VooDoo Canzo review£800.00

Tweak it right and the Canzo is a totally can-do ride

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It may have ‘Black Magic’ tubing but the spooky thing about VooDoo’s Canzo is just how well it works on even the toughest trails. You might have to get your knife out for a bit of witch-doctoring first though.

Clearly a budget bike, but that doesn't mean bad

The ‘orange peel’ paint, the two separate linkage plates driving the shock and the single-sided chainstay pivots all point to the cheaper price of the Canzo. Grab the rear wheel and wrench it about though and the extensively hydroformed frame is nice and stiff.

An slx front derailleur is a high point of an otherwise budget shimano drivetrain:
An slx front derailleur is a high point of an otherwise budget shimano drivetrain:

An SLX front derailleur is a high point of an otherwise budget Shimano drivetrain

Cables are kept neat and tidy under the down tube, and there’s plenty of tyre room at the back. There are no dropper post cable guides though, the head tube is straight rather than tapered and there are only three frame sizes. The good news is that if one of those fits, the angles and dimensions are really on-point, with a 67-degree head angle and very long 630mm top tube and 1,190mm wheelbase on our large test bike.

VooDoo makes the most of that with a short 60mm stem for quick reactions and a usefully wide handlebar with lock-on grips to make those steering decisions stick. While the SR Suntour Epixon fork has a straight rather than tapered steerer, a neat 15mm ‘Q-LOC’ through-axle locks the wheel in place and its 140mm (5.5in) of travel is matched by an Epixon shock out back.

Tektro’s auriga brakes feel wooden and uncommunicative beyond a grudging ‘you pull them and you stop’ agreement:
Tektro’s auriga brakes feel wooden and uncommunicative beyond a grudging ‘you pull them and you stop’ agreement:

Tektro’s Auriga brakes feel wooden and uncommunicative beyond a grudging ‘you pull them and you stop’ agreement

The old-skool square-taper BB axle is another reminder of the VooDoo's lowly price tag, and the Tektro Auriga brakes feel wooden. On the plus side, there’s a Shimano SLX front derailleur highlight in an otherwise Alivio/Altus gear setup, the Formula-hubbed wheels seem robust at a competitive weight and while the Kenda tyres are slippery when wet, they’re tough enough to take a beating on rocky trails.

Suspension fettling reaps serious rewards

That’s a good job too, because the Canzo makes it clear it’s the right shape to hit the trails hard from the very first drop. In fact, unless you’ve spent time diligently heating the pads by doing sprints and stops in the car park, the limited power of the Tektro brakes means you’re probably going to hit the first drop faster than you’d bargained for. The remarkable thing is that, despite this being an £800 bike, this doesn’t spell disaster.

While the Suntour fork and shock are notchy and harsh at first, the thru-axle up front keeps the wheel on track even if you slam down hard into a hectic landing zone. The long front end, reasonably slack steering and extended wheelbase keep the VooDoo naturally stable whatever’s happening under the wheels, and there’s enough leverage and quick-reaction speed in the cockpit to grab the bike if things do get out of shape. Even on the first run, the 140mm of rear travel takes the power out of some of the punches the trail throws too.

A little diy surgery on the suntour fork's innards worked wonders for its smoothness and control:
A little diy surgery on the suntour fork's innards worked wonders for its smoothness and control:

A little DIY surgery on the Suntour fork's innards worked wonders

The VooDoo magic only improves if you do a little bit of surgery and sorcery yourself too. Having seen how much more smooth control we got from Suntour’s flagship Auron fork with a simple internal modification, we checked with the firm and downloaded its exploded diagram PDFs to see if the same hack could be done with the Epixon.

As soon as we got the green light it was mere minutes’ work to depressurise the fork, unscrew the left-hand air cap, pull out the volume-adjusting 35mm yellow elastomer, chop 20mm off it and reinstall it. The previous choking and lack of travel under repeated hits vanished, replaced by a much smoother and more consistent stroke that was easily a match for the RockShox Sektor forks found on some of the Canzo's slightly pricier peers such as Boardman's FS Team and Calibre's Bossnut.

The wide 760mm bar, short stem and relaxed head angle breed confidence

Finding the sweet spot of rebound adjustment on the rear shock between hiccuping kickback and stuttering pack-down was a longer trial-and-error process. We safe-cracked our way there one click at a time though, and with both ends sorted had a genuinely black run ready bike on our hands.

The VooDoo didn’t disgrace itself on the way back up either. The cranks’ square-taper axle and thin, S-curved arms mean a soft feel if you’re really stomping on the pedals but the Canzo still has a definite ‘can do’ attitude to climbs.

Once you’ve got the rebound on the shock adjusted right it keeps the chunky Kenda treads well connected even on washed-out, rock-covered trails or step-ups. The naturally sorted and balanced ride position makes it fine for multi-hour rides too, and so far nothing has fallen off, come loose or otherwise suggested it’s going to die soon despite the fact we’ve given the VooDoo a proper beating through the worst weather imaginable.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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