provide visibly capacious clearance for wide tyres.

Officially, the Endurace AL 7 can accommodate 35mm-wide tyres, which is bang on trend for endurance road bikes, and even some pro bikes at the UCI Gravel World Championships.

Incidentally, it features a press-fit BB86 bottom bracket standard, but Canyon has specced a Token Ninja Lite BB4124, which uses threads to optimise bearing alignment and reduce the chance of annoying creaks.

The Endurace AL frame's geometry blurs the lines between endurance and race bike.

Notably, in a size large it blends a relatively steep 73-degree head tube angle with a very tall 611mm stack height.

On the one hand, Canyon intends to bring sharp front-end handling, while on the other it's catering for those who can't adopt an acute angle at the hips and lower back.

There's 27.5mm of spacers on top of the 186mm head tube, which allows for a good level of adjustment should you want to lower the front end.

The 1,006mm wheelbase, combined with 415mm chainstays (the latest Ultimate CF race bike frameset is only 2mm shorter for both measurements in the same size), is intended to ensure the Endurace AL can be whipped around like its range stablemate.

A large-sized Endurace AL frame geometry brings a reach of 387mm.

The Canyon Endurace AL 7 is positioned as an endurance road bike, but it can't hide its racy DNA – nor does it attempt to in its name, either.

The overall handling is very sharp, with fast responses to steering inputs despite the broad 44cm-wide handlebars (more on those below).

Meanwhile, when you rise out of the saddle to power over a rise in the road or sprint, the bike accelerates with gusto, and it holds its speed remarkably well once you crest the top and ease off the pedals again.

The Endurace AL 7's aluminium frame feels almost as stiff as a carbon bike's might (for a mere mortal like me, at least), while the front end feels incredibly stiff without ever straying into being punishingly rigid.

The broad-shouldered carbon fork and associated 1-1.4in steerer seems to effectively provide a beefed-up, direct interaction with the front of the bike, which pays dividends especially when descending and cornering.

Steering is direct, while the racy (for an endurance bike) geometry comes together to provide an exciting ride. In fact, it puts me in mind of the BMC Roadmachine for sheer thrills, if you discount the inevitable weight penalty an alloy frame brings.

Much of this behaviour and speed will also be down to the excellent all-round build, though we’ll come onto that in greater detail later.

The high stack does what it's supposed to do by lifting the bars into a more rider-friendly position. It almost gives the impression of floating over the action somewhat compared to the Ultimate. However, when you settle into the drops (or indeed, remove some of those spacers), you can really immerse yourself in the business of riding quickly.

So far, so good. But although race-bike-like handling is often touted as a desirable trait – and it often is, if that's what you’re looking for in a bike – the Endurace AL might seem to some like a puppy whose teeth are just a little too sharp.

Granted, the Endurace AL offers an endurance-bike-like position to ride in if you leave it as supplied, but its very playful, almost-darty reactions require real concentration to make the most of them.

I felt I needed to really pay attention to every significant turn, and so it arguably doesn't deliver a very relaxing riding experience.

That's not a problem if you want an involved ride that puts you at the heart of the experience. But if your idea of a perfect ride is to spin away to a café 50 or 60km from home, then cruise back again with no real constraint on time, speed or a need to feel some adrenaline, you may find the Endurace AL a little too racy for your liking.

On climbs, the Endurace AL 7 is a joy, the bottom bracket area and compact chainstays providing a stable and stiff platform to put your effort in.

Again, the high stack means you feel tall and far from the front wheel axle when you get out of the saddle and tilt the bike left and right. That said, when you pedal seated and place your hands on the tops for an extended period of time, the bike feels taught and efficient.

When it comes to dealing with rough roads, the Endurace AL 7 has a trump card to play in the form of Schwalbe One clincher tyres, which are 700 x 30c at the front, and a chunky 700 x 32c at the rear.

The aluminium frame (with carbon fork) feels composed over broken surfaces, but it's the tyres that play an almost dominating role here.

It's an intelligent choice by Canyon to go as wide as this. It effectively mitigates against a potential shortfall in compliance an alloy frame might bring by enabling you to reduce your tyre pressures for improved comfort and grip.

The finishing kit comes exclusively from Canyon.

A traditional two-piece alloy bar and stem provide the cockpit, with external cable routing. The shape of the H17 bar's drop is accessible, while the squared-edge style of the V13 stem is reassuringly muscular versus a standard cylindrically shaped model.

I also like the standard rubberised bar tape Canyon supplies. It's not overly tacky, yet offers good comfort and grip, but I do understand where Simon was coming from when he said he preferred a more fabric-like tape in his Endurace CF 7 eTap review.

For me, though, the handlebar width is excessive at 44cm on this size-large frameset. The intention is to provide more control when descending and cornering – wider contact points are a common sight on gravel bikes.

Having your hands positioned widely does bring with it the extra stability Canyon intends (effectively widening the turning circle), but it feels odd here when the rest of the bike feels so racy.

