On Test | Take A Closer Look At The 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0

As 2020 model year mountain bikes continue to come through thick and fast, Canyon has joined the fray with the rollout of several new bikes in preparation for the summer riding season. We’ve already had a look at the 2020 Canyon Spectral range, and here we’re going to be looking at some of the sharper bikes in the German brand’s lineup; the 2020 Lux & Exceed.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
Canyon is bolstering its Lux range with seven new models for 2020.

Give Us The Lux-Lowdown!

For those who are unfamiliar with the name, the Lux is Canyon’s 100mm travel XC full suspension race bike, which has been designed to carry riders like Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Mathieu van der Poel to World Cup glory.

The latest Lux platform was launched last year, with a wholesale redesign over the previous version. As well as the new suspension design, the latest Lux chassis has been whittled away to drop some serious grams over the old bike. And at just 1662g for the bare frame, it stands as the lightest and most advanced carbon fibre XC race bike that Canyon has ever produced.

2020 canyon lux pauline ferrand prevot
Pauline Ferrand-Prévot racing the Canyon Lux on the technical trails of Mont-Saint-Anne, where she somehow pulled back a 29-second lead by Bec McConnell to take the win. The XC race scene has been properly thrilling this year!
2020 canyon lux cf slx mathieu van der poel
Canyon-sponsored athlete, Mathieu van der Poel, had a short but blinding season on the mountain bike. Here he is riding his Lux race bike to victory at Val di Sole in Italy.

SL vs SLX

While the Lux is a strictly carbon fibre-only affair, Canyon does offer two versions; the cheaper SL and the more expensive SLX. Both frames share exactly the same shape, the same geometry, and the same Flex Pivot suspension design. The SLX is simply made from more exotic carbon fibre, which makes it the lighter of the two.

We should point out that the above frame weight for the Lux CF SLX frame is a bit of a headline-grabber from Canyon. By the time you add in the rear shock, Quixle thru-axle, IPU headset, derailleur hanger and various bits and bobs, the frame weight actually goes up to 2128g. That’s still bloody light, though not as svelte as the recently-released 2020 Trek Supercaliber.

As for the cheaper Lux CF SL frame? Canyon says that weighs just 190g more.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
The Lux is a svelte carbon fibre full suspension XC race bike.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
The uber-thin carbon seatstays are designed to flex throughout the suspension travel.

Heads-Down, Bums-Up

Canyon isn’t fooling around with the Lux – the geometry on this scorcher is 100% for the racetrack. Both the head and seat angles are steep at 70° & 74.5° respectively, while the chainstay length is compact at 435mm. This is quite a bit shorter than the previous generation Lux, which had a 450mm long back end. The reach measurements have gone the other way though, with the new Lux growing about 20mm longer in each of the four frame sizes. It’s still not exactly Mondraker-long though.

Of note is that the geometry is slightly different for the cheaper Lux CF SL models, which come with a slightly longer 110mm travel fork, compared to the 100mm fork that is spec’d on the SLX models. This kicks both the head and seat angles back by half a degree.

2020 canyon lux geometry
Geometry for the 2020 Canyon Lux SLX and SL. The SL comes with a longer 110mm travel fork, which kicks the angles back by half a degree.

Double Lockout

Being an XC race bike, the Lux comes equipped with a dual remote lockout that allows the rider to simultaneously lockout both the fork and shock at the same time.

As for the suspension itself, the Lux utilises a single-pivot arrangement with a one-piece carbon swingarm. That swingarm connects to both a very short alloy link at the top of the seat tube, as well as a composite yoke that links the seatstays to the end of the rear shock. You’ll also notice that there’s no pivot around the rear dropout. Instead, the Lux relies on flexion through the slender carbon seatstays as the suspension cycles through its travel.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
Canyon employs the Flex Point suspension design on the Lux, with a one-piece carbon swingarm.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
There’s a tiny alloy link that connects the seatstays to the seat tube, and a composite yoke that joins the seatstays to the rear shock.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
Such clean lines!

As well as being lightweight, the minimalist pivot and linkage configuration allows for more clearance inside the mainframe – enough to fit two 800ml water bottles on every frame size, including the Small. That sees the Lux join the Specialized Epic, Orbea Oiz, and Trek Supercaliber as one of the few full suspension bikes to accommodate two bottles.

1X Only & The World’s Tiniest Chain Guide!

No, that isn’t a manufacturing error – it’s an itty-bitty chainguide! That little piece of alloy weighs just 4.2g and keeps watch over the chain. It bolts directly to the main pivot, and can be rotated to accommodate a chainring from 30-38T.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0 sram 1x12 eagle stylo carbon chainguide
The 1x chainguide bolts directly into the main pivot.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0 quixle thru-axle
The Quixle uses a pull-out lever to loosen and remove the rear axle.

Speaking of, the Lux is a 1x-specific frame. That’s kind of unusual for an XC bike from a big German brand, especially given that both the latest Neuron and Spectral trail bikes are 2x compatible. But Canyon reckons that when it comes to XC racing, it’s all about the 1x setup.

The 2020 Canyon Lux Range

There will be seven Lux models available for the 2020 model year, starting at $4,549 for the Lux CF SL 6.0, and going up to a staggering $11,049 for the Lux CF SLX 9.0 Race LTD!

The model we’ve got on test is the Goldilocks Edition™, also known as the Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0, which sits smack-bang in the middle of the range. This bike will be with us for a few months as a longterm test bike, so expect to see a detailed review in the future. In the meantime, feel free to shoot us through any questions you’ve got.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
Wil’s been riding the 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0 for the past few weeks. Got any questions for him about the bike? Drop them into the comments below!
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0 water bottles
Every frame size will take two water bottles inside the mainframe.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0 rockshox sid select debonair 110mm
The SL models come with a 110mm travel fork up front.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0 rockshox sid select 110 reynolds tr249 carbon maxxis rekon
Our test bike features a 2.25in Maxxis Rekon front tyre for more grip and stability.

Regardless of price, all models feature 1×12 drivetrains with a 34T chainring, though you’ll see that Canyon has moved away from Grip Shift, and is instead spec’ing each bike with standard trigger shifters. Those are bolted to unfashionably narrow 720mm bars, while an 80mm stem features on every frame size. And aside from the cheapest model, all Lux’s are now equipped with a dropper post for 2020.

As well as coming with the longer 110mm travel fork, you’ll see that the Lux CF SL models also get a more generously-treaded Maxxis Rekon front tyre, while the Lux CF SLXs run the super-speedy Maxxis Aspen front and rear. Another interesting spec note is fork offset. Regardless of travel, all models with a Fox fork get a 44mm offset, while RockShox forks have a 51mm offset.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 6.0
The firetruck-red Lux CF SL 6.0 kicks off proceedings for less than five grand.

2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 6.0

  • Frame | SL Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe XC, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select, DebonAir Spring, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 110mm Travel
  • Wheels | DT Swiss X1900, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo 6K 34T Cranks & 11-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TL, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 11.7kg
  • RRP | $4,549
2020 canyon lux cf sl 7.0
With a Fox 34 Step-Cast fork and a Shimano XT 12-speed groupset, we expect the 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 7.0 will be one of the most popular options out of the lot.

2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 7.0

  • Frame | SL Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPS, Performance Elite, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | Fox 34 Step-Cast, Performance Elite, FIT4 Damper, Remote Lockout, 44mm Offset, 110mm Travel
  • Wheels | DT Swiss X1700, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/XT 34T Cranks & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT M8100, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Kind Shock LEV Si Dropper Post, 100mm Travel
  • Claimed Weight | 11.8kg
  • RRP | $5,199
2020 canyon lux cf sl 7.0 wmn
Canyon offers the 7.0 spec level in a women’s specific model that’s built around the same frame.

020 Canyon Lux CF SL 7.0 WMN

  • Frame | SL Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPS, Performance Elite, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | Fox 34 Step-Cast, Performance Elite, FIT4 Damper, Remote Lockout, 44mm Offset, 110mm Travel
  • Wheels | DT Swiss X1700, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT 1×12 w/XT 34T Cranks & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT M8100, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Kind Shock LEV Si Dropper Post, 100mm Travel
  • Claimed Weight | 11.8kg
  • RRP | $5,199
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
The Goldilocks model; the CF SL 9.0, which is the bike we’ve got on test.

2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0

  • Frame | SL Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe XC, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select+, DebonAir Spring, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 110mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds TR249 Carbon, 24mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM X01 Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TLM, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Kind Shock LEV Si Dropper Post, 100mm Travel
  • Claimed Weight | 11.4kg
  • RRP | $6,599
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
Canyon drops 190g of weight with the SLX frame, and specs a shorter 100mm travel fork to sharpen up the angles.

2020 Canyon Lux CF SLX 9.0

  • Frame | SLX Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe XC, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | RockShox SID Ultimate, DebonAir Spring, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds TR249 Carbon, 24mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12 w/XX1 Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-50T X01 Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TLM, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Canyon H20 Carbon, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Kind Shock LEV Si Dropper Post, 100mm Travel
  • Claimed Weight | 10.8kg
  • RRP | $7,899
2020 canyon lux cf slx 9.0 team
With the Lux CF SLX 9.0 Team model, you’re getting Fox Factory Series suspension, carbon DT Swiss wheels, and Shimano XTR. Delicious.

2020 Canyon Lux CF SLX 9.0 Team

  • Frame | SLX Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPS, Factory Series, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | Fox 32 Step-Cast, Factory Series, Remote Lockout, 44mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | DT Swiss XRC 1200 Carbon, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano XTR M9100 1×12 w/Race Face NextR Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano XTR M9100, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Canyon H20 Carbon, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Kind Shock LEV Carbon Dropper Post, 100mm Travel
  • Claimed Weight | 10.2kg
  • RRP | $10,249
2020 canyon lux cf slx 9.0 race ltd
The lightest Lux model also happens to be the most expensive. The Lux CF SLX 9.0 Race LTD weighs just 10.1kg, but costs over $11,000!

2020 Canyon Lux CF SLX 9.0 Race LTD

  • Frame | SLX Carbon Fibre, Flex Pivot Suspension Design, 100mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe XC, Remote Lockout, 210x55mm
  • Fork | RockShox SID Ultimate Carbon, DebonAir Spring, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds Black Label XC 259 Carbon, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1×12 w/XX1 Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-50T X01 Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level Ultimate, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Canyon H20 Carbon, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Kind Shock LEV Carbon Dropper Post, 100mm Travel
  • Claimed Weight | 10.1kg
  • RRP | $11,049
2020 canyon lux cf sl 9.0
Stay tuned for our review of the 2020 Canyon Lux.

And Here’s The 2020 Canyon Exceed Too!

That’s right folks – Canyon is also rolling out 2020 Exceed models, of which there are no fewer than nine to choose from. The range now kicks off at $2,699 for the CF SL 5.0, and tops out at nearly $10K for the CF SLX 9.0 Race LTD.

It’s worth noting that the Exceed frame itself is not new, and remains the same as it has for the past four years. That means that unlike the Lux, the Exceed will still take a front derailleur (we’ll publish an explainer article about those another day), and it’s still running a non-Boost 142x12mm back end.

However, like the Lux, the Exceed comes in both SL and SLX versions. Both are carbon, though the SLX is lighter thanks to the use of higher modulus carbon fibre that brings weight down to just 870g claimed. Given it’s a four-year old frame that’s still lighter than Giant’s recently released 2020 XTC Advanced SL carbon hardtail, that is damn impressive!

2020 canyon exceed cf sl 5.0
The Exceed CF SL 5.0 gets you a carbon hardtail for less than $3K.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 5.0

  • Frame | Exceed SL Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox Recon RL, Solo Air Spring, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Race Face AR25 Alloy Rims, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Schwalbe Rocket Ron Performance 2.25in
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo 6K 34T Cranks & 11-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level T, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 11.7kg
  • RRP | $2,699
2020 canyon exceed wmn cf sl 5.0
Using a RockShox Recon fork and a SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, the CF SL 5.0 WMN model adds in female-specific touch points to create a ready-to-race hardtail.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 5.0 WMN

  • Frame | Exceed SL Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox Recon RL, Solo Air Spring, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Race Face AR25 Alloy Rims, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Schwalbe Rocket Ron Performance 2.25in
  • Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo 6K 34T Cranks & 11-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level T, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 11.7kg
  • RRP | $2,699
2020 canyon exceed cf sl 6.0
Canyon is going deep with Shimano 12-speed for 2020, like on this Exceed CF SL 6.0 that features Deore XT M8100 groupset.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 6.0

  • Frame | Exceed SL Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | Fox 32 Rhythm, Remote Lockout, 44mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | DT Swiss X1900, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Schwalbe Rocket Ron Performance 2.25in
  • Drivetrain | Shimano Deore XT M8100 1×12 w/XT 34T Cranks & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano Deore XT M8100, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 10.7kg
  • RRP | $3,449
2020 canyon exceed cf sl 7.0
Reynolds TR249 Carbon wheels hop-up the Exceed CF SL 7.0 along with a RockShox SID fork.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 7.0

  • Frame | Exceed SL Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds TR249 Carbon, 24mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo 6K 34T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TL, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 10.2kg
  • RRP | $4,249
2020 canyon exceed wmn cf sl 7.0
The 2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 7.0 WMN is available down to an XS size – checkout how compact that frame is!

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 7.0 WMN

  • Frame | Exceed SL Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds TR249 Carbon, 24mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo 6K 34T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TL, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 10.2kg
  • RRP | $4,249
2020 canyon exceed cf sl 8.0
The top-spec option with the SL frameset, the Exceed CF SL 8.0 gets SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed shifting, carbon cranks, carbon wheels and a RockShox SID fork.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SL 8.0

  • Frame | Exceed SL Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox SID Select+, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds TR249 Carbon, 24mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Rekon EXO 2.25in Front & Aspen EXO 2.25in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM X01 Eagle 1×12 w/Stylo Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TLM, 160mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Race Face Ride Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Race Face Ride Alloy, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 10.2kg
  • RRP | $5,049
2020 canyon exceed cf slx 9.0
See that split seatpost? It’s made from carbon fibre and is designed to work like a leaf-spring to provide more comfort for the rider. Smoove.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SLX 9.0

  • Frame | Exceed SLX Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox SID Ultimate, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds TR249 Carbon, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Aspen EXO 2.25in
  • Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12 w/XX1 Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level TLM, 160mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Canyon H20 Carbon Flatbar, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Canyon S25 VCLS 2.0 Carbon, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 9.3kg
  • RRP | $6,599
2020 canyon exceed cf slx 9.0 race
The van der Poel edition gets a Shimano XTR drivetrain with a Fox 32 Step-Cast fork and carbon DT Swiss wheels.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SLX 9.0 Race

  • Frame | Exceed SLX Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | Fox 32 Step-Cast, Factory Series, Remote Lockout, 44mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | DT Swiss XRC 1200, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Aspen EXO 2.25in
  • Drivetrain | Shimano XTR M9100 1×12 w/Race Face Next R Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano XTR M9100, 160mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Canyon H20 Carbon Flatbar, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Canyon S25 VCLS 2.0 Carbon, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 8.9kg
  • RRP | $7,899
2020 canyon exceed cf slx 9.0 race ltd
The 2020 Canyon Exceed CF SLX 9.0 Race LTD is the priciest model. Of course you get matching blue lowers on the SID Ultimate Carbon forks for the pleasure.

2020 Canyon Exceed CF SLX 9.0 Race LTD

  • Frame | Exceed SLX Carbon Fibre
  • Fork | RockShox SID Ultimate Carbon, Remote Lockout, 51mm Offset, 100mm Travel
  • Wheels | Reynolds Black Label XC 259 Carbon, 25mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Aspen EXO 2.25in
  • Drivetrain | SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1×12 w/XX1 Carbon 34T Cranks & 10-50T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Level Ultimate, 160mm Rotors
  • Handlebar | Canyon H20 Carbon Flatbar, 31.8mm Diameter, 720mm Wide
  • Seatpost | Canyon S25 VCLS 2.0 Carbon, 30.9mm Diameter
  • Claimed Weight | 9.0kg
  • RRP | $9,449

Mo’ Flow Please!

Enjoyed that article? Then there’s plenty more to check out on Flow Mountain Bike, including all our latest news stories and product reviews. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up to our Facebook page and Instagram feed so you can keep up to date with all things Flow!

Riding the Red Hill mountain bike trails with the Canyon Oz Crew

We sent our News & Tech Editor, Wil Barrett, down to the Mornington Peninsula to check out the Red Hill mountain bike trails for the very first time, while being joined by the crew from Canyon Australia. 


Check out the video of Wil’s trip to the Red Hill MTB Trails here!


It started as a simple enough premise. I’d just finished up with a Spectral AL 6.0 test bike, which was due to be returned back to Canyon HQ in Melbourne. It’s only a two-and-a-bit hour drive for me from my hometown of Bendigo, and I needed to go to the Big Smoke anyway, so I figured I’d go drop the bike off to save packing it into a box and having it shipped. Plus, there was also a 2020 test bike for me to pick up. It’s a bike that we can’t talk about just yet, but you’ll find out about it soon enough…

Having contacted Mr Razzle Dazzle (also known as Darryl Moliere, the head honcho of Canyon Australia), the idea was floated to go check out the trails at Red Hill while I was there dropping off the Spectral. I’d never been to Red Hill before, and I’d only heard good things about the riding and terrain in that region, particularly from the more radical and handsome half of Flow Mountain Bike, the Marvellous Mick Ross.

canyon australia darryl moliere
Mr Razzle Dazzle delivering some inspiration for the troops at Canyon Australia HQ.

Daz had been at me before about getting out for a ride, since the trail network is local to the Canyon Australia office. And once the promise of post-ride craft ale was introduced into the conversation, there was really very little further arm-twisting required. Deciding to make the most of the opportunity, I cleared the diary for a Thursday afternoon to head down to the Mornington Peninsula and see what these trails are all about.

Canyon Australia’s “work” vehicle.
canyon strive red hill arthurs seat trail map
🎶One of these things, is not like the other ones 🎶

The Red Hill Mountain Bike Trails

Located down the Mornington Peninsula, a little over an hour’s drive from the centre of Melbourne, the Red Hill trails are officially known as the ‘Arthurs Seat MTB Trail Network’. The terrain through the Arthurs Seat State Park encompasses vast and steep valleys, with the highest point standing over 300 metres above sea level. On a clear day you’ll be treated to lovely views over the Peninsula, and all the way back to Melbourne city, with the You Yangs off in the distance.

red hill canyon strive
The sandy and rocky trail surface can get a little dusty in summer, but is otherwise mint for most of the year-round. Here JJ, Canyon’s Customer Service Manager, speeds down a sweet trail called ‘Rock Salt’.

There are 14 legit trails within the network, which includes Green, Blue and Black Diamond-level singletrack. Dirt fireroads and forest management tracks connect everything together, providing the opportunity to create some decent loops for a solid day out. Every trail is signposted, and with a large map board at the trail head, it’s an easy spot for first-time visitors to find their way around.

During our afternoon out at Red Hill, the five of us combined both pedal power and shuttle-vehicle assistance to access a few different styles of trails within the park. Particular favourites of mine were ‘Rock Salt’, ‘Fall Line’, and ‘Sawtooth’. Most of the trail surface is pretty dry and sand-based, which means it holds up extremely well in wet conditions. There’s plenty of granite rock worked into the singletrack too, along with human-made features including table-tops, berms and tasty doubles.

canyon strive red hill
Micko, one of Canyon’s Customer Service Reps, is more typically seen aboard a Lux cross-country bike. Turns out the lad can post a stamp though!
canyon strive red hill trails
“If you ain’t first, you’re last” – Ricky Bobby.

Canyon HQ

Before setting off on our afternoon trail mission, I dropped into Canyon Australia’s HQ, which sits inside a big ol’ warehouse in Keysborough. Contrary to what some people expect, Canyon doesn’t actually ship bikes from here. Being a direct-to-consumer brand, the bikes are instead shipped straight from Germany to the customer’s door.

Instead of warehousing stock, Canyon Australia is predominantly in place to provide local customer service, which includes over-the-phone sales assistance, as well as warranty and backup service support. There’s a fully-stocked workshop within, with all manner of spare parts (like derailleur hangers and headset bearings) filling various shelves and draws.

Additionally, Canyon Oz has its own fleet of in-house demo bikes, which are there for media use and for taking to supported events like the Ignition Mountain Bike Festival at Falls Creek.

canyon bike rack
Canyon Oz keeps a load of demo bikes on hand for various events and media use.

Riding The Strive

Having returned the Spectral AL test bike, I was kindly setup on a Canyon Strive demo bike, which I was told would be ‘ideal’ for the trails we’d be riding in the afternoon. This was the Strive CFR 9.0 Team, and funnily enough, was exactly the same bike that Mick had finished testing not long ago – it even still had the Flow sticker on the top tube! I expected it to be rusty, creaky and falling apart at the seams, but Tommo – one of the talented mechanics at Canyon Oz – had already given it some serious love, and it was absolutely humming.

canyon strive workshop mechanic
Tommo getting the Strive’s gears singing in the Canyon Oz workshop.

This was my first time on the new generation Strive, and I was keen to see how it compared to the Spectral I’d just come off of. Turns out that despite having the same amount of rear travel (150mm), the Strive affords a very different experience courtesy of its 29in wheels and Shapeshifter technology. This 2-position suspension/geometry adjustment gives the Strive two different modes – one for climbing and riding along mellower singletrack, and one for flat-out descending. If you want to learn more about how it works, check out Mick’s Q&A story on the Shapeshifter technology here.

To sum up the Strive vs Spectral, I’d say that the Strive climbs and pedals better thanks to its steeper seat angle and the Shapeshifter’s climbing mode. It rolls along swiftly, and while it isn’t as slicey through the turns as the 27.5in Spectral, I had few issues dumping it through steep, rutted-out switchback corners on Sawtooth. The suspension feels absolutely superb, and the slightly longer travel 170mm fork on the Team model gives it a little more oomph when things get faster and gnarlier.

canyon strive cfr 9.0 team wil red hill
The Strive has some serious speed potential – I can see exactly why it’s been such a successful enduro bike.

Downsides? The funky Shapeshifter remote works well, but it does put the Reverb 1X lever further away from your thumb – something that’s more of an issue for folks like me with shorter hobbit-like digits. I got used to it by the end of the ride, and it’s a relatively painless compromise given the twin-style riding it delivers.

If you’re keen to read more about the Strive, and our long term experience with it, check out Mick’s review of the CFR 9.0 Team here. And for a comparison with the Spectral, check out my review of the AL 6.0 here.

I Wanna Ride Red Hill – Tell Me More!

There are few ways of accessing the Arthurs Seat MTB Trail Network – you can either ride from the Dromana side, or from Arthurs Seat. This handy Parks Victoria PDF explains where all the carparks are, and also includes a trail map so you can pick out a route. For further information, the Red Hill Riders mountain bike club website also has plenty of hot tips and trail maps.

As well as some of the trails I mentioned above, I can also thoroughly recommend stopping in at the Pig & Whistle at Arthurs Seat at the end of your ride. This charming English-style pub has a superb beer garden and a glorious selection of beer, including one of my (and Razzle Dazzle’s) current favourites – Hop Nation’s The Chop. Delicious!

canyon mornington peninsula arthurs seat red hill view
Beautiful! And the views over Port Phillip Bay aren’t too bad either 🤭
beer
Cheers!

Mo’ Flow Please!

Enjoyed that article? Then there’s plenty more to check out on Flow Mountain Bike, including all our latest news stories and product reviews. And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, and sign up to our Facebook page and Instagram feed so you can keep up to date with all things Flow!

Long Term Review | The Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 Is A Bonafide Hooligan Bike

The Canyon Spectral is the German brand’s aggressive long-travel party bike. Sitting pretty between the 130mm travel Neuron trail bike and the 160mm travel Strive enduro race machine, the Spectral differs from those two bikes in that it’s built around 27.5in wheels. That puts it more inline with the likes of the Trek Remedy, Santa Cruz Bronson, Norco Sight, and Specialized Stumpjumper EVO.


See the 2019 Canyon Spectral AL in action in the video here

The Spectral was completely overhauled for 2018 with a new frame, a new suspension platform, and lots of little tech highlights that we covered in our launch story here. For 2019, the Spectral frame carries over, but it’s been pumped up with a bigger fork and a bigger stroke shock to increase travel to 160mm on the front, and 150mm out back. A 10mm increase in travel (over the previous bike’s 150/140mm combo) doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but after two months with the Spectral AL 6.0, I can confidently state that this bike’s character has actually changed quite a bit.

2019 canyon spectral al harcour wil
The Spectral has been updated for 2019 to give it a bit more travel, and a bit more punch.

A Trail Bike For Many Budgets

With no fewer than 12 spec options in the range, the Spectral is clearly a popular model for the German brand. The Spectral is available with alloy, carbon/alloy, and full carbon frame options, with complete bikes starting at $2,779 and going all the way up to $10,199. Frame sizes range from Extra Small through to Extra Large, and there’s a women’s specific Spectral available too.

The model we have on test is the Spectral AL 6.0 – the highest spec option with the alloy frame.

2019 canyon spectral al
The 2019 Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 is one good-looking trail bike.

2019 Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 Specs

  • Frame | 6061 Alloy, Triple Phase Suspension Design, 150mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Rhythm, GRIP Damper, 160mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series, 230x65mm
  • Wheels | DT Swiss M 1900, 30mm Inner Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 27.5×2.4in Wide Trail, 3C Maxx Grip Front & 3C Maxx Terra Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 6K 32t Crankset & 10-50t Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Guide R w/200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Canyon G5 Riserbar, 20mm Rise, 780mm Wide
  • Stem | Canyon G5, 50mm Length
  • Seatpost | Iridium Dropper, 145mm Travel
  • Saddle | SDG I-Fly MTN
  • Confirmed Weight | 14.53kg
  • RRP | $3,649 (plus shipping)
2019 canyon spectral al wil harcourt
The front of the Spectral is absolutely rock-solid, largely thanks to the brilliant Fox 36 fork.

What Makes It Special?

It’s basically impossible to discuss a Canyon without discussing the parts-per-dollar-o-meter, and it’s no different with the Spectral AL 6.0. For less than four grand, you’re getting a Fox 36 Rhythm fork, a piggyback shock, broad DT Swiss rims, and high-zoot Maxxis 3C tyres. Along with the dropper post, wide bars, and big front rotor, it’s a tough-looking bike that comes locked and loaded for some seriously rowdy riding. There is basically nothing else available in Australia that we could find with such a package at this price point. The value is bonkers.

Of course none of that matters if the parts are strapped to a poor quality frame, but Canyon seems to have that stitched up too. The raw alloy finish looks the business, and the frame shape and geometry is shared with its pricier carbon siblings. That means you’re getting the same four-bar suspension design, clearance for a water bottle inside the mainframe, a neat internal seatpost clamp, bolt-on pivot shields, and the Quixle thru-axle. The alloy frame skips the IPU headset though.

Further adding to the Spectral’s clean lines is the Cable Tunnel, which provides sort-of-internal-but-not-really cable routing via three bolt-on plastic plates. As well as providing easy access to the cables and brake hose within, the plastic plates provide additional downtube protection. Mick isn’t a fan of the fiddly process to refit the cables and the plastic plates, but I still think it’s a neat and easier alternative to fully internal cable routing.

canyon spectral cfr carbon fibre
Canyon offers the Spectral in alloy, carbon and carbon/alloy variants.

