First Impressions: 2018 Canyon Torque

Bikes like the Commencal Supreme SX and the Polygon Square One are carving out a new future for the 180mm bike with the help of lighter frames and componentry, combined with today’s wide range gearing.

Now there’s a new kid joining the 180mm club, the reinvented Canyon Torque.

The Torque is a lean looking 180mm bike.


What’s New?

The Canyon Torque forms part of Canyon’s new ‘family’ of bikes consisting of the Spectral, Torque and Sender. All of these bikes share the same ‘three-stage’ suspension design and philosophy (and we expect the 160mm Strive will receive an update at some point in 2018) that we covered in depth in our first impressions piece on the all-new Spectral.

The Canyon Torque forms part of Canyon’s new ‘family’ of bikes consisting of the Spectral, Torque and Sender.

Fabien Barel floating through the Madeira singletrack aboard the new Torque.

The Torque fits in between the enduro race focused Strive and the Sender downhill bike, pairing 175mm of rear travel to a 180mm fork. With these numbers, there’s no doubt the Torque is aimed squarely at riders who live for the descent and be it by choice or necessity they pedal their way to the top.

Long descents are very much what the Torque is about.

So, how does the bike ride?

The new Canyon Torque does what it says on the box, which is a very good thing.

Our first day on the Torque was a complete washout (literally) with regards to testing the bike, as we slid our way down (sometimes on the bike, sometimes not) Madeira’s most technical trails in absolutely torrential rain.

While we battled our way through the day, Joe Barnes didn’t seem to have any issues.

On the second day, however, we got to open the throttle up a bit more, and the bike came into its element. The rear suspension is incredibly supple off the top, providing traction and support, but the mid stroke provides just enough pop for the bike to ride more playfully than its 175mm of travel might suggest.

The stable mid-stroke means the bike doesn’t wallow in its 175mm of travel.

As we discussed in our first impressions piece on the Spectral, the progressiveness of the ‘three-stage’ suspension is truly exceptional, and we couldn’t bottom the Torque out running 30 percent sag, even on some big, nasty and flat landings on the most hectic of trails.

The Torque really shone riding wide open, technical trails, where its active suspension and forgiving geometry allowed you to make a mistake after mistake and still ride out.

Where the bike struggled a touch was in super tight terrain and European style switchbacks, where its slack geometry and long legs could feel a bit vague if you were trying to snap the bike through tight corners quickly, or pivot on the front end to get around a tight switchback.

The Torque requires a fair bit of body language to manoeuvre in tight terrain.

While the Torque is impressively playful for a 180mm bike, it does lack some of the poppy character of its shorter travel Spectral sibling, and riding the two bikes back to back affirmed that you need some demanding trails or an ultra-aggressive riding style to get the most out of this bike.

The Torque really shone riding wide open, technical trails, where its active suspension and forgiving geometry allowed you to make a mistake after mistake and still ride out.


Is the Torque a total pig uphill?

Surprisingly not. While you won’t be taking the victory in your local XC series aboard the Torque, the bike climbs very well considering its long legs.

The Torque’s geometry is aggressive, but not totally out there.

For all but the most technical of climbs we would engage the shock’s lockout, as well as firming up the forks, and we wouldn’t mind if the seat tube was a touch steeper, however we were climbing up roads with a locked-out fork, and climbing off road with the fork open would put you more over the front when the fork sags.

All in all though, with the compression levers engaged there’s only a hint more bob than you might find on a 150mm bike.


What models are available?

There are seven Torque models available in total, with four aluminium models and three models featuring a carbon front end mated to an aluminium rear.

The Torque CF 9.0 Pro

We rode an aluminium frame adorned with top of the line components for the majority of the launch. However the cheaper models come with 11 speed drivetrains and 32 tooth chainrings.

The Torque AL5 is the cheapest model in the range.

We think that perhaps this gearing might be a touch steep if you’ll be riding up steep access roads as the weight will creep up on the lower end models, but swapping out to a 30 or 28 tooth chainring isn’t too much of an issue.

All models feature a threaded bottom bracket.

