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Tour de France pro bike: Alex Dowsett’s Canyon Ultimate CF SLX

Disc brakes, funky wheels and short cranks for Alex Dowsett

This here is the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX belonging to British rider Alex Dowsett, racing this year’s Tour de France for Alpecin-Katusha. Let’s dive in for a closer look.


For a rider known for his ability against the clock in time trials, it’s surprising that he has chosen the lightweight Ultimate over the aerodynamics of the Aeroad.

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Dowsett has been on Canyon bikes for six years, previously riding for the Movistar team. It’s fair to say he’s familiar with the bikes and the different models. He started out on the Aeroad, the obvious choice given his talents, before gradually migrating over to the Ultimate in recent years.

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“ I loved the Aeroad don’t get me wrong but I was more just that bit more comfortable on the ultimate, it seemed to fit me better and made for more confident cornering and descending as well as it’s obvious climbing properties, when you’re clocking 30hour weeks either racing or training then this I found to be important,” he explains.

You can read our review of the Ultimate CF SLX Disc here 

Dowsett is 1.82m tall and rides a size medium, which is right size frame according to Canyon’s size guide. Unusually though, he rides short 170mm crank arms (172.5mm is most common) so we can only presume he likes the way they feel over longer cranks.

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Other key measurements you might be interested in are his saddle height, 780mm from the BB to the saddle top, a 400mm handlebar width with a 120mm stem, and 10mm of spacers under the stem. Not all pros want or need their stems slammed then!

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The team continues to be sponsored by SRAM and this year it’s riding the new Red eTap AXS wireless groupset. The entire team are using stock SRAM parts - we spotted no special cranks as we did over on the Trek-Segafredo bikes.

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Dowsett’s gearing is a 10-28t cassette...

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...with a 50/37t chainset.

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He’s using the Aerocockpit, a one-piece carbon handlebar and stem. “I like the bars a lot and making sure the front end of the bike is aero is important. We’re lucky to have the option!” explains Dowsett.

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At the other end of the bike is a Selle Italia SP-01 KIT Carbonio Superflow saddle. The neat feature about this rather unusual looking saddle is that the two sides of the saddle are only connected at the nose and via the seatpost clamp, allowing the two sides to move independently. That is aimed at providing more comfort and pressure relief, something he’ll surely appreciated on the long stages of the Tour.

You can read our review of the saddle here. 

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You might be wondering about the wheels? They’re Zipp’s 454 NSW wheels which are the US company’s range-topping highest performing wheels. The unusual rim shape dubbed Sawtooth and the rim depth varies from 53 to 58mm deep which is intended to improve stability in the wind.

Zipp says that the inspiration for the SawTooth design came from the irregular shape of the leading edge of humpback whale pectoral fins.

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Tyres are the very familiar Continental Competition Pro LTD, a lighter version of the regular Competition tyre thanks to a latex inner tube that aren’t available to the public. They measure 25mm wide.

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Names on the hubs, just to make sure the wheels go on the right frame!

Red bikes are faster right?  What do you think of his bike and setup? Let us know down below…

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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