Spectral AL vs Spectral CFR

The alloy frame is heavier than the carbon version, but not as much as I thought it would be. I spoke with Canyon to get the exact weights for each of the three Spectral frame options, and here’s what we got back;

  • CFR (full carbon): 2395g
  • CF (carbon mainframe, alloy back end): 2570g
  • AL (full alloy): 2870g

So the Spectral AL has a 300g weight penalty over the CF frame, and 475g over the full carbon Spectral CFR frameset. That’s a reasonable percentage for sure, but it is less than I expected.

2019 canyon spectral al
The cockpit feels great right out of the box, though I did need to drop the stem down a few spacers.

How’d We Set It Up?

Standing at 175cm tall, I’m bang-on for the Medium size. The cockpit fits well too, with a not-super-long reach of 440mm working well with the 50mm stem and 780mm bars. The head tube is quite tall though, so I dropped the stem down a couple of spacers to get the grips lower down. Oh, and I already mentioned the long seat tube in my first ride review, so I won’t harp on about that again…

The fork has been absolutely superb out of the box, and I’ve not had to touch it since day one.

As for the contact points, Canyon’s own lock-on grips deserve a mention, with a thin but nicely tacky compound and in-board flange giving great tactility. I’ve been less thrilled with the narrow SDG saddle. That’s personal preference of course, but being a bike that’s sold direct-to-consumer, there’s no option to have it swapped out at the point of purchase.

2019 canyon spectral al
The internal seatpost wedge is clean, but the seat tube itself is too long.

To support my 68kg riding weight, I set the Fox 36 with 67psi inside the air spring. Rebound was set 10 clicks off full slow, and I ran the blue low-speed compression adjuster halfway. The fork has been absolutely superb out of the box, and I’ve not had to touch it since day one. It is very active, and relatively linear in action compared to the very progressive rear suspension design. Because of this, heavier riders will want to add a volume spacer or two to the fork to better balance it with the rear.

Speaking of, Canyon recommends a 25-30% sag range for the rear shock, though the difference between the two changes up the back end’s behaviour considerably. To begin with, I set the rear shock at 195psi for 30% sag. The DPX2’s damping feels quite sticky and slow, so the rebound dial ended up just four clicks off the fastest setting (9/13 clicks).

Canyon supplies the Spectral AL 6.0 with inner tubes fitted, but both the rims and tyres are tubeless ready. I added my own valves and sealant, set the tyres to 23psi on the front and 27psi on the rear. Having ditched the tubes, the total bike weight came down to 14.32kg without pedals.

fox float dpx2 shock piggyback canyon spectral
The huge 230x65mm shock dishes out 150mm of rear travel.
2019 canyon spectral al harcour wil
The Spectral is a brawny long travel trail/enduro bike that loves to go fast downhill.

What Does It Do Well?

Early on in the test process, it became apparent that the Spectral is an absolute pig for fast and rough riding. This is no speedy mile-munching trail bike like the Neuron. It’s too heavy, too slack, and too active for that. Instead, the Spectral relishes mostly in going downhill and rumbling over as much chunder as you can possibly find.

Because the suspension design is so progressive, it feels near-bottomless, and I can’t once recall having bottomed out the shock.

The combination of the sticky Maxxis tyres and supple Fox dampers means the Spectral hoovers up trail irregularities with incredible aptitude. The back end has a nicely supple and floaty feel to it, with a responsive and willing mid-stroke. Because the suspension design is so progressive, it feels near-bottomless, and I can’t once recall having bottomed out the shock. Flat pedal riders might find it a touch too progressive on spiky, high-speed machine-gun hits, where I occasionally found my shoes could get blown off the pedals. Because the red rebound dial only adjusts low-speed rebound, your only option to mitigate this is by increasing the rear shock’s air volume to make it more linear. More on that in a moment.

2019 canyon spectral al harcourt wil
It’s quite a jumpy bike, and the solid wheels and plush suspension mean it (usually) soaks up awkward landings with aplomb.

It’s also one of the best jumping bikes I’ve ridden in quite a while. There’s great pop and support from the suspension, which is amplified by the Spectral’s compact 430mm back end and the not-uber-long cockpit. That makes it an easy bike to jump when needed, while the heavy wheels and tyres help to maintain a nice and predictable trajectory, and (most of the time) a reliable landing. I’m not exactly a slopestyle rider, but the Spectral coerced me into hitting a lot of the doubles and drops that I’d usually shy away from. The stout front end certainly aids in the confidence levels here.

It’s a proper Dudes Of Hazzard hooligan trail bike that thrives on jibbing and being thrown about with reckless abandon.

I’m also no back wheel bandit, but the Spectral is. Again, it’s that combination of the tall-ish front end and compact rear centre that helps you to lift the front wheel off the ground with ease, while the active rear suspension happily squats into its travel to help support manuals, wheelies and take-offs. It’s a proper Dudes Of Hazzard hooligan trail bike that thrives on jibbing and being thrown about with reckless abandon. If I were going to own it long term, I’d certainly be putting a tyre insert inside the rear wheel.

2019 canyon spectral al harcourt wil
A low BB, short back end and smaller 27.5in wheels mean the Spectral carves turns and berms like a butcher.

It’s intuitive, with very little technique modification or drastic weight shifts required to have it railing confidently.

As for cornering, the Spectral is sharp and agile, and I found it a pleasure to weave from left to right through successive chicanes. Whereas 29ers in this travel bracket tend to need a bit of working over through tight turns, the Spectral cuts them up with ease. It’s intuitive, with very little technique modification or drastic weight shifts required to have it railing confidently.

The short back end helps no doubt, as do the grippy and stable cornering blocks on the Maxxis Minion tyres, but it’s the low bottom bracket that I noticed most while carving the Spectral. Mind you, at just 288mm off the floor while sitting on the bike, I certainly noticed the low BB in other ways too.

2019 canyon spectral al wil harcourt
Its substantial mass and active suspension means it isn’t particularly enthusiastic for climbing.

What Does It Struggle With?

The Spectral AL 6.0 is not a naturally gifted climber. I found the active suspension design, slow-rolling tyres, and overall heft worked against me any time I wanted to move upwards at anything other than cruising pace. Those same factors mean the Spectral feels pretty dull on flatter and less gnarly terrain. It really needs rough and steep descending to get the most out of it.

…the softest and stickiest rubber that Maxxis makes, and quite possibly manufactured from a combination of treacle and gecko’s hands.

Partway through the test period, it dawned on me that while Canyon has spec’d Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres front and rear, the front tyre employs the 3C Maxx Grip compound – the softest and stickiest rubber that Maxxis makes, and quite possibly manufactured from a combination of treacle and gecko’s hands. Of course it’s a stupendously grippy tyre, but it also has the effect of feeling like you’re pedalling with the brakes on. There were countless times where I stopped to check if I had a puncture, or to see whether the brakes were rubbing.

2019 canyon spectral al maxxis minion dhr II 3c Maxx terra 2.4wt
I swapped the firmer 3C Maxx Terra from the rear to the front tyre.
maxxis dissector
And put a faster-rolling Dissector on the rear.

In search of more speed, I took the front 3C Maxx Grip tyre off, put the firmer 3C Maxx Terra tyre into its place, and fitted a new Maxxis Dissector onto the rear. As well as being a touch lighter, the Dissector also has less rolling resistance than the Minion DHR II. That change in the tyre combo provided an instantly noticeable, and very welcome improvement in acceleration and the ability to maintain speed while rolling down the trail. Of course not everyone has a spare $90 Maxxis tyre kicking around in their workshop, so that’s a modification worth factoring into your budget.

There is zero doubt that a steeper seat angle would make a huge improvement to the Spectral’s climbing abilities.

The Spectral is still quite a slack bike though. Compared to the 2018 Spectral, the 10mm longer fork on the 2019 Spectral has pushed the head angle out half a degree to 65.5°. That’s great for descending, but it hasn’t come for free. Of course the seat angle has slackened out too (now 74°), and along with that active suspension design, sees you quite far behind the bottom bracket when you’re pedalling uphill. I slid the saddle all the way forward on the rails, which certainly helped, but I was constantly reaching for the shock’s blue compression switch anytime the trail turned upwards. There is zero doubt that a steeper seat angle would make a huge improvement to the Spectral’s climbing abilities.

2019 canyon spectral al wil harcourt
The Spectral could benefit hugely a steeper seat tube angle.

Reducing the rear shock’s sag to 25% also helped with climbing, both by bringing more perky pedalling to the party, while also improving the dynamic pedalling position. It also reduced pedal strikes – something that’s relatively frequent due to the Spectral’s low bottom bracket height. I did find I wasn’t getting anywhere near full travel though, so I downsized to a smaller 0.2in³ volume spacer in the DPX2 shock (it comes with a 0.4³ volume spacer as stock) to help open up the end of the stroke. In the end this was my preferred setup, with 210psi in the air spring, and the rebound set at five clicks off of the fastest setting.

With this setup and the speedier tyres, the Spectral was much more pedal-friendly, and more willing to get up technical singletrack climbs. I’d still run the blue compression switch in the medium position for extended climbs, but otherwise it was noticeably less boggy at the pedals.

fox float dpx2 shock
The Fox shock gives you three positions for the blue compression switch, and I regularly toggled it into the Medium or Firm positions for pretty much any climbing.
fox float dpx2 shock volume spacer tuning kit
The 0.4³ spacer (grey) comes standard, but you can run the DPX2 shock with a 0.2³ spacer (purple), or no spacer if you want to temper the progressive rear suspension.

Component Highs & Lows

While it does require some tuning to get the most out of it, the suspension package is easily the standout on the Spectral AL 6.0 for sure. The high-speed control you get from the DPX2 shock and the GRIP damper in the 36 fork means this bike can carry some serious speed when the trail points downhill.

Fitting a 200mm rotor up front is a winning move on Canyon’s behalf, as it gives the 4-piston Guide R brake calliper a load more bite – especially on sustained descents. The brakes were also bled superbly out of the factory, so I didn’t run into the usual ‘excessive lever throw’ problems I’ve had with other Guide T/R/RS brakes in the past.

sram guide r brake canyon g5 handlebar grip
Canyon’s own G5 handlebar, stem and lock-on grips establish an aggressive feel to the Spectral’s cockpit.

There were otherwise few issues that I had with the parts package throughout the test period. Press-fit BBs get a hard time these days, but the SRAM DUB unit was tight and quiet during my time with it. The DT Swiss wheels were also solid, which I expected given they weighed 1931g on the Scales Of Truth™. Being a cheaper DT model, they do miss out on the Star Ratchet freehub mechanism. But while the 24pt engagement wasn’t particularly fast, I never once had the 3-pawl system pop or skip under pressure.

Unlike a bike shop that might let you make modifications and upgrades to the parts on your new bike, currently Canyon doesn’t offer the option to change specification at the point of purchase.

The only thing I’d look at upgrading if this were my bike would be the dropper post, which suffers from a wobbly lever and less-than-slick compression and rebound. Ultimately it does the job, but its action is not nearly as fast or light as something like a Fox Transfer.

I mentioned the tyres and saddle already, but they’re worth reiterating, since the Spectral you click ‘buy’ on the website, is exactly the Spectral you’ll have turn up on your doorstep. Unlike a bike shop that might let you make modifications and upgrades to your new bike, currently Canyon doesn’t offer the option to change specification at the point of purchase. With that in mind I’d be squirrelling some cash aside, at least for some faster-rolling rubber anyway.

2019 canyon spectral al dropper post iridium
The Iridium dropper post works ok, but it isn’t exactly light in its action.
canyon iridium dropper post
The dropper lever feels cheap and wobbly.

Canyon Neuron vs Spectral vs Strive

This is a question we get asked a lot: how does the Canyon Spectral compare to the smaller travel Neuron, and the longer travel Strive? It’s a great question, because there is a certain degree of overlap between all three bikes, which have travel figures that come within just 30mm of each other.

I’ve spent a load of time on the new Neuron CF, so it’s a bike I know very well. With more efficient pedalling manners, lighter weight tyres, and sharper geometry, it is very different to the Spectral. It climbs much better, though it doesn’t have the descending confidence that the Spectral has. Overall it’s designed to be a comfortable and easy-to-ride trail bike, and in my experience it feels more like a safer and longer-legged XC bike, rather than the mischievous high-speed trail ripper that the Spectral is. If you want to read more about the Neuron, check out our review on the Neuron CF 9.0 SL here.

2019 canyon neuron cf 9.0 sl
Canyon’s Neuron CF has less travel at 130/130mm, while different suspension kinematics and a lighter build kit make it a speedier climber and much more of a long distance map-crosser than the Spectral.

The Strive is an interesting comparison, because it shares exactly the same travel figure as the Spectral; 160mm front and 150mm rear. Its geometry isn’t too far different either, with very similar reach measurements between the two. Factor in the 29in wheels, the carbon fibre frame, and the Shapeshifter suspension system however, and the Strive’s character is pushed more towards high-velocity racing.

Being able to adjust the geometry and rear suspension behaviour on the fly gives it some serious climbing chops, which is an important attribute for competitive enduro types. The Spectral is still enduro-capable, and indeed Canyon puts it into that category on its website, but it’s more play bike than race bike. For more info on how the latest Strive performs, check out our longterm review of the Strive CFR 9.0 Team bike here.

2019 canyon strive cfr 9.0 team
The race-focussed Strive has a higher starting price than the Spectral due to its carbon frame and Shapeshifter suspension technology.

Flow’s Final Word

With 10mm more travel at both ends and an enduro-ready build kit, Canyon has made the latest Spectral it’s most raucous yet. It’s a playful, mischievous bike that loves being thrashed about, preferably downhill, at speed, on rough and chundery trails. While it’s currently surrounded by 29ers that are taking over the market, the Spectral does a bang-up job of exemplifying the advantages of 27.5in wheels. It’s a bucket-load of fun.

It isn’t exactly light though, and its newly slackened geometry hasn’t helped its climbing abilities. For riders who are looking for a speedy, long distance capable trail bike for big days in the hills, you’ll be better off at looking at the Neuron. And if enduro racing is your thing, then you’ll be more competitive on the Strive.

But if you just want a fun bike to ride, and you love jumping, pulling cutties and manuals, or you’re after a bike that will let you progress and develop that skill set, then the Canyon Spectral is one tough cookie that’s ready to survive all your mistakes along the way.

2019 canyon spectral al
It may not be an efficient climber, nor does it thrive on tamer singletrack, but there’s no denying Canyon has curated one hell of a trail party in the Spectral.

First Ride | The Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 is quite a different beast to last year’s version

Not long ago, Canyon undertook a massive overhaul of the Spectral range, introducing a brand new frame and suspension design to its popular 27.5in trail bike platform. Although it’s already proven to be a winner – both with consumers and testers alike – a year on the German direct-to-consumer brand has rolled out some interesting changes to the Spectral, which aim to bolster its big-hit capability. Here we take a closer look at our newest test bike; the 2019 Canyon Spectral Al 6.0.

The Canyon Spectral returns for 2019, but it’s actually changed quite a bit.

2018 vs 2019 Canyon Spectral

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that the Spectral frame itself hasn’t changed for 2019 – that carries over from 2018. This means you’re still getting the Triple Phase suspension design, the low-slung top tube, and clearance inside the mainframe for a water bottle. Clever features like the Cable Tunnel, bolt-on pivot shields and Quixle thru-axle are also present. All good things.

Instead, the changes to the 2019 Canyon Spectral are entirely spec related. But that doesn’t mean they’re insignificant – far from it in fact.

There’s been a 10mm increase in suspension travel both front and rear, along with a move to bigger forks and piggyback rear shocks. Handlebars have gotten 20mm wider, while stems have actually gotten 10mm longer. Tyres have also shrunk down from 2.6in to 2.4in wide, while also shifting to toothier, more aggressive tread patterns.

There are a few other subtle tweaks going on, so let’s dive in for a closer look to see just how much the Spectral has changed this year.

fox 36 rhythm grip dt swiss wheel
The Spectral AL 6.0 moves up to a 160mm travel Fox 36 Rhythm fork.
fox float dpx2 shock water bottle
Canyon is spec’ing piggyback shocks on the 2019 Spectral range, and rear travel has increased to 150mm.

Moar Suspension! Well, Mostly…

The biggest change for the 2019 Spectral is the increase in suspension travel from 150mm front and 140mm rear, to 160mm front and 150mm rear. On certain models, this change has been accompanied by a shift from Fox 34s to beefier Fox 36s.

Out back, the increased suspension travel has been delivered thanks to the wonder of the latest Metric shock designs. The suspension design is unchanged, and the rear shock length is still 230mm eye-to-eye. However, the stroke (or travel) of the shock has gone up from 60mm to 65mm. This translates to an extra 10mm of vertical travel at the rear wheel, upping the Spectral to 150mm.

There are two exceptions to this. One is the Small size, which actually features a shorter 210x55mm stroke shock. This carries over from 2018, which means the Small size frames get 160mm travel up front, while sticking with 140mm out back. The other exception is the Spectral Women’s models, which retain the 150/140mm travel configuration of the 2018 version. The Women’s models also stick with lighter weight Fox 34 or RockShox Pike forks, along with a lighter shock tunes compared to the Unisex Spectral.

dt swiss maxxis
The Spectral AL 6.0 is equipped with DT Swiss M 1900 wheels that are tubeless compatible, and feature a 30mm internal rim width.
maxis minion dhr ii tyre
Tyres shrink down to a 2.4in width, but you’re getting a burlier Minion DHR II tread pattern front and rear.

No More 2.6in Tyres Then?

That’s correct – with the exception of a single model, the entire 2018 Canyon Spectral range came fitted with 27.5×2.6in tyres. This was something you were either into, or not. The almost-but-not-quite-plus width certainly delivers more traction due to the bigger volume and footprint, but in our experience it also lead to less precision to the Spectral’s handling, and also more pinch flats – something that Mick touched on in his longterm review of the 2018 Canyon Spectral CFR 9.0 SL.

It looks like Canyon was listening, because for 2019 the Spectral range no longer features 2.6in wide ‘plus-minus’ tyres. Instead, you’ll find 27.5×2.4in tyres on most models, including the Spectral AL 6.0 we’ve got here.

While we’re talking tyres, our test bike features Maxxis Minion DHR IIs front and rear in the 2.4in Wide Trail size, complete with 3C triple-compound rubber. The front tyre is the uber-sticky Maxx Grip version, while the rear tyre goes for the firmer and faster-rolling Maxx Terra compound.

The frame carries over for the 2019 Spectral, including the Triple Phase suspension platform.

Geometry

Despite the suspension and tyre changes over the 2018 model, the 2019 Spectral has exactly the same geometry – at least according to Canyon. So you’ve got a 66° head angle, a 74.5° seat angle, 430mm long chainstays, and a 22mm BB drop. Reach on our Medium test bike sits at 440mm, so relatively conservative by today’s standards.

As mentioned above, there are two different versions of the Spectral: Unisex and Women’s. The Unisex Spectral comes in five sizes from X-Small through to X-Large. The Women’s model covers XX-Small through to Medium, and also has different geometry with a slightly slacker head angle, a shorter reach and narrower handlebars.

fox float dpx2 shock
Even with the low-slung top tube and downtube-mounted shock, Canyon has managed to provide clearance for a water bottle.
The main pivot on the Spectral is so clean! Side note: did you know this frame will take a front derailleur? Remember those?
internal cable routing tunnel channel
Bolt-on cable guards protect the cables and hydraulic brake hose, while keeping things very clean.

2019 Canyon Spectral Range

There are no fewer than 12 models in the 2019 Spectral range, which covers alloy frames (AL), hybrid carbon/alloy frames (CF) and full carbon frames (CFR). In Australia, the range kicks off with the $2,779 Spectral WMN AL 4.0, and ramps up all the way to $10,199 for the Spectral CFR 9.0 LTD.

The model we’ve got on test is a more modest Spectral AL 6.0, which is built around a hydroformed 6061 alloy frame, Fox suspension, DT Swiss M 1900 wheels, and a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. For $3,649 (plus shipping), it’s a pretty darn impressive package.

sram gx eagle cassette derailleur mech
The AL 6.0 gets a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain.

2019 Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 Specs

  • Frame | 6061 Alloy, 150mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Rhythm, 160mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2 Performance Series, 230x65mm
  • Wheels | DT Swiss M 1900, 30mm Internal Rim Width
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO 27.5×2.4in Wide Trail
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12
  • Brakes | SRAM Guide R, 200mm Fr & 180mm Rr
  • Bar | Canyon G5 Riserbar, 20mm Rise, 780mm Wide
  • Stem | Canyon G5, 50mm Length
  • Seatpost | Iridium Dropper, 150mm Travel
  • Saddle | SDG I-Fly MTN
  • Confirmed Weight | 14.53kg
  • From | Canyon Bikes
  • RRP | $3,649
With the extra travel, burlier tyres, and wider bars, the Spectral morphs from ‘Trail-Tough’ to ‘Enduro-Light’.

First Ride Impressions

I’ve only had a few rides on the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 so far, but that’s been enough time to get the cockpit, suspension, and tyre pressures setup to my liking, while also getting a bit of a feel for what this bike is all about.

Weighing in at 14.53kg out of the box, this bike ain’t no lightweight, and that was made pretty clear on the first climb. Combined with the sticky Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres, and the gluey DPX2 rear shock, the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 isn’t a naturally spirited climber. Needless to say, I’ve been getting to know the 50t cog on the GX Eagle cassette quite well.

At a lick over 14.5kg, the Spectral AL 6.0 ain’t no featherweight.

Though the glue-like suspension isn’t exactly the most efficient on the ups, it provides a huge amount of control on the downs. With the supple 36 Rhythm fork up front, the Spectral has a tough and ‘up for it’ feel, which is compounded by the grippy Maxxis rubber. Out back, the piggyback shock offers incredible rear-end control, which has no doubt taken the Spectral’s technical prowess up a notch or two.

canyon g5 stem
The new G5 stem takes a little inspiration from Renthal’s Duo stem. That’s no bad thing though.
sram guide r
The new G5 lock-on grips are also really nice. On-point colour-matching too.

I’m digging the cockpit setup on the Spectral, which includes Canyon’s 78omm wide G5 handlebars and the new G5 stem. Using a split-half construction, the stem’s jaws chomp down on the 31.8mm bars securely, though it does take a little more thought as to the specific order that the six different bolts need to be tightened in.

One thing I’m not a fan of though is the tall seat tube, which measures 440mm long on the Medium test bike. This means I’ve got the collar of the dropper post slammed down as far as it will go, which just gets me to my ideal saddle height. Bear in mind that at 175cm tall, I’m smack-bang in the middle of the recommended height range for the Medium. However, the tall seat tube means I can’t run a longer travel dropper post, and it pretty much eliminates the option of up-sizing for those who are chasing a longer reach. This is something Mick flagged in his review of the Spectral CFR 9.0 SL, and it’s also an issue I’ve encountered with Canyon’s 29er trail bike, the Neuron. Shorter seat tubes please Canyon!

The internal seatpost wedge looks slick, but the seat tube itself needs to be shorter.

What’s Next?

I’ll be spending the next few weeks on the brushed alloy Spectral to explore the outer limits of this pumped-up trail bruiser, with some trips to bigger and steeper mountains on the agenda. I’ll also be messing around with a few things to see whether there’s some more versatility to be unlocked for riding milder terrain. The stock wheels and tyres are on-point for aggressive riding, but they’re not the lightest options going. I’d like to see if we can inject a little more zip into the Spectral with some changes there.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you guys think of the latest Canyon Spectral AL 6.0, and if you’ve got any questions for us about our test bike, then pop them into the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer them for you!

Has the burlier parts package upped the Spectral’s capabilities? Or has it just made it a heavier trail bike? Stay tuned for the full review coming soon.
Looking mean with that brushed alloy frame and orange pin-striping.

Long Term Test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team

The Canyon Strive is an impressive bike, at the heart of the bike, is a system unique to Canyon, the Shapeshifter. It is so damn effective; it helps this long-travel bike mix it up with the big rigs on the descents and keep up on the climbs with bikes half its size.


Watch the strive in action in our video review here:


What’s new, what has changed?

The 2019 release saw a total overhaul for the Strive, it went from 27.5″ wheels up to 29″, they dropped the aluminium frame models, and FOX manufactured the Shapeshifter unit, which also saw a new remote lever for easier actuation.

We’ve already published a feature on the new bike, check that out here: New 2019 Canyon Strive – First Ride Review.

The Shapeshifter got off to a rocky start, albeit a long time ago, read more about that here: Righting the wrongs with FOX, a chat with Daniel Oster from Canyon HQ.

The frame is very striking, with its hard lines and angular profile. It’s very Canyon. Drawing loads of attention from onlookers due to its sharp aesthetic.
The straight structures and paintwork on the seat stays, and top tube lined up makes for a cool looking bike.
The Strive rewards aggressive riding.
Dropping in!

Ok, the Shapeshifter.

What does it do, how does it do it, and is worth the added complications?

The new 2019 Strive uses a much-improved Shapeshifter remote lever though it might be too much going on, for some.
Tucked away behind the link is a FOX produced gas spring, with a two-way valve. It changes the upper shock mount orientation, for a significant impact on the suspension.

Look closely at the two pictures above; the left is 13mm travel XC mode, right is 150mm DH mode. The little gas spring pushes in, and out.

A product of the Canyon enduro race team, the Shapeshifter thingo gizmo has been designed to make this long travel bike easier to get around the liaisons and climbs between race stages.

Via the remote lever, you can make big changes to the way it rides; toggling from DH mode to XC changes the rear travel from 150mm to 135mm, steepens the geometry by 1.5 degrees, lifts the bottom bracket height and completely changes the suspension kinematics to provide 20% more anti-squat. The two modes feel dramatically different, plush and low in the DH mode and sharp and efficient in the XC mode.

While the principal of the system remains much the same as the earlier model Strive, the new lever is SO much easier to use, just click the lever either way and ride, no more unnatural weight shifts needed for it to toggle between modes. They’ve done a great job in making the system easier to understand and use.

The other significant factor here is that FOX now manufactures the Shapeshifter unit, so their name on it alone should give you utmost confidence. It hasn’t skipped a beat in the time we’ve had it.

A catalogue image, displaying the Shapeshifter gizmo, with the linkage removed.

When did we use it?

Most obviously, we used the uphill mode on the climbs, and descents on the.. well, you know. But unlike a classic shock lockout, the suspension remains totally useable in the uphill mode, it just feels firmer and there is less of it, so we’d run it in uphill mode on flatter trails, or even descents that didn’t require full beast mode.

The Strive on a recent trip to Maydena Bike Park, Tasmania. The Strive is also available from their hire fleet; it’s up to the task.
Fresh tracks on the newly opened Wilderness Trail, Maydena Bike Park.

We recently took part in a local enduro race, where pedal efficiency is key as well as descending speed. One of the three stages was flatter than the rest, requiring more pedalling, so we left it in uphill mode the whole stage.

While the others we were toggling it on and off constantly, even on short climbs or flat sections of the trail only 5m or so in length, we’d still find it easy enough, and worth the effort to make the most of the more responsive pedalling action.

It’s a Canyon; decent spec is not typically a problem.

