First Look: Canfield Brothers EPO Hardtail

Oct 18, 2015 at 21:24
by Mike Kazimer  
Canfield Brothers EPO


Picture a carbon-framed hardtail with 29" wheels, and more than likely the image that comes to mind is an XC race machine, something designed more for going up hills rather than bombing down them. Canfield Brothers are hoping to change that notion with the EPO, a carbon 29er hardtail designed for all-mountain riding, despite having a name that suggests otherwise.

Key geometry numbers include short 414mm chainstays, a relatively slack 66.8° head angle, and a reach of 450mm for a size large. There are a handful of steel and aluminum hardtails currently on the market with similar numbers, but it's the EPO's 1450 gram carbon frame that sets it apart, allowing for complete builds to easily come in under 26 pounds without taking any drastic weight saving measures.



Canfield EPO Hardtail
• Wheel size: 29"
• 66.8° with a 140mm fork
• 414mm chainstay length
• Front derailleur compatible
• ISCG 05 tabs
• Sizes: medium, large
• Matte black frame with white, blue, or red graphics
• MSRP: $1500 USD (frame only)
www.canfieldbrothers.com / @CanfieldBrothers


The curvy black frame has just about everything you'd look for in a hardtail - a threaded 73mm bottom bracket shell, 12x142 rear spacing, ISCG 05 tabs, but surprisingly there's no stealth dropper post routing, which means that the housing will need to run on the outside of the frame rather than being tucked away neatly inside.

The EPO is a niche item aimed at a select audience, which is why it will initially only be available in two sizes, medium and large, but that could change in the future depending on demand. Available directly from Canfield Brothers, the frame alone retails for $1500 USD.

Canfield Brothers EPO
Canfield's distinctive head tube badge.
Canfield Brothers EPO
The EPO's beefy head tube junction makes it clear that it's built for more than just cross-country cruising.

Canfield Brothers EPO
The rear brake is mounted to both the seat and chain stay.
Canfield Brothers EPO
There's no internal routing to be seen on the EPO - all the housing runs along the underside of the top tube.


Geometry



Carbon hardtail hucking Canfield Brothers EPO
Canfield Brothers employee Vin Quenneville logging some air time aboard the EPO. Photo: Brian Chapel

First Ride Impressions

My time aboard the EPO started off with a fast, rough descent, which served as an immediate reminder that it'd been a while since I last swung a leg over a hardtail. Months of riding cushy full suspension rigs had made me complacent when faced with jumbles of roots or rock drops, resulting in a few jolts to my spine I could have done without, but once I reawakened the proper hardtail riding technique from hibernation things drastically improved.

The EPO has a well-rounded blend of stability and quickness, which makes it possible to open it up when the trail straightens out, and then dive in and out of tight turns with minimal fuss. There's a snappiness to the EPO's handling that sets it apart from a steel framed hardtail, and that trait combined with the short chainstays makes for a bike that begs to be jumped and manualed at every opportunity. Even with a 140mm fork (the longest travel option that Canfield recommends) the steering felt extremely precise, and I'd have trouble coming up with a reason to go with less travel up front. Given how stiff the frame is, that 140mm of front suspension goes a long way towards reducing the amount of hand fatigue that can result from pounding through rutted and rocky trails.

The EPO isn't afraid to take on steeper, more technical terrain either, and it wasn't long before long I found myself charging into sections of trail at speeds that I usually reserve for bikes with front and rear suspension. Of course, a full suspension bike is going to have the edge when it comes to maintaining speed in chewed and chopped up sections of trail, but the EPO can still hold its own, as long as your body can handle the extra feedback. The carbon fiber does provide a slight amount of vibration damping, and the bigger wheels help add a little extra cushion, but this is still a hardtail through and through, and smoothness is always going to be rewarded more than a smash-and-bash riding style.


