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Light Weight vs Aero?

Old 10-16-22, 05:51 PM
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circlemaker
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Light Weight vs Aero?

Hello, I'm new to the forum, but not to cycling. However, I've been out of the saddle for a while (accident with hip fracture) and not very savvy about the newest bike tech. I would greatly appreciate your earnest, well considered advice.

In a nutshell, my question is, if being fast and competitive (informally) is important, should I buy a light weigh, or aero version of a Canyon or comparable road bike? Here are some factors to consider: 1) I'm small (5'7" and 145 lbs.). 2) My usual ridding terrain (Southern California) is mixed, i.e., mostly flat to hilly with several steep climbs on a typical 40-mile ride. And it can be quite windy along the coast).

I am aware that smaller riders like me have a weight-to-strength advantage that makes us better climbers than bigger riders (all else being equal). And I like accelerating past the bigger riders on hills. But smaller riders have more surface area per unit of muscle mass, making us less able to counter wind resistance. And I rarely ride in anyone’s draft (which I regard as mildly obnoxious).

I'm no physicist or mathematician, but my inclination is to go aero to help me on level ground (I'm not especially brave on descent). BUT, as a small rider, every ounce of bike weight is a bigger percentage of my weight than that of a bigger rider (3 lbs. is more than 2% of my weight vs less than 1.7% of a rider weighing 180 lbs.).

Is going aero at the expense of weight best for me?

Many thanks for your response!
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Old 10-16-22, 06:15 PM
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So you are basically comparing a Canyon Aeroroad vs Ultimate. In theory the Aeroroad should be the quickest bike in all but full-on alpine routes. But the Ultimate is likely to be a little more comfortable, which may be better overall for the average rider. Personally I ride a Canyon Endurace, which is an even more comfortable version of the Ultimate.
The latest version of the Ultimate is a little more aero optimised than the outgoing model, so could be a good compromise. The weight vs aero trade-off on modern bikes is pretty small. There's more difference in weight between low and high spec versions of the same bike. If you throw enough cash at it then you can have both aero and low weight.
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Old 10-16-22, 07:24 PM
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How are you planning to be "competitive (informally)" while avoiding drafting? I think you may have gotten lost on the way to https://www.bikeforums.net/triathlon/ .

Or are you talking about dropping other people who don't know they're in a competition with you (i.e., Cat 6 racing) so you can give them a look as you cruise by? Then it all depends on whether you plan to do the majority of that on the flats or on sustained 4+% grades. But then equipment choices like wheel depth are going to make a lot more of a difference than frame. That's talking bike-specific equipment only, as I'm assuming you'll be riding in a skinsuit with an aero helmet and socks already.
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Old 10-16-22, 07:29 PM
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If you are cruising at 20 mph or more most of the time aero is probably going to pay off .... and if weight is a big issue, go weight-weenie on other parts of the build.

I am not an engineer, and I know I will probably, by saying those words, summon the demon-souls of every pro and amateur scientist in the universe .... but I doubt you are going to notice a huge difference in measured performance no matter which way you go.

The pros use everything they have to get every advantage---because they have maxed out the engine already, and because a one-percent edge might be a win or a loss. To an amateur rider, one percent will get lost in the weeds ... did you have a stressful day at work, eat some too-greasy/too-spicy Thai or Mexican for lunch, did you get good sleep, are you just not really feeling it but would rather ride the bike than the couch ......

I have a couple main rides right now---both endurance frames---but one is about 18 pounds with lights, tools, tubes, and food, while the other is about 28 ready to roll. I don't see anything like a one-third increase in performance despite the increase in weight .... in fact, on any given couple of days, even riding the exact same routes, my performance is almost always governed by my attitude that day. I am sure if I swapped every other day and times everything to precision and rode exactly identical routes .... I might find a tiny tilt toward the lighter bike over time .... it just makes sense. But even on hilly rides, how my legs and lungs and heart feel is what determines how hard I hit the hills--or how hard the hills hit me. The bike weight doesn't seem to be the determining factor.

Buy the bike you like better, I'd say. Also comfort is a much bigger deal (IMO) for non-pro riders .... if the bike hits hard on bumps or the riding position is a little too extreme for some days, you are a lot more likely not to enjoy the ride as much (possibly) and a lot less likely to hit it as hard (possibly.)

