“What a cool-looking bike,” says my neighbor, as I ride by. “Wait, is that electric?”
My sentiments exactly. I’ve heard so many good things about Canyon bikes that I’ve wanted to try one. These are generally high-end bikes with top-of-the-line components. This past week, I borrowed one of the brand’s new Spectral:ON CFR electric mountain bikes that sells for over $10,000. What was the experience like?
I was at first so wowed by the sleek look and that it took a second to realize that there was a battery built into the frame. The Canyon showroom representative greeted me and quickly sized the bike to my needs, using the dropper seat post that I thought was really cool. He pointed out that the bike has a durable and lightweight carbon frame. Then he mentioned the powerful and category-leading 900Wh battery that delivers massive miles per charge. He did caution me, however, that this is a mountain bike really meant more for off-road trails rather than street riding on hilly terrain. And it’s classified to top out at 20 miles per hour. I admit that nearly all of my riding is on the street, so that’s how I generally tested the bike.
Riding it away from the Canyon facility, I took a particularly hilly route back home and the bike handled it all like a charm. Weighing 50 pounds, the bike is armed with fatter tires than my street bike has, full-power eMTB chassis, 12-gear Shimano XTR shifter, four-piston calipers and large disc rotors, plenty of shock absorption thanks in part to a FOX 36 Factory fork with the brand’s most advanced trail shock ever. There are also three levels of pedal assist – eco, trail and boost – but no automatic throttle. I could list all of the specs here, but suffice it to say everything is sleek, lightweight and quality-built.
On my ensuing rides through sloping terrain and windy areas, I found myself leaving the pedal assist at its highest level while constantly adjusting the manual shifter. I never really found a steady speed that I could just leave pedal assist in eco mode all the way. But that’s more a statement about our part of town than the bike itself. I took it up the steepest of the hills in my area, and never broke a sweat. It rode smooth and quiet all the time. The suspension and fatter tires made everything more pleasant. And I know this may sound strange to point out, but the brakes gripped so well and quietly, compared to every other e-bike I’ve tried. I had full confidence in their ability to stop quickly, even on a severe downhill slope.
Just for fun, I took the bike into a local park and rode it on gravel and grass, to test it all out. The bike easily handled what it set out to accomplish, which was to make for a fun and smooth ride on unlevel terrain – and add in some power when I needed it to get up hills. In fact, the transition from pavement to grass and dirt felt completely seamless, which is a great thing. Climbing steep grass mounds was a breeze, as well – the tire traction gripped any slippery spots like a champ. My only issue with the bike was its terribly uncomfortable seat — especially noticeable because everything else on this pricey model is upscale.
As for battery life, I only rode about 15 miles or so overall — and that didn’t make a dent in the charging level. If you’re into mountain biking, you might want to consider one of the Canyon models — but maybe with an upgraded seat.