Final Thoughts
bigquotesYou'd be hard pressed to find another bike like the EPO currently on the market, but Canfield Brothers have always marched to the beat of a slightly different drum. The price tag will certainly be a sticking point for some riders, and the lack of stealth dropper post routing is a little odd, but for the hardtail fanatic looking for something out of the ordinary, the EPO might be just what the doctor ordered. - Mike Kazimer




110 Comments

  • + 56
 No boost?? Are you even trying to sell me this?
  • + 4
 Wait a f*cking second. I thought they needed boost to make chainstays tighter on bigger wheeled bikes? Are you telling me there's a way to do that without Boost???? What THE F
  • + 4
 @theminsta - Well, it is a lot easier if you're not dealing with rear suspension linkages. And short chainstays are one part of the whole Boost thing - it's also meant to make rear wheels stiffer.
  • + 10
 @slumgullion They also make the Riot which is a dual suspension 29er with 140mm of travel and 414mm chainstays.
  • + 3
 @crazedmodder - True, but it can't take a front derailleur. Not a big deal to me, but some people still use them.
  • + 55
 Another banger from the bros!
  • + 149
 Bangbros?
  • + 16
 Ah! Bangbros...
  • + 44
 Nice bike. *deletes browser history*
  • + 2
 ^ LOL, Thustlewhumber read my mind...
  • + 1
 bang truss
  • + 1
 @dancingwhale That took a sharp turn haha
  • + 27
 Love my Yelli, appreciate my Nimble- and dying to build my Riot. Not brand-washed, I just like the no-BS approach of the Brothers, Sean and Co. to mountain riding.
  • + 5
 I agree.....love the service these guys offer. If i was rich I'd have 1 of each of their rides.
  • + 26
 epo is a performance-enhancing drug, i'm not sure if this bike is UCI-legal.
  • + 24
 Who cares what the rules say, everyone's on it.
  • + 3
 Yes and No. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a natural hormone produced in the red bone marrow. But it can also be abused as a drug. It has been pretty common in both bicycle roadracing and athletic type sports.
  • + 2
 It's produced and secreted by the kidney.
  • + 2
 True. Its the red bloodcells them selfes that comes from the bone marrow. And the EPO is produced by the kidneys. My bad!
  • + 9
 I kinda miss internet discussions before Wikipedia and the anonymous expert'ification of the masses and decline of the subtle art of bulls$*&
  • - 2
 I learned that in pathophysiology, Sherlock.
  • + 7
 Easy Max. The comment above yours (that you corrected) seemed more like a misquoted wiki-reference. That said, as a general comment and not a targeted attack on you, all this info is easily accessed on wiki whether you got it from there or not (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erythropoietin) and that most certainly changes the nature of on-line discussion (and BS'ing on any topic over beers). Congrats on your studies and pathophysiology course.
  • - 10
flag maxlombardy (Oct 19, 2015 at 11:08) (Below Threshold)
 Ahh, that comment brought me back to the days when online discussions were based on nothing more than your gut feeling about something... like where someone might have acquired a piece of information. Your powers of intuition are truly astounding! Congrats on your ability to belittle people who surf wikipedia and also those with an academic source of knowledge! Keepin it old school!
  • + 10
 Max. Last comment from me on this. The intent wasn't to hurt your feelings. I surf Wikipedia all the time and have spent a fair chunk of time in (and at the front of) university classrooms so I wasn't belittling either of those. Just a comment on the nature of internet debates. It's a interesting world where with the click of a few keys we have more access to information than anyone before us. I was a bit tongue-in-cheek on my follow up in response to your dive to the conclusion that my comment singled you out...which it did not. Enjoy the rest of your day.
  • - 1
 Patho? Did you skip Anatomy and Physiology?
  • + 13
 Canfield Bros rules. Wish I could afford one. Always been innovative and never corny or forced. Plus the dudes rip.
  • + 6
 "Key geometry numbers include short 414mm chainstays, a relatively slack 66.8° head angle, and a reach of 450mm for a size large. There are a handful of steel and aluminum hardtails currently on the market with similar numbers"

Honest question: Does anybody know what "handful" these might be? I'm on the market for a hardtail like this, but would prefer steel.
  • + 9
 Raybao- Our steel Nimble 9 has very similar geo.
  • + 13
 The Kona Honzo and Transition TransAm are two other examples of steel framed hardtails with longer front centers and short chainstays.
  • + 9
 Just buy a Stanton Switchback. Seriously. Its amazing
  • + 1
 The TransAms are a great ride. 27.5 and really dialled,
  • - 2
 The Oxide designs look amazing too for a bit more money/exclusivity,
  • - 1
 My Marin Rocky Ridge is Alu but essentially is the same type of hardtail (something playful). Slightly less travel, smaller wheels, but still tons of fun. I don't think any of the different spec'd versions go over $2000.