Another thing .... likely the biggest drag on the bike is the rider. if you ride in full aero position 100 percent of the time, then sure .... get aero socks and aero gloves and an aero frame. But if you sit up even a little, that one-percent aero advantage is completely nullified. Like those old-school long-tail TT helmets .... lean a few degrees forward and the aero tail becomes an aero-sail, an air-brake.

Buy the bike which you like better .... color or style, or if you really think aero is important, buy the more aero bike. Likely the on-road experience with either of the bikes you mention will be close enough that what will determine the experience and the performance, will be all mental---if you feel fast, or just like riding the bike .... It will be the faster of the two.
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Old 10-16-22, 08:05 PM
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In theory, going aero at the expense of weight wins pretty much all the time unless you're riding a solely uphill time trial.

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Buy the bike which you like better .... color or style, or if you really think aero is important, buy the more aero bike. Likely the on-road experience with either of the bikes you mention will be close enough that what will determine the experience and the performance, will be all mental---if you feel fast, or just like riding the bike .... It will be the faster of the two.
I'll echo that. Pretty much all modern bikes (and all in the Canyon range) will be great. Buy the bike that you like the look of the best. It'll be the faster one for you.

I went with the Aeroad and don't regret it. 😎
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Old 10-16-22, 08:26 PM
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It depends on how fast you ride. Aerodynamics advantage increases with average speed; light weight advantage is independent of speed.
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Old 10-16-22, 08:43 PM
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aero everything!
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Old 10-16-22, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
It depends on how fast you ride. Aerodynamics advantage increases with average speed; light weight advantage is independent of speed.
Agreed
I think above 20mph or so aerodynamics takes over (assuming no wind). If there is wind I think it drops.
Also, if you do lots of climbing, bike weight will matter more.

If it isn't competitive more weight = more exercise, so there is that too
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Old 10-16-22, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
So you are basically comparing a Canyon Aeroroad vs Ultimate. In theory the Aeroroad should be the quickest bike in all but full-on alpine routes. But the Ultimate is likely to be a little more comfortable, which may be better overall for the average rider. Personally I ride a Canyon Endurace, which is an even more comfortable version of the Ultimate.
The latest version of the Ultimate is a little more aero optimised than the outgoing model, so could be a good compromise. The weight vs aero trade-off on modern bikes is pretty small. There's more difference in weight between low and high spec versions of the same bike. If you throw enough cash at it then you can have both aero and low weight.
Thanks, PeteHski. Compliance is certainly a factor worth consideration, especially at my age. Now I must consider which kind of pain I prefer: the pain of rattled bones and a sore butt from a less compliant bike, or the the pain of lactic Acidosis from fighting the wind without optimal aerodynamics. OK. I'm not being completely serious here. And your preferance for the lighter, more compliant bike is sensible. But I'm still undecided because one of the two advantages of being a smaller rider is that I can ride a very light frame without flexing it. ----- How do you like your Endurance? And how is the experience of buying direct from Canyon?
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Old 10-16-22, 10:07 PM
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I weigh less than you. I certainly can't notice the difference between riding uphill with two full bottles and two empty ones. That's likely more than the weight difference between the aero an the lightweight bike. The aero bike will benefit you on the flat, over rolling terrain where you can keep you speed up, and downhill. The lightweight bike will benefit you slightly on any decent climbs. By how much? Probably less than you think.

If you like a bit of added comfort the Ultimate is probably the "sensible" choice. I've never been once for sensible though. 😜

Originally Posted by circlemaker View Post
And how is the experience of buying direct from Canyon?
My experience was top notch. Even customer service (which many seem to have issue with) was great. They answered my questions via email within 24-48 hours. From order to delivery was under two weeks, with full tracking all the way. Bike arrived and only needed minimal assembly.
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Old 10-17-22, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
I weigh less than you. I certainly can't notice the difference between riding uphill with two full bottles and two empty ones. That's likely more than the weight difference between the aero an the lightweight bike. The aero bike will benefit you on the flat, over rolling terrain where you can keep you speed up, and downhill. The lightweight bike will benefit you slightly on any decent climbs. By how much? Probably less than you think.