Out of the box, this thing is so ready to go. From the SRAM Code brakes to the Mavic Deemax wheels, Ergon grips, Maxxis Minion tyres and RockShox Lyrik fork, the build is very capable of what the bike can handle. For the price, it’s impressive.

On rockier trails, a set of tougher casing tyres might be necessary, but that’s all we would think could pose a problem from original spec.

One busy thumb, an added cable and a bulky Reverb remote lever.

While Canyon has improved the Shapeshifter remote ergonomics tenfold from the earlier generation Strive, it still sticks out a long way and adds an extra cable into the mix. The sizeable hydraulic lever on the RockShox Reverb doesn’t exactly help, either.

It’s a stretch to reach the Reverb dropper remote, but not the end of the world; we got used to it.

If it were ours, we’d swap the hydraulic Reverb out for a cable-actuated dropper post, and find a smaller lever that takes up less space. There is a myriad of aftermarket options nowadays.

Gripes?

What’s going on with this lame chainstay guard? It doesn’t even cover the frame adequately and does a poor job in dampening noise from chain slap. Steal one off a Specialized Stumpjumper if you want a quieter bike.

The hard rubber chainstay guard wasn’t particularly useful. Small details, but an odd oversight from Canyon nonetheless.

Also, the water bottle cage sits way too close to the plastic cover over the Shapeshifter, even the fact it’s a Canyon cage didn’t matter, on some of our first rides the bottle would bump off the plastic guard and we’d have to go walking back up the trail to find it.

The water bottle would contact or come within millimetres of the plastic Shapeshifter cover, even with the Canyon bottle cage pushed all the way forward.

In all.

The Strive is at the top of the pile in the long-travel trail/enduro category. The ride quality, value for money and versatility benefits of the Shapeshifter feature make it one of our most favourite bikes of all time.

While it’s a product born out of high-level racing development, it’s also able to be a viable option for mere mortals like us that want a bike to handle speed on rough trails, but don’t want it to shy away from the flatter trails or climbs.

Canyon’s Shapeshifter – A Quick Chat with Canyon Developer, Daniel Oster

At the heart of the Strive is a mechanism that toggles between descend mode and climb mode. Between 150mm and 135mm of travel, it’s also the head angle, bottom bracket height and suspension kinematics that changes.

See our long term test of the new Strive here: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team.

Read all about the new bike, from the official launch here: 2019 Strive first ride.

Ines Thoma from the Enduro Factory Race Team punches out of the famous crack in Derby.
Florian Nicolai, hauling ass.

It’s a great system, though not without its demons.

Though talking to people at races or on the trails, it seems that Canyon can still at times be unable to shake the reputation that this bike was branded with in the very early days with word of the system having sealing and durability issues, the internet wasn’t kind to them.

Keen to put things right, the new Strive uses a Shapeshifter made by FOX, a good move no doubt. We were intrigued to find out more, so we reached out to Canyon for comment.

A catalogue image, displaying the Shapeshifter gizmo, with the linkage removed.

Daniel Oster, the director of development for their gravity bikes in Koblenz, Germany, talks Shapeshifter here.

How long has the Shapeshifter concept been in development?

The original concept was developed 2011/12, raced by Fabien Barel and the Canyon Factory Racing Team and brought into mass production in 2014 for the first time. Quite after that introduction, we started generation 2.0 in early 2015. There were some topics we wanted to improve like a quicker function of the gas spring and also a more intuitive function of the system.

As we have quite some ideas of bikes and parts and how it should work but are specialists in making frames/bikes and not hydraulic components we talked to FOX also at that time. 

Have there been any experiments or prototypes that are completely different from the current final design? Any coil springs, electronics or elastomers in there somewhere?

Especially for the first version there where prototypes to figure out the amplitude of geometry change and also change in suspension characteristic. Coil springs weren’t considered for the actuator just as suspension element. About electronics, we discussed but haven’t seen more cons than pros like weight, difficulty, pricing.

How did the relationship between FOX and Canyon begin?

We have a close relationship to FOX as suspension supplier – so it was obvious to discuss a potential partnership for this component with them.

What did FOX bring to the table?

Fox got a requirement sheet for the new gas spring which is the actuator of the Shapeshifter system. They developed that new gas spring with its two-way valve what is new compared to the old one and makes it possible to preselect the two modes and was one of the main requirements.

Besides this, they produce the gas spring in their factory what was a really important point for us. And – we can operate service issues through their service network as well.

How does the original Shapeshifter mechanism differ to the new FOX one?

The original one was one way and the new one is two-way. This allows selecting between the two modes via the remote lever. Besides this, we optimised the spring curve to allow lower pressure and less stress on the system. We also adjusted the kinematic of the linkage on our side and optimized the spring according to allow a quicker change. Also, the seals are optimised for less friction and faster movement.

The earlier generation Strive, same-same-but-different.

Besides this, we changed how the cable is connected to what also improved an easy activation.

What’s your tip for best setup and maintenance of the Shapeshifter unit?

You don’t have to care so much about the system as it is covered quite well by rocker arms, frame and cover. Keep it clean – check the cable especially when riding in extremely muddy or dusty conditions and don’t put a pressure washer on the sealings as on any other hydraulic product. But in general – just ride it.

TESTED: Canyon Strive 2019

At a casual glance, the 2019 Strive almost appears unchanged – they’ve retained the overall shape, rather than pursuing a horizontal shock position like the new Spectral or Neuron. But the wheels are bigger now, and the bike’s unique suspension is much improved.

So, you’ve changed? 

While the profile of the new 2019 Canyon Strive is familiar, there have been two fundamental changes; firstly, the bike is now 29er only (and carbon only too), and secondly the ShapeShifter system is greatly improved.

More subtle tweaks include some very neat cable routing, a new tool-free axle system, bolt-on frame protection, double sealed bearings and space for a full-sized water bottle. Canyon have invested in two different carbon layups as well, offering a CFR (R for Race) version of the frame in the two top models that’ll save 300g.

The ShapeShifter now uses a twin button setup, which sits beneath the bar, integrating with the dropper post lever.

Still got the ShapeShifter?

The ShapeShifter system was always a key drawcard for the Strive, allowing riders to change travel and geometry on the fly for climbing/descending. But it was not without its operational issues – reliability on the early releases was dubious, and it required riders to use a lot of body language and precise timing to toggle between modes.

The new version is much, much better. Canyon called in FOX to help with the project in a wise collaboration.  There’s a new ‘Click Clack’ lever system that now sits below the bar, in a neat cluster with the dropper lever and the whole thing is simpler and more durable.

Our test bike, pictured here, is running a RockShox Reverb, but Canyon have developed their own dropper lever which will come fitted to all models of Strive running cable-actuated posts.

Your left thumb will be busy, but the way this system works now is ten-fold better than its predecessor.

Check out our review content of this bike’s predecessor, which we had on long-term test:

The 2016 Strive 9.0 Race was a good buddy for a couple of years.

Tested: Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race

Long-Term Test: One Year Of Shredding, The Canyon Strive CF Race


Can it still use a normal shock?

Yep. Unlike some other on-the-fly travel/geometry adjustable systems (like Scott’s TwinLoc), the Strive can take a regular shock so you’ve got the option to customise your setup with a different shock or source an easy spare if need be.

The Shapeshifter apparatus is hidden away, giving the bike a very clean, clutter free appearance.

How does it work?

The ShapeShifter makes some pretty big changes to the bike; toggling from DH mode to XC changes the rear travel from 150mm to 135mm, steepens the geometry by 1.5 degrees and completely changes the suspension kinematics to provide 20% more anti-squat. The whole system only adds around 200g too.

But the key motivation for Canyon was making the system easier to use. On the previous model, you had to transfer your body weight whilst holding down the ShapeShifter lever. With the new system, you just push the button and forget about it.

With the linkage removed, you can see how the ShapeShifter works – here the system is in XC mode, with 135mm travel, and increased anti-squat.
In DH mode, the ShapeShifter is compressed, completely changing the leverage of the upper shock link upon the shock, giving you more travel (150mm) and slacker geometry.

The new user interface has two under-bar levers, which is totally compatible with SRAM’s Matchmaker lever and dropper system. The larger ‘Click’ lever is compressed for XC mode, while the ‘Clack’ lever releases the cable for DH mode. If you’re toggling from DH to XC mode, just hit the button, and as soon as the bike has a moment of being un-weighted (for instance, you get out of the saddle) the ShapeShifter will engage the XC setting. If you’re toggling from XC to DH, just hit the button, and as soon as the bike encounters a compression DH mode is engaged, giving you more travel, slacker geometry and more active suspension.

We love the way the entire system takes up so little space on the handlebar now.
Fabien Barel has been deeply involved in the development of the Strive. The man has one of the most analytical minds in mountain biking, he’s constantly looking for a performance edge.

Why the move to 29”?

The current wave of long-travel 29ers are more than just a trend, and Canyon insist that they did extensive experimentation and testing with 27.5”, 29” and even a hybrid of both before making the call to go the big wheels.

The 29er became a natural choice for the Strive as it’s bred to be a race bike with no compromise, and that meant going for the faster rolling wheels. Love it, or lump it. While other brands seem to have embraced the idea of giving riders a choice in wheel sizes for each model, Canyon insists that choosing the faster-rolling wagon wheels exclusively is better for the consumer. If you want the small wheels, you can always look at the Spectral.

Is it affordable?

While the CFR 9.0 Team we got the chance to test is a blisteringly light and bright build at $7999, there will be six different build options available via Canyon’s website, starting at $4349 for the race-ready CF 5.0, all the way up to the CFR 9.0 Ltd for $10,199. You can also grab a CFR frame and shock only for $4349.

At this stage, there are no plans for an aluminium version. Given that pricing starts from less than $4500, we don’t think this is an issue.

The Strive CF5.0 This is what $4349 will get you. A full carbon frame, GX Eagle, FOX at both ends. Impressive for the entry-level bike!
Or if your pockets are (much) deeper, a little over $10,000 will land you the practically un-upgradeable CFR9.0 LTD build.

To the hills! 

Canyon had us out to give the new Strive CF 9.0 Team a thrashing in the rocky Malaga hills. As the second-to-top spec offering, the 9.0 Team ticks every high-performance box without moving into stupid pricing territory. A high-end SRAM build and Mavic wheels saw this bike weigh in at 14.05kg, which is very light. On hand to ensure our bikes were setup perfectly were Canyon’s engineers and mountain bike legend Fabien Barel.

With the move to larger wheels, Canyon were committed to a geometry of long front centre and short rear end, to ensure the bike didn’t lose its playfulness. The rear centre is 435mm long, which is impressively compact given there’s ample room around the 2.5″ rubber.

The loose, rubble-strewn trails of Malaga are a popular off-season testing ground for a number of brands. The Strive felt calm as can be in the chunder.

Having spent a lot of time on the previous Strive, the most immediate changes we noticed were a big increase in straight line speed, more grip and pace in flat corners and far superior momentum over technical sections. Thanks to a relatively short stack height up front, the position felt very natural to us, not at all tall like some big-travel 29ers, and soon we’d forgotten entirely that we were riding a 29er.

Ooo, nice light.

There have been big changes to the suspension feel too. Our bike was equipped with a RockShox Super Deluxe, a shock we’ve ridden a lot, but never have we had a bike extract so much performance from it. The more progressive mid stroke allowed the shock to be more effective at absorbing faster impacts, while still maintaining a solid platform to push and pump through holes and corners. It loves big hits too, and even when we ran out of talent, slamming into the backside of a lander and slamming to a stop, we didn’t bottom out the shock (even with 30% sag).

While much of Europe is a frosty mess, this pocket of Spain delivered ideal riding conditions.
Short stays and a low weight meant it was never a stress getting the bike lofted.

When we finally hit the bottom of the shuttle road every time, we found the ShapeShifter felt pretty natural to use and made a welcome difference. Switch it to XC mode and you’ll feel the effects immediately – pedal bob was reduced, and you’re raised into a more comfortable climbing position. The system is so effective, that we didn’t even bother using the shock’s compression adjuster – the increase in anti-squat in XC mode is more than enough to keep the bike stable under climbing without reaching for the lockout.

Super lines! This bike is a stunner.

Winner or Gimmick?

In our eyes, the functionality of the ShapeShifter system is a winner. However, there are going to be some detractors – it does add an extra lever and cable to your cockpit, and an extra layer of setup. If you are willing to accept the added complexity, you are sure to be rewarded with noticeable gains on those pinch climbs deep in a race stage, where there’s nothing worse than bobbing up and down on an open rear shock and watching seconds slip away.

If you’re the kind of rider who looks for the best ways to get an edge in competition, or can’t get enough of innovative creations that push the limits of mountain biking, then take a closer look at the Strive.

2019 Canyon Neuron CF – First Impressions

The Neuron CF range combines 130mm of travel with a 130mm fork across all models. As mentioned, the Neuron is sandwiched between the Lux cross-country bike (that sports 100mm of rear travel) and the longer travel Spectral (140mm of rear travel matched with 150mm up front). That puts it in the sweet spot for Australian trail riding. 

The all-new Canyon Neuron CF.

What’s been updated from the old Neuron?

Pretty much everything! For starters, Canyon has brought the shock orientation from a vertical position to a horizontal one. This has brought the bike’s suspension design, and aesthetics, in line with the Lux, Spectral, Torquecolourwayand Sender.

The new shock orientation has many benefits.

This design is motivated by Canyon’s ‘Triple Phase Suspension’ philosophy. Canyon describes the suspension design as a sensitive beginning stroke, a stable mid stroke and a progressive end to the shock’s travel.

Canyon’s ‘Triple Phase Suspension’ design is present throughout their range.

The horizontal shock mount also provides clearance for a lower standover height, space for a full-size bottle on medium frames and above, and space for Canyon’s ‘Eject’ water bottle system (a funky side-by-side bottle system) on smaller models.

Canyon’s Eject water bottle system was designed to work with smaller frames.

Moving on from the suspension configuration, the Neuron CF range consists of carbon front and rear ends, as well as a nifty composite shock linkage. The composite linkage serves a dual purpose of keeping the frame weight down (a medium frame with shock weighs approximately 2670 grams), as well as covering the bearings connecting the seat stays and shock linkage.

The composite linkage covering the bearings and bearing covers are just two of the Neuron’s nods to mechanical longevity.

The composite linkage isn’t Canyon’s only effort to increase bearing life and decrease maintenance. Once again following the Spectral’s lead, Canyon have introduced bearing covers, metal inserts inside the frame, higher quality grease and additional seals, all in the name of longevity.

Longer service intervals mean more of this!

The asymmetrical main pivot also features two oversized bearings to cope with the higher loads brought about by chain tension. There’s also the option of mounting a chainguide, or if you’re after that retro vibe,, the frame is also front derailleur compatible. Yes, Canyon can’t shake that European allegiance to the front mech!

The drive side main pivot is asymmetrical and contains two bearings.

Keeping on the topic of small but pleasing details, Canyon is using size specific tubing with the Neuron range, meaning the smaller frames will be lighter with better standover clearance, and the larger sizes won’t lose stiffness through skinny tubing. The geometry numbers are also tweaked throughout the sizes, all with the aim of keeping the ride feel as similar as possible.

Flowing through the trails of Sintra, Portugal.

Lastly, the new Neuron adopts the cable channel system used on the Spectral. The idea behind this system is to offer the aesthetic of internal routing, by encasing the cables beneath a cover that also serves as downtube protection. In practice, we found the system pretty fiddly on our Spectral test bike.

Canyon’s cable channel offers a best of both worlds solution.

Numbers please!

While Canyon have gone longer, lower and slacker than the previous Neuron range, the numbers aren’t breaking new ground, in fact,, concerningthey’r,e pretty conservative really. Clearly this bike isn’t buying into the aggressive, short-travel 29er trend that some other brands are pursuing.

The head angle is 67.5 degrees, a little steeper than we’ve become accustomed to seeing on new bike releases for the trail category. By way of comparison, the new Giant Trance 29 sits at 66.5 degrees,  and the GT Sensor 65.5 degrees. And the 60mm stems across all sizes is a surprise too – 40mm or 50mm has become the norm now.

So, is this a missed opportunity to grab a slice of the aggressive trail market or a smart move to build a bike that’s more realistic in terms of the aspirations of its target user? We’d lean towards the latter.

Nothing crazy here, but lots of fun to be had.

The Neuron encourages you to pop and play. On the thasopic of numbers, Canyon have stuck with the split wheel size approach of the previous Neuron range, meaning the smaller models (XS/S) will come with 27.5” wheels, but the larger models (M/L/XL) will come with 29” hoops.

Smaller sizes of the Neuron will come with 27.5″ wheels.

One point Canyon was keen to make is that all models are equipped with a 29” fork. Why have they done this? Well, the combination of a narrower handlebar on the 27.5” models and a slacker head angle means that with a 29” fork the bike will retain a similar trail in both wheel sizes (95mm for the smaller sizes and 99mm for the larger ones), and consequently a very similar ride feel across the wheel sizes.

Canyon wanted to keep the ride feel as similar as possible between the two wheel sizes.

How does the bike ride?

The Neuron CF 9.0SL we rode weighs a scant 12.12kg in a size medium, and combined with the efficient suspension the bike is eager to power along. That’s definitely this bike’s happiest place; on the gas, chewing up rolling singletrack.

The Neuron’s light weight makes it easy to flick around.

On the descents, the middle of the range frame numbers were a great reminder that the race to longer, lower and slacker geometry makes sense for riders who love shredding fast and technical trails. But for trails that aren’t hosting an EWS, the Neuron’s more balanced geometry makes for an engaging ride, one that is agile, quick steering and precise.

The lighter weight makes undulating trails a real treat, but perhaps an even bigger advantage noticed on rolling trails, or descents with a mild gradient, is the Neuron’s mid stroke support.

Rather than the wallowing feeling of a bike that’s eager to chew up everything in its way, the Neuron’s mid-stroke gives back everything you put in, screaming at you to pop between those roots, or pump out of a corner faster than you entered. 

The pedalling efficiency of the new suspension layout is top notch, and whilst we’d still lock the shock out for long road climbs, we’d keep it open for pretty much everything else. One minor point we’d make is that the traction on technical climbs isn’t the best in class, but we’re happy to be more mindful in these situations in return for the excellent pedalling characteristics.

We didn’t get to take the bike down a great deal of steep terrain, and that’s something we’d love to do on our home trails should we get the chance. 

Is there anything we didn’t like?

At this stage we honestly can’t fault the Neuron, however, we did test the bike in the perfect terrain for the bike’s scope of use. We’d love to see how far we can push the bike’s 130mm of travel on technical, steeper and rougher terrain, as well as trying to keep up with our lycra-clad mates.

There is a tiny part of us that wishes Canyon had pushed this bike into more aggthe ressive territory (perhaps even just a 140mm fork to expand the bike’s comfort zone, somewhat). But on the flip side, we really enjoyed the way this bike engaged with the trail, its quick handling and its responsiveness. Plus there’s the always the Spectral, if you’re really wanting to push things.

Sintra’s flowing trails were a perfect match for the Neuron.

What model did we ride?

We rode the Neuron CF 9.0 SL model, and priced at $5399 you’re riding away with an incredibly specced package featuring X01 Eagle gearing, Fox Performance Elite suspension and a set of Reynolds TR309 carbon wheels.

How many models are in the range?

There are four models in the range in total, and the two cheapest models are also offered in women’s variants. Every model is offered in the matte black shown in the photo below, as well as an alternate colourway for each model.

Lots of bike for $5399.
Neuron CF 8.0: $3949
Neuron CF 8.0 WMN: $3949
Neuron CF 9.0: $4649
Neuron CF 9.0 WMN: $4649
Neuron CF 9.0SL: $5399
Neuron CF 9.0 Unlimited: $8149

Is there any difference in the women’s models beside the paint?

Indeed there is! As women are typically lighter than men, Canyon has opted for a lighter compression and rebound tune on both the shocks and forks of the women’s models. The women’s models also come equipped with women’s specific touch points. 

Are there aluminium models available?

There is a range of aluminium Neuron models ranging from $2349 to $4999, but these bikes don’t feature a number of the updated features in the Neuron CF range. This includes the new suspension design, as well as the bearing protection and cable channel. Canyon has updated the geometry from the 2017 models, however, and the updated numbers are very similar to the Neuron CF range.

Who is the bike for?

The Neuron CF range features well-balanced geometry, excellent suspension and componentry that strikes a good balance between weight and durability. After riding a bike like this we often think anywhere from 110 -130mm is the perfect trail bike for most riders, many of whom are riding a bike with too much or too little travel for the majority of their riding.

We’re itching to get our hands on one of these to ride on our home trails, so keep your eyes peeled.

The women’s models also come with less subtle colour options.
A trail bike for all occasions.

All photography, Markus Greber /Canyon. 

Canyon Spectral – Tested

The Spectral is Canyon’s all-rounder trail bike using 27.5″ diameter wheels, striking a middle ground between a cross-country bike and an enduro bike, using 150mm travel forks and 140mm out the back. We’ve had so much great experience with the Spectral over the years, a bike that has always reviewed well due to its efficient suspension, agile character and value for money.

We won’t go on too much about what’s new with the new model, we’ve covered it in great depth here, there certainly is a lot to look at:

Canyon’s all-new Spectral.

How did the Spectral ride?

The Spectral is a reasonably neutral feeling bike, every time we jumped back on it; the fit felt comfortable and ready for long rides. While some bikes are going down the ‘long, slack, low, rad’ path, the Spectral keeps it more conservative. So when we took it to our familiar trails everything we were instantly at home, cruising through the turns and tracking up steep climbs very easily. That’s precisely what we look for in a good all-rounder trail bike!

Blasting singletrack with the brakes off, hell yeah!
The Spectral’s supple suspension and grippy tyres make light work of technical trails.

That said, the big rubber, powerful brakes and roomy cockpit allowed you to blast your way into the corners with a reckless approach, the Spectral is super fun to get rowdy. Getting on the gas out of the corners the whole bike felt spritely and supportive, even more so with the FOX shock in the middle trail mode with added compression support.

We noticed that compared to the older Spectral, the rear suspension feels more supportive when pedalling hard, this might be mistaken for a firmer ride at first, but it still felt smooth and supple despite resisting wallowing deeper into the travel when pushing the bike forward.

2.6″ width tyres on 27.5″ wheels = loads of grip, but would we keep them on always?

The big 2.6″ tyres polarised us, where most bikes in the similar category would be rolling on 2.4-2.5″ tyres, the rounded 2.6″ tyres give the bike a very different feel and are best used with lower tyre pressures. It’s not just the width and greater surface contacting the dirt, the large volume of the tyre plays many roles and Canyon have selected them for this bike for very good reason. The 2.6″ tyres help cut out vibration from the trail for a very smooth ride, and the tyre conforms to chunky and changing surfaces exceptionally well, giving the bike fantastic traction.

But with the large tyres comes a lack of precision and somewhat vague feeling on the trail, more experienced riders might find the larger rubber detrimental on terrain that doesn’t necessarily warrant it. We encountered a couple of flat tyres too, pinching the lightweight casing of the rear tyre on sharp rocks.

We tried a set of 2.4″ Kenda tyres with tough casings on the Spectral when riding on faster trails; we appreciated how you could push the bike a little harder with the tyres feeling more stout and concise below you.

Back on the 2.6″ tyres we really couldn’t help but love the generous traction when clawing up and down loose singletrack or tackling steep technical sections where holding your line was crucial to making it out the other side safely.

Rock climbing on the grippy 2.6″ tyres and supportive suspension.

Our thoughts on the tyres? While it might be rider and terrain specific, swapping out to a pair of 2.4 or 2.5″ tyres with a robust casing would be our pick. At least tyres are not too much of an expense to experiment with.

Setup thoughts.

After a few rides, we wanted to get the bars down lower. By fitting one spacer into the air spring, and dropping the pressure to let the fork sag a little lower the fork rode a little lower, and in conjunction with flipping the stem, a respectable bar height was achieved.

The Maxxis Rekon rear tyre was not quite robust enough for the faster trails, where impacts would reach the rim a little too easily. Despite loads of tubeless sealant, we still had to install an inner tube on a ride and repair the tyre when we got home.

Watch that sizing; the Spectral is a tall one.

The Spectral’s new frame design uses a seatpost binder system that integrates neatly into the frame removing the need for a traditional collar and clamp system, a nice touch but the seat tower stands very high. Our test bike is size large and was ridden by two of us at Flow; one was borderline between a medium and a large, the other was firmly in the range for a large. In both cases, we found the seatmast so tall that the RockShox Reverb dropper post was slammed all the way down.

The head tube is fairly long, creating a very tall front end. The seat tower is also tall, we had the seatpost slammed all the way down.

The front end is also quite tall, restricting the adjustability to drop the front end height for own preference sake.

Why would this matter, we hear you say. Well, this bike could well be served as an enduro race bike, where most people would generally seek a longer bike for stability at speed. Some riders might run into issues with a bike too tall if upsizing to a larger bike for length is their preference. We’ve seen bikes like the YT Capra and Ibis RipMo stay low in height, growing in the length as you go up the size chart.

Epic value, chapeau Canyon! Many nice bits.

When compared to the competition, this bike is tremendous value. The CF 9.0 sits second from the top of a vast range, covering a wide range of price points from just over $3000 for an aluminium frame option, right up to the blinged-out $10000 model. This one for $7199 would be many other major brands top offering, comparable in many ways to a $12000+ S-Works.

Killer value all round, this model compares to many other large brands top-tier offerings over $10000.

The full-SRAM build is excellent, DT Swiss carbon wheels with wide rims give the bike a stiff and precise ride, and the SRAM Guide brakes with a 200mm rotor on the front will stop you in a hurry. Ergon is a German brand doing great things, and the saddle and grips are parts we use on our personal bikes, top stuff indeed.

Stellar frame engineering.

It’s worth stopping and taking a closer look at the Spectral to properly appreciate the unique approach to frame design that this German brand has. The headset has a rotation stopper to remove the risk of the bars spinning around in a crash, saving the brake lines from pulling out or the sharp cockpit parts smashing the frame.

The suspension pivot bearings are sealed behind an additional shield, and the rear axle houses its quick release handle inside itself for a clean look but not needing any tools to remove it.

Eye-bogglingly slick.

Underneath the frame is an intelligent design, both adding protection to the carbon frame and a casing for the brake, seatpost and gear lines is a plastic casing fastened to the frame via allen key bots.

While it seems like a straightforward approach to cleaning the bike’s appearance by hiding the cables without them travelling inside the frame, it favours those who run the brake levers opposite to how we do in Australia, with the front brake on the right-hand side. It also requires at least three hands to assemble, tricky with just two.

Routing the rear brake line around the headtube for a cleaner setup isn’t an option, a shame, but no biggie.

The new Spectral was always going to be good, who’s it for?

It was always going to be a sure bet that when Canyon re-vamped their immensely popular trail bike, it was going to be good, and despite the frame height and cable routing (which certainly won’t bother all riders), they have hit the nail on the head.

The Spectral would best be appreciated by someone with an eye for quality and engineering and ride demanding trails. Traction, efficiency and playfulness sum up the Spectral just right.

Canyon Torque – Tested

The Torque is an all-new long travel monster from the fast-moving German brand selling directly to the consumer. Since Canyon came to Australia, we have continuously been impressed by their unique approach to the engineering of their suspension frames, with distinctly high attention to detail.

The Torque is a huge bike, what type of rider or trail would justify something like this?