We rode both an aluminium Torque as well as the CF frameset, and for us, there was only the slightest discernible amount of increased frame rigidity in the CF model. We later asked Fabien Barel about this, and he said there are stiffness gains there, as well as the obvious weight savings, but the large majority of riders wouldn’t be able to perceive the difference in feeling between the two front triangles.

We’re excited to see the Canyon Torque land in Australia. It’s the kind of bike we’re itching to rail down those tough descents that can only be accessed by leg power.

First Impressions: 2018 Canyon Spectral

Introducing the all-new Canyon Spectral, a hard-hitting 27.5” trail bike combining a 140mm rear end with 150mm of travel up front, a whole host of changes from the previous model, and excellent value.

We’ve just spent a few days on the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal riding the new bike, and here’s what we thought!

The chart-topping Spectral CF 9.0 LTD – $9999 AUD.

What’s New?

Just about everything! Starting with the frame, the linkage system has seen a complete overhaul, with new pivot placements and a horizontal shock orientation that puts the Spectral in line with a new ‘family’ of Canyon bikes.

There is a trick new cable housing system we’ve not seen before, a new rear hub axle concept, a funky storage system, great water carrying facilities and a wallet-friendly aluminium versions too.

We’ll go into this new ‘family’ of bikes in an upcoming article, but essentially the Spectral’s linkage design has been altered to allow for what they call ‘Triple Phase’ suspension kinematics, a system that was initially derived from the development of their Sender downhill bike.

Triple Phase suspension kinematics, according to Canyon, is the combination of a sensitive initial stroke for small bump sensitivity, a stable mid stroke for support and a progressive end stroke to provide a bottomless feel.

The ‘Triple Phase Suspension’ design has, you guessed it, three phases.

The redesigned linkage and kinematics also provides high levels of anti-squat and anti-rise, meaning pedal bob is controlled and brake jack is minimised, a double win for Canyon on this one!

As a side benefit, standover clearance has been increased in every size due to the horizontal shock mounting.

In terms of standards, the Spectral is equipped with a metric shock, and boost spacing front and rear.

We’ve also spent a lot of time on the outgoing Spectral – Read our reviews here: Spectral CF 9.0 EX and Spectral AL 7.0 EX.


27.5” wheels and 2.6” tyres?

Bucking the trend of longer travel 29” bikes of late, Canyon decided on 27.5” wheels and ‘almost’ plus 2.6” tyres for the new Spectral.

Smaller wheels were chosen for more agile handling.

The 27.5” wheels contribute to the spritely handling Canyon wanted to achieve with this bike, and Canyon found 2.6” rubber to be the right balance between traction and avoiding the squirminess that can sometimes occur with plus-sized rubber.

Joe Barnes threads the needle through the slippery Madeiran singletrack.

A new era for cable integration, frame and bearing protection

As well as overhauling the Spectral’s linkage design and suspension kinematics, there are a number of small but impressive details featured on the new bike.

Canyon’s impact protection unit makes a return, a system that prevents your controls from mashing into your top tube in the event of a crash by locking out the steering before the handlebar overlaps the top tube.

The integration cable channel is a new idea that’s so simple it makes you wonder why nobody’s done it before. Canyon’s solution to the debate between internal and external cable routing, the cable integration channel combines the simplicity of external cables with the clean aesthetic of internal routing.

Canyon’s solution to the debate between internal and external cable routing.

This is done via a cover running the whole way along the downtube, with individual cable channels that house the dropper post, rear derailleur and brake cables. There’s also a channel for a front derailleur cable if you’re planning on summiting Everest aboard the Spectral. As a secondary feature, the channel also doubles as downtube protection.

The integration seat tube clamp reminds us of a similar system used by Whyte, where the clamp bolt is also integrated into the frame, allowing for a rubber grommet to be placed over where the seatpost enters the seat tube to prevent water ingress. Pulling off the grommet at the end of one of the muddiest days on the bike we’ve ever had revealed no moisture.

Another very intelligent feature of the new Spectral is the bearing caps used for the main pivot bearings, and additional bearings seals throughout.

Tested in the Scottish mud.

Joe Barnes was critical in the development of this feature, and he trialled running one side of his bike with a standard bearing cap, and another with the bolted-on cover, and the result was that the covered bearing still spun after months of abuse in the brutal Scottish mud, whilst the exposed bearing had almost completely seized.