If you like a bit of added comfort the Ultimate is probably the "sensible" choice. I've never been once for sensible though. 😜



My experience was top notch. Even customer service (which many seem to have issue with) was great. They answered my questions via email within 24-48 hours. From order to delivery was under two weeks, with full tracking all the way. Bike arrived and only needed minimal assembly.
Thanks for your response. I feel more comfortable about buying Canyon and possibly going for the Aero.
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Old 10-17-22, 12:51 AM
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I think some of your comments are in earnest, and I will respond accordingly. First, I think you would agree, there are many reasons to cycle and many reasons to compete. For me, competitive cycling is nothing more than combining recreation with the attempt to match or surpass the performance of other cyclists. I’m just an aging cyclist trying to stay young and have fun. ----- I don't know why you assume I gloat or try to make other cyclists feel bad when I pass them. Do you do that? If our speeds are not too different, I usually say hello or comment on their bike. Do I feel good about dropping a skin-suited cyclist half my age? Of course, I do! And so would you (unless half your age is less than 16). But I do it to feel good. Not to make others feel bad. If I wanted to make others feel bad, I would draft and take every advantage to win (and be a Cat 6 racer). ----- Surely it is not difficult to imagine how you can be paced by a cyclist who passes you competitively, and whom you challenge on the next hill, all without drafting? ---- No? Really? ----- Triathlon? I would if I could run and swim worth a damn. ----- Skinsuit? Well, it would cover my very hairy arms and legs. But if I refrain from the advantage of drafting, why would I wear one of those? ----- I genuinely appreciate your mention of terrain grade. Despite riding my best uphill, my riding is mostly on fairly flat, windy stretches. My decision should accord with that, even though I rarely maintain 20+ MPH for more than a few minutes at a time. ---- The aero versions of the bikes I have looked at have wheels that are quite deep.

Just a quick request: please don't assume the worst about people. This Country is a mess due to that sort of thing. Thanks.
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Old 10-17-22, 12:55 AM
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Do you ride by the numbers or for the experience? The aero bike is objectively faster but unless you're cruising at 20+ mph the gains will be so small. A lightweight bike, on the other hand, will feel more responsive to accelerations, which is a nice sensation even if it may not hold speed as well.
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Old 10-17-22, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
If you are cruising at 20 mph or more most of the time aero is probably going to pay off .... and if weight is a big issue, go weight-weenie on other parts of the build.

I am not an engineer, and I know I will probably, by saying those words, summon the demon-souls of every pro and amateur scientist in the universe .... but I doubt you are going to notice a huge difference in measured performance no matter which way you go.

The pros use everything they have to get every advantage---because they have maxed out the engine already, and because a one-percent edge might be a win or a loss. To an amateur rider, one percent will get lost in the weeds ... .
This
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Old 10-17-22, 06:18 AM
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Get the one with the color you like best. That will matter more than the other issues. Really, the color, the saddle and the wheelset/tires will be what's important.
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Old 10-17-22, 06:47 AM
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An often made mistake is comparing bike weights and making a big deal out of a 100 or 200 gram difference. I weigh 60kg. With my bike and all equipment including two water bottles, the total is at least 70kg or 70,000 grams. 200/70,000 is 0.29%. Its too trivial to worry about, but apparently worth charging $2000 more for the light version of the same frame. There's a sucker born every minute. Watching your body weight is just as important. Nothing funnier than a fat guy on a $15,000 bike.
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Old 10-17-22, 06:55 AM
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someone mentioned deep wheels - if it's that windy on the coast roads, I would recommend not getting them. I get moved around considerably on gusty days with my deep Reynolds wheels and I'm not light (5-10", 170 lbs).
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Old 10-17-22, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by circlemaker View Post
Thanks, PeteHski. Compliance is certainly a factor worth consideration, especially at my age. Now I must consider which kind of pain I prefer: the pain of rattled bones and a sore butt from a less compliant bike, or the the pain of lactic Acidosis from fighting the wind without optimal aerodynamics. OK. I'm not being completely serious here. And your preferance for the lighter, more compliant bike is sensible. But I'm still undecided because one of the two advantages of being a smaller rider is that I can ride a very light frame without flexing it. ----- How do you like your Endurance? And how is the experience of buying direct from Canyon?
No worries you are welcome. I chose the Endurace (over both the Ultimate and Aeroroad) because my target events are typically 100 mile Sportives with some serious climbing (Letape du Tour was my main event this year). Our local roads are also pretty rough, so I appreciate a little extra compliance. As for speed, the Endurace is plenty competitive enough for most people. Obviously it wouldn't be the best choice for a flat TT, but for anything else it doesn't hold me back at all. It's light and nimble and reasonably aero with mid-depth carbon wheels and integrated bars. It's a very nice bike to ride on a daily basis and holds its own in any impromptu road battles!

