Canyon recently announced the "2023" edition of their flagship bike for cyclocross racing, the Inflite. This is a well-known design that has appeared under Alpecin-Deceuninck with world champion riders Mathieu van der Poel and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. The Inflite is hard to miss with the distinctive "kinked" top tube design, intended for easier carrying of the bike on the shoulder.
For the purposes of this discussion, I'm referring to the updated carbon fiber models. Canyon has produced aluminum Inflite models in the past, but it's really a different bike, and as of this writing, the old aluminum model no longer appears on the Canyon USA site, suggesting it's discontinued.
Canyon Inflite Pros and Cons
Short on time? Here are the key pros and cons of the updated Canyon Inflite, as I see them:
Canyon Inflite Specs
Canyon, being a direct-to-consumer brand that isn't sold in bike shops, delivers a component spec that is very much focused on bang for the buck.
Their recent press release describes 4 new models (as of this writing, only 2 of which have appeared on the Canyon USA website) with these trim levels:
Inflite SL 6 - $1999 USD
SL carbon frame, Shimano GRX 600 group, a great starter bike for someone getting started in cyclocross racing. Even the base model gets proper 33mm cyclocross tires. It's the only updated Inflite to lack a power meter.
Inflite SL 7 - $2999 USD
GRX 810 levers and rear derailleur, Ultegra crank with 4iii power meter, Ultegra front derailleur, and DT Swiss 1800 aluminum wheels. This looks to me like the value workhorse - a great choice for the privateer racer who is paying their own way. They even spec'd a proper double 36/46 chainrings!
Inflite SL 8 - $3700 USD
The Inflite SL 8 is the SRAM answer to the SL 7 for riders who prefer SRAM to Shimano; featuring a Rival 1x AXS group with power, plus an upgrade to DT Swiss carbon tubeless wheels.
Inflite SLX 9 - $5999
SLX carbon frame, paired with SRAM's Force eTap AXS group (including a Quarq power meter) and DT carbon CRC1400 wheels. Nice. Sadly, they're tubeless, not tubular; but that's OK as most buyers at this level will want to bring their own tubular wheels and cyclocross tires.
"SL" describes Canyon's base level of carbon fiber, while "SLX" is lighter and more expensive. The SLX frame is sub-1,000 grams in some sizes, while published weight on the SL is claimed 300 grams more - still quite light.
One of the most notable changes is the inclusion of power meters at lower price points than ever before. While I think the idea of monitoring power is great, I'm not sure about having someone else select my preferred monitor for me... crank-based power meters can't easily be moved from bike to bike like pedals, for example. That being said, the fact that prices have come down enough to make it realistic for brands to include power meters on new bikes is good news just by itself.
A pure cyclocross race bike, with limited tire clearance
The Inflite, especially in carbon fiber, is a pure race bike for cyclocross. While many brands are combining their cyclocross and gravel models, and making so-called "wide" cranksets required in order to increase tire clearance, Canyon has stuck with a more traditional design.
The Inflite design is compatible with both 1x and 2x drivetrains, a refreshing change when some brands are switching to 1x only.
Notably, some Inflite tiers are still available with Shimano road double cranks. That's nice for racers that prefer a narrow Q-factor, but it also means these bikes suffer from limited tire clearance, so don't plan on stuffing a wide, modern gravel tire into one. Canyon's published max tire size is just 38mm.
You'll also find no rack or fender mounts to speak of. I love that.
Now, the bad news. It appears Canyon will miss the 2022 cyclocross season in the USA entirely with these models, while at least some models/sizes/colors are on their EU website available now. Grumble.
It's not a secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned supply chains on their head. Still, with just a couple months of prime racing season it's frustrating to not have access to more choices. Many bike brands are still suffering from supply challenges and cyclocross bikes are no exception.
I think the Inflite line would make a fine choice for both new and experienced cyclocross racers.
While the Inflite has some compromises, it has them because Canyon focused on building a pure cyclocross race bike, so kudos to them. They can do that because they have other gravel and adventure models in their line-up. That's refreshing when so many other brands are hedging their bets by marketing their "gravel" bikes for 'cross, instead of making two distinct purpose-built bikes.
If you're seeking a "do it all" bike that also works for gravel racing, bikepacking, and adventure rides, keep looking. The race-focused Inflite does one thing really well - cyclocross - and isn't a good match to those other disciplines.