Just might be a bit of a search to find one, Marin discontinued the line for 2016 but you might be able to find a 2015 version through one of their dealers, and for slightly less. (This was the case when I bought a 2014 version almost a year ago. Missed out on a dropped post and such but it's nothing major, and the bike has handled my lack of serious riding mentality well.)
  • + 5
 Chromag, If you have a kidney to spare, has incredible hardtails. The Stylus is my favorite as its an aggressive HT with 160mm and a 66 degree HA if I'm correct
  • + 3
 Cotic Solaris, Advocate Hayduke, and this amazing and ridiculous thing... www.bikeradar.com/us/mtb/news...l-video-44372

Guerrilla Gravity also coming out with one designed to take 27.5+ and good old-fashioned 29.

Been looking around for some time, now, and I'm pretty sure it'll be a Nimble 9 that I'll wind up with (unless GG knocks it out of the park for me) when they become available. Any changes in color schemes for the N9, KVT?
  • - 1
 Niner ROS! Steel framed hardtail with a 414 CS and a 67 degree HA. Thats slacker than my 14' enduro!
  • + 5
 Ragley Bigwig, currently on the PB front page.
  • - 1
 414 is still manageable on tech uphills but barely. Risk of wheelie is a nonsense but front end does wander a lot so on steepest bit it may be hard with precision to hit the desired line through roots and rocks. If you sit a lot and spin circles then such geo is definitely not for you. It requires you to stand up for all tricky sections and be very gentle with weight distribution and putting power down - it makes you a great climber. It pays back on downs and on pumptrack and destabilizes bigger wheels for good reason. I built my HT to go as short as 405mm on 26" wheel, ride it mostly at 415mm but I would honestly not go under 420mm if I'd be after a new frame.
  • + 3
 Trek Stache 29+ has 420mm CS, 68.4 HA, 61mm BB drop with 110 fork. Give it a 140mm fork and it'll have a 66.9 HA, 50mm bb drop, and 423mm CS.
  • + 5
 @Varaxis How will a longer fork increase the chainstay length?
  • + 1
 It wont. But it'll slightly slacken the HA.
  • + 4
 @Konda CS is measured parallel to the ground, not a direct/sloped line from the center of the BB to rear axle. Lift the front of the bike up, and a dropped BB swings forward and up. Estimated using trigonometry.

I think a few brands actually take the trouble to calculate the CS with various length forks, but my estimate of 3mm for 30mm of additional fork travel is probably insignificant to them. The less BB drop there is, the less the CS length changes for a change in fork travel, but more the BB height changes, when you alter the fork's travel.
  • + 3
 @Varaxis fair play, I didnt realise it was taken parallel to the gound
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns I have a Honzo and run it at 415mm CS, yes the front feels a bit light but it's nowhere near as bad as you say when climbing steep and loose trails. Just pay attention to weight distribution and you can still climb up some pretty serious angles. A good rear tyre and sensible bar height help too.

And while I like the geometry and concept, I'd still prefer old fashioned straight tubes over all this swoopy curvy stuff.
  • + 4
 Stanton Sherpa and Titus Fireline Evo Ti, I've owned both and neither as as confident enspiring as the EPO. Iv'e sold these and I'm picking up my EPO tomorrow. Its the best hardtail I've tried, bar none.
  • + 3
 @TFreeman Chromag's made in Taiwan stuff is pretty nice and half the price, but not half the quality.
  • + 1
 Just ordered my Last Fastforward. Not the extrem sub 420mm CS but 425mm AND! 64HA. with 74SA.
  • + 1
 And the same as a no-29'ner?
  • + 1
 I've got an On-One Parkwood(same geo as the Titus Fireline mentioned above.) Same idea, but a little less extreme, longer stays, 120mm fork recommended instead of 140mm. If you looking for something to do real gnar, the EPO/yelli-screamy is probably better, but if you're looking for something to make pedally training rides more fun, Parkwood does a good job. Nice thing about it too is that it's only $280, so it's great if you've got a bunch of parts kicking around, I only had to pick up a fork to get mine going. It'll fit 27.5+ tires too.