In this review we’re going to talk about how it rides, but do you want to know EVERYTHING about the Canyon Torque?

It’s a neat machine, worth checking out. Head to our feature on the new Torque release here. 

Interested to hear a little background on the new platform from Canyon riders; Fabien Barel and Jo Barnes? Read this.


Torque + Maydena Bike Park = Woohoo Yeah!

We nabbed a Torque from Canyon Australia’s demo fleet and ripped a few hot laps of the freshly opened Maydena Bike Park. The model we tested is different to the blue one pictured here, they were early release pre-production models with a high spec with an aluminium frame. And although we only spent a few hours over two days on it, we could still get a fair idea what it’s about.

What’s Maydena Bike Park? Excuse me, is that even a question? The biggest news in trail developments in Australia, Tasmania’s new bike park!

Sinking the Torque into a lovely piece of hand-built trail in Maydena.

At first, we did a few laps on the Canyon Strive, an enduro bike we are more than familiar with. The trails at Maydena are very advanced, super-steep and the jumps can get pretty significant, so the Strive found its limits at times, especially as we were riding the different tracks unseen. While the Strive was limited by the fact it was brand new and the brakes were still bedding in, and with a stock Maxxis Minion SS rear tyre not helping in the deceleration department, we still had a damn good time ripping hard and fast laps.

Torque has confidence in spades, and with that confidence, we began to properly let the brakes off and follow the faster riders in front.

Trading up to the Torque from the Strive was where things got exciting. The Torque has confidence in spades, and with that confidence, we began to properly let the brakes off and follow the faster riders in front. A 180mm travel fork would guarantee to put just about anyone into a reckless frame of mind, and while we admit to never realising its full potential we can say that in the right hands you could get away with so much stupid riding.

All Torque’s use air shocks, the highly sophisticated FOX DHX X2 takes time to set up but can be tuned for a variety of styles and terrain.
A 12-speed drivetrain is a critical ingredient in the Torque’s versatility, it can climb, though just be patient.

Mini downhill bike.

Pretty much! The Torque fills a significant void between the Strive and Sender, Canyon’s enduro race bike and downhill race bike. It uses a whopping 175mm travel in the rear and 180mm up front. Those numbers translate to some serious firepower on the trail. While it might act like a mini-DH bike, the only common parts that you’d find on a downhill race bike would be the SRAM Code brakes and perhaps the FOX DHX shock, the rest of the kit you’d recognise from a regular trail bike or enduro bike. Components like a RockShox Reverb dropper post, 12-speed SRAM drivetrain, and a FOX 36 fork with lockout will widen the Torque’s worth; we’re talking about pedalling back up.

In comparison to the Sender downhill bike, The torque is a couple of degrees sharper in the head angle, shorter in the wheelbase, but the reach measurement is the same. So, in comparison, you could expect the Sender to climb like s$%t and stall at slower speeds, while the Torque strikes a balance that will make it manageable when the clock isn’t ticking.

Perfect bike park bike? Oh yes, while we only have a couple of places with uplift services worthy of the term ‘bike park’ in Australia like Maydena, Thredbo, Mt Buller you could trade in a downhill bike or upgrade an enduro bike and let loose.

We took on incredibly steep terrain with confidence, the tall front end, powerful brakes and roomy frame give you a strong position to brace yourself. We rode longer descents with less fatigue in our upper body.

Laying off the brakes on one of the million great corners of Maydena Bike Park, Tasmania.

Too big to pedal, too much to handle?

Don’t expect it to jump up with excitement and climb when you turn it upwards; it’s going to get there eventually. While Maydena is a gravity park with everything pointing down (steeply!), we did take a detour which involved a few short climbs and long pedalling straights. With the dropper post right up, and the little blue lever on the DHX shock turned in; we were pleasantly surprised that it didn’t kill us. Canyon claim the top-level Torque CF 9.0 Pro Carbon is 14.1kg, not bad for a bike that size!

It’s the type of bike that you need to sit down and spin the legs with patience for best results.

It’s the type of bike that you need to sit down and spin the legs with patience for best results. If you get up out of the saddle and mash about, the tall front end and raked-out forks will make for a reasonably awkward climbing position. Horses for courses, pretty much.

On slower corners or tight switchbacks, you do feel the Torque’s size, exacerbated for us by the fact we’d just ridden the Strive. Though we quickly got used to it, and by that we mean we just rode everything faster! That’s the key.

Enduro?

Sure, if the tracks are rough enough to warrant 180mm travel forks, the Torque could certainly be a decent enduro race bike. While the Strive was the bike we saw the Canyon Factory Enduro Race Team using the most last EWS season, we did see them ride the smaller Spectral in Rotorua, NZ and Derby, TAS rounds the season prior. Will the team use the Torque on the roughest EWS rounds this season?

Who’s it for then?

The Torque sits amongst a select few long travel new-generation ‘freeride bikes’ like the; Commencal Supreme SX, Pivot Firebird, Polygon XQUARONE.

After only a couple days on the Torque we got the feeling that if you do the odd downhill shuttle, spend a time riding a chairlift, hit massive jumps, ride big mountain enduro, enter the occasional DH race or just like bikes that aren’t afraid of anything that can still be pedalled up a hill, you could fit the bill.

Bike Development, Racing and The Universe with Fabien Barel and Joe Barnes

If we had to pick someone to head to a mountain biking mecca with, and that place just happened to be a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean, riders like Fabien Barel and Joe Barnes would be at the top of our list.

If you’re planning a mountain biking holiday, Madeira should be a contender.

Well, luckily for us this obscure hypothetical was our reality when we attended the launch of the new Canyon Spectral and Torque models in Madeira, Portugal.

Madeira is home to some unique landscapes and amazing trails.

Before Joe headed back home for some blood lactate testing (EWS racing is serious business!) and Fabien went on his way to continue his never-ending product development schedule, we sat down with them to have a yarn about the new bikes and much more.


Fabien Barel:

F (Flow) – G’day Fabien! With your role at Canyon, you’re pretty important to the development of new bikes. Tell us a bit about your involvement with the new Torque and Spectral?

FB (Fabien Barel) – I’ve been with Canyon for six years now, and a huge part of our collaboration is the development of the new bikes, where I bring the racing background and the ‘feeling’ of the bikes. Canyon provides the technical know-how and plenty of technological resources.

Where I’m based I can also ride all year around, so I’m able to spend many hours on the bike to test the reliability and the actual ride feel as we develop the prototypes.

F – How long has the development cycle been for the Spectral and Torque since the first prototype?

FB – The Spectral and Torque projects have been going for a year and a half now.

Fabien floating aboard the new Torque.

F – Tell us a bit about the ‘family’ concept with regards to the Spectral, Torque and Sender?

FB –

When we developed the Sender, what we realised was that the three-stage suspension platform gave us what we were after not only for downhill riding, but it was also a platform that could work effectively for trail riding.

Some riders want progressivity throughout the entirety of their travel these days, but they don’t realise if this is the case they may be fighting the bike more than the terrain at times.

The stable mid stroke of our suspension really allows you to get the correct steering feedback when riding a corner, or pumping the bike through a compression, and the progressivity is saved solely for what I call ‘saver mode’, or when you really need it (laughs).

Fabien was integral in the development of Canyon’s Triple Phase Suspension.

F – This week we’ve seen the Torque make a comeback – and it’s a beast of a bike. Tell us in your mind who the ideal rider for this bike is?

FB – Whilst the Torque and the Spectral share the same kinematics, they’re part of the same ‘family’, we wanted to develop a big bike that we could do everything with.

For our testing, we used all of our professional riders, from freeriders like Thomas Genon, enduro racers like Joe (Barnes) who took the bike on long climbs to ensure it could pedal, and downhillers like Troy (Brosnan) who really pushed the bike to the limits.

What we achieved from this was essentially an ultra-capable bike for the rider who is truly focussed on the descents.

Troy Brosnan spent a week in Whistler aboard the new Torque.

F – So there really was a lot of involvement from Canyon’s professional riders when developing the Torque, how much of their feedback do you rely on when altering and advancing prototypes towards production?

FB – Being in a team like ours is like being in a family. We need to be able to take on board everything that our pro riders say and then consider how this helps us make not only the fastest bikes for racing, but also dynamic bikes for the average consumer, bikes that are fun and playful. Their feedback is invaluable, but it is only one part of the puzzle.

Unfortunately, not everybody can ride like this.

F – Do you personally spend much time on the more budget friendly bikes that the average consumer is more likely to purchase?

FB – To be honest no. Typically the only difference is the componentry, as when we release a carbon bike, we usually develop an aluminium model, and also models that mix the two materials.

I will always ride the aluminium prototype to find the right amount of rigidity, and ensure the performance of the aluminium is as close to the carbon as possible.

Even at the budget end of the Canyon range, you can be confident many, many hours have been put into frame development.

F – Do you think many riders could actually discern the different properties of an aluminium frame versus a carbon one?

FB – There is a difference in terms of performance, for sure. In terms of weight, in terms of rigidity you’re able to optimise the general chassis better with carbon than you are with aluminium.

I’ll be honest though, ninety to ninety five percent of people wouldn’t be able to pick up the difference, unless they really, really push the bike to the limits.

Thomas Genon making sure the new Torque is up to the task.

F – Moving onto next year, what’s coming up for yourself and Canyon?

FB – Next year will be exciting! This is a time for the brand where we are continuing to develop this new family of bikes that the Spectral and Torque are a part of, and we have exciting things planned for next year and beyond.

Spend five minutes with Fabien, and his passion for bike and product development will become evident.

F – Some Torque models feature your new ‘G5’ cockpit componentry, do you see not only Canyon, but also other brands internalising componentry development and specifications in the future?

FB – In the last five to seven years we’ve seen many brands try this, developing their own wheels, bars and stems mainly for cost purposes, but for us there is an interest to work on these components for other reasons.

Security is one of these reasons, for example if you get a cockpit from a third party you don’t have complete control over the product, but by working closely with brands, and now developing our own components, we have more control.

More control gives us more possibilities to spec the bike as we want, and look into other exciting areas such as integration in the future.

Canyon’s new G5 componentry range consists of premium products, not cost cutting measures.

F – Canyon’s mountain biking sector seems to be expanding at a rapid rate, with new bikes, professional racing teams and the company expanding into new markets, how is the mountain bike side of the brand tracking?

FB – I have to say firstly that I work with a great bunch of people. As much as Canyon is very much a brand that employs high level German efficiency and engineering, we’re also a very human brand.

The real relationships are what I feel drives our success, and today I don’t want to talk about numbers, but mountain biking is a big, big part of Canyon as a brand, and our investment into the mountain biking sector, be it marketing, engineering or servicing to the customer is growing every year.

Canyon certainly took this launch very seriously, renting possibly the biggest house in Madeira for their many staff.

F – Lastly Fabien, you’re a big fan of Australian reds (wine), but if you had to choose between an Australian red and a Madeiran Poncha, what would it be?

FB – Ha! The Australian red, not a doubt, not a doubt!

Steer clear of too much Poncha if you’re keen on riding the next day.

F – Cheers Fabien!


Joe Barnes:

F – G’day Joe! You’ve been working closely with Canyon to develop the new Spectral, tell us a bit about your involvement?

JB – I was always a huge fan of the old Spectral, as it really suited the riding I have back home, so when it came to the next step I actually worked last year with Canyon to develop a new linkage to achieve the feel the new bike has, which was not so much creating a supportive mid stroke as we already had that, but having a more sensitive initial stroke whilst retaining the mid-stroke support that makes the bike so playful.

It was pretty cool that I had the old chassis with the custom linkage that gave me a fairly similar leverage curve as the new bike, but it had nowhere near the same anti-squat and anti-rise, which are real features of the new bike.

Joe is one of the most switched on guys around when it comes to feeling how a bike is working.

F – Why is it that you prefer the Spectral for your home trails and surrounds?

JB – I find the Spectral to be a very poppy bike, and where I’m from a lighter, more agile bike suits the trails better for sure, as well as the fact that I’m pedalling everywhere with no uplifts.

Joe’s riding style is very flowy and precise, making him a joy to watch.

F – Will you be riding the Spectral on the EWS circuit next year?

JB – I’m in the lucky position where I can keep my options open when it comes to EWS racing with a few bikes to select from, so it’ll depend on the race really.

At the Scottish Enduro Series though, which is my secondary focus after the EWS I’ll race the Spectral, it’s very suited to the regional style of enduro racing that’s typically raced on less demanding tracks than the EWS.

Joe certainly looks at home aboard the new Spectral.

F – We know that you’re a bit of a of wizard when it comes to bike setup, be it contact points, brakes, suspension, you name it really – what do you see as the key elements of setting up a bike?

JB – I guess it’s a personal thing, but I do like to play around with the bike and just make sure I’m on top of everything. I always check my sag, just in case the temperature has changed, my bar height is also really important.

I do a fair bit of work with my mechanic Craig also, particularly on the suspension, which is pretty useful feedback for Canyon when developing the bikes.

I don’t like my brakes to bitey, or high performance, I actually like them a bit consistently mushy (laughs).

Joe likes his brakes and trails the same way, mushy.

F – With the new linkage providing a more progressive feel at the end of the travel, should riders expect to be running less volume spacers?

JB – I’d expect so. I went down from two spacers to one spacer on the new bike, but I’d almost say the supportive mid stroke is more important in being able to do this, as it takes quite a strong force to reach the point where you’re bottoming the suspension out.

F – Is the supportive mid stroke the key element that you think creates the ‘playful feel’ you’ve used to describe the new bike?

JB – For sure. There’s no wallow in the bike at all, you can feel the ground beneath you and you’re able to react to it, and I really like this as it allows you to make quick decisions out on the trail.

F – People often bump up the fork travel on bikes in this travel bracket, have you experimented with longer forks on the new Spectral?

JB – Yeah, I put a 160mm fork on when I first built the bike up as it was lying around the shed, and that felt pretty spot on. I certainly wouldn’t go more than 160, the bike’s angles would be effected too much then.

Joe shoots the breeze as we wait for another lift up the hill courtesy of Freeride Madeira.

F – Onto a slightly different track, tell us a bit about the Dudes of Hazzard?

JB – Yeah (laughs), it’s just a video blog we started eight years or so ago.

It’s essentially a video blog highlighting what me and my friends get up to with a pretty low production value.

F – You seem to go on some pretty amazing trips, what’s been the best trip you’ve been on?

JB –  There’s been a few, but this one trip we went on we ended up in Sweden and Norway, proper winging it, it was good fun!

There was three of us in the van and the van was pretty beat up, but we decided with no planning to head to Sweden and Norway after finishing a World Cup at Val Di Sole. The drive took a solid four days and the van sounded like it was going to break any minute, but it turned out to be pretty incredible.

F – So have you got any hot tips for people wanting to load up a van and head on an adventure?

JB – I did a really good job kitting out my van, I made myself a comfy armchair, a folding bed and heaps of nooks and crannies to put things in.

I’m not a joiner, not at all, but it’s only screwing bits of wood onto other bits of wood, right?

It turned out to be pretty luxury for an old Transit van really, with some nice lights for ambience.

The magnificent Landship III, Joe’s current home away from home.

F – Did you have a shower, or was washing optional?

JB – Nah, that was part of the fun really, the old where can you get your wash every day (laughs). Normally it was an ice-cold river in the alps, the bike wash shower is a classic also. Don’t know how that would go in Australia, you might get bitten by a Crocodile or something?

F – Have you got any plans to come to Australia in the future?

JB – Yeah for sure! I’ve not been to mainland Australia but I went to Tasmania this year for the EWS and loved every minute of it, so I’d love to go back there and cruise around.

Watch out Australian corners.

F – Speaking of the EWS, in an ideal world where are you hoping to be next year?

JB – It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been consistently in the top ten, and next year I want to be back up there. There’s a few races where I’ll push for a top five, La Thuile is certainly one of those. If I can achieve the consistency I’m after then a series result will look after itself.

F – Why does somewhere like La Thuile suit you?

JB – I just find places where the dirt is a bit looser a bit easier, perhaps because of what I ride back home I don’t really like the hardpack, I like to float around a wee bit more.

I’ve done two EWS races there before (in La Thuile) and done well, so I think I can do well again.

There was certainly a ‘wee bit’ of floating around in Madeira.

F – Do you think it’s just the lack of familiarity that makes hardpack a bit more difficult for you?

JB – For sure. I’ve grown up with no hardpack whatsoever, and while I’ve obviously ridden lots of hardpack in places like the French Alps, I just find myself in the zone when it gets loose.

Joe’s happy place is in the slop.

F – Thanks Joe, and good luck next year!

The Canyon Maydena Dream Weekend

Remember the Canyon Maydena Dream Weekend comp from a few months back? Been wondering who was the lucky bugger chosen by Canyon to head to Maydena Bike Park for a weekend of riding? Meet said lucky bugger, Jacob Schellen, and enjoy a few shots from a spectacular weekend of frothing and ripping.


Lucky winner Jacob Schellen (second from right) was joined by his dad (far right). Joining them were, from left to right: new Canyon Enduro signing Sam Walsh; Aaron Pelttari (Troy’s mechanic); Canyon Australia head man Darryl ‘Razzle’ Moliere; and the one and only Troy Brosnan.

Mate, you’re the envy of the Australian MTB public. Who are you? 

My name is Jacob Schellen, I’m a 19 year old from a small town called Heyfield in Victoria.

What are your home trails?

I’m pretty lucky to live just a few minutes from Blores Hill MTB Park. It doesn’t have the biggest elevation out there but it’s just had a few track updates from Dirt Art and it’s super fun.”

How did it feel to find yourself at the top of Maydena, on a kick arse Canyon, with one of the world’s best riders?

I’m still trying to get my head around that! Awesome people, awesome place and awesome bikes, it doesn’t get much better.

Jacob getting loose in the grease on board a Canyon Torque.

[envira-gallery id=”109736″]

What bike did you ride at Maydena, and how did it compare to your usual bike?

Between the two of us we rode a Torque and Strive although I didn’t really get off the torque. As expected it was a lot more aggressive than my Kona Process and just felt perfect for the types of tracks at Maydena. What really surprised me was how easy it was to pedal up the steep hill back to our accommodation considering its descending capabilities.

What did you learn from riding with Troy?

I think I was having way too much fun to be trying to learn from Troy! But I did probably get better at taking sketchy inside lines in the greasy conditions on the second day of riding.

Do you reckon Troy learnt a few things riding with you too?

I’m not sure I’d have too much to offer Troy but I hope so! Haha.

Jacob launches into the loam.
Going down with the ship.
Brosnan, embracing some time on flat pedals in Maydena, with a classic inside line.

Tell us about riding the Maydena trails – how did you find them?

Riding the trails at Maydena would have to be the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. We had great weather the first day then the rain came down that night which made for super slippery and loose riding on the Sunday. The trails themselves were incredible and need to be ridden to understand just how good they are. The guys who have built them have done an amazing job – big ups to those fellas!

Anyone you’d like to thank?

I can’t thank Darryl enough for the whole weekend, also to Sam, Troy, Aaron, Luke, and Jasper for the best riding crew ever. Finally thanks to the whole Maydena team, you guys have done something amazing and I’ll definitely be back soon!

Who doesn’t love a celebratory bar hump?

Canyon Australia’s Enduro Frother, Sam Walsh, Shreds Maydena

National Enduro Champ on Canyon

Canyon Australia is proud to welcome Sam Walsh to their talented roster of riders.  Joining the current crew, consisting of junior DH National Champion and all-round style king Baxter Maiwald, and Bright pinner Kaia Ellis, Walsh, the current Junior Gravity Enduro National Champion, will not only be looking to retain the Green and Gold in the Gravity Enduro discipline – this weekend he will be fighting for the XCO junior title at the XCO National Championships in Armidale NSW.

“We’re really pumped to have Sam join the team. It’s amazing to watch Sam ride a bike, the way he just puts the bike wherever he wants it.  That coupled with his immense enthusiasm for anything with two wheels, whether it be a CX race or DH racing or anything in between, Sam is up for it!  He’s going to be a great addition to the team” suggested Darryl Moliere, the Market Manager for Canyon in Australia.

“I’m really thankful and excited to be given the opportunity to join the Canyon family.  I’ve already got to know the Crew well and I love riding my bikes with them.  I plan to focus on Enduro racing as the Cross Country season draws to an end.” Said Walsh.

Sam will be campaigning aboard the Canyon Exceed hardtail for XCO and the all-new Canyon Spectral for Enduro racing.  Supporting Sam for the upcoming season will be his current wheel and tyre sponsors, DT Swiss and Maxxis.  New for Sam this season will be team partners Fox Head for clothing and protection, with SRAM and RockShox providing the components crucial to race day success.

Canyon Factory Racing DH – Fresh Aussie Talent Joining 2018 Team

Troy Brosnan returns as the anchor of the roster after a successful 2017 campaign which saw him depart from the elusive 1-win club by taking the win at the Andorran round of the UCI World Cup. This win vaulted him to a 2nd place overall finish in the UCI World Cup, a career best for Brosnan.

“Last year was started with a lot of unknowns, a new team and a bike that had not set foot on a World Cup podium.  In the end, I was really blown away by how well the whole season went. Spending the year riding with Mark at the World Cups was a key factor in my successful season and when he got on the podium it was just as awesome as if I was there myself. This off-season I really put the hard work in and I know that this season is going to be bigger and better.”- Troy Brosnan.

23-year-old Canadian Mark Wallace re-signed with Canyon Factory Racing in November after a standout season which was highlighted by an opening round 2nd place finish in Lourdes, France. Wallace backed this with a consistency-filled season including three top ten finishes en route to an 8th place in the overall standings.

“I am really happy to be on board with Canyon for the next two years and build on last season’s momentum. Last year was a great experience and the Sender was amazing. Next year Kye will be joining Troy and I and after our first camp last month I am really looking forward to seeing what he can bring.”- Wallace commented.

New to the program is sixteen-year-old Australian Kye A’Hern. Coming off impressive results at Crankworx Whistler where he claimed the Prince of Crankworx honor highlighted by his commanding win in the Canadian Open DH.

Queanbeyan’s Kye A’Hern is the new addition to the Canyon Factory Racing roster

2018 Race Calendar

The 2018 UCI World Cup season kicks off in April on Lošinj, a Croatian island in the northern Adriatic Sea known for its striking bays, rich vegetation and a heinously rocky downhill track. The season peaks at the World Championships in Lenzerheide Switzerland, where in 2017 World Cup action Brosnan narrowly missed the win by a mere 0.162 of a second. Canyon Factory Racing’s focus this season will be the UCI World Cup series as well as select Crankworx events.

Team Manager Gabe Fox says “The season is going to be exciting, heading into a season with two young top ten ranked riders is a great position to be in. I expect Troy and Mark to continue to challenge for World Cup wins.”

What will Troy, Mark and Kye be riding?

Reliable, cutting-edge equipment is crucial to race day success and Canyon Factory Racing DH is proud to partner with industry leaders in their respective categories. In 2018 the team is proudly supported by SRAM, RockShox, Mavic, Dainese, Maxxis, Troy Lee Designs, Ergon, Crankbrothers, E-13, Acros and Mucoff.

“Our Factory Teams play a crucial role in driving product innovation via exchanges between the R&D department and team riders. It allows us to make key developments in kinematics, geometries, and detect any issues long before they reach the market. To me the teams are much more than a simple promotional tool, they draw people to the sport and keep the scene and products evolving.  It was unbelievable to see the Sender take a World Cup win under Troy in its first year on the circuit, we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.”- Daniel Oster, Canyon MTB Product & Brand Manager.

Kye will be learning a lot from Troy this year.

“We look forward to the continued partnership with Canyon Factory Racing DH. Troy and Mark have been SRAM and RockShox athletes since the beginning and a huge part of SRAM’s gravity family. We’re super stoked to continue supplying the boys with the highest level, race tuned suspension, brakes, and drivetrain components and to build on last season’s outstanding results.  SRAM’s commitment to gravity racing can be highlighted by this partnership and our mutual push to put riders on the top of the podium.”- John Dawson, SRAM MTB Sports Marketing Director.

Show me some action!

Learn more about Troy’s off-season training in the video feature: Under The Hood

About Canyon Bicycles GmbH

What started life in founder Roman Arnold’s garage as Radsport Arnold has evolved into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of road, mountain, triathlon, fitness, urban and kids’ bikes. Officially renamed in 2002, Canyon works hand-in-hand with the best athletes on the planet to produce an array of award-winning bikes that embody a pure passion for riding. With a strong reputation for true innovation, implementing leading technologies, clean and clear design as well as the highest standards in quality and service, Canyon continues to expand worldwide, selling more bikes outside of its native Germany than within since 2008. As a pioneering direct sales brand, Canyon products are exclusively available online at www.canyon.com

Photos by Boris Beyer @maddogboris

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

Tested: Canyon Spectral AL 7.0 EX


In cycling, we tend to conflate high performance, with carbon. But the Canyon Spectral AL 7.0 EX goes against this norm, and makes a very compelling case for a riding an alloy framed bike, dressed with top-end components. Canyon have their invested cash in the areas that will have the most tangible impact for serious trail riders, giving this bike components from the top shelf, but sticking with aluminium for the frame lets them keep the price point under $5000.


The carbon boogey man.

The other target market for this bike is the riders out there who, for one reason or another, just do not want a carbon bike. Whether it’s because of a persistent stigma that carbon is fragile, or because they feel like they might be more likely to damage a carbon bike, plenty of riders still prefer the familiarity of alloy.

Super subtle graphics position this bike as a bit of a ‘sleeper’. The frame shapes of the alloy bike practically identical to those of the carbon spectral. Some areas, like the lower shock mount, are a little less refined.

This is the first alloy-framed Canyon we’ve had a Flow – we’ve ridden their carbon bikes a lot over the past 18 months, and they’ve proven to be incredibly tough (read our long-term review of the Strive Enduro bike here). The alloy Spectral has the same sleek and sturdy quality about it as the carbon bikes we’ve tested, though in comparison to the exceptional finish on their carbon bikes, the alloy bike does feel a little less refined.


What is this bike built for?

The Spectral is a trail bike, but with a mean edge; 140mm out back, and 150mm up front, and geometry that borders on Enduro bike territory. We like its no-fuss design and spec approach – it’s really built for a rider who wants the minimum of fuss, here to get down to business of riding trails as fast as possible, with the minimum of setup or maintenance.

140mm out back.

External cabling for the dropper and rear brake line deliver the zero-fuss message too. The suspension at both end has sag gradients so you can get it dialled in quickly, and good quality tubeless wheels and tyres mean no faffing about to get it set up. The 1×12 Eagle drivetrain has you covered no matter how steep or varied the terrain you’re riding.

The Pike RCT3 and Maxxis High Roller front end combo is a sharp and impressive combo.

On the trails.

The bike shares the same geometry as the Spectral CF which we reviewed last year and loved. It’s one of the best handling 27.5” bikes we’ve ridden, full stop. There’s an awesome precision about it, the short rear end, the confidence-inspiring angles up front, the support you’ll find in the suspension, the tyres that are bitey but not too big and loafy. It’s got the right mix.


Read our review of the Spectral CF 9.0 EX below.

Tested: Canyon Spectral CF EX9.0

 

The way this bike attacks a technical piece of singletrack is inspiring. Rather than just covering ground, we found ourselves stopping and surveying the trail, looking for new ways to ride it. It’s that kind of bike, it opens up your eyes to new creative lines, prodding you to jump, wheelie, manual and skid your way through the trail.

