FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS: CANYON TORQUE ON & SPECTRAL ON ELECTRIC MOUNTAIN BIKES

Revamped mixed-wheel electric offerings from Canyon.

CANYON TORQUE ON

The Torque ON is positioned as a gravity-focused eMTB. It has existed for a while in an aluminum version but has now been modernized into a full-on carbon rig featuring a mullet wheel setup, a 180mm fork, and a redesigned rear linkage with 175mm of travel. What’s interesting is this bike has three versions, an entry-level, a mid-range (tested), and a special Ken Roczen 94 build. 

Roczen “94” Edition

 

The build kits are gravity focused with our tested model featuring a Fox Factory 38  fork and X2 rear shock, which is mounted in a fixed position and drives the rear suspension through the newly redesigned linkage. This design gives more reliability and precision to the rear suspension, but when combined with the ultra-low standover height reduces the space for other features in the front triangle.  

  

Apparently, one of the more requested features of gravity bikes, according to Canyon, is a hydration system or bottle holder that is integrated with the frame. While the initial frame design did not allow for a bottle mount, the engineers at Canyon used some creative thinking and utilized the carbon in the frame construction to integrate a strategically placed compartment in the top tube to allow a bottle to be stored, while also reducing the weight by 3 pounds.

Canyon’s New Hydration System

 

This, however, is not the whole story. As park riders want to ride all day, Canyon decided to build the bike based around their 720 Wh or 900 Wh Spectral battery packs, giving limitless (in our experience) ability to climb and explore. Combining these clever features together gives us a very unique gravity-oriented package, where you have a full-power Shimano motor, huge battery range, better-tuned suspension, and hydration all present. Starting at approximately $6,000, with the top-specced Roczen model at around $9,000, Canyon has covered just about every base possible with the new Torque: ON. 

Available with a 720Wh or 900Wh Battery

 

Our test version came mounted with Shimano XT shifting, Shimano XT brakes with 203mm discs, a 900 Wh battery, Sun Ringle Duroc wheels, a Maxxis Assegai/DHR II Tire combo, and the previously mentioned Fox suspension. With these specs, Canyon claims you can climb approximately 6,000 feet with a 180lb rider, which we would say is accurate based on our experience. 

The Shimano EP8 motor is well established now and has excellent power and tuning properties and gives a natural feel onboard. We zapped all the modes in the app to make the motor as lively as possible on the trail. 

Shimano’s EP8 Motor

 

The Hydration system is included with the bike and is easy to pop in and out for a quick drink. A small but important feature that can make a world of difference out on the trail. The frame has been subjected to the same tests and is rated the same as the Canyon Sender, meaning it is downhill-ready. On top of this, all the metal frame hardware inserts are swappable fixing points, increasing the durability of the design.

Replaceable hardware inserts increase durability

 

The Roczen 94 CF LTD version comes with RockShox Ultimate suspension and SRAM code 220mm brakes with the new SRAM AXS wireless direct mount derailleur. The bike is basically good enough for Ken.

CANYON TORQUE ON PRICING AND AVAILABILITY:

Torque:ON CF 8: $5,499.00 (720 Wh), Available now.

Torque:ON CF 9: $6,499.00 (900 Wh), Available now.

Torque:ON CF Roczen $8,499.00 (900 Wh M-XL, 720 Wh S), Coming this summer.

Torque:ON 7 $4,499.00 (504 Wh), Coming this summer.

TORQUE ON FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS

Straight away our large size felt roomy with a 500 mm (19.69 inch) reach which has been extended by half an inch compared to the previous version. The mullet wheel setup, which now has a slightly longer chain stay length, is used as it improves and combines speed into corners with straight-line stability. As a long-term user of the older iteration, this bike hits all the right critical design points for a modern DH/Freeride park bike. 

We spent the whole first day lapping as much as we could initially to dial in suspension settings, then figure out how the bike rode. It’s a unique bike on the market with no/few other brands having anything that aims downhill as well as this. The trails we rode although good, were not extremely steep but had enough park features that we were able to feel the stability when we hucked a few jumps and didn’t brake into some berms. We got faster as the day went along, although we still didn’t find the limits of the bike.     

Pedaling the Torque ON to get to the top of the trails was very efficient. We started the day in Boost mode and didn’t end up switching at all, using about half of the battery life by the end of the day. It’s longer than the Strive ON, so it corners differently uphill, but regardless it’s easy to pedal and will get you to the top ready for the descent. The long dropper post means the saddle is out of the way when descending. 

Our first corners and trail features gave the same feeling as the original Torque ON, smooth and stable, but still had more potential to unlock. Once we opened it up on the bigger jumps and rougher trail sections, the bike came alive and was super stable, we could just hold on and appreciate the ride. 

We noticed on one particular table a distinctive mid-air poise followed by a smooth landing. A feature that this bike has down and can’t be replicated by Enduro bikes. Cornering was very good with the bike railing nicely without over-compressing the suspension and losing speed, while also being confidence-inspiring. 

The bike was easy to manual, we could just pop through whoops like they weren’t there and be ready for the next feature. It’s definitely a gravity machine. There is an obvious improvement in rear suspension performance compared to the previous version as the bike feels less harsh. We found it easier to set our compression and rebound the way we like it. The air shock also felt very consistent, whereas on the previous version we preferred a coil shock for a more consistent feel.  

 

We utilized the new hydration system, and although we were skeptical at first, it was very convenient and easy to use. It can also be removed if it is not being utilized.  

The use of the big battery was a surprise as it didn’t add any extra heft which we could feel on board, the bike felt planted and stable on descents and manageable in corners. The bike comes in at the same weight as the old version but with more juice.  