I'm a little leery of more than 120mm of travel in a hardtail, due to the stapler effect, but I want to give one of these a try.
  • + 2
 @groghunter I was worried about running a 140mm pike on my rootdown, but it hasn't been an issue at all. If you've got a better/more contemporary fork available, just take the extra squish.
  • + 1
 I rode my HT with Reba 120, Sektor 150, then Lyrik 160, then (too plush) Shiver SC 120, now 36 float lowered to 140. And I run it with 10% SAG. It finally feels good. High in cockpit, slack, relatively rigid and you can hit anything with it. I find HT to be extra punishing when having too soft fork on rough stuff as front falls into holes while rear kicks back.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns good point on the kick back. It's actually something I think about on the trail but have never really been able to articulate. My bike runs more balanced with the Pike set to "pedal" as opposed to being fully open. That said, I run it open all the time as I love how it just mushes over the little stuff when I'm at speed and outta the saddle. If things are really smooth and/or I'm jumping or g-ing out more I'll run it stiffer, though. I'd like to see how the new Fox 34 120 feels, cause that might be more appropriate for me as long as the small bump sensitivity is there off the top.
  • + 1
 The only 140mm fork I had access to didn't work with my wheelset (20mm vs 15mm, & DT 350 hubs don't do that conversion.) I've actually noticed stapler on even the 120mm, but I've been suitably impressed with this DT swiss fork I'm riding, that it really doesn't blow through the travel, so I don't run into it very often(unless I have too much sag. got a reminder after my last rebuild, had to throw a little more pressure in it.) That said, I live in fear of having the damper fail, as you have to send it back.
  • + 1
 @groghunter I've had shorter forks dive worse than my bigger pike does. A short steertube can keep a long fork feeling civilized on climbs, and better damping helps to really reduce dive also making big forks a lot more manageable on a hardtail. Going from a 100mm to 140mm on my new bike has only resulted in better technical climbing results. I had a 120mm on my old On-One Evo and that was far more unruly going up.
  • - 1
 I must say I like a more preload, instead of running lots of compression, with right set rebound you can really get a very lively ride. Sure it punishes you when you want to brake or corner on but general feeling of bouncing on top of stuff is very nice. I remember my first brakeless run through roughest and longest rockgarden we have here and it was on 120 Reba... that I forgot to unlock Big Grin I did not brake because I felt in control as bike wasn't getting sucked in by obstacles.
  • + 2
 You ridden and EPO? No problem at all keeping the front down with a 50mm stem. Its designed around a 140mm fork.

You will get an wandering front end (piece) if you stick a 140 on a frame designed for 100 or 120. But not the EPO...
  • + 1
 @JesseE While a better damped fork can certainly make you encounter it less often, stapler effect is a symptom of geometry+fork travel, & if you ever use full travel, you're going to encounter it(provided your hard-tail staplers enough for you to notice.) The reason why I like the DT swiss on this bike is precisely that the damping does prevent me from going full travel(or even mid-travel) unless I really need it, without feeling harsh, but if I hit something big, there's enough headangle steepening to notice.