I often found myself putting inward pressure on the hoods to get to my preferred (and more standard at this size) 40 to 42cm width. Obviously, they don't give way, which in turn led to excess tension across my shoulders.

When I did relax and accept the position, I couldn't help but feel my outwardly pointing arms effectively created an air scoop when riding at higher speeds. A large proportion of people may like the wide stance and not feel compelled to resist it, but it doesn't work for me.

If you want to swap bars, you can buy different sizes as additional extras on top of the bike, or swap in an existing favourite, thanks to the stem's standard 31.8mm clamping area.

The 20mm setback carbon seatpost carries the VCLS (Vertical Compliance Lateral Stiffness) moniker, but this isn't the VCLS leaf-sprung seatpost developed in partnership with Ergon.

That shouldn't necessarily be seen as a negative though – including the more flexible post would inevitably cost more, and the supplied post is perfectly adequate at smoothing road buzz when you factor in the wide tyres.

I’m a big fan of the Selle Royal Model X saddle. The relatively stubby length and cutout means you can get aggressive when you want to, but it offers very good support when sitting more upright too.

My only niggle is the slatted underside wings, which make weaving through the buckles of my Topeak saddle bag a little trickier, and the fit is just a little less tight than I can normally achieve with a saddle without the slats.

I’m very impressed by the build of the Endurace AL 7 – there are no weak points here, and it's a shame Canyon doesn't specifically offer it in the US (although it offers a visually similar bike for $2,000 under the name ‘Endurace AL 8’).

The Shimano 105 R7020 groupset is complete with no cost-saving concessions, right down to the chain.

Shifting and braking performance is excellent, and indicates that the routing is well-integrated and avoids any disruptive unseen kinking inside.

Canyon has opted for Shimano's wide-ranging 11-34t 11-speed cassette, which brings excellent range, if a few larger-than-ideal gaps between the ratios.

The chainset comes in semi-compact format, with 36/52-teeth chainrings.

The 36x34t smallest gear will be perfectly fine for most riders, while you could argue the 52x11t largest gear will very rarely see active use unless you happen to be barrelling down a particularly fast descent.

The wheelset is supplied by Italian brand Fulcrum, with the tubeless-ready Racing 900 DB model. These wheels feature an alloy rim construction with a 19mm internal width and 23.8mm external width.

They’re built to last on paper, with 28 J-pull spokes per wheel laced to alloy hubs with sealed cartridge bearings.

The nipples are brass, which will better resist corrosion compared to lighter alloy ones, while servicing the wheels should be an inexpensive affair whenever the time comes, because the cartridge bearings can be replaced simply and cheaply.

They weigh a not-insignificant 1,950g for the set, but they provide smooth rolling performance and don't feel excessively heavy around the rim. In tandem with the Schwalbe One clincher tyres, the ride feels engaging.

Speaking of tyres, they offer impressive grip and road feel, and roll pleasantly. Although they’re not the tubeless models, it's nice to see a premium-performing tyre specced on a bike of this price.

My only quibble is the choice of speccing odd sizes front to rear.

Canyon tends to do this in aid of optimising performance. It reckons a narrower front tyre should improve aero performance (and potentially sharpen handling), while wider rubber at the rear will improve comfort.

I liked this about the new Ultimate this year, but on an endurance bike, where optimal aero performance isn't the main priority, I would argue fitting 32c tyres universally (instead of narrowing the front tyre to 30c) would be a welcome tweak to the spec list.

It's a minor detail, and is understandable in the context of the Endurace's racy DNA, but if I were replacing them I’d probably opt for buying two 32c tyres rather than splitting sizes again.

The Canyon Endurace AL 7 bike is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to value-for-money spec, and it brings an overall ride quality that even some carbon road bikes can't match.

There's no denying that the Endurace sits on the racier side of the endurance-bike spectrum (which itself has begun to bleed into gravel). That will bring a still-exciting ride if you’re in the market for a great-value endurance bike but want to keep similar thrills.

For those wanting an endurance road bike that's easy and relaxing to ride, or perhaps one rounded enough that it can take some gravel in its stride, the Endurace may simply prove too racy.

That said, it's one of the most entertaining road bikes available this side of £2,000.

Senior technical editor

Ashley Quinlan is a senior technical editor for BikeRadar, covering all things road and gravel. A trained journalist, he has been working in and around the bike industry for almost a decade, and riding for much longer. He's written for, eBikeTips, RoadCyclingUK and Triathlon Plus magazine, covering the latest news and product launches, and writing in-depth reviews, group tests, buyer's guides… and more. He's also worked in PR for some of the industry's biggest brands. A roadie at heart (who often casts an interested gaze at gravel and XC mountain biking), Ash has been told that he's best used as windbreak thanks to his 188cm, 80-plus kilogram build. Despite this, he loves spending time in the mountains scaling cols and is a repeat finisher of the Étape du Tour.