The only thing that puts me off the Aeroroad is ride comfort. I love the compliant split seatpost on my Endurace, along with the slightly more relaxed geometry (although it's still very much a race bike). If I was riding mainly short, flatter routes I would probably be riding an Aeroroad.

I think Canyon are great too. This is my second Canyon and almost certainly not my last. Their bikes are top quality (on a par with the likes of Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, etc) but a significant amount cheaper for an equivalent spec (based on UK pricing). Customer service here in the UK is pretty reasonable too, although I've not had to use it much.
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Old 10-17-22, 10:18 AM
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I have been considering which new bike or frame for months and have similar goals as OP. I did not fracture the hip itself but did fracture the greater trochanter leading into it. One thing to know about Canyon is their seat tube angles are steeper than most other manufacturers. In my case, this helps post recover from fracture. Personally, I found their customer service online to be useless because they cannot answer basic dimensional questions, which is important because they won't swap out the stem/bars. The new version of the Ultimate has completely hidden cables/hoses with a very aero cockpit. This new version is not available in the USA yet but the Euros have it. The older version has exposed brake hose, these add a lot of aero drag. The wheels on the Ultimate have narrower rims than on the Endurace (25mm vs 30mm). This means you can run a wider tire on the endurace and still meet the 105 ratio. I think Canyon bikes are really ugly bikes but functionality and price/quality report, they are probably the best. My guess? The Ultimate with hidden cables would be a good bet for you. If you have the money, get the CFR super light carbon frame

Another bike to consider is the Trek Emonda. Light and aero. 15 pounds on the top of the line SLR model and probably 17 pounds on middle range model, the weight difference is trivial. It has hidden cables but they are done in a way that you can swap out the stem. The XL Emonda SLR is a little short on reach for me but with a 140 or 150mm stem, it would work. All of the Canyons have pretty aggressive reach and stacks, so, they should put you into a decent aero position say relative to a Domane or Roubaix that are upright.
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Old 10-17-22, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
An often made mistake is comparing bike weights and making a big deal out of a 100 or 200 gram difference. I weigh 60kg. With my bike and all equipment including two water bottles, the total is at least 70kg or 70,000 grams. 200/70,000 is 0.29%. Its too trivial to worry about, but apparently worth charging $2000 more for the light version of the same frame. There's a sucker born every minute. Watching your body weight is just as important. Nothing funnier than a fat guy on a $15,000 bike.
If I were a rich guy, in addition to being a fat guy, I would be that guy.
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Old 10-17-22, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by circlemaker View Post
I think some of your comments are in earnest, and I will respond accordingly. First, I think you would agree, there are many reasons to cycle and many reasons to compete. For me, competitive cycling is nothing more than combining recreation with the attempt to match or surpass the performance of other cyclists. I’m just an aging cyclist trying to stay young and have fun. ----- I don't know why you assume I gloat or try to make other cyclists feel bad when I pass them. Do you do that? If our speeds are not too different, I usually say hello or comment on their bike. Do I feel good about dropping a skin-suited cyclist half my age? Of course, I do! And so would you (unless half your age is less than 16). But I do it to feel good. Not to make others feel bad. If I wanted to make others feel bad, I would draft and take every advantage to win (and be a Cat 6 racer). ----- Surely it is not difficult to imagine how you can be paced by a cyclist who passes you competitively, and whom you challenge on the next hill, all without drafting? ---- No? Really? ----- Triathlon? I would if I could run and swim worth a damn. ----- Skinsuit? Well, it would cover my very hairy arms and legs. But if I refrain from the advantage of drafting, why would I wear one of those? ----- I genuinely appreciate your mention of terrain grade. Despite riding my best uphill, my riding is mostly on fairly flat, windy stretches. My decision should accord with that, even though I rarely maintain 20+ MPH for more than a few minutes at a time. ---- The aero versions of the bikes I have looked at have wheels that are quite deep.