The Eject ‘system’ and Frame Case:

Whilst there’s a lot of taking the mickey when it comes to haphazardly taping everything you need for a ride onto your bike, there are many riders out there who don’t want to go for a ride with the kitchen sink hanging off their back.

Canyon has listened to those riders, and the Spectral is compatible with their new ‘Eject’ water bottle system. Whilst at first, we thought the labelling of a water bottle as a ‘system’ was somewhat amusing, the Eject really is another innovative idea from the crafty Germans.

We absolutely love this. Unfortunately, our bikes weren’t kitted out with the Eject system, but we’re itching to try it back home.

The Eject is a bottle cage holder that has two offset cages holding two 400ml water bottles. The system was originally developed so that extra small and small frames could fit a water bottle, but testers loved the fact that you could run two bottles with two separate liquids, as well as take 800ml of fluid out on a ride, so Canyon will be offering the system with all Spectral purchases, as well as separately in the near future.

The Eject is a bottle cage holder that has two offset cages holding two 400ml water bottles.

The frame case is reminiscent of the external SWAT box found on some Specialized models, however, Canyon’s equivalent is mounted in the junction between the top and down tube, and has enough space for a spare tube, C02 cartridge and tyre levers.

The Frame Case utilises the same space as Josh Carlson’s custom “the frother” frame bag.

What model did we ride? 

We tested the Spectral CF 9.0 SL model on the simply stunning Madeiran singletrack.

Another tough day at the office.

This is a bike absolutely dripping with bling, and as such our bike hit the scales at just over 12kg for an XL without pedals, an impressive figure considering the frame’s beefy chassis and 2.6” rubber.

This model is one of two models featuring the SLX frameset, Canyon’s full carbon offering. A further three models pair a carbon front end with an aluminium rear, and there are also three aluminium models on offer.

Our bike hit the scales at just over 12kg for an XL without pedals.

The Spectral was easy to pick up and play with on the trail.

So, how does it ride?

Our six foot one tester found himself in between a large and extra-large frameset, and on the advice of one Fabien Barel went with the larger frame for the increased stability when tackling the long and rough Madeiran descents.

Similar to our Canyon Strive long term test bike, the Spectral features a fairly long front centre combined with a compact rear end, which according to Canyon offers straight-line stability whilst still retaining the ability to pop onto the rear wheel for a manual, or whip the rear end through a set of turns.

When Fabien Barel talks, we listen.
Joe giving his Spectral some back wheel loving.

We found their rationale to be pretty much spot on. On an XL frame with a 482mm reach and 430mm chainstays, we were able to point and shoot through some pretty nasty sections, but through the back-to-back rutted corners on offer high in the Madeiran mountains, the bike didn’t feel too lengthy.

We did switch to the large sized frame during testing to compare the sizing, and whilst the shorter reach and wheelbase meant we could change direction a little easier in some situations, the overall capabilities of this bike would have us reaching for the larger size every time if we were in between sizes.

The overall capabilities of this bike would have us reaching for the larger size every time if we were in between sizes.


Who is this bike for?

Whilst we only had a couple of days on the bike, we were able to smash out run after run of almost every type of trail thanks to the crew at Freeride Madeira (if you’re planning a trip to Madeira, these are the guys that build, maintain and shuttle the trails every day – be sure to get in touch), and it became clear this bike is a potential quiver killer for many riders.

‘Fun’ was the word thrown around a lot, that is for certain.

Running 30% sag in the rear and the shock completely open, the bike tracked the ground impressively, with comfortable small bump sensitivity.

‘Fun’ was the word thrown around a lot, that is for certain.

The middle portion of the travel provided a firmer platform to push against when changing lines on the trail, preloading the bike for a jump or keeping the bike from diving through chunky rock gardens.

Introducing Ieuan Williams, one crazy Welshman.

As Canyon had told us, the end stroke was indeed progressive, as usually 30 percent sag in the rear on a 140mm bike would see us bottoming out on bigger hits, but we had some horrible flat landings aboard the Spectral that didn’t push through all of the travel, so the bottom out resistance is indeed exceptional.