We didn’t get to test the Roczen 94 version, but if the CF 9 was anything to go by, we can only imagine the benefits of the top-end model. If you want a well-priced, stable, fun gravity eMTB then this is definitely a category maker and will reduce the reliance on uplifts. It performs great and we can only imagine with more time on board where we could take this bike. 


STRIVE ON CFR / CFR LTD

When we were in Punta Ala, Tuscany in 2013 for the very first Enduro World Series, Fabien Barel came to the race with a prototype bike, the Canyon Strive, that was specifically made for Enduro racing. Now, Canyon has released an Electric Strive with the same basic goal: an E-Mtb made for the demands of enduro racing. 

The New Canyon Strive ON

It’s got a full Carbon frame and 170mm of travel, with the top-end spec coming with the Bosch Race motor system. Nothing has been compromised and the geometry has been revised to produce a bike that is incredibly modern and very well-balanced. Notably, the seat tube angle has been steepened which puts the rider in a more efficient and comfortable climbing position.

We spent about a day on board getting to know the bike. We will have a more in-depth test coming later in a few months.

Our actual ride test version (CFR) came with a Bosch Performance CX motor paired with a 750 Wh battery. The motor has the latest Bosch software and is tuneable. We maxed out the software tune to make sure it had a race feel and took the bike down an incredibly hard Enduro trail to test it.

The Fox 38 Elite we tested is an excellent fork; the race version comes with a RockShox ZEB Ultimate which is also an outstanding option. Both are made for enduro and gravity-oriented riding. We felt that the bike is well suited to these types of forks, the 63.5-degree head angle encourages speed and for that, you need a tough fork. The 170mm of travel hits the sweet spot by providing a supportive, yet progressive feel while still giving the rider a comfortable pedaling platform. This is balanced with 170mm of progressive rear suspension travel that is tuned to offer a ground-hugging and planted feel. 

The Strive ON that we tested was specced with Shimano XT brakes with a 220mm rotor up front and a 200mm rotor in the rear; the Race version comes specced with SRAM Code RSC brakes, both of which are reliable and don’t fade on fast and rough descents. The wheel setup, which comes wrapped with Maxxis tires, is a mullet setup with a 29″ front and 27.5″ rear wheel. The Race version comes with Pirelli’s Scorpion Tires in the M variant, which are similar to the Maxxis Assegai in design but have marginally stronger casings.  

The Strive uses the Bosch Smart System, which can be used with either its 630Wh or 750Wh battery system. Racers are recommended to go for the 630Wh option to save weight without sacrificing performance while in a race setting. The motor has 85 Nm of torque and the software now allows all modes to be tuned individually through the Bosch app. The top-end version comes with Bosch’s Race motor, which we have tested previously and would say it’s going to make this bike a serious weapon on the trails.

Bosch’s Performance Race Motor

All the frame hardware and metal inserts are replaceable as well so this bike can be easily maintained over time.

Strive ON CFR LTD Edition

CANYON STRIVE ON PRICING AND AVAILABILITY:

Canyon does not have US pricing or exact availability yet but expects to have them available by the end of this summer. Below is international pricing and availablity.

With 750 Wh batteries:

Strive:ON Underdog € 5,999

Strive:ON CFR  € 7,199

Strive:ON CFR LTD is € 9,699.

With 625 Wh batteries:

Strive:ON Underdog  € 5,799

Strive:ON CFR  € 6,999

Strive:ON CFR LTD  € 9,499.

STRIVE ON FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS

We rode this bike on some very serious trails with some very difficult rocky sections. It has some very interesting geometry that balances uphill and downhill at the same time.

Canyon have aligned the battery so it sits in front of the motor and the centre of the frame layout is ideal for their fairly vertical seat tube which puts the rider during peddling in a very forward position which is very comfortable and efficient. Honestly we were surprised to how good the geometry was and really can’t think of an EMTB that has got it as good as this in years. The reach when in descend mode is long, despite in climb mode feeling shorter. The front end stack is noticeably higher than other bikes in their range as it gives the rider a sensation of serious upfront support in the descending department.  

Even on steep climbs, the front remains stuck to the ground without having to shift weight significantly forward. Yet, when things get steep, the bike is equally as stable and confidence-inspiring. The front wheel gives great high-speed stability and efficiency on the trail, while the rear wheel snaps into corners and provides excellent agility.

A big battery can affect the handling a bit, but you can use the 630Wh battery to reduce weight by approximately 3 pounds while still providing an ample pedaling range. A new wireless mini remote located on the handlebars and a center-mounted top tube display give the Strive ON a sleek and modern look while still remaining functional. We would like to see Bosch reinforce the mini remote switches, however, as we found they have a tendency to get damaged easily by hands moving across them or general trail debris, compared to the offerings from Shimano or others. The switch is wireless so there are no cables to interfere with and the clean lines of the bike are maintained.

Shifting was provided by Shimano on our test bike, but we did try the new SRAM Eagle XO Transmission that comes specced on the CFR LTD model, which is exceptionally smooth, fast and reliable. We found that we always had the right gear for the moment with the redesigned 12-speed cassette.

SRAM’s XO TransmissionOn rough descents, the bike flies through everything and has a low fatigue level. It snaps into corners, powers out with exceptional exit speed, and the stability is impressive. The seat post is very long so it enables a low standover height, which means the rider has a lot of space on descents to move about and get in the right position for pretty much any trail or feature. The smaller rear wheel provides more clearance and allows the rider to hang off the back without worrying about tire buzz. 

The Strive ON is an absolute rocket downhill, pedals like a dream uphill, and is very well-priced compared to the rest of the market.  Canyon and Fabien Barel have created easily the best bike to buy if you like to ride rough and rowdy downhill trails while being able to go out on all-day pedal missions. It’s a great ride with a reliable and powerful motor system, global support, and world-class product specifications. 

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