Just a quick request: please don't assume the worst about people. This Country is a mess due to that sort of thing. Thanks.
Get the Ultimate and shave your arms and legs. It could save you 20w! Win-win!
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Old 10-17-22, 01:09 PM
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Lot's of riders opt for the aero benefits of the Aero gut over light weight. I know I do.
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Old 10-17-22, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RB1-luvr View Post
someone mentioned deep wheels - if it's that windy on the coast roads, I would recommend not getting them. I get moved around considerably on gusty days with my deep Reynolds wheels and I'm not light (5-10", 170 lbs).
Or, just run a deep rim rear wheel. Cross winds have less effect on bike control with just a rear deep rim.
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Old 10-17-22, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by circlemaker View Post
Hello, I'm new to the forum, but not to cycling. However, I've been out of the saddle for a while (accident with hip fracture) and not very savvy about the newest bike tech. I would greatly appreciate your earnest, well considered advice.

In a nutshell, my question is, if being fast and competitive (informally) is important, should I buy a light weigh, or aero version of a Canyon or comparable road bike? Here are some factors to consider: 1) I'm small (5'7" and 145 lbs.). 2) My usual ridding terrain (Southern California) is mixed, i.e., mostly flat to hilly with several steep climbs on a typical 40-mile ride. And it can be quite windy along the coast).

I am aware that smaller riders like me have a weight-to-strength advantage that makes us better climbers than bigger riders (all else being equal). And I like accelerating past the bigger riders on hills. But smaller riders have more surface area per unit of muscle mass, making us less able to counter wind resistance. And I rarely ride in anyone’s draft (which I regard as mildly obnoxious).

I'm no physicist or mathematician, but my inclination is to go aero to help me on level ground (I'm not especially brave on descent). BUT, as a small rider, every ounce of bike weight is a bigger percentage of my weight than that of a bigger rider (3 lbs. is more than 2% of my weight vs less than 1.7% of a rider weighing 180 lbs.).

Is going aero at the expense of weight best for me?

Many thanks for your response!
Many thanks to everyone who responded to my request for advice. I rarely participate in online forums, and I am amazed at how many thoughtful and well-grounded responses I received. I am now more confident about buying a Canyon (after the 2023, hidden cable versions are available here), and will seriously consider the Endurance. I’m still a bit apprehensive about buying directly because I have never worked on hydraulic disc brakes (they didn’t exist even on mountain bikes when I worked in bike shops). ----- GhostRider62, I hope your trochanteric fracture doesn’t hold you back. My fracture was at the hip socket (acetabulum), which could have been disastrous. But I recovered quickly and should be OK until the post traumatic osteoarthritis catches up with me. ------ Genejockey’s postscript quote, “everybody’s gotta be somewhere” reminds me of something my logic professor at UCLA liked to say: “The statement, I am here now, is always true.” – David Kaplan ----- I’ll chime in again when I have a new bike to rave about. ----- Thanks, again!
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Old 10-18-22, 01:19 AM
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Branko D
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The modern crop of aero road bikes aren't really uncomfortable; a friend of mine rides an Aeroad and we ride up to a hundred+ km together when our training schedules align. I ride an aero bike (which we joke looks like it was built by the same factory in China because of how similar the frames look) and it's comfortable basically all day. A lot of absorbing road buzz is down to the tire pressure, tires and wheels, as well as the saddle. Granted, roads in my country are actually reasonably good - I know a guy who says he doesn't run anything smaller than 28c in Ireland running 25c here.

Comfort is also hugely related to a good fit on the bike, though, and that's one thing where the Aeroad and the Ultimate - which share a very similar geometry - might be too racing oriented for someone who doesn't spend a lot of time on the bike and isn't young, and an Canyon Endurace might be a better fit.

For instance, looking at my size (S in Canyon's sizing - I'm 179 cm tall), the Aeroad and Ultimate have a reach of 390mm (that's how far the handlebars are from the bottom bracket axis) and a stack of 539 and 542mm respectively (that's how high the handlebars are). That's a pretty "long and low" position - good for racing and it's comfortable for me (my current bike is very similar at 381mm / 538mm) without spacers under the stem, but I suspect the Endurace which in the same size has a reach of 375 and stack of 568 is probably going to fit most people a bit better (except the handlebar width, where the Ultimate's narrower bar is more appropriate to the actual sizing of the bike).

Fit questions aside, between weight and aero I'd always go with the aero unless I was strictly racing up hills.
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