The business of climbing isn’t a chore either, and while the riding position is more about the handling than efficiency, we were consistently impressed by its ability to claw up the long climbs, and the agility when the climbs got technical. You’ve got a three position compression lever on the shock, within easy reach, to firm things up if you want to.

The Spectral frame is a couple of years old now, so it doesn’t have a trunnion mount shock or Boost hub spacing.

What do you get for the coin?

At $4799, the Spectral has some stiff competition, and plenty of riders at this price are heavily focused on getting maximum bang for the buck. And when you look at the quality of the components, we doubt many rider will be itching to make any component changes before hitting the trails, we certainly wouldn’t. There really aren’t any holes in the spec choices here, and there are plenty of pleasant surprises. Items like the Renthal cockpit and the Ergon grips are nice touches, as is the use of Matchmaker clamps for a clean cockpit, integrating the shifter, dropper and brake levers. The Pike RCT3 fork and X0 Eagle drivetrain are total standouts, of course.

A nice touch. Renthal provide the cockpit.

This tyre combo is one we really enjoy, a great mix of speed and grip. Riders in softer soils might want something more aggressive out back, but on dry trails this combo is a lot of fun and in conjunction with the light wheels you’ve got rolling gear that is quick to manoeuvre.


Where are the flaws? 

It’s actually a really hard bike to find an issue with. You could make the point that it’s a bit behind the curve in that it doesn’t use Boost hub spacing, but it? It’s not like we ever found ourselves out on the trail longing for different hub spacing. Nor did we ever find ourselves missing the carbon frame either – the high end spec balances out the extra weight of the alloy frame so it’s quite a light bike overall, and while the carbon version of this bike has a calmer, quieter feel overall, the great suspension means this bike never feels clattery or rough.

The absence of Boost hub spacing is really not a big issue in our minds.

Does it stack up? 

When you compare the Spectral with its competition, notably the Giant Trance 1, YT Jeffsy AL1, Norco Sight A7.1, you can see that it’s dwelling in a pretty competitive sector of the market. Even though the Canyon does have exceptional spec, it doesn’t blow the competition away on that front – clearly this a segment where brands are running some tight margins. It’s fortunate for Canyon then, that this bike has some fearsome performance on the trails too, it’s not relying purely on its spec sheet to win riders over.

As a direct to consumer brand, getting a test ride on a Spectral could be a hurdle that some potential purchasers will struggle to overcome, but if you do decide to push the buy button on Canyon’s website, you’re making a sound choice with this piece of weaponry.

Pinching Yourself – The Canyon Dream Weekender, Derby

In conjunction with Canyon Bikes Australia, we ran a competition last year, we drew the winners, booked it all in and here is how it went down. Garth from Rockhampton, QLD, got real lucky and his name came out of the hat. His mate Joel was the lucky bugger that got the invite to come along, and joining us all the way from New Zealand was National Enduro Champion, Justin Leov from the Canyon Factory Racing Team.

Canyon Australia’s Darryll Moliere had to be there to supervise, of course, and pick up the bar tab. So we had a great crew, ready to descend on the tiny town of Derby in Tasmania’s North East for a dream weekend of riding sweet trails on sweet bikes.

They see us rollin, the stealth Canyon van dripping with Canyon carbon mountain bikes.
They see us rollin into Derby, the stealth Canyon van dripping with Canyon carbon mountain bikes.
Canyon Dream Weekender, Derby-003-_LOW2901
Froth levels beginning to get very high.
Canyon Dream Weekender, Derby-014-_LOW2946
Prize winner Garth, checking out the iconic Devil Wolf trail which crosses the bare rock canyon (get it…) created after the huge dam burst upstream in 1929 sending a raging torrent into town, wiping out anything in its path.
Joel, stoked he's mates with Garth right now, scoring the invite to Derby.
Joel, stoked he’s mates with Garth right now, scoring the invite to Derby.
Justin Leov, en-route from NZ to France for his pre-season team camp was keen to punch out loads of trails.
Justin Leov, en-route from NZ to France for his pre-season team camp was keen to punch out loads of trail time.
Turns out Joel and Garth are complete shredders, coming from Rockhampton their technical trail game is strong!
Turns out Joel and Garth are complete shredders, coming from Rockhampton their technical trail game is strong!
Boosting big kickers on the new trail - Return to Sender.
Boosting big kickers on the new trail – Return to Sender.
Back to town for a sundowner debrief from a great first day riding.
Back to town for a sundowner debrief from a great first day riding.

Fresh out of the box was a pair of new Canyon Strives for the guys to ride, these things are amazing to ride with excellent suspension and versatility. We have one on long term test.

And Darryll had his Canyon Spectral with him, the smaller 140mm travel brother of the Strive. We got along with that bike quite well too, take a look here.


Branxholm pub, the epitome of home cooked pub grub and hospitality.

There is no trip to Derby without a meal at one of the iconic small town pubs like the Weldborough Hotel or Branxholm Hotel, serving up a good dose of classic Tasmanian atmosphere and a chance to meet some locals over a Little Rivers beer or two.

Carbon bikes from Germany outside a classic Tassie pub, who would have thought this would happen?
Carbon bikes from Germany outside a classic Tassie pub, who would have thought this would happen?
No shirt, no shoes, no service, nobody's watching.
No shirt, no shoes, no service, nobody’s watching.
Now that is what you call a home cooked style meal!
Now that is what you call a home cooked style meal!

Blue Tier, Weldborough Pub, Atlas with shuttles. Best day eveeeeeeeerrrr!

One pro, two temporary.
One pro, two temporary.
Yeoooo, Jussoooo!
Yeoooo, Jussoooo!
Darryll had a moment in the blissful greenery of Blue Tier, almost saw a tier on his cheek (get it...) this place does that to anyone.
Darryll had a moment in the blissful greenery of Blue Tier, almost saw a tier on his cheek (get it…) this place does that to anyone.
Thinking tree. Look at this place!!
Thinking tree. Look at this place!!
Young Matt Staggs ride a bike damn well, here he makes us feel old with his casual care-free approach to the bigger jumps on Blue Tier descent.
Young Matt Staggs our video/photo freelancer squid ride a bike damn well, here he makes us feel old with his casual care-free approach to the bigger jumps on Blue Tier descent.
This is what it's all about. A complete mind explosion of green and lush Tassie wilderness.
This is what it’s all about. A complete mind explosion of green and lush Tassie wilderness.
Yes, this is real.
Yes, this is real.
Dreamy Tasmania.
Dreamy Tasmania.
There was big tree down on the Big Chook descent. Lucky nobody got squashed. We wondered what it sounded like?
There was big old tree down on the Big Chook descent covering a big chunk of trail. Lucky nobody got squashed. But we did wonder what noise it made when it fell?
No ride down the Blue Tier is complete without a beer at the Weldborough Pub, best beer garden in the world!
No ride down the Blue Tier is complete without a beer at the Weldborough Pub, best beer garden in the world!
It was particularly hard to find a park that day too.
It was particularly hard to find a park that day too.
Craft beer from all over Tasmania on tap, now you're talking!
Craft beer from all over Tasmania on tap, now you’re talking!
Friendly legends Sam and Siofra the new-ish managers at Weldborough Hotel are there for the thirst quenching good times.
Friendly legends Sam and Siofra the new-ish managers at Weldborough Hotel are there for the thirst quenching good times.
Joel at the top of Atlas Trail, the highest point in the Derby trail network. An AMAZING descent to come.
Joel at the top of Atlas Trail, the highest point in the Derby trail network. An AMAZING descent to come.
Atlas has trail features like nowhere else, amazing rock features and really flowing yet quite challenging descents.
Atlas has trail features like nowhere else, amazing rock features and really flowing yet quite challenging descents.
Darryll squeezes his Canyon Spectral through a big leafy boulder.
Darryll squeezes his Canyon Spectral through a big leafy boulder.
Garth on the hunt for speed on the lower section.
Garth on the hunt for speed on the lower section.

One last shred, please don’t send us home!

After a run down the Bule Tier, lunch at the pub and back up the other side to Atlas you’d think the guys would have had their fill, but no. With Justin foaming for more it was time to squeeze in another shuttle up to Black Stump for one more run down Return To Sender, the unanimous favourite of the local loops.

Miles, Vertigo MTB's bike washing elf keeping the Vertigo business running efficiently.
Miles, Vertigo MTB’s bike washing elf keeping the Vertigo business running efficiently.
Berms from your dreams.
Berms from your dreams.
Matt Staggs nose-tapping away.
Matt Staggs nose-tapping away.
Getting the jumps dialled, if only the trip was for a whole week.
Getting the jumps dialled, if only the trip was for a whole week.
Dusty drifts back to town.
Dusty drifts back to town.
Traffic watch in busy Derby.
Traffic watch in busy Derby.
The gang! Joel. Garth, Justin, Mick, Buck the Shuttle Commander, and Razzle Dazzle from Canyon.
The gang! Joel. Garth, Justin, Mick, Buck the Shuttle Commander, and Razzle Dazzle from Canyon.

Now if that is not a dream weekender, we don’t know what is. Cheers to Joel and Garth for being complete legends, awesome company and great riders too. Justin Leov for taking the time out his busy pre-season schedule to join us punters on the trails, Buck and Jude, Darren and Josh, Minnie Jessop and Reuben at Vertigo MTB for the laughs, riding itinerary, and uplift shuttles. And a huge cheers to Darryll at Canyon for pulling it all together like a guru, bringing great new bikes to ride, cold beers, a rad Canyon van to cruise about it, and keeping the stoke levels high.

It sure pays to enter in a prize competition, lucky buggers!


Want more Derby?

Blue Tier:

Blue Derby’s New Trails: The Blue Tier & Big Chook

Shear Pin & 23 Stitches:

Blue Derby’s New Trail: Shear Pin & 23 Stitches

Return To Sender:

Blue Derby’s New Trails: Return to Sender & Flickety Sticks Upper

Atlas:

Must-Ride: Blue Derby, Stage 3 – World Class Tassie Trails

More more more Derby!

Must-Ride: Derby, Tasmania

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!

Baxter Maiwald And Kaia Ellis Shred Thredbo's Cannonball Downhill

Faster than goannas up a tree, Canyon Australia young guns Baxter Maiwald and Kaia Ellis are two names to watch out for in the coming years.

Baxter Maiwald sends it large on the final jump of Thredbo's Cannonball Downhill.
Baxter Maiwald on the final jump of Thredbo’s Cannonball Downhill.

We met up with the two young shredders at Thredbo’s Cannonball MTB Festival for a bit of a chat about themselves and the Canyon Australia Downhill team, and some filming on Thredbo’s fast and rocky Cannonball Downhill.

As you can see from the video, Kaia and Baxter are real talents, and we wanted to know a bit more about them!

Baxter sends it sideways at the Cannonball MTB Festival Whip Wars.
The crowd were loving the afternoon sunshine and riding action at the Cannonball MTB Festival Whip Wars.

Tell us a bit about your involvement with Canyon?

Baxter:

My involvement with Canyon started 6 months ago when I met Darryl (Darryl Moliere- Canyon Australia’s Marketing Manager) at the National Downhill Championships in Bright.

Since then, I’ve become Canyon’s first Downhill Athlete in Australia, and one of the first athletes to compete on the Canyon Sender on the World Cup Downhill circuit.

Baxter's smooth and flow style on the bike is unmissable.
Baxter was one of the first athletes to compete on a Canyon Sender in a World Cup Downhill race.

Kaia:

It all started when Dirt Art came to Bright to build the Hero trail, and my dad asked Baxter if there was a chance he could get a better price on a Canyon Sender for me, as I needed a new DH bike. Two days later the phone rings and it’s Darryl from Canyon Australia asking if I would like to join the team.

It’s not every day that happens to a 13-year-old, so I’m extremely grateful to Baxter and Darryl for the opportunity!

Kaia is one incredibly talented 13 year old.
Kaia is one incredibly talented 13 year old.

What Canyon Bikes do you currently own, and which is your favourite?

Baxter:

I currently own a Canyon Sender with a fully custom build, including all the best SRAM and RockShox bits, a Spank wheelset and Onza tires. I also have a Canyon Strive, and a Canyon Stitched 360 Dirt Jumper (quite the quiver we think, very jealous!).

My favourite would have to be the Strive, because I spend the most time riding it. For a bike that descends like a mini downhill bike, it climbs so well with the ability to adjust the geometry with the Shapeshifter.

All of Baxter's bikes are adorned in the latest goodies from RockShox.
All of Baxter’s bikes are adorned in the latest goodies from Sram, RockShox, Spank and Onza.

Kaia:

So far I have a Sender CF 8.0 and I think even if I had more bikes it would still be my favourite!

Kaia loves his Canyon Sender!
Kaia at the Cannonball MTB Festival Whip Wars competition.

If you could own any other bike in the Canyon line, what would it be?

Baxter:

If I could own any other Canyon I think I would get a road bike. A road bike is the only discipline I’m missing out of the extensive Canyon range, and would be a great training tool in the off season when there’s not always easy access to good trails.

Baxter has been training hard for the upcoming season.
Sunshine sending.

Kaia:

I’m currently working towards getting a Spectral CF 9.0 EX in black to match my Sender. My old trail bike is a bit worn out, and I need a rad trail bike to get my fitness up for racing. The Spectral will be the perfect bike for the trails around Bright.

Kaia is about to get a fresh trail bike to enjoy the awesome Bright trails.
Kaia’s home town of Bright, Victoria has some of Australia’s best riding.

How do you like to setup your bikes? 

Baxter:

That’s strictly confidential, haha! Basically, stiff suspension with relatively fast rebound, a high cockpit with a long stem and 770mm Truvative Descendent bars. I also run pretty flat brake levers, a low seat set far forward in the rails and hard tire pressures (if you’re wondering why Baxter runs harder tyre pressures, just check out his pace through rock gardens in the video!).

A stiff and fast setup keeps Baxter riding at warp speed.
Baxter likes to run his bike fast and stiff.

Kaia:

It’s hard to find a set up that works, as I only weigh 40 kilograms.

I like to run a very short 30mm stem to get me centered on the bike, tokens and bands in the suspension with low pressures to achieve small bump compliance but progression later in the suspension’s stroke so I don’t bottom it out. Dad and I had a good chat with Troy Brosnan (Canyon Factory Downhill Team Rider) at Awaba last weekend and he gave us some great tips on how to set up the Sender, so we’ll see how that goes. Tyres are Maxxis’ DHR II’s with 22 and 27 psi in the front and rear respectively.

Kaia got a few tips on setting his bike up from Canyon's marquee signing this season, Troy Brosnan.
Kaia got a few tips on setting his bike up from Canyon International’s marquee signing this season, Troy Brosnan.

Tell us a bit about the team structure provided by Canyon and other sponsors?

Baxter:

In the beginning, there wasn’t a ‘team’, as I was the sole Canyon Australia Rider. I still got a tent at races and amazing race support from the legends at Sram Australia though! Since the addition of Kaia to the team, things have gotten even better! Now I have a little pinner to bounce lines off and keep the stoke high in the pits, and now it really feels like a team.

The amazing support we get from Darryl and Canyon and Dylan at Sram is hugely appreciated, and we’ve recently had Fox Head come on-board to keep us looking fresh, and we also have plenty of extra support from Kaia’s Dad Pete! I can’t thank everyone who helps us out enough!

Baxter is incredibly appreciative of the support from all the team's sponsors.
Baxter manuals through the finish at Thredbo’s Cannonball MTB festival.

Kaia: 

The support I get from Darryl at Canyon and Dylan at Sram is amazing. This is all very new to me but I’m beyond happy with how it’s going so far. Fox Head Australia have just joined the team and will be supplying us with all our kit and helmets. Now all I need is a good tyre sponsor (hint, hint, Maxxis).

Baxter and Kaia are rocking fresh new kit from Fox Head Australia.
Baxter and Kaia are rocking fresh new kit from Fox Head Australia.

What events are you planning on competing in this year? 

Baxter:

The team is planning on doing the remainder of the Australian National Downhill Series, Victorian Downhill Series and National Championships. Personally, I’m going to also be doing all 4 Crankworx World Tour stops, all the UCI World Cup Downhill Rounds minus round 1 in Lourdes and hopefully the World Championships in Cairns. Along with these events I will do select other events along the way as they fit in.

Baxter is going to be busier than a one handed bricklayer this season!
Baxter is going to be busier than a one handed bricklayer this season!

Kaia:

I am out of action at the moment with a broken collarbone and will miss a couple of races, but I plan on doing all the Victorian Downhill Series rounds and all the National Downhill Series rounds including National Championships. I also hope to get to Crankworx Rotorua this year.

We're wishing Baxter and Kaia the best of luck for the upcoming races!
We’re wishing Baxter and Kaia the best of luck for the upcoming races!

 

 

 

 

Baxter Maiwald And Kaia Ellis Shred Thredbo’s Cannonball Downhill

Baxter Maiwald sends it large on the final jump of Thredbo's Cannonball Downhill.
Baxter Maiwald on the final jump of Thredbo’s Cannonball Downhill.

We met up with the two young shredders at Thredbo’s Cannonball MTB Festival for a bit of a chat about themselves and the Canyon Australia Downhill team, and some filming on Thredbo’s fast and rocky Cannonball Downhill.

As you can see from the video, Kaia and Baxter are real talents, and we wanted to know a bit more about them!

Baxter sends it sideways at the Cannonball MTB Festival Whip Wars.
The crowd were loving the afternoon sunshine and riding action at the Cannonball MTB Festival Whip Wars.

Tell us a bit about your involvement with Canyon?

Baxter:

My involvement with Canyon started 6 months ago when I met Darryl (Darryl Moliere- Canyon Australia’s Marketing Manager) at the National Downhill Championships in Bright.

Since then, I’ve become Canyon’s first Downhill Athlete in Australia, and one of the first athletes to compete on the Canyon Sender on the World Cup Downhill circuit.

Baxter's smooth and flow style on the bike is unmissable.
Baxter was one of the first athletes to compete on a Canyon Sender in a World Cup Downhill race.

Kaia:

It all started when Dirt Art came to Bright to build the Hero trail, and my dad asked Baxter if there was a chance he could get a better price on a Canyon Sender for me, as I needed a new DH bike. Two days later the phone rings and it’s Darryl from Canyon Australia asking if I would like to join the team.

It’s not every day that happens to a 13-year-old, so I’m extremely grateful to Baxter and Darryl for the opportunity!

Kaia is one incredibly talented 13 year old.
Kaia is one incredibly talented 13 year old.

What Canyon Bikes do you currently own, and which is your favourite?

Baxter:

I currently own a Canyon Sender with a fully custom build, including all the best SRAM and RockShox bits, a Spank wheelset and Onza tires. I also have a Canyon Strive, and a Canyon Stitched 360 Dirt Jumper (quite the quiver we think, very jealous!).

My favourite would have to be the Strive, because I spend the most time riding it. For a bike that descends like a mini downhill bike, it climbs so well with the ability to adjust the geometry with the Shapeshifter.

All of Baxter's bikes are adorned in the latest goodies from RockShox.
All of Baxter’s bikes are adorned in the latest goodies from Sram, RockShox, Spank and Onza.

Kaia:

So far I have a Sender CF 8.0 and I think even if I had more bikes it would still be my favourite!

Kaia loves his Canyon Sender!
Kaia at the Cannonball MTB Festival Whip Wars competition.

If you could own any other bike in the Canyon line, what would it be?

Baxter:

If I could own any other Canyon I think I would get a road bike. A road bike is the only discipline I’m missing out of the extensive Canyon range, and would be a great training tool in the off season when there’s not always easy access to good trails.

Baxter has been training hard for the upcoming season.
Sunshine sending.

Kaia:

I’m currently working towards getting a Spectral CF 9.0 EX in black to match my Sender. My old trail bike is a bit worn out, and I need a rad trail bike to get my fitness up for racing. The Spectral will be the perfect bike for the trails around Bright.

Kaia is about to get a fresh trail bike to enjoy the awesome Bright trails.
Kaia’s home town of Bright, Victoria has some of Australia’s best riding.

How do you like to setup your bikes? 

Baxter:

That’s strictly confidential, haha! Basically, stiff suspension with relatively fast rebound, a high cockpit with a long stem and 770mm Truvative Descendent bars. I also run pretty flat brake levers, a low seat set far forward in the rails and hard tire pressures (if you’re wondering why Baxter runs harder tyre pressures, just check out his pace through rock gardens in the video!).

A stiff and fast setup keeps Baxter riding at warp speed.
Baxter likes to run his bike fast and stiff.

Kaia:

It’s hard to find a set up that works, as I only weigh 40 kilograms.

I like to run a very short 30mm stem to get me centered on the bike, tokens and bands in the suspension with low pressures to achieve small bump compliance but progression later in the suspension’s stroke so I don’t bottom it out. Dad and I had a good chat with Troy Brosnan (Canyon Factory Downhill Team Rider) at Awaba last weekend and he gave us some great tips on how to set up the Sender, so we’ll see how that goes. Tyres are Maxxis’ DHR II’s with 22 and 27 psi in the front and rear respectively.

Kaia got a few tips on setting his bike up from Canyon's marquee signing this season, Troy Brosnan.
Kaia got a few tips on setting his bike up from Canyon International’s marquee signing this season, Troy Brosnan.

Tell us a bit about the team structure provided by Canyon and other sponsors?

Baxter:

In the beginning, there wasn’t a ‘team’, as I was the sole Canyon Australia Rider. I still got a tent at races and amazing race support from the legends at Sram Australia though! Since the addition of Kaia to the team, things have gotten even better! Now I have a little pinner to bounce lines off and keep the stoke high in the pits, and now it really feels like a team.

The amazing support we get from Darryl and Canyon and Dylan at Sram is hugely appreciated, and we’ve recently had Fox Head come on-board to keep us looking fresh, and we also have plenty of extra support from Kaia’s Dad Pete! I can’t thank everyone who helps us out enough!

Baxter is incredibly appreciative of the support from all the team's sponsors.
Baxter manuals through the finish at Thredbo’s Cannonball MTB festival.

Kaia: 

The support I get from Darryl at Canyon and Dylan at Sram is amazing. This is all very new to me but I’m beyond happy with how it’s going so far. Fox Head Australia have just joined the team and will be supplying us with all our kit and helmets. Now all I need is a good tyre sponsor (hint, hint, Maxxis).

Baxter and Kaia are rocking fresh new kit from Fox Head Australia.
Baxter and Kaia are rocking fresh new kit from Fox Head Australia.

What events are you planning on competing in this year? 

Baxter:

The team is planning on doing the remainder of the Australian National Downhill Series, Victorian Downhill Series and National Championships. Personally, I’m going to also be doing all 4 Crankworx World Tour stops, all the UCI World Cup Downhill Rounds minus round 1 in Lourdes and hopefully the World Championships in Cairns. Along with these events I will do select other events along the way as they fit in.

Baxter is going to be busier than a one handed bricklayer this season!
Baxter is going to be busier than a one handed bricklayer this season!

Kaia:

I am out of action at the moment with a broken collarbone and will miss a couple of races, but I plan on doing all the Victorian Downhill Series rounds and all the National Downhill Series rounds including National Championships. I also hope to get to Crankworx Rotorua this year.

We're wishing Baxter and Kaia the best of luck for the upcoming races!
We’re wishing Baxter and Kaia the best of luck for the upcoming races!

 

 

 

 

The Canyon Factory Downhill Team Is Here

With a star studded line up, we expect the all-new team will be competitive from the get-go.
With a star studded line up, we expect the all-new team will be competitive from the get-go.

The goal of the CFDT is to equip the best riders in the world with the best setup, and provide them with a team and support system unlike any other on the scene. Leading up the project is multiple World Champion, Fabien Barel, who will, in his own words, be responsible for “putting the right people and the right structure together to bring our bike and our riders up on the podium.”

Mountain Biking legend Fabien Barel will manage the new team.
Mountain Biking legend Fabien Barel will mentor the new team.

“Our bike” will be the Sender CF. Troy, Ruaridh and Mark will be the first riders to race Canyon’s flagship downhill bike at World Cup level. Canyon is eager to work with the team to receive in-depth feedback and further advance the company’s mountain bike and downhill technologies. Barel, who works closely with Canyon’s Development Department echoed the sentiment saying, “I believe that downhill is the Formula One of bike racing and that more generally racing is the best method for developing a bike. Being at the top of the World Cup circuit with our bike will definitely raise the bar for the performance and technology of the product and hopefully bring us to a new level!”

Troy Brosnan is the marquee signing for the team.
Troy Brosnan is the marquee signing for the team.

After a busy off-season including extensive testing and a visiting Koblenz to see the Canyon facilities and meet the engineers, the riders are just as excited about the new partnership. For Troy, “it has been amazing for me coming to Canyon. It’s really like a small family where you know all of the right people, in all of the right places, and if you want something done, it doesn’t have to go through too many people to actually get to the top.”

Canadian Mark Wallace makes the switch from Devinci to Canyon.
Canadian Mark Wallace makes the switch from Devinci to Canyon.

The team’s staff will be rounded out by Team Manager Mathieu Gallean, Head Mechanic Nigel Reeve, Troy’s Personal Mechanic Aaron Pelttari and Mechanic Yoann Jurgaud.

Troy's mechanic Aaron has also come across to Canyon this season.
Troy’s mechanic Aaron has also come across to Canyon this season.

The CFDT will work with Mavic, SRAM, RockShox, Maxxis, Muc-Off, GoPro, Crankbrothers, RTI Sports, E.Thirteen, Ergon, Topeak, Mucky Nutz, Troy Lee Designs and Adidas Eyewear.

For an in-depth look at the Canyon Factory Downhill Team go to www.canyon.com/factoryracing

 

Long-Term Test: One Year Of Shredding, The Canyon Strive CF Race

It’s nice when you feel at home on a bike, while we can’t exactly call it our own it feels like it, we’ve grown quite attached indeed. The Strive could almost have been purpose built for our favourite local trails, but we doubt the German designers at Canyon have ever ridden this far abroad. The rocky, steep and raw nature of Sydney’s Northern Beaches (we are not just talking about Manly Dam here) begs for a bike that’s capable of getting rowdy, just take a look at the locals and what they are riding and more importantly how their bikes are setup.

Around here it’s all about meaty rubber, powerful brakes and wide gear ranges and quality travel. While some riders set up bikes like they’re racing the Enduro World Series we don’t go quite that far, the speeds are never that high or descents for too long, and of course there aren’t any clocks waiting for us to cross a line at the bottom.

So we’ve found the Strive a great bike for the rugged rides we love, and are still enjoying playing with setup and the parts spec to see what happens when we do.

Let’s have a look at what it’s looking like right now ahead of another summer of excellent riding. Get ready for some serious tech talk!

13.9kg as pictured, including tools, spare tube etc.