@WAKIdesigns See my above about the DT swiss fork, it rewards putting a bit more air in the spring, & running very little compression (I run 2 clicks max, though I'm only 155 Lbs.)
  • + 1
 @groghunter I have a Yelli Screamy with a 140mm 20mmTA Revelation, and I'll drop it down to 110 on the longer climbs, but once you get used to leaning the bike in the corners it's a whole different animal than a typical XC bike. Pounding out 30+ miles in a day isn't out of the question for me, and I'm half tempted to pick up the EPO as a dedicated race machine.
  • + 8
 This is cool, we need more bikes like this
  • + 3
 Love seeing wagon wheels getting a lot more love now adays. Love that hardtails are making a big comeback in the way of aggressive 29ers as well. Bikes like this, the Honzo and the original stache and so many others are just a treat to rip on.
  • + 3
 I honestly would have never considered swinging my leg over a MTB hardtail again, until I tried a 29". they really smooth out some of the problems that 26" can't do without rear suspension.
  • + 4
 Hardtails and two strokes coming back. Nothing wrong with that.
  • + 4
 Two strokes are coming back!??? Holy shit took long enough!!
  • + 3
 I've heard so many great reviews from folk on the UK trails too from XC rides to DH uplifts, the grins do the talking! They are available in the UK from www.cranknuts.com, along with the rest of the Canfield Brothers range
  • + 1
 In Australia at crankin.net.au
  • + 6
 Bring on the carbon Jedi!!!
  • + 3
 The burly head tube junction has me a little excited, picturing what it may represent for a future Jedi. What say you Chris? Also, nice air shot Vin!
  • + 5
 Please review the Riot, that bike looks amazing.
  • + 5
 I like.
  • + 3
 Please make this is a XL size for us long and lanky riders 20.5 ST, I will pre-order one right now.
  • + 2
 I'm 6'2 with a leggy 36" inseam and fit the L perfectly with a 45mm stem - ok the reverb is 5" out of the seat post, but because the seat angle is nice and steep, this isn't an issue. with a 150mm lev, it'd be even better.
  • + 1
 Did you find at your height that you were really back at full extension?
  • + 1
 No, because of my long legs my torso is shorter than average for a 6'2 person. It was pretty much a perfect fit. Seat tube length is a non issue for me as Long as seat angle is steep... The one rule with any bike purchase is ride before you buy. I've bought several bikes without riding them. I lucked in with the Capra. The Evil Following didn't fit me well.
  • + 2
 Seatpost binder relief slot faced forward, Lev, WTB Silverado, FD mount delete.

Little gripes aside; that is a perfect bike.
  • + 3
 "You'd be hard pressed to find another bike like the EPO currently on the market" Kona Honzo?
  • + 3
 You're right, the numbers are similar, but the frame materials are different, which is why the EPO is unique.
  • + 2
 Just seems to me that any company producing a bike that is going to be set up with a dropper 99.9% of the time is downright idiotic to not have internal routing.
  • + 2
 Nice .... would be great if the drop outs could also accommodate a SS setup!
  • + 3
 Lol did Lance just get picked up by Canfield ?
  • + 2
 The comments and opinions will be different if the brand is Kona not Canfield especially with the curvy seatstays.
  • + 3
 Always liked Canfield stuff
  • + 0
 the shape remind me Norco. nice looking frame. would be better with neon paint. nice 29 er. the cockpit is very modern. thanks to short stem and slack front end. canfield is on the coche.
  • + 3
 shut up and take my money!
  • + 1
 Bros are rock solid and offered a crash replacement.
But it was and still is far from a "deal"
When the time is right, i will own a C. Bros again.
  • + 2
 I hear it's a ripper with 27.5 wheels!!!!
  • + 1
 I see this frame with an On One monocoque fork and single speed drivetrain.
  • + 2
 No stealth dropper routing? Who's idea was that?
  • + 1
 Looks rad! Love to see expanding long legged options with more aggressive geometry.
  • + 2
 i always ride on epo, a differrnet epo though
  • + 2
 I wouldn't kick it out of my EPO tent, for eating crackers in bed.
  • - 1
 I ride my steel Salsa 29er single speed more than my Ripley...why? Bcus its hella fun!
and I love the look of my friends and other people puzzled how fast I am on my single speed.
  • + 1
 What about the new Surly Instigator?
  • + 1
 please, Please, PLEASE bring the XL frames to market!
  • + 2
 I'd be concerned that for taller riders you'd be behind the rear axle when the seat's up. I have 430mm chainstays and it already feels a bit like that.
  • + 1
 So why no internal cable routing?
  • + 2
 Nice shot Vin!!
  • - 1
 29er with 414 mm chainstays on a 12x142 rear spacing.
This just shows how full of BS SRAM® is with their BOOST™ 148.
  • + 3
 And no suspension
  • + 9
 My Canfield Riot 29er has 140mm of rear travel, 414mm chainstays and 142x12 rear spacing.
  • + 1
 Got all Spicy but still longing a (canfield) Riot.
  • - 1
 YES!!!! Doing it different since the beginning! I love Canfield Brothers (no homo).
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