This was also with the standard amount of volume spacers in the Fox Float shock, so for heavier riders, or those with a particularly rough riding style, adding an additional volume spacer should prevent bottoming even further whilst still being able to run the optimal amount of sag.

On the geometry side of things, while a 66-degree head angle is on the slacker side if you’re after a bike to do a bit of everything, the 74.5-degree seat tube angle keeps you in a fairly upright position for seated pedalling, and the smaller wheels are able to be whipped through tighter trails with a bit of body language, as well as accelerating quickly.

Getting back up to speed out of corners is a snack.

While we were riding a higher end model with a lightweight parts kit, the geometry and kinematics of the Spectral were impressive for a broad spectrum of riding, and it wouldn’t be a too sluggish a bike on less demanding trails.


Any complaints?

Whilst at the end of our two days aboard the Spectral we formed the opinion this is a bike that could easily serve as a do it all trail rig, we’re also aware not everyone’s pockets are deep enough to afford the SLX frameset adorned with top of the line componentry. We’ll be trying to get our hands on a more budget-friendly model in the near future to see if the added weight takes anything away from this impressive machine.

For fans of lively bikes with character, agility and confidence we think the new Spectral re-affirms its place again for 2018.

The Spectral AL 6 has a pretty dialled spec for just $3599 AUD.

One thing that we would love to see is a 29” model, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s coming down the pipeline, and we think Canyon’s single-minded focus on the 27.5” wheel size for the Spectral allowed them to really nail the design brief.

It’s time to get on the blower to Canyon Australia and secure one of these on home soil we reckon!

For the complete range, pricing and availability head to the Canyon site for more – www.canyon.com

Flow’s First Bite: Canyon Spectral AL 7.0 EX

We have the Spectral on review, we’ve tested one before, but this time it’s their mid-level aluminium frame version. For $4799 this is a pretty impressive bike already, let’s have a closer look at it before we put it to work.

The distinct kinked top tube found on many Canyons.
The distinct kinked top tube found on many Canyons.
We love the way the shapes in the frame all seem to line up.
We love the way the shapes in the frame all seem to line up.

 


What is it?

The Spectral is Canyon’s long travel all-mountain bike, with 140mm travel out back and 150mm up front and 27.5″ wheels. The little brother of Canyon’s burly enduro race bike the Strive – which we’ve spent a lot of time on – the Spectral aims to provide better all-round performance with a less aggressive shape and feel.

The Spectral range is quite extensive, with many price point options including a few women’s specific versions too. Check out the Canyon site for the full range including pricing.Canyon Spectral-4913

We spent a few weeks on the higher end Spectral CF 9 with its superb spec and flashy carbon frame. It’s another insanely good looking bike too, have a look at that review here!

Tested: Canyon Spectral CF EX9.0


Aluminium frame, but with high-level parts spec, what’s going on here?

Aluminium frames are obviously cheaper than carbon, for comparison’s sake take a look on the Canyon website with all the pricing for your local region you’ll see this Spectral AL 7.0 EX sitting roughly in between the carbon framed Spectral CF 9.0 and CF8.0 regarding component spec. These two carbon bikes are which are $6199 and $5199 respectively while the aluminium Spectral we have here is $4799, we’ll let you do the math.

140mm of four-bar suspension, smooth stuff.
140mm of four-bar suspension, smooth stuff.

There are no doubt mountain bikers who are fans of aluminium over carbon for the age-old reasons that may or may not be true in this modern age, but there’s still no debating that we’d much rather have an aluminium framed bike landing on a rock than a carbon one.

So this brings us to the topic of carbon versus aluminium. Would we choose a higher spec aluminium frame over a lower spec carbon one? We’ll certainly have a lot to say on that in our upcoming review.


The parts look pretty good, huh!

Standing out to us in the spec is the SRAM Eagle drivetrain, Mavic wheels, Maxxis tyres, Renthal cockpit and a RockShox Pike fork. This is seriously good stuff!

Great aluminium cockpit from Renthal.
Great aluminium cockpit from Renthal.
SRAM Eagle, winner!
SRAM Eagle, winner!

Ride time!