  • Frame – Canyon Strive CF Race, size medium. Rider is 180m tall, 72kg.
  • Fork – RockShox Lyric RCT3, 160mm travel, w/ two Bottomless Tokens fitted
  • Rear shock – RockShox Monarch Plus RCT3 w/Debonair can and three Bottomless Rings fitted
  • Wheels – Wheel Works Flite Carbon, 35mm internal width, DT Swiss hubs
  • Tyres – Maxxis Minion DHF 3C MaxxGrip EXO TR 2.5” WT and Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxGrip EXO TR 2.4” WT
  • Shifters – SRAM XO
  • Rear derailleur – SRAM XO
  • Front derailleur – Don’t be silly…
  • Crank – SRAM XO 170mm length, 32T direct mount chainring
  • Cassette – SRAM XO
  • Chain Guide – *eThirteen
  • Saddle – SDG
  • Grips – Ergon GE1
  • Post – FOX Transfer, Factory w/Kashima coating
  • Handlebar – Renthal FatBar Carbon
  • Stem – Renthal 45mm
  • Brakes – SRAM Guide Ultimate levers and Avid CODE callipers, 200/180mm Centerline rotors, SRAM metal sintered brake pads
  • Pedals – Shimano XTR Trail, limited edition 25th anniversary edition.
  • Bottle cage – Syncros MB Tailor cage Right Micro HV+ Bottle Cage

How’s the Shapeshifter going?

The number one question we are asked on the trails is how the Shapeshifter is holding up to the test of time, and if we’ve had issues like they, unfortunately, were originally plagued with. The bike arrived with a Shapeshifter that wasn’t 100% we believe it was due to incorrect setup, inflating the chamber while it was closed which damaged the unit. That was during the first ride, since then it has never skipped a beat, and has worked perfectly.

canyon-strive-cf-race-0011
Hiding away behind the linkage plate is the clever Shapeshifter air chamber unit, which with the press of the button on the bars extends and pushes the upper shock mount forward, changing from descend to climb mode. 160/139mm travel.

Canyon will surely come up with a better solution for the remote lever, though, it has never found a perfect home on the bars, we’re running it upside down on the opposite side and is relatively straightforward to actuate with a right thumb.

Do we use the Shapeshifter much on the trail?

Yes, a lot. In fact, if we didn’t use it and left the Shapeshifter in ‘descend’ mode it would climb like a sack of wet potatoes, it’s not ideal, to say the least. But if you utilise it to your advantage, practice activating it so it is quick and easy, the advantage is great.

canyon-strive-cf-race-9980
We position the Shapeshifter remote lever on the right-hand side of the bar, with a bit of practice swapping between the modes becomes second nature.

As we mentioned in our initial review of the Strive we found the Shapeshifter system required a bit of practice to become fully acquainted with it. The system works by shifting the position of the upper shock mount back and forward which has a dramatic effect on the suspension travel amount, feel and geometry of the bike. By pressing and holding the lever it opens the lock on a small air chamber, then as you unweight the rear end of the bike it’ll open, pushing the shock forward into climb mode. To drop it back to descend mode you hit the lever and lean back into the bike and it’ll compress the air chamber, pulling the upper shock mount back.

Our gripe with the system is that it is not exactly 100% clear to determine which mode the bike is in when you’re hammering down the trail, there is a tiny little green indicator on the linkage, but it’s hard to see at the best of times. Practice is key, it is easy for us now.

Read more on the Shapeshifter and what it looks like in our full review of the Strive here – Tested: Canyon Strive CF.

Any trick suspension setup with the fork?

The Strive originally came with a 160mm travel Pike, but we reviewed the Lyrik RCT3 and it’s stayed put since. We appreciate the increased sturdiness of the Lyrik with its beefy chassis when were yanking on the brakes or pinning through rock-strewn ugliness, and it seriously feels more like a BoXXer downhill fork in its spring curve, so damn plush. It is setup with 25% sag.

You can read our full review of the Lyrik here – Tested: RockShox Lyrik RCT3.

Big legs, supple action and a progressive spring rate. We're huge fans of this fork.
Big legs, supple action and a progressive spring rate. We’re huge fans of this fork.

While we clearly rate its impact gobbling abilities on the descents, it is a fork we also find quite efficient when climbing too (sounds crazy, we know). With such a supple and low-friction breakaway action, you’re able to hold a line and maintain momentum when climbing rough surfaces, the fork gobbles up mid-sized bumps while you focus on putting down the power in what position you feel comfortable in.

We’ve fitted two Bottomless Tokens in the fork to add progression, helping the bike ride a little ‘poppier’, with a firmer end to the suspension stroke you have a little more to push off when preloading the bike to jump it around the trail onto different lines or to pop a little easier off the lip of a jumps.

And out the back?

The Monarch RCT3 has been totally sweet, super smooth and the three-stage compression control is something that we use a lot during any ride. We select open mode only for the fastest pedal-free descents, the middle setting for pretty much 80% of riding and the third firmest setting saved for only the smoothest and longest climbs. We set it to around 35-40% sag in descend mode which sounds like a lot and was suggested to by Fabien Barel but we’ve found that although it is a lot of sag it works best this way.

We were curious though to see how the bike would react to fitting Bottomless Rings in the air chamber of the rear shock, a very simple process like the fork. After fitting the spacers we found the bike to not wallow so deep under rider input and weight shifts, it resisted bottom-out a little more and we would use the open mode of compression adjustment more without it feeling too soggy underneath us. It also reacted better to hopping, jumping and preloading the lips of jumps helping us move the bike around a little easier.

Fitting three Bottomless Rings to the air can, an easy process.
Fitting three Bottomless Rings to the air can, an easy process.

The hybrid anchors.

Yes, the rider of this bike is particularly sensitive to brakes, often succumbing to bad arm pump and hand pain on even the tamest descents, maybe a result of breaking both arms 12 years ago. Thankfully brakes are improving rapidly, and thus we’re happier! The Strive was originally specced with the SRAM Guide RSC, they were nice feeling brakes with a very consistent lever feel and fair amounts of power, especially with the organic pads swapped for metal sintered.

The next brakes on trial were the SRAM Guide Ultimate, which used the same lever but with an upgraded calliper that was built to manage heat better and utilised a cleaner bleeding process.

Check out our review of the SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes here: TESTED: SRAM GUIDE ULTIMATE BRAKES

Ultimately, we found the Guide Ultimates still not what we needed for the long and steep descents that really tested our strength, no matter how we bled and maintained the system we found fading braking power from heat and heavy usage on the longer descents.

So then we wanted more, and like we’ve seen on many pro’s bikes at the EWS and World Cup DH circuit, many riders are reverting to the old Avid CODE brakes, or at least the CODE calliper and Guide lever.

Oldies but goodies, the Avid CODE caliper provides MASSIVE POWER.
Oldies but goodies, the Avid CODE calliper provides MASSIVE POWER.
SRAM Guide Ultimate levers, the latest version with the little clip that golds the reach adjuster from creeping in and out.
SRAM Guide Ultimate levers, the latest version with the little clip that prevents the reach adjuster barrel from creeping in and out as you ride.

The CODE is a few years old, still carrying the Avid label where all the modern brakes from the brand carry the SRAM label. We chose to combine the Code calliper and Guide lever to keep the weight down, the CODE levers are mighty tough but perhaps a little overkill for this purpose.

SHHHHHH!

canyon-strive-cf-race-9995
FrameSkin Frame wrap, the sticky and supple rubber does wonders of reducing noise.

The hard rubber chainstay protector doesn’t do too much in the way of silencing chain noise against the frame, so we gave it a bit of extra dampening with a wrap of Frameskin the Australian brand well-known for their bike protection, much quieter indeed. Check them out here.

Up and down, sit down.

This is the third post we’ve had fitted to the Strive, initially specced with a RockShox Reverb which was plagued with squishy play and was never 100%. The second was the latest version of the Reverb with its new internals and it performed flawlessly for many months of hard riding, RockShox knew they had work to do for consumers to put their faith in a product that for the most part has had a rough ride, and they’ve nailed it. The new one feels the same but works perfectly.

The third post was the long-awaited FOX Transfer, and we’re huge fans. We’re confident in calling it the best post that we’ve ever tried with its simple installation, ergonomic thumb remote and consistent performance.

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A 150mm travel FOX Transfer dropper post, the Factor version with the slick Kashima coating for smooth sliding.
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Under the left-hand side of the bar, the remote lever it light to actuate and moves with the natural movement of your thumb.

What’s driving the Strive?

One part of the bike that has demanded very little attention from us is the drivetrain, in fact, all we’ve done is upgrade to the lighter direct mount chainring and drop down from 34T to 32T for a lower range. And we also changed the gear cable, other than that this drivetrain is unstoppable. Original chain, cassette and it’s still super quiet and smooth.

Cranks are 170mm in length, shorter than usual but 5mm of clearance from the trail below can go a long way at times.

170mm SRAM XO cranks.
170mm SRAM XO cranks.

How Enduro of you.

What’s better, weight on your body or your bike?

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Ultimate tool kit, similar in a way to the Specialized SWAT (Storage, Water And Tools) concept of hiding spares in and on the bike.
Like a saddle bag but far less noisy, a tube zip-tied loosely to the saddle rails.
Like a saddle bag but far less noisy, a tube zip-tied loosely to the saddle rails.
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The Syncros kit slides out from underneath the bottle cage; it’s a tight fit and a bit of a struggle to get to but at least it’s always there.

Carrying spares and water on the bike instead of on the body is a good thing for a few reasons, we find taking weight off your back helps you move around easier, but more importantly you don’t forget it if it’s always there. We carry a tube zip-tied under the seat, and the nifty Syncros Matchbox Tailor Cage HV 1.5 combines a bottle cage, pump and multi-tool kit in one.

We’ve been carrying the new mountain bike tubeless specific Dynaplug Micro around with us lately, and so far it’s saved us from having to perform the messy job of fitting a tube on the trail when a puncture occurs. The plug system has successfully sealed three punctures without a hiccup, and so we don’t leave home without it we’ taped it to the bottom of the bottle cage. Click here to heck out more on that little lifesaver.

A nifty little Dynaplug taped to the bottle cage is always ready for plugging holes in tyres.
A nifty little Dynaplug taped to the bottle cage is always ready for plugging holes in tyres.

Big rubber, wide rims, loads of air.

It’s more than just the big and meaty tyres that gives this bike so much grip, it’s also the whopping 35mm wide carbon rims, custom built by Kiwi brand Wheelworks. You can read all about the Wheelworks wheel building process and just why they feel confident in offering such a warranty here, in our interview with Wheelworks founder Tristan Thomas. We recommend you have a read, as there are some pretty interesting aspects to the process and Tristan does a great job of dispelling some popular myths about wheels.

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2.5″ tyres would usually be reserved for downhill bikes, but these with regular EXO casings are just light enough for enduro/all-mountain riding.

Replacing the 23mm wide SRAM wheels wit the 35mm Derby rims was a revelation, the width allowed us to drop tyre pressures to below 20psi and what that did to the bike’s traction was phenomenal.

Have a closer look at these wheels here: Wheel Works Flite Carbon.

WT tyres from Maxxis.
WT tyres from Maxxis.
Maxxis Minion WT tyres, front and back.
Maxxis Minion WT tyres, front and back.

Maxxis have begun making tyres specific for wide rims, the new WT (wide trail) pair of Minions are a perfect match for this bike and its wheels.

That’s about it if you have any setup tips or advice you wish to share, leave a comment in the Facebook section below. Time for a ride!

Long-Term Test: Shimano XT Di2

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Our Canyon wasn’t designed specifically for Di2, but integrating the wiring neatly was easy and secure.

It’s now been two years since Shimano first brought their Di2 electronic shifting to the mountain bike universe, during which time we’ve all become more accustomed to the presence of battery power on our bikes – electronic suspension lockouts and dropper seat posts, plus power meters and of course GPS units, plus other gadgets, are improving the mountain bike experience.

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The long (very long) and rough descents of Finale Ligure were an amazing testing ground for the XT grouppo. This place is hard on all parts of your bike!

We’ve been riding Shimano’s new XT Di2 groupset for a few weeks now, including for seven days of non-stop riding in Finale Ligure, Italy, where it got a serious work out on some of the most superb trails on the planet. You can read our initial report on our XT Di2 test bike here, including the build process, or get all the details about the different chain ring and cassette options available for XT Di2 here.


Do we need electronic shifting in mountain bikes though?

When low cost, mechanical shifting (like the new SLX groupset we reviewed here) works so well, we appreciate it is hard to justify the extra complexity of electronics. There’ll always be the ‘don’t need it, don’t want it camp’, but we’re not in it.

The instantaneousness and the precision. Every shift happens lightning fast, and because there’s no cable friction, each shift is perfectly accurate too.

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Our test sled.

Di2 has been well proven on road bikes since 2009, and while road racing is different to mountain biking, in many regards it’s in the dirt were Di2 makes even more sense. And with XT bringing the cost of Di2 down a long way, electronic shifting is now far more relevant than in the past.


Explain please. Why does Di2 make sense for mountain bikes?

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Unfortunately the Di2 shifter doesn’t integrate with the brake lever using the I-Spec mounting system like a regular mechanical Shimano shifter can, which makes for a more cluttered bar (especially with the Canyon Shapeshifter system).

Maintenance is a big one. The quality of mechanical shifting on a mountain bike tends to degrade much faster than it does on the road, and Di2 totally removes this issue, as there are no cables to get gummed up or kinked, so your shifting stays consistent and effortless.

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Because the Di2 hits each shift so precisely, you never think twice about shifting under full power.

Consistency of shifting, no mater what the circumstances, is another big plus. On a mountain bike, panic shifting under heavy load tends to happen frequently, whereas on the road things tend to be done more smoothly. With Di2 on your bike, it doesn’t matter if you hit the button desperately as you strain on the pedals mid-way up a steep pinch, the shift will still be perfect and smooth.


So what makes electronic shifting superior to mechanical shifting?

The instantaneousness and the precision. Every shift happens lightning fast, and because there’s no cable friction, each shift is perfectly accurate too.

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Crank the derailleur clutch tension up high for superior chain retention.

Chain retention is improved as well, not just because the shifts are crisp, but because you can crank up the tension in the derailleur clutch without any issue, greatly reducing chain slap. (The new XT derailleurs allow you to do this very easily using a 2mm Allen key). On a mechanical system, loading up the derailleur with heaps of tension would result in a very heavy shift action, but on Di2 you don’t need to worry about this as the motors do the work for your thumbs.

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The end result is more chain security and a quieter ride, and despite blindly riding down some of the roughest trails we’ve ever encountered in Finale Ligure, we didn’t ever drop a chain.


So are there any downsides?

Compared to the mechanical cable systems that most home mechanics are familiar with, installing a Di2 system takes a little more time. You’ll need to decide where you want to store the battery firstly, plus work out the lengths of the various wires required to link it all up, because they can’t be cut to length later like a cable system.

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As we’ve discussed below, installing the battery in the fork steerer tube can present some dramas. We’d recommend you put it in the top tube, or in the down tube. Wrap it securely in some kind of foam or padding to wedge it safely inside the frame and prevent it rattling.

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The shifter paddles are located in a slightly different to spot to a mechanical shifter, but they do slide horizontally to adjust the reach. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.

It took us a small period of adapting to the feel and location of the shifter paddles. You can adjust the paddle positions, but they never felt quite as natural to us as the mechanical shifters we’ve been using for decades.

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We mounted the battery tucked up inside the steerer tube, which was very neat and didn’t rattle, but the PRO stem/headset arrangement needs a little bit of refinement.

One issue, which isn’t a problem with Di2 per se, is related to the PRO Tharsis stem we used with our Di2 test bike. The Tharsis stem is designed to work seamlessly with Di2, and it allows you to store your battery in the fork steerer tube. To do this, it does away with a regular headset star nut and uses a threaded collar system to preload the headset bearings. It’s a finicky system that is prone to coming loose on really rough trails. Until the system is improved, we’d recommend using a regular star nut and running the battery inside your frame.


Is water an issue? 

Unless you’re taking your bike to the bottom of the harbour, you’re not going to have any water related dramas. You can wash your bike as normal, and river crossings or any of the usual water you encounter in mountain biking aren’t a problem.

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How about battery life?

‘What happens if I run out of batteries?’ is one of the questions we get asked the most. Basically, if you run out of batteries, you should give yourself an uppercut. Can you remember to charge your phone every day? Then you can surely remember to charge your bike every few weeks.

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The battery is charged via a little plug into the side of the display unit. Over the course of the week of riding, we dropped just one bar of battery (we started on 3/5 bars, and dropped to 2/5).

The display very clearly shows you how much battery life remains, and the charge lasts for ages – in a week where we rode approximately 20 hours, the battery indicator dropped by one bar. If you’re running a front derailleur, the battery will drain more quickly because a front mech uses more juice, but still a few weeks of normal riding is what you can expect from a charge.

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There is actually a new chain ring design that has just been released for 1×11 XT – our test bike was using the older tooth profile, but even still it hung onto the chain perfectly and operated quietly.

Does it operate any differently to XTR Di2?

Riding XT and XTR Di2 back to back, you can definitely pick up some small differences – the XTR shifting action is lighter, and the motor in the rear mech a tiny bit faster too. But then XT has some benefits over XTR too, such as the Bluetooth connectivity via the new display unit, which allows you to customise the operation of the shifting via Shimano’s iOS app.

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When it comes to functionality, the XT Di2 system has all the same options as XTR, including the Synchro Shift mode (learn more about it here), so you’re talking seriously marginal differences overall.


So would you recommend it? 

If you’re looking at a new bike, put Di2 down as a big positive. We’ve already started to see a number of manufacturers speccing this drivetrain  on their 2017 offerings, and the performance would be enough to sway us in the direction of Di2-equipped bike versus a mechanical bike.

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Di2 won’t revolutionise your ride, but it will improve it. And despite the system adding complexity to your bike, it actually simplifies things from a maintenance standpoint, which is a big plus.

If we were looking to upgrade to Di2 on an existing 11-speed bike, then you’ll need to decide if the performance improvements are worth the cash. If you’re running a Shimano 1×11 drivetrain already, upgrading to Di2 (a shifter, rear derailleur, battery, display units and wiring) will cost you about $1200, but it will improve your ride and reduce ongoing maintenance. Weigh it up! There really are no downsides, so it’s simply a matter of whether you can justify the expense.

Shimano XT Di2 Long Term Test Bike

What bike have you slung it on?


The bike that got the nod for this build is a Canyon Strive CF 8.9, which we got as a frame only and built up from there. We went for the burly Strive as we wanted something with some serious travel – the first place we’re taking this test bike is Finale Ligure in Italy, home to the last round of the EWS series, so a bike that could take the big hits was mandatory!

The unmistakable sight that gives away the fact that this bike has electronic shifting.
The unmistakable sight that gives away the fact that this bike has electronic shifting.
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From a bare frame grew this dream machine, seriously desirable stuff.

We’ve spent a lot of time on the CF 9.0 Race version of this bike, which you can read about here.

Does that have the Shape Shifter system?


Yes. In its long-travel mode, the Strive CF has 163mm travel out back, and 170mm up front. But Canyon’s Shapes Shifter geometry/suspension adjustment system allows you to totally flip the bike’s character on-the-fly to make it more climb friendly. Hit the button and the rear travel goes to 139mm, with less sag, higher bottom bracket and the geometry is steepened. It’s one of the features that makes this bike a bit of a favourite of ours, giving it more versatility than other big travel Enduro rigs.

The Shapeshifter remote lever, hit the lever and the bike changes between climbing and descending modes.
The Shapeshifter remote lever, hit the lever and the bike changes between climbing and descending modes.
The cable travels up the upper shock area where the Shapeshifter unit hides out of sight.
The cable travels up the upper shock area where the Shapeshifter unit hides out of sight.
From above you can see the adjustable air chamber for the Shapeshifter unit. A tight fit for most shock pumps, so we don't misplace the hose adaptor supplied with the bike!
From above you can see the adjustable air chamber for the Shapeshifter unit. A tight fit for most shock pumps, so we don’t misplace the hose adaptor supplied with the bike!

What was the build process like? 


A little complicated. The first time you build up a Di2 bike, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve, especially if the bike isn’t designed for Di2 specifically (which the Strive is not).

With building a Di2 bike it's all about the wiring, the battery, and where it all goes inside the bike and parts.
With building a Di2 bike it’s all about the wiring, the battery, and where it all goes inside the bike and parts.

Firstly, you need to decide where you’re going to stash the battery. Normally, you’d need to install it in the frame somewhere, but because we’re using the PRO Tharsis Trail bar and stem (read about it here) which lets you run the wiring all internally in the cockpit, we were able to install the battery in the fork steerer tube using Shimano’s neat expanding battery holder.

PRO Tharsis Di2 specific cockpit.
PRO Tharsis Di2 specific cockpit.

Because we opted for a 1×11 drivetrain too, we didn’t need to muck around with a separate junction box to wire up a front derailleur, meaning all the wiring junctions are up front at the display unit and easily accessed should any maintenance be needed.

The wiring with a 1×11 setup is minimal – one wire goes from the shifter to the display, a second wire runs from the battery to the display, and then one final long wire from the display to the rear derailleur. Running the wiring through the frame for the rear mech required a little bit of gentle modification, where we drilled out one of the gear cable ports to allow the wiring to pass through (shhh, don’t tell Canyon).

The thin but tough Di2 wire only sees a few inches of daylight.
The thin but tough Di2 wire only sees a few inches of daylight.
No front mech for this bike.
No front mech for this bike, 32 tooth chainring.

Have you customised the Di2 setup?


Not yet, but we will. One of the cool features of Di2 is that you can customise the shifting speed and controls to suit your preferences – previously this was something that had to be done with a PC, but Shimano now have a iOS app that connects to the Di2 via Bluetooth, making it a less arduous process!

Yes, we know...
Yes, we know…

What about the rest of the build? 


FOX Factory suspension got the nod for this one, including the superb FOX 36 RC2 fork in a beefy 170mm version. We debated about putting a Float X2 rear shock into the bike, but decided the Float X with its three position compression control was the go.

FOX 36 with 170mm of travel.
FOX 36 RC2 with 170mm of travel.
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FOX Float X out the back, superb stuff.

The bike we’re taking to Finale Ligure is fitted out with a full XT groupset (including wheels, not the Wheelworks wheels seen in these pics), and PRO componentry – Tharsis carbon bars, a 45mm stem, and a Turnix saddle.

Shimano XT brakes with the IceTech finned brake pads.
Shimano XT brakes with the IceTech finned brake pads.
PRO Tharsis bars come standard at a whopping 800mm wide, we trimmed them down a touch.
PRO Tharsis Trail bars come standard at a whopping 800mm wide, we trimmed them down a touch.

Reliable rubber is a must if you’re travelling, so we went for Maxxis Aggressors in the new Double Down casing, which are tougher than the usual EXO casings with about a 100g weight penalty.

Maxxis Aggressor tyres, tough and reliable rubber.
Maxxis Aggressor tyres, tough and reliable rubber.

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We’ll be bringing you a lot more on this bike in the coming weeks, with a full review on the performance of XT Di2. Now, it’s into a bike bag and onto the plane it goes! Next stop, Italy.

 

Wheelworks FLITE Wide Carbon Wheels – Flow’s First Bite

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Wide rims are the way forward, there’s no doubt about it. A wider, more stable, platform for your tyre lets you run lower pressures for more grip and control. We don’t need to harp on again about it in detail, but we’re not overstating it when we say that wider rims can transform your ride experience in a way that few equipment changes will.

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35 internal width, taped and ready for action!

We’ve recently received a set of pretty special wheels from New Zealand custom wheel builders, Wheelworks. These guys are well regarded as the godfathers of Kiwi wheel building – they’re the only crew we’ve ever encountered to offer a lifetime warranty on their wheel builds, including impact damage and spoke breakage, which is pretty exceptional.

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Each set of Wheelworks wheels gets custom graphics. DT Aerolites are the spoke of choice.

You can read all about the Wheelworks wheel building process and just why they feel confident in offering such a warranty here, in our interview with Wheelworks founder Tristan Thomas. We really recommend you have a read, as there are some pretty interesting aspects to the process and Tristan does a great job of dispelling some popular myths about wheels.

The Flite Wide Carbon wheels are, as the name implies, very wide and very carbon. The rims measure up 40mm externally, and 34mm internally, which makes them just about wide as the Ibis 741 rims we tested last year, which opened our eyes to the potential of truly wide rims.

Spokes are the bladed DT Aerolites, and they’re laced in a two-cross pattern, which reduces the angle of entry of the spoke into the rim, with a nice touch being the two powder-coated white spokes on the either side of the valve stem. It’s all in the details!

DT provide the hubs too, which have been given the Wheelworks touch, with custom decals to match the rims. One of the perks of buying a custom set of wheels is that you can pimp them out as you like, so we went with silver and blue decals to offset the silver/black finish of our Canyon Strive test bike. In another nice touch, the Wheelworks guys even up-specced the DT Star Ratchet freehub, to the 54-tooth version for super fast engagement. The weight is pretty impressive, at 1720g for the pair.

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The rims come taped and ready for tubeless use with valves already installed to, so we were able to get them setup to ride quick smart. For rubber, we’ve opted to run the new Maxxis Aggressor DD (Double Down, with a stiffer sidewall) in a 2.3″ size. With the stiff tyre sidewall and wide rim, they were a bit of battle to fit, but we’re certainly never going to worry about rolling them off the rim! We think that with the wide rim, coupled to a stiff and robust tyre like the Aggressor, we’re going to have plenty of confidence at low pressures.

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We’ve fitted these gorgeous hoops to our Canyon Strive / XT Di2 test bike, and all that remains is to see how fast we can go! Giddyup!

For more details and Australian pricing visit Wheel Works.

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Tested: Canyon Spectral CF EX9.0

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The EX in this bike’s name lets you know it’s a slightly different machine to the rest of the Spectral range, with 10mm more travel up front, at 150mm. The rear end is still 140mm, but the longer travel fork kicks the head angle back to a lazy 67-degrees, which is the kind of geometry that, like Barack Obama, says to you “YES WE CAN.” On descents which we’ve ridden dozens of times, we found ourselves spotting new gaps, playing with lines that just looked foolish or dangerous in the past. We don’t know if we were going any faster, but we did a lot of grinning.

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12.1kg of trail blitzing.

Ensuring the ride doesn’t become all plough and no play, the chain stays are a tight 425mm, so it still rips around on the rear wheel like crazy. It’s all too happy to manual out of a corner and pre-jumping into every downside is second nature. You can pretty much disregard the landing ramp too, as the RockShox Pike will handle it all. We popped two Bottomless Tokens into the fork and fell in love with the Pike once again.

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The Pike might share a name with a type of fish, but that’s where the similarities end. One is a fish, the other is ridiculously smooth and supple suspension fork for a bike.

 The Spectral comes setup with Cane Creek’s recommended tune out of the box

The Cane Creek DB InLine shock tends to divide riders. There are those who love its tunability and the way it devours all you throw at it like footy team at a Sizzler, but on the other hand it’s a complicated shock to adjust and it doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability. The Spectral comes setup with Cane Creek’s recommended tune out of the box, and we’d advise you not to make any changes at least initially. Ride it, get a feel for the shock, and then if you want to tweak, do so in small amounts keeping track of the changes you make. We added half a turn of high-speed compression above the baseline setting, just to give it a bit more support on the big hits to match the fork’s performance.

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The shock’s Climb Switch stiffens the low-speed compression and also the low-speed rebound, dramatically changing the rear end feel.

Climbing on the Spectral is made easier by the bike’s low weight, but you’ll still want to use the shock Climb Switch regularly. It creates a stable pedalling platform but the shock definitely feels a bit ‘dead’ with the switch engaged, especially when compared to a FOX shock which is firmer when locked out but still has a bit of liveliness about it.

