Germany is the world-leader in terms of eMTB acceptance and usage. Most brands have at least one in their line-up and sales reports are massive, there is the first official "uphillflow" trail sponsored by Bosch, and loads of people have electric assist bikes for shopping, touring, and full-on all-mountain smashing.
It's no surprise to see Canyon introduce an eMTB; it's actually surprising that they didn't have one already. Are they late to the party or are we still in this new sector's infancy and they've struck at the perfect time? Canyon is taking it slow and the :ON will initially only be available in five countries.
Canyon Spectral:ON Details Intended use:
all mountain / trailTravel:
27.5+ / 29" Motor:
Shimano STEPS E8000 motor w/ external Shimano 500wh batteryFrame construction:
XS-XL with women's models availableAvailability:
UK, DE, FR, IT, AUSPricing:
€3799 - €5999More info: www.canyon.com
Upon invitation to Nice, I was excited to see what Canyon was ready to drop but was met with something planted firmly in the middle of the road: 150mm travel, trail bike angles, a 27.5+/29" wheel mix and direct-sale level pricing. The battery is external, the motor is Shimano, and the look is particularly normal. Judging by Canyon's spiel, this is likely to be that start of a full range of :ON models that will mirror their standard models.Frame Details
The :ON is not a straight carbon copy (or even an alloy copy) of the recently announced Spectral
. While the lines and geometry are similar, for the electric version Canyon has bulked up the tubing strength and increased the bearing and hardware sizes.
The Shimano battery side-loads and semi-integrated into the downtube which has the left-hand side cut away, and they also managed to make room for a custom bottle cage. Like many other brands going with the Shimano flow, Canyon didn't make their own battery, as they want the riders to have Shimano after-sales service in the future. They've opted for the external Shimano battery because they believe the only real benefit of an internal battery is the aesthetic, claiming that their choice is lighter and smaller than the internal option.
The direct sellers have also created an eMTB specific cardboard crate
to deliver the heavier bike, which doubles as a stand to build the bike and will make a great travel case, too. There is also an option to buy an extra battery with the bike at the time of order for a discounted price of €579 (instead of €699), which still sounds like a lot, but isn't much more than the price of a new EX1 cassette. Canyon has also developed an eMTB specific pack in conjunction with Ergon which has a pocket to hold the spare battery.
The battery is a standard external 504wh chunk from Shimano, and it's partially integrated into the frame.Frame Options / Build Kits
Aluminium is the only option for the eMTB chassis, but there are four models to choose from with a full range of XS-XL sizes in each build, prices range from €3799 - €5999, and there are two WMN versions for €3799 - €4399 with XS, S and M sizes.
The wheels are mismatched with a 29" front and 27.5" rear, with 30mm and 35mm wide rims respectively. Maxxis Minion's in 2.5" and 2.8" were spec'd on our test machines. The idea here is that the front wheel will roll over obstacles more easily and be more accurate when pushing hard on descents, while the bigger contact patch on the rear tire is there for traction control on technical or loose uphills. Geometry
The :ON's geometry is aimed for the trail and all-mountain sector and is similar to the "acoustic" Spectral. Designed around the added trail of a 29" front wheel, the head angle is actually a little steeper, reach numbers are similar, and the chainstay is 5mm longer on the :ON. The chainstays are still very short for an eMTB at 430mm – something I have not been keen on so far. The bottom bracket height changes by 11mm with the adjuster, and I believe Canyon is the first brand to pressure Shimano into supplying 165mm cranks: extra pedal clearance is a must for eMTB.
We only spent one day riding above Nice, on the trails of Blausasc with Fabien Barel, who knew them like the back of his hand. We rode a mixture of loose grey earth, technical and switchbacked uphills and some real downhill track descents. In a truly first-world experience, handily placed backup vans with spare batteries turned it into an 8-hour epic: arguably not in the spirit of e-mountain biking, but I depleted four batteries and, f*ck, we had a good time.Climbing and Trail:
The Spectral got :ON
with the job on the climbs, the rear suspension had good support, and the funny saddle did actually do what it promised to, in a gentle bum-cupping fashion. The higher volume rear tire delivered traction in spades when the bike was pointed up. I'm still yet to find an eMTB that's geometry can outclimb the motor and rear wheel grip: maybe I am just too tall for the seat angle/chainstay relationship, or maybe I just suck at climbing and end up looping out before I run out of power.
Along the techy and trials-like ups and downs Barel chose for us, the bike is easy to move around and pop on to and roll off obstacles.
Not sure who the guy on the right is, but he pretends he knows what he's talking about and took us on an 8-hour epic ride.Descending:
Not being billed as a true descender, I feel the Spectral, can outperform equivalent powerless bikes on the downs in many ways due to the low and centralized weight. Despite run-of-the-mill angles and 150mm travel, you can shred with more confidence and control than you might expect. It sits into the corners well and is happy taking on some big hits.
Canyon has done a great job silencing this bike, but I had a rattling battery from the outset; we fixed this thanks to the Abus locking system that can be adjusted if and when the mounting points wear.
The mismatched wheels and tires (29-inch wide trail on the front, 27.5+ out back) appeared to work as described, and the bike felt more normal than you might expect. I'd like more time to evaluate combinations like this in the future.
The bike is well spec'd for downhill with big rotors and powerful Code brakes, good tires (although with a flexy casing), and suspension that supports the added motor and battery weight in the mid-stroke.
Overall, the Spectral:ON does everything asked of an eMTB and keeps things simple. The attention to details and total package offered should rival anything currently out there.