 

Hooking into a grippy turn on the Spectral is the kind of experience that makes you wee a bit, with joy. The cockpit and fork just encourage you to lean on the front wheel, and the tyres grip like they’re made from warmed-up chewing gum. Don’t get too accustomed to the grip of these treads though – they don’t feel like they’ll last long, the compound wears down fast. The Mavic CrossMax rims mightn’t be the widest going, but we didn’t have any issues with tyre support and the wheels look and sound awesome.

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An E13 chain guide in conjunction with the already stable and secure X01 drivetrain means rock-solid drivetrain performance.

If your shifting and braking don’t have a conscious place in your ride, that’s a good thing. Thanks to the addition of an E13 chain guide, we never even considered the chain on the Spectral, and the 1×11 SRAM X01 drivetrain never left us wanting at either end of the gear spectrum. With 180mm rotors at both ends, a featherlight touch is all that’s needed and you’ll feel those soft tyres clawing into dirt to slow you down.

When a bike gets the little things right, it all has a way of compounding into a bigger, better experience

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The rear brake mounts are for a 180mm rotor.

When a bike gets the little things right, it all has a way of compounding into a bigger, better experience and the Spectral sure nails all the finer details. The cable routing is great and silent, there’s comprehensive protection from chain slap and down tube impacts, and you can fit a water bottle with ease. We especially like the Impact Protection headset that stops your bars spinning in a crash as well. And that colour! We think it’s brilliant – it certainly is bold and unique, and depending on the light you view it in, it can appear anything from fluorescent green to metallic gold. If it’s all too much for you, you can get the bike in black as well, but if we owned this bike we’d want people to notice it.

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If a bike can make you look at trails you’ve ridden countless times in a new light, then it’s doing something right, and the Spectral certainly achieves this. It’s fun as hell, has a kind of polished construction that you’d hope for in a German brand, and it comes in it a price that (while admittedly still a lot of money) is very competitive as well.

 

 

 

Flow’s First Bite: Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX

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Bicycle retail is following the same pattern in part; online purchasing has grabbed an increasing share of sales through both overseas and local operations, but traditional bike shops certainly aren’t going to disappear. What is interesting about online sales is the shift from purely low-cost parts and accessories sales, to complete and increasingly high-end bikes too. The arrival of Canyon to Australia last year was a big shift in gear for online bike sales in Australia. Canyon’s direct sales operation is huge in Europe, and few people doubted that Canyon would have an impact on the local market.

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Adrian Smith is normally the man on other end of Canyon’s live chat service.

When we lined up a new test bike with Canyon, the Spectral CF 9.0 EX, we thought it’d be good to drop by their local Melbourne HQ and get a better idea of how their operation actually worked – what happens when you push the ‘buy’ button on their website, and who is on the ground in Australia helping things go smoothly? It was also a good opportunity to take the Spectral for a razz on the Canyon crew’s home turf at the Red Hill trails on the Mornington Peninsula.

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The Red Hill trails just south of Canyon HQ are unreal fun. A great location by the bay, with good elevation, a shuttle road, plus an awesome bakery and bike shop at the base of the hill. Ideal really!
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Fresh from Germany, with love.

 

What we found out was that Canyon Australia in many respects operates pretty similarly to a conventional bike shop, the fundamental difference of course is that they don’t carry the stock (when you make a purchase it come direct from Germany, for now, local warehousing is in the pipeline) and you don’t have to wear pants to shop there. Let us explain; On the wall of the office, the Canyon team have a screen with live analytics from their website running constantly, it tells them straight away how many people are ‘in the shop’. Just like a normal bike shop, the staff can see who is looking at which bike and how long they’ve been there too. They can also see where the potential customer is located, and how they’ve ended up on the Canyon store (for instance, from a Facebook link or via a bike review).

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Sabine Niederwieser is from Canyon Germany, and has been helping integrate the local operations into the global Canyon network.

If a customer has a question about a bike, to get the attention of a staff member they can pick up the phone, or more commonly they’ll click the ‘chat’ button on the side of the web page and that’ll put them through directly to a member of the Canyon team in Australia. This is how most questions are answered, and the Canyon crew can be helping out many customers at once this way.  What’s funny to see is how many people are clearly browsing and asking questions while they’re meant to be at work, often a chat will break off inexplicably for a while, before coming back online 15 minutes later with the explanation that the boss just walked by!

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Analytics let the Canyon crew see in real time how many people are in the ‘shop’.

If a customer decides to make a purchase, they’re able to see straight away if the bike they’re after is in stock (in which case it ships within 10 days from Germany and then usually takes another 10-14 days to arrive at your door), or they’re able to see the window in which the bike will ship in the future if the model, size or colour you want isn’t in stock at that moment. While this delay might be a deal breaker for some potential purchasers, Darryl from Canyon points out that having to wait for a high-end bike is pretty standard fare.

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Tech service guru Dominic Fitt.

Just like any bike shop, the workshop is crucial too. Canyon carry all the spares needed to keep a customer’s bike running, and they have a full-time mechanic in house to handle any servicing, or Canyon can send any spares to your local workshop of choice too. But that’s enough about that, let’s take a look at the bike!


 

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Our test bike, the Spectral CF 9.0 EX, came directly from Germany just as would any customer’s bike. All Canyons are are assembled in their German factory, and every bike is actually physically test ridden before being boxed and shipped. A little sticker on the box promises the bike has been Umgebaut (rebuilt or converted) which means the brakes are already setup for Australian riders, handy. Getting the bike rolling is really just a matter of putting the bars and front wheel on, inserting the seat post, inflating the tyres and suspension and hitting the trail. If you find yourself struggling with any part of the process, the War and Peace sized manual should be able to help!

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Mavic Crossmax are a nice touch.

So far our experience with Canyon bikes has been limited to the Strive CF, an all-out Enduro bike with EWS pedigree and a design team which includes former World Champion Fabien Barel. You can read our impressions of the Strive here. It’s a real weapon, with the fastest descents in mind, and for most trails and riders it’s going to be overkill. The Spectral on the other hand sits right in the trail bike category; the EX version we’re reviewing has 140mm rear travel and 150mm up front, while the standard or non-EX versions come with a 140mm fork too. Our test bike weighs in just over 12kg setup tubeless, which is an all-day friendly figure indeed.

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Clean lines!

The geometry is on the slack side of the trail segment, new-school: a 67-degree head angle and 425mm stays, and a generous reach that facilitates a 50mm stem without it getting all cramped. The frame has a compact look to it, with masses of standover height as well. You can’t fail to mention the colour either, it’s one of those finishes that’s hard to define – kind of a greeny, goldy, yellow? In some situations it’s just about fluro, in others it comes across almost olive.

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The neat bump-stop system is such a today solution to prevent frame damage from your brake levers / shifters in a crash.

Almost devoid of logos and with full internal cabling, it’s certainly a sleek frame. One frame feature that grabbed our eye immediately is the integrated bump-stop/headset assembly which prevents your bars from spinning in a crash, potentially saving your top tube and your brake lines too.

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Sehr German.

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Canyon’s direct model of course lets them keep the prices down, and for $6299 the Spectral is kitted out magnificently with a SRAM X01 drivetrain and RockShox’s top-end Pike RTC3. Mavic’s CrossMax XL Pro wheelset is the kind of item you don’t often find on many stock bikes, adding a real bit of flash to the build. The tyres are Mavic’s ultra-sticky Quest rubber as well.

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Canyon’s Big Daz, on home soil and loving it.
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The Cane Creek DB InLine shock is a tuner’s dream, but you do want to have a good idea of what you’re doing before delving into the adjustments.
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Mavic’s tyres are softer than liquorice. Grippy, but maybe not too durable.

Canyon supply a card with a recommended baseline tune for the Cane Creek DB In-Line rear shock, to help you navigate the myriad settings available. We’ve found ourselves frustrated with this shock in the past, so we’re hoping for a good experience this time around as the bike clearly has some serious potential to shred. A full review will be coming your way soon!

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If you’re in the region, make sure you drop into Red Hill, the trails are ace.

Canyon’s Wild New DH Rig – The Sender CF

When Fabien Barel rocked up to Crankworx Rotorua Downhill with an unrecognisable downhill bike cleverly disguised in contrasting camouflage, the rumours were confirmed – Canyon would soon release a new DH race bike, awesome.

The somewhat outdated 26″ wheeled Torque DHX with its aluminium frame and top-heavy four-bar linkage was surely next in line for a re-fresh from Canyon, but we’d not quite expected such a vastly different beast as the Sender CF.

The Sender uses a carbon front triangle with trademark Canyon styling, all sharp contours and defined shapes. It has 27.5″ wheels, noise-cancelling features, adjustable geometry and wheelbase length, a new MX linkage system that is specifically designed for use with an air shock. It’s also available in a huge range of size options.

The top-shelf Sender CF 9.0 has a claimed weight of 16.2kg, so we’re looking at a seriously light package!

Pricing is mighty sharp for Australia too:

Sender CF 7.0  AU$5,599

Sender CF 8.0  AU$6,599

Sender CF 9.0  AU$7,399

Read on for the official word from Germany below.


“To be the fastest, you have to get creative.” It was with this principle in mind that the Canyon Development Team set out to build an all-new thoroughbred downhill machine. With the performance to turn the racetrack into a blank canvas, their creation, the Sender CF, raises the bar to deliver the ultimate downhill racing platform.

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When developing the Sender’s four-bar suspension system we set out to create the perfect mix of three interlocking characteristics: anti-squat, pedal kickback and anti-rise. High anti-squat enables efficient acceleration but also results in more pedal kickback. We optimised this to strike a balance that actively increases the rider’s momentum without causing undue leg fatigue over fast repetitive hits. Effective anti-rise means the rear end remains active and in contact with the ground under heavy braking for exceptional traction and control when they’re needed the most.

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From experimenting with initial prototypes back in 2014 to the final pre-production shakedown at Crankworx New Zealand, the Canyon Development Team including triple DH World Champion, Fabien Barel, left no line unridden in pursuit of creating the most advanced downhill bike ever.

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The Sender CF comes stacked with a whole host of innovative performance features. Its geometry is at the forefront of the modern approach and can be adapted to terrain and riding style with Geo Tune. The Triple Phase Suspension system guarantees next-level control while enabling the rider to build momentum at crucial points on track.

A rock-solid construction means going big comes naturally, while clever noise-cancelling details across the frame ensure that the Sender CF delivers the stealthiest ride out on the hill.

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MX LINK – Inspired by motocross, our all-new MX Link enables us to tune the shock leverage ratio independent of anti-squat, pedal kickback or anti-rise.The combination of our MX Link and the latest generation of lightweight, highly adjustable air shocks means we can create the ideal racing suspension setup consisting of three distinct phases.
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Fabien testing the Sender’s kinematics behind closed doors in Rotorua.
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Canyon Sender CF 8.0 – $6599
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Top level Sender.
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Canyon Sender CF 9.0 – $7399
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Canyon Sender CF 7.0 – $5599
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Sending the Sender at Crankworx.

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Three models and a wide range of specs make up the Sender CF range. Canyon now also offers downhillers one of the broadest size ranges on the market, from S to XL, so riders of all dimensions can find the perfect fit.

The Sender CF is available to order right now exclusively at Canyon.com.

Fabien Barel: Been There. Won That. Designed It. Raced It.

Through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, Fabien has been there and done it all. From winning multiple Downhill World Championships to dealing with horrific injuries, to transitioning from downhill across to enduro and winning the first ever Enduro World Series round.

So what’s he up to? What’s he think of the state of enduro? Where will bike geometry be heading?


F – Hello Fabien, so you’re retired!

FB – Haha, yes I’m a retired man! But only from racing, I think people forget that I’m only retiring from racing. It’s a big thing for me but not necessarily new, I retired before from downhill racing in 2011, and had 2012 completely just for fun.

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F – So why did you retire from downhill and come back to professional sport for a spot of enduro?

I committed to Enduro for three years with Canyon not for a new career, but because we were developing the Strive.

I believe that racing is the best way to test and develop new technology on a bike, so that is why I came back to Enduro, the plan from the beginning.

F – If there was no bike development on the cards, would you have still returned to racing?

FB – No, I don’t think I would have committed to Enduro. I was so glad to see the EWS take off, and was happy to help and be an ambassador coming from other sports of mountain biking. It’s a great new discipline that’s being developed, great for the industry and anyone who doesn’t want to commit to full on downhill or race cross country. It’s really proper mountain biking racing.

Downhill is my passion and I still really, really love it, so to re-learn my bike setup and physical preparation for enduro was a challenge that really excited me.

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F – How was the transition from downhill to Enduro for you?

FB – It’s a completely different approach, to be honest after three years now of enduro I am only now understanding it completely. The physical side is so different, instead of preparing for short and powerful for a matter of seconds in downhill, you need to go up to three minutes of that same intensity. I’ve still not been able to transform my body, after 17 years of DH. I wasn never great at long pedalling stuff, and even though I tried at 35 years old, my body found it tough to re-shape in that capacity.

At the start I thought I’d just need to commit like downhill racer, but pedal like a short track racer.

It was so much more than that, the tactic, energy management even the way that you hit the lines on the track is different, and you need to bring all this together staying focussed.

If you lose control of your vision, it’s no good and there’s a lot of risk, as much a downhill, the speeds are just as high while the bikes are smaller.

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F- In France the sport of enduro is not new, what was it like before the EWS brought it to the international mainstream?

FB – EWS brought worldwide visibility and professionalism and along with that came the industry support, rivalry between riders, a bit of animosity too. You don’t have pro racing without this. We had this crazy meeting between riders with a remark that we should all have the same salary, so there is no more competition, but then there is no more competition on the race track, who is going to be first and who is going to be second? That’s racing!

We are here to be elbow and elbow fighting against the clock, but not fight against the others. For me enduro is as downhill was, fighting against the clock. I would always find it hard to race four cross, or even the mass-start races, there is so many more parameters and the luck element that comes through.

F – From your point of view, what’s the key ingredients for the best enduro race course?

FB – As a new sport the ‘vision’ from one person to another is radically different. I still believe that the base of enduro has grown in France and in Italy through the fact that people are not particularly trained physically, they want to ride their own pace to the top of the mountain and once they reach the top they want to enjoy their ride down all the way to the bottom. Enduro is still a mass sport, not like you have in downhill or cross country it has the ability to bring in all people together from the beginners up to the elites. That’s the root of the sport for me is the key to keep it.

Making times too short to reach the top of the mountain and penalising those who take too long is wrong, and making stages that are too physical to the point that people don’t enjoy there way down is also wrong. There’s a thin compromise, time should be spent 80% descending, 20% pedalling up. That average makes sense to me, but unfortunately we can still be far from it sometimes.

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Enduro is about enjoying the way down. And the best events are festive, there’s a good atmosphere and parties around the event. For me it’s more than just the track, it’s the whole event.

We’ve seen organisers put in so much effort to make it work, they are learning as much as we are.

There needs to be a tight relationship and communication between riders – elite and amateurs – and organisers. That’s how it’s going to work.

The EWS is still new, and there may only be a few people making the decisions. It’s hard to find the perfect balance of rules that will produce a culture that’s a product of a fair amount of training, local trail knowledge etc. It’s a complicated sport, much more than downhill or cross country that’s for sure.

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F – Ok, here’s a curly question for you. Who would do better in a season of enduro out of these two riders. A super fit downhill racer, or a technically skilled cross country racer?

FB – Tough question! Generally good technical skills is needed to get anywhere, you are riding in anticipation where you don’t know the tracks perfectly. On the other hand you need you need to manage a whole weekend of racing.

For example you could take Sam Blenkinsop, he’s an amazing technical rider that is so fit, he’d kill it in enduro, same for a rider like Greg Minnaar. Then you could look at Nino Schurter, who’s also so good technically and obviously of high fitness performance, he’d be in the top five no problem.

F – Who were the enduro riders that you looked up to in the early days?

FB – Jerome Clementz, he was on the top of the game on the first year and so was Nico Vouilloz was, they were a step ahead on year one as they had much more experience on the discipline even before the EWS.

F – Let’s look at your bike setup, why the asymmetrical cockpit and brake lever heights?

FB – I broke my shoulders in the past and my shoulder level are not the same anymore naturally. The different brake lever heights forces my hand position to be different and that modifies my shoulder height. It gives me a possibility to have a good handling position of the bike’s mass.

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F – Working with Canyon, what is your role with bike development?

FB: I work tightly with the engineers to bring ideas at first to design the bike, and then work on all testing to finalise kinematic, and geometry. I like the fact that I am involved at all levels and that there is a mutual confidence on our collaboration. Canyon is a big company but is managed and owned by one person, Roman Arnold. Our relationship is a real synergy where we bring all of our capacities and experience together.

F – What does it take to be useful to Canyon at assisting in product development?

FB: It obviously takes commitment to the brand, to give and invest yourself at all level. I could simply take myself as a rider and do a simple Job. But I am passionned by mountain biking, from racing, to all aspects of the industry. The process is fantastic when you imagine that I could work from first drawing of the bike to bring it all the way to the top of a race podium. There is no better satisfaction for me. You can’t find your “work” (if you can call that work) more valuable.

F – What was the hardest aspect of the Shapeshifter design to get right?

FB: The hardest point was to find a system that could work with the shapeshifter concept and still provide a good kinematic. We have internally a fantastic engineer – Vincenz Thoma – who managed to develop a process optimising all of our research. Everything became suddenly very simple and evident.

It was a thin compromise to find between length and head angle. I do believe that we have room for another size up but it would only be for very very tall people. But I do not think that going slacker or longer would have been an option for the average rider.

F – Do you think the super long Race Geometry is ahead of the times?

FB : I think it has been. I do believe in long bike as long as the front part of the bike is stable and that the rider moves weight over the front.

Habits are changing as forks are working better with a more progressive spring force, so front triangles are getting longer. The understanding of reach and stack are bringing people in more understanding of where they should stand on the bike. All this radically change the riding styles and expectation in terms of geometry.

Look now, everyone has been following.

F – Cheers!


More on Canyon Bikes here:

Canyon Strive review.

Canyon 2016 range highlights.

Canyon to sell Down Under, how it’s going to work.

Tested: Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race

On review we have the Strive CF 9.0 Race, an all-out beast of an enduro race bike with Canyon’s own clever Shapeshifter System designed with the help of mountain bike legend, Fabien Barel.

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This guy and the Strive he designed make an impressive combo of speed and efficiency. Fabien Barel, three-time World Downhill Champion.
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Hey handsome.

Canyon sell their bikes online, they ship Down Under to your door all the way from their headquarters in Germany, that is until an Australian warehousing system is put in place. Their direct-to-consumer model is a slick operation that’s been meticulously tested in Europe for many years before opening the floodgates to eager consumers in Australia and New Zealand.

Late last year we looked into how it’s all going to work, we unpacked this bike from the box, and explored what it will be like buying a Canyon from their website.

Here is our in-depth Canyon piece – Canyon Down Under.


What is it and who is it for?

Make no mistake the Strive ain’t no casual all-rounder, this is a dedicated enduro race bike. It’s super long, very slack and as we were to quickly find out it needs to be ridden hard or its capabilities will go to waste.

From the aggressive frame geometry to the generous travel to the beefy components the Strive is a whole lot of bike. Sitting in between the 140 or 130m travel Canyon Spectral (27.5″ or 29″) and the Canyon Torque DHX downhill bike, this big 160mm rig is the choice for the Canyon Factory Enduro Team who won the Enduro World Series overall as a team last year.

No, that's not us. We wish.
No, that’s not us. We wish.

The Frame.

Being our first review of a Canyon everything is fresh and exciting, and we’ve stared at it with loving eyes almost as long as we’ve actually spent riding it.

It’s always nice to review a bike from a brand which is new to us, and we agree with the countless people that stopped us on the trails for a look, it is quite a striking shape and a very smartly finished rig indeed.

Our test bike comes from the ‘Race Geometry’ range of Strives, which have a slightly longer front centre than the ‘Regular’ models, a requirement from the race team to meet the demands of top-level enduro racing. A longer bike coupled with a short stem will result in quick handling but with room for stability at speed.

It’s a full carbon affair front and back and wowzers it’s stiffer than an Eskimo’s nipples, there’s a serious lack of twisting or bending when you grab the rear wheel and flex it side-to-side. All the cables travel internally via nice little rubberised ports, and while we did hear some rattling at times from the rear brake line inside the frame we found it all pretty easy to work with when we had to shorten and re-route anthing through the frame.

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Big head tube, big down tube, big.
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Don’t get any more enduro than that… EWS Official Supporter.
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The aluminium linkage plate hides the subtle and mighty effective Shapeshifter unit in between the independent plates.

The Strive uses a four-bar suspension with a pivot on the chain stay, similar to a Horst Link bike like a Norco or a Specialized FSR. The main pivot is right down low just above the bottom bracket, and all the fastening hardware is super tough and solid feeling, never did we need to pay any attention to the linkages or pivots during our review. There is also plenty of water bottle space like a true race bike should have, thanks to the upward kink in the top tube.

But what really makes this thing tick is the Shapeshifter.


Shapeshifter System.

Canyon Enduro Factory Team rider Fabien Barel was seen testing and racing a secret prototype Strive for quite some time with what looked like an old wetsuit bootie covering the rear shock area from view, but we could still see a remote lever at the bars. What on earth were they working on, a hidden motor?

The Shapeshifter is a Canyon developed system that switches the rear shock between two positions via a button at the bars – climb and descend mode. The two distinctly different positions toggle the rear suspension travel between a super plush 163mm and a firmer 139mm while simultaneously having huge impact on the bike’s geometry. It’s very slack and low when descending and in climb mode the head angle sharpens 1.5 degrees and the bottom bracket sits 20mm higher.

The Shapeshifter sets the Strive apart from all the other brands in this hotly contested area of the market.

Canyon are going after the holy grail of ‘two bikes in one’. We’ve had great experiences from a couple notable brands that do a good job of this task, like Scott with their Genius and Cannondale with the Jekyll. These two very different bikes use multiple air chamber rear shocks from FOX that can be toggled on the fly to change suspension travel and also the bike’s position to suit climbing or descending.

Not taking anything away from these two excellent bikes, the Strive succeeds in this task using a standard shock. The Shapeshifter system is independent of the shock – you can run whatever you like, thought depending on the Strive model you purchase, a RockShox Monarch Plus or FOX Float X is standard spec.

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The thumb lever for the Shapeshifter. We ran ours flipped upside down on the right hand side above the shifter.

See the little air chamber behind the upper shock mount? It’s extended for climb mode, and compressed for descend mode. It’s just a tiny little air chamber – not a spring – that will compress if you put the right amount of weight on it whilst pressing the button at the same time. It’s simple, subtle and the concept seems so obvious!

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Fabien Barel demonstrates the simplicity and moving parts of the little Shapeshifter unit.
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Raked out in descend mode. Canyon should have called it beast mode.

How does it work? The Shapeshifter is essentially just a volume of air with a lockout button, lean your bodyweight back into the rear of the bike with the lever pressed and it’ll compress into descend mode with a faint clunking sound, increasing the leverage on the shock and dropping the bottom bracket height. To pop back to climb mode shift your bodyweight forward with the button pressed and it’ll extend open again.

It does take some time to get used to knowing what mode you are in. It wasn’t until we’d spent a few solid days on it that we intuitively knew without doubting and double checking by looking down at the green indicator whilst riding.

There’s a little green indicator on top of the linkage that lets you know when you’re in climb mode that disappears when it is fully engaged in descend mode, and can get quite hard to see when you’re riding in the wet. We can’t help but wish the indicator was more prominent, it wouldn’t take much for at least a larger indicator to clearly put your mind at ease when riding that you’re 100% in the right mode. But with a bit of practice it should become second nature.

We found that we generally would hit the RockShox Reverb lever and the Shapeshifter lever simultaneously, instantly turning the bike into a descending beast. Time to let the brakes off!

  • Descend Mode: 163mm travel, 66 degree head angle, 73.5 degree seat angle.
  • Climb Mode: 139mm travel, 67.5 degree head angle, 75 degree seat angle.

Setup.

Despite the additional elements that the Shapeshifter adds to the bike, we found setup to be a simple process and haven’t had the need to touch it since. Zip-tied to the bike in the box is a nifty quick setup guide to help find a base setting for air pressures and shock adjustments according to rider weight.

Inflating the Shapeshifter is made a little easier with a little L-bend adaptor supplied with the bike, we’d dare not lose it as getting a shock pump on there is a tight fit and may not work with all shock pump styles.

The air pressure needs to be right for your body weight, too much pressure and it’ll be too hard to compress into descend mode, and not enough and it won’t return open when you need it to. We followed their guide and found it to be spot on.

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Two Bottomless Tokens in the RockShox Pike to match the rear suspension as directed by Fabien.

Out of the box the Shapeshifter remote lever wasn’t in the ideal position for us, mainly due to the way we run our brakes the opposite way around to those in Germany, so a little fiddling and re-arranging of the lever and re-routing the cables accordingly made things a lot tidier up the front with the lever within reach of our right thumb.


The Parts.

Canyon went shopping in the enduro section to deck out this one in the best bits, all the parts are a top match for the bike’s intended use. The RockShox Pike RCT3 is ideal, and the SRAM Rail 50 wheels are a worthy set with 23mm internal width rims and a near silent freehub. A Maxxis High Roller front and Minion rear combo offers remarkable traction anywhere and are a Flow favourite, we especially like the way they bite in deep with the brakes on.

The SRAM X01 drivetrain and SRAM Guide RSC brakes with big 180mm rotors are also winners, but the RockShox Reverb post wasn’t 100% for us with about 10mm of play that you can feel when seated, so it’s back to SRAM for warranty with that one.

The 34T chainring is on the larger side of things, perhaps a spare 30T might be handy to travel with to the races if the mountains get steep and the legs aren’t ready.

We trimmed down the super-sweet 780mm Renthal FatBar Carbon handlebars to 760mm to suit our liking and tight trails, the matching 40mm Renthal stem (50mm on size large) adds a touch of new school class. And the Ergon Ge1 Slim grips are also a new fave at Flow, keeping in both the German national and blue colour themes nicely.

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SRAM X01 drivetrain, perfect.
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34 tooth chainring is race spec, so consider a smaller one if you are a mortal.

Looking back it’s not just the individual parts that make the Strive a seriously good bike, it’s also that you get so much for your money. $6K is very appealing for this level of components as standard.

What would we change? Nothing, it’s ready to rock.


How it Rides.

Now for the good bit, shred time!

Our love affair with the Strive began at the media launch hosted by the new Canyon Australia crew on the Mornington Peninsula, VIC. The trails of Red Hill proved to be an excellent testing ground, their fast and raw nature made up for the lack of elevation the Strive strives for (ha, we said strive twice then) and we punched out as many runs as possible. Following Fabien Barel was a wild and somewhat dangerous experience, certainly fun but was a bit of a distraction from testing the bike on hand, so naturally we begged to put the Strive on long term review on our local trails of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Cheers, Canyon we’ll give it back one day, maybe.

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How to ride.

Descending: The Strive is a beast of a bike that descends more like a downhill bike than any 160mm travel bike we’ve ever ridden. Our medium test bike with its mammoth 629mm horizontal top tube length makes the Strive’s ‘race’ geometry the longest medium sized bike we’ve reviewed. The Giant Reign is close at 619mm, the Santa Cruz Nomad and Yeti SB6C are around 609mm, and we thought the YT Capra was long but still that’s only 581mm!

The length of the frame promotes you to really push harder and faster, and the stability from such a long top tube gives us major courage to let the brakes off and really punch it harder. And with 160mm of such good travel front and back you’ll be hard pressed to find its limits. Through the turns you mustn’t forget you’re riding a true enduro race bike, it requires real body language to tip it down and whip it about but after a few runs of our local downhill track we changed tactic and came into the corners drifting sideways instead, foot out and totally pinned.

Under brakes the suspension remained nicely active, and the level of anti-squat was right on the money – not too firm – just right.

The front end might be long, but the chainstays are quite short at 423mm, much shorter than the bikes previously mentioned above but only 1mm longer than the chainstay length category leading Specialized Enduro 650b.

Like we said earlier this is one very stiff frame, and the SRAM Rail 50 wheels also feel quite rigid when pushed around, so if we were ever a little off line or ragged through a fast section of trail we had the confidence to grip on tight and ride it out.

We like to think of the frame’s length and rigidity as life insurance for those reckless moments on the trail.

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Get reckless, you’ll be fine.
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Yeoooo!

The tradeoff for the length is when the descents got slower and tighter, maybe that’s why Barel does such magnificent nose wheelies around tight switchbacks, because this thing can feel like a mini bus going through a drive through at times. But that is how you pay for the mega stability, fair is fair.

The RockShox Monarch rear shock with its Debonair extra volume air can feels incredible, the suspension’s sensitivity contributes to the Strive’s near silent ride as it rumbles through the chop. We’d love to try fitting air volume spacers to the rear shock to help it ride a little higher in the stroke. And we rode the bike 80% of the time in the middle compression setting, rarely did we feel the need for the extra plush open mode.

Climbing: Lucky the Strive has the Shapeshifter, because if you try and climb in descend mode you’ll be hating life, it’s a pig uphill raked out so slack. So when the climbs come it’s time to shift your weight forward and press the button, you’ll have a completely different bike beneath you! Climbing uphill, this bike makes you want to sell two bikes, and just buy this one.

It’s the combination of less travel, a firmer spring rate, higher bottom bracket and sharper head and seating angles that ties in together to really transform the Strive into a great climber.

The grippy tyres contribute to the Strive’s climbing ability, it’ll grind up anything if you have the legs. A 12.6kg weight is pretty impressive too, well and truly in the ballpark for a bike much smaller than this.


Alternative options.

We’ve been loving the latest batch of 160mm bikes recently, here’s a few comparible bikes to the Strive that we’ve tested.

YT Capra CF 1 – Review here.

Pivot Mach 6 – Review here.

Specialized Enduro S-Works 650b – Review here.

Giant Reign 27.5 1 – Review here.

Trek Slash 9.8 – Review here.

Norco Range C 7.2 – Review here.

Polygon Collosus N9 – Review here.


Verdict.

Canyon are onto a good thing with the Shapeshifter, in descend mode it hammers like a downhill bike and the position that the climb mode puts you in makes light work of the uphills. The Strive successfully achieves the ‘two bikes in one’ thing, but still it’s a big rig that needs gravity on its side and is wasted on buff trails. It might be worth looking at the shorter travel Spectral if you like the look of this thing but don’t have the rough trails to warrant it. Or if you’re not that fussed on racing your mates or the clock look the other way.

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Big thumbs up.

And who can look past the price, it’s a seriously good bike for the dollars, a testament to the modern sales method from this huge German bicycle company. Out of the box it is ready to shred, it’s a true modern enduro race bike.

But the tradeoff is like any online purchase unseen, it’s now up to Canyon to prove themselves in this country going forward, but we can at least vouch for the quality of this bike. It’s a serious winner.

 

Justin Leov joins Canyon to Defend EWS Team Title

The Canyon Factory Enduro Team (CFET) is proud to welcome one of the world’s top enduro riders, Justin Leov to its ranks. Justin completes the team’s roster to join Joe Barnes, Ines Thoma and Ludo May for 2016.

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Together, CFET will set out to defend their Enduro World Series Team title. As New Zealand’s fastest, Justin will be nailed on as one of the favourites for individual wins and the series overall.

For Canyon Founder & CEO, Roman Arnold, bringing Justin on board enhances CFET’s standing as one of the strongest outfits in enduro.

“Welcoming a top rider like Justin to the Canyon family is really exciting. Throughout his career, he’s shown his complete commitment to racing and that’s reflected by the fact he’s in the mix at every event he starts in. Justin is a great ambassador for the sport and for Canyon. Our team has progressed over three seasons in the EWS to become series champions in 2015. With Justin now on board, we’re confident we can reach new heights in 2016.”

At 31 years old, Justin has three EWS campaigns behind him having made the switchover from World Cup Downhill in 2012. After finishing third in the 2014 overall rankings, Justin stepped up to become one of only a handful of riders to win an EWS round in 2015 at Tweedlove and was leading the overall series before a crash in Whistler took him out for the rest of the season.

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With a new team and new setup, Justin is gearing up for everything 2016 can throw his way and has his sights set right on the top.

“I’m really happy to be given the opportunity to work with Canyon and to be around such passionate people. The presence they have at the EWS shows they are really into enduro. That’s what I’m about too. Every weekend I’m aiming to be up there, I just want to race and know I’ve pushed so hard that there was nothing more I could give. When you cross a finish line and you can’t hear or hardly see anymore because you’ve given so much, that’s what I live for.”

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Having fully recovered from the shoulder injury sustained in Whistler, Justin is now back out on the trails getting in the hours on his new race bike, the Strive CF:

“I frigging love my bike! The Strive gets me excited every time I ride it. It’s such a beast in DH mode, eats up the trail and sits just right but I love that I can climb the thing without that sacked out feeling you usually get from an aggressive 160 mm bike.”

The 2016 EWS circus kicks off in Valdivia, Chile, on 26 March. From there, Justin, Joe, Ines and Ludo will fight it out across eight rounds worldwide to make it another awesome season!

Canyon Bicycles Now Available Down Under

Finally! Canyon Bikes are now available in Australia and New Zealand. But don’t rush down to your local bike store, Canyon are a 100% direct-to-consumer company. With a click of a mouse a Canyon will be sent from Germany to your door in a cardboard box, and as they are so very German this system has been meticulously tested and refined for the slickest online shopping experience.

“These last few months have been non-stop so now we’re really excited to finally get the show underway. All the feedback we’ve received since we announced Canyon is coming here has been hugely positive. People already know the products, they know how Canyon works and what we offer, and now they cannot wait to get their hands on the bikes. We’ve got a great team here ready to make sure everything runs smoothly for our new customers. It’s going to be a big moment seeing all the new Canyon bikes roll out on the roads and trails over here!” – Darryl Moliere.

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Hubba hubba, Canyon.

For a quick look at our highlights from the 2016 Canyon range, click here.

Whilst Canyon is new Down Under their international presence is enormous, and their bikes are of absolute premium quality. Flow was just as curious as anyone would be with the arrival of a new online brand, especially one of such pedigree as Canyon, we dug a little deeper.

So, here is how it’s going to work.

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Canyon’s new 870g frame, the Exceed CF SLX.
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Koblenz, Germany.

Introducing Canyon.

Established in 1985 with their current headquarters in Koblenz, Germany, Canyon employ over 700 people and their direct distribution is worldwide through 15 distributors and subsidiaries. USA and Canada will surely be one of the larger markets with Canyon availability in the near future.

On a typical day Canyon will ship out 600 bikes and a staggering 2000 accessory orders from their new state-of-the-art intelligent factory. 60% of all sales are now outside of Germany, and their international presence is certainly growing fast.

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Canyon Australia’s Darryl Moliere demonstrates how a Canyon will arrive to the consumer.

Every single bike is test ridden by a mechanic on a special course inside the factory to test all the parts for perfect working order, before packing into a special cardboard box ‘Bike Guard’ for shipping to your door.

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That’s Fab.

In a first for the cycling industry Canyon introduced CT scanning on all vital parts from 2012, each and every carbon fork and carbon handlebar is scanned before installation. Critical frame parts and even other brand components are all subject to the CT scanning process to ensure quality is under control. 45000 components each year are CT scanned.


How will it work Down Under?

Canyon Australia/NZ is all systems go.

As you read this Canyon has already set up an Australian headquarters and are fully operational, the team is headed up by Australian cycling industry stalwart Darryl Moliere. The Melbourne Canyon office will handle domestic support on all levels, and they made no secret that an Australian warehouse and distribution will be a reality in the near future.

We’re obviously a long way from Germany, and if all goes to their plans they will be able to benefit from a hub in the southern hemisphere to improve operation times and reduce cost.

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Ward Grootjens from Canyon’s international business team explains the operation of their direct-to-consumer model.

For now bikes will be shipped from Germany with a targeted delivery time of seven days for an additional flat rate of $199 AUD and $249 NZD (for NZ).

Canyon have a very impressive 6 year warranty and a 30-day return policy which could possibly make up for the some of the typical shortfalls of the direct-to-consumer model versus local retail. No questions asked, if it’s not right, back it goes.

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The bikes are very sharp indeed, they are going to be very popular!

The Australian Canyon website is worth a look, it’s very polished and very user-friendly. All local pricing is there, and also availability on all models.

A sizing chart will help you with choosing size determined by your height, weight, inseam length, torso length, shoulder width and arm length.

Though you certainly wouldn’t be wrong or alone in feeling apprehensive towards this particular sales model, you’re dealing with a computer, someone at the other end of a phone or an email.

There will be a lack of face-to-face contact that you get when walking into a bike store, this needs to be made up in other areas to justify it all. Low prices aren’t always the biggest motivation for a purchase.

We can vouch for the staff at Canyon Australia in terms of credibility, everyone in the team rides bikes, and has experience in the Australian cycling industry, that’s a very valuable asset to Canyon.

There are future plans for domestic demo days, and presence at local mountain bike events starting at The Tour Down Under road race in Adelaide. Australian mountain bike racers will find support in an upcoming sponsorship arrangement, with sponsored cross country racer Jenni King already winning races on her new Canyon.


What’s in the box?

We had the the opportunity to build a Canyon Strive CF 8.0 Race that had been re-packed as close as possible for the sake of this article, we wanted to see how easy it would be to assemble using their step-by-step manual and provided tools.

The Strive CF is their enduro race bike, with Fabien Barel helping a huge design team bring their ultimate race bike to fruition. The 160mm travel Strive uses a unique remote adjuster called the Shapeshifter, letting you toggle between XC and DH mode via a remote lever on the bars. We have a full review of this exact Strive CF 8.0 Race coming very soon, stay tuned.

Included with the bike was a shock pump and adaptor for the Shapeshifter, a quick setup guide for the Shapeshifter, a torque wrench, bike assembly guide and complete bike manual.

The bike was packed tight and very secure, with a serious lack of cardboard that we’d usually expect. The front wheel was off, handlebars tied to the frame and the seatpost was also out and tied securely to the side.

Keeping everything together was a series of clever foam pads and velcro, re-useable and effective in keeping the fragile shiny bits from touching anything you don’t want it to.

Following the manual was as simple as ABC, there’d be very little chance of doing any wrong with such a clear and well written manual. It reads well and comes in many different languages.

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The courier delivery has arrived!
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We found the assembly instructions very easy to follow, and quite well written. There would be very little chance of stuffing things up with a manual as clear as this.
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Torque wrench included, further eliminating the possibility of damage.

From start to finish we found the process to be 100% dialled and so very simple. All our scepticism was soon put at ease, Canyon have done well.

The handlebars went on using the supplied torque wrench, the seatpost in and the RockShox Reverb post hose pulled through to the right length, our pedals fitted, the front wheel in and that was it. Next was setting it all up.

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A sample of the mini booklet tied to the bars of the Strive, setup made easy.

Setting up the suspension was a snack, the RockShox Monarch Plus rear shock is a 100% standard part in a common size, and the Shapeshifter is a set-and-forget item with the pressure guide zip tied to the bars (pic above) to make things even easier.

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Blink and you’ll miss it, the tiny little air chamber behind the rear shock moves back and forward when actuated at the handlebar, having massive effect on the way the bike rides.

The two images above show the Strive in DH mode on the left, and XC mode on the right.

And, GO!
So that’s how it’s going to work! The arrival of Canyon to Australian and New Zealand shores may make a lot of people nervous with their ultra competitive pricing, but it’s up to you to decide where the value lies. Would you put down a lot of cash for something that you haven’t touched or seen in the flesh? We’re sure a lot of people will.
Whether or not direct sales is your cup of tea, you can put trust in the thorough and meticulous German folk Canyon to have any bases covered and all ducks in a row.

All information on Canyon products and services can be found at Canyon Australia, and Canyon New Zealand.

Canyon 2016 Range Highlights

Canyon is now available down under and their direct-to-consumer model is now selling to Australia and New Zealand. Their range of bikes is very complete, and remarkably sharp value, we took a look around at some of the new models now available.

For more on Canyon and how it all planning to work, visit our feature post here: Canyon Down Under.


Strive

*Updated – click here to read our full review of this Canyon Strive.

The bike that three time World Downhill Champion and Enduro Champion Fabien Barel designed is a pretty special bike. The Strive features their proprietary Shapeshifter system which lets you toggle between two modes via a remote lever on the bar.

Selecting from DH to XC mode transforms the bike in many ways, notably shortening the travel from 163mm to 130mm, and changing the geometry for better climbing or descending.

The Strive is priced from $4999 for an aluminium version, up to the team replica Strive CF 9.0 Team for $7499.

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The $5999 Strive CF 8.0 Race – killer value!

DH Mode: 163mm travel, 25% sag, 66 degree head angle, 73.5 degree seating angle.

XC Mode: 130mm travel, 17% sag, 67.5 degree head angle, 75 degree seating angle.

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The difference in the two modes. XC and DH.
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The neatest ‘two bike in one’ concept we’ve ever seen.
Fabien Barel explains the Shapeshifter.
Fabien Barel explains the Shapeshifter from his point of view.
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Full review coming soon.

With Shapeshifter the Strive aims to achieve the holy grail of ‘two bikes in one’. We’re keen on the concept, and while many bikes have come before and pulled off the task like the Cannondale Jekyll or Scott Genius the beauty of the Shapeshifter lies in its simplicity and use of a standard rear shock.

The darling of the 2016 Canyon range is mighty impressive, our early thoughts are overwhelmingly positive. Stay tuned for our review.

For more on the Shapeshifter, click here.


Spectral

A step down in travel from the Strive is the Spectral, a 140mm travel (27.5″ wheels) trail bike with similar design to the Strive minus the Shapeshifter.

With 425mm chain stays and a 67 degree head angle, the Spectral is aimed at the all-mountain rider, and we are dying to try one out.

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An extra large sized Spectral, the personal ride of Australian Canyon manager Darryl Moliere.

Nerve

The classic all-rounder 110mm travel 29er is a staple in any brand’s lineup, this is a perfect bike for the beginner rider looking to get out there have a good time.

The aluminium frame keeps costs down, and the wide range of gears widens the bike’s usability.

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The Nerve AL 9.9 for a cool $3999.
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Black on black graphics are a little bit fancy.

LUX

The LUX is Canyon’s carbon cross country race bike, 29″ wheels and a slim 100mm of race-tuned travel.

Flex stays at the rear keep moving parts to a minimum without a suspension pivot near the rear wheel.

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We couldn’t get enough of the slim and smooth lines on this frame, can’t wait to ride one…

Exceed

Canyon are across road cycling too, hence their ability to produce a 870g frame, now that is light!

The Exceed comes to Australia in two models and a frame kit.

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EXCEED CF SLX 9.9 Pro Race
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Compliance and low weight in harmony.

 


In additional to the bikes we spotted at the 2016 launch there is a second 29er hardtail, the Grand Canyon and a fat bike, the Dude.

All information on Canyon products and services can be found at Canyon Australia, and Canyon New Zealand.

The $350 bike in a box and what it means for mountain biking

Updated – read our quick ride review of the Performance 29er bike here.


This unbranded, no-frills, 27.5”-wheeled mountain bike costs around $350 and it comes in a box. From ALDI.

Aldi Mountain Bike 4

Yes, we said ALDI, that eclectic marketplace where you find drop saws and vacuum cleaners alongside chickpeas and gingerbread. They could hardly begrudge us for saying they’re not renowned as a proprietor of fine cycles. Yet, in the last paragraph I deliberately used the phrase mountain bike, not just ‘bike’. Because this hardtail, unlike the buttery soft boat anchors with fold-o-matic wheels that are usually sold at department stores, is a true entry-level mountain bike.

In terms of build quality, value and attention to detail, this bike is well ahead of most others we’ve ever seen at this price. It’s constructed and assembled by the same manufacturer of Polygon Bikes, so it does have a quality manufacturer behind it, and they’re coming at this project with genuine mountain bike knowledge, which is reflected in the spec, construction and geometry.

It has a hydroformed alloy frame with sensible geometry that a beginner will appreciate, a 9-speed Shimano drivetrain with a direct-mount rear derailleur, full-length cable housings to keep the crud at bay, a wide handlebar, decent 2.25” tyres, a fork with hydraulic lock out for the tarmac…  In short, it looks and rides like much more than $350 worth of bike.  It is only available in two frame sizes, (restrictive, as they’re both on the big side) but if it fits you, then it’s a much better bike than those that got us started on the path of mountain biking all those years ago.

Now, if this bike had a familiar brand name on it and came from a bike shop, we’d all be cheering. But it does come in a box, and not from a bike retailer and that means it attracts a debate that we’re happy to thrash out here.

So what are the pros and cons of  bikes in boxes, particularly at this end of the market? We’ll aim to present both sides of the debate here and let you make up your own mind.

 FOR: Affordability and accessibility

Mountain biking, while not motor racing, is a relatively expensive sport to get into – conventional wisdom says you’ll need to spend the better part of $1000 on a bike and clothing to get yourself geared up with equipment that will be reliable and comfortable enough allow you to actually experience what mountain biking is about.

When mountain bikes are what you live and breath, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that $1000 for a bike and gear is an awful lot of cash for most people, especially if you’re a parent or partner forking out for a new rider who might well decide it’s not their kettle of fish at all.

A decent $350 bike certainly lowers the financial barriers to entry. The logical upshot of lowering the costs of getting riders onto a mountain bike is that more people, from more diverse walks of life, will get into the sport. More riders on bikes means more awareness of mountain biking across more sectors of our society. That’s a plus.

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The expert advice and support of a bike shop can be invaluable for new riders.

AGAINST: No expert knowledge

When you buy a bike from a retailer that doesn’t specialise in bikes, it’s pretty hard to expect a whole lot of expert advice. I mean, if they’re making you pack your own cans of tomatoes into a green bag, they’re not likely to be able to offer much advice about sizing, or show you how to change a tube, tell you what tyre pressure to run, or teach you how to lube your chain.

Conversely, when you buy a bike from a bike shop, you’re more likely to get a few of these gems of wisdom thrown in with the sale and down the line, not to mention establish a relationship that will hopefully continue as you progress in the sport.

FOR: It’s a steppingstone

Assuming that someone who buys a $350 mountain bike enjoys their experience, there’s a good chance that before too long they’ll want to upgrade their bike. This is where traditional bike shops can benefit, servicing the needs of riders who are looking for the next step up.

All bikes need servicing too, even cheapies, and this is another area where bike shops can stand to really benefit. Aldi’s never going to replace your gear cable! So even though bike shops didn’t make the original bike sale, they now have the opportunity to make some money through service, as well as foster a relationship with a new rider.

 

AGAINST: Taking sales from traditional bike shop retailers:

Buying bikes from a shop like Aldi, at least theoretically, takes sales from a bike shop. (We say theoretically, because you can make the case that someone looking for a $350 mountain bike isn’t going to go to ‘proper’ bike shop anyhow – they’d normally go to a department store.)

And while tradtional retail might be less relevant in some industries, bike shops are still the hub of our sport.  They foster the sense of community that makes mountain biking great.  They sponsor events, organise group rides, replace your hub bearings the night before a race and campaign against trail closures. And they need your support to keep doing so.

FOR: This is the new reality of retailing, economy-wide: 

Bikes, like the televisions we now buy online or the desks we’re assembling ourselves with little Swedish screwdrivers, are subject to the same changing retail realities as everything else.

Part of this trend is that bikes, increasingly, are being sold in boxes. It’s not just at this bottom end of the market either – Bicycles Online, Cell Bikes, and now YT-Industries and Canyon all currently sell (or are about to sell) proper, high-end mountain and road bikes in a box, direct to the consumer. It’s all about shortening supply chains and lowering margins.

It’s something we accept (and benefit from) without a murmur in other industries, so why does it upset us so much when it happens in the bike industry?

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Could this be how your next bike arrives?

AGAINST: It comes in a box

Buying a bike in a box means there’ll be an element of assembly required. And given how many people we see riding around with their helmets on backwards (or worse, their forks), we shudder at the idea of some punters wielding an Allen key. Admittedly, there’s bugger all needed to get this bike rolling –installing the pedals, bar and front wheel is it, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow – but before you go launching off water bars, you want to make sure everything is assembled as it should be.

This issue can get pretty heated: while we don’t necessarily agree, there are plenty of people out there who feel strongly that bikes just should not be sold in boxes, ever. Some even call for laws specifically to prevent bikes being sold in a box, citing the safety concerns of having improperly assembled bikes on the trails (or more worryingly, the roads).


So that’s that. Can of worms, opened! What are your thoughts? 

Something German is Heading Down Under – Canyon Bikes are Coming

The legendary Fabien Barel.
The legendary Fabien Barel.

Canyon is about to enter a new era – and a new continent. The launch of Canyon Australia & New Zealand is coming.

Following years of success throughout Europe and beyond, riders Down Under are next in line to benefit from direct access to Canyon bikes alongside full local service and sales support for the first time ever. Breaking away from the norm is central to everything that Canyon does, whether in bike design or the way the company does business.

As a pioneer of direct sales within the industry, orders placed online at Canyon.com will be assembled at the Canyon Factory in Koblenz, Germany, and sent straight to the doorsteps of riders Down Under.

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The Canyon Spectral, 130 mm (29”) or 140 mm (27.5”).

 

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The new team at Canyon Australia & New Zealand will operate out of Melbourne and provide full support to customers in the region, from service queries to buying advice, in addition to representing Canyon at events from 2016 onwards.

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Canyon Enduro guru – Joe Barnes.

Leading the team will be the new Australia & New Zealand Market Manager, Darryl Moliere: “After following the Canyon brand for many years, I can honestly say that I am extremely excited and honoured to be the first Australian member of the global Canyon Crew.”

“Having recently returned from a visit to Canyon. Home in Koblenz it was clear to see that the whole team there, from R&D right through to production and quality assurance, is focussed and driven to create the best bikes, as proven by the numerous awards and distinctions Canyon bikes have received already in Europe. To be able to offer these bikes to the Australian and New Zealand markets for the first time with a level of service that matches the product quality is going to be a new and exciting period for all cycling enthusiasts from Down Under.”

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Canyon Australia and New Zealand’s Marketing Manager – Darryl Moliere.

For Canyon’s Head of Business Development & Business Intelligence, Ward Grootjans, the move represents a new challenge: “We have been eyeing up Australia and New Zealand for a number of years and are now prepared for market entry. These two markets have great potential but require a different approach due to the physical distance away from our base in Germany.”

“When visiting Australia a few months ago I was taken aback by how large and engaged the cycling community is. Talking to riders over there it was clear that Canyon will be most welcome! With Darryl on board we have a Market Manager with years of experience and with an open mind on changing the bike industry by introducing a direct seller like Canyon. We are excited to get started and be able to offer the full Canyon experience to our customers from day one.”

Establishing a presence for Australia and New Zealand continues Canyon’s international expansion beyond its European core. Alongside recent arrivals, South Korea and Japan, Canyon Australia & New Zealand becomes the 16th representative worldwide to provide a direct point of contact for local riders.

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Canyon Australia & New Zealand will be up and running by the end of the year to offer the most sought-after models from the 2016 range.

To keep up-to-date with the latest developments subscribe to the Canyon Newsletter or like Canyon on Facebook.

Stay tuned for more information!

Stay tuned for more
information

 

Underground Shredding: Riding The Mine

While large chunks of North America have been getting hammered by snow storms (which apparently is the cue for every bike brand to release a Fat Bike on snow video…), Rob J from Canyon takes a different approach, heading subterranean.

The Mine is a fully-fledged underground bike park in Louisville, Kentucky. Don’t forget to charge your lights!

Search for the Steep, Episode 2: Lake Garda

 

Joe Barnes is joined by trials legend Chris Akrigg on his latest mission to ride the world’s steepest descents.

Travelling to Lake Garda, Italy, the two go in search of the illusive 122 trail, that some said would challenge even the formidable talent of Akrigg himself.

The long hike in changeable weather brings its rewards as the guys are presented with a steep, technical descent where Chris’ trials skills prove more than useful.

 

Three-time World Champion Fabien Barel Signs with Canyon bikes

Since the beginning of the year there have been rumours, now it’s official: the French mountain bike hero and three-time downhill world champion Fabien Barel joins the Canyon Factory Enduro Team.

Fabien Barel’s commitment is not only from a sporting perspective an excellent decision for Canyon. The Frenchman’s long experience in racing and as an educated engineer will greatly contribute to Canyon’s bike development. The 32-year-old has great technical experience and will be able to give a lot of input to the development team.

This year, the Canyon Factory Enduro Team was founded and consists of five team riders. Fabien Barel is the figurehead of the team. That’s why Roman Arnold, CEO of Canyon Bicycles, has a high opinion of Fabien: “I am happy that Fabien is joining Canyon for the upcoming season. Together we will achieve great things. Fabien has proven in the past that his ideas are trend-setting. But also his character fits well with Canyon’s philosophy.”

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It’s for sure that the other team riders Ines Thoma, Marco Bühler and Eugen Maxi Dickerhoff will get the profit of the talented world champion. We can also expect to see Scotsman Joe Barnes build upon his very competitive Enduro skills. Together with Fabien, Joe will form an unbeatable duo that will lead the Canyon Factory Enduro Team. During the Bike Festival Garda Trentino in early May, the new and enthusiastic team will face their first Enduro race while the highlight of the season will be the new Enduro World Series.

For Fabien Barel, this season will be an exciting milestone in his career. He said: “Debuting in the Enduro World Series with Canyon is ideal for this new challenge. This season will be great for both of us – I can tour with the Canyon Factory Enduro Team and at the same time share my experience to help Canyon going forward in the development of the Gravity sector. I sincerely look forward to the synergy that our mutual passion will drive into MTB.”

Fabien on his new ride.

Fabien Barel will attend the Canyon Pure Cycling Festival in Koblenz on April 27th and 28th. As part of the Canyon season opener, the three-time world champion will hold an autograph session and meet his fans in person. In addition, there will be a guided Enduro tour with Fabien.

For further information, interviews and pictures of Fabien Barel and his teammates Ines, Marco, Maxi and Joe please go to http://blog.canyon.com, for details about Canyon visit http://www.canyon.com, follow Canyon on Facebook at www.facebook.com/canyon, on Twitter via https://twitter.com/pure_cycling or check out Canyon on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/purecycling.