German direct-buy brand Canyon is renowned for its bang-per-buck performance. Is the impressive spec sheet of the Torque backed up by its on-track character though?
Highs: Boxxer Team fork is one smooth operator; Cane Creek shock provides massive tuning potential; low overall weight means a playful feel
Lows: Really short back end keeps things lively but makes for a less balanced riding position
Frame and equipment: deceptively long chassis dressed in high-end kit
The Torque’s compact, low-slung looks are deceptive. It may look dinky, but the relaxed 62.7-degree head angle, decent 430mm reach (on the medium frame tested) and lengthy 800mm front centre add up to produce a fairly stretched-out ride, with a wheelbase of 1,215mm. It still has extremely short chainstays though, measuring a stubby 425mm.
A ‘Trackflip’ chip in the lower shock mount allows you to tweak the amount of rear wheel travel (195-210mm/7.7-8.3in) along with the head angle and bottom bracket height, should you want to tailor the bike to the track you’re riding/racing. Controlling all of that travel is the impressively adjustable Cane Creek Double Barrel rear shock. This offers high- and low-speed compression and rebound dials – plenty to think about then.
There’s plenty of front end grip thanks to the aggressively treaded maxxis shorty front tyre and sensitive rockshox boxxer team fork: Steve Behr
There’s plenty of front end grip thanks to an aggressively treaded Maxxis Shorty
Neat features include integrated fork bump stops and internal routing for a stealth dropper post, should you want to create more of a do-it-all machine rather than a pure downhiller. The one thing the Torque does lack is 650b wheels.
As you’d expect from Canyon, the kit bolted to the Torque is some of the finest downhill hardware available, making it a ridiculously competitive package on paper – not to mention an impressively light one.
Among the many component highlights is the Boxxer Team fork. This gets RockShox’s beautifully smooth Charger damper, which makes for a ground hugging, traction-rich ride with masses of composure when taking on the big hits. Interestingly, Canyon has specced SRAM’s X01 DH seven-speed transmission rather than the 10-speed Shimano Saint found on the top-end Torque DHX Flashzone. We had no issues with the more limited gear range but there’s only one choice of rear derailleur – and replacements certainly aren’t cheap at £210.
Ride and handling: lively ride that rewards a firm hand
The Torque has a lot of things going for it. Point it down just about any track or trail and you’ll have a blast tackling whatever lies ahead. The low weight and stumpy chainstays make for a lively ride, with a nimbleness that encourages a more playful, pump-and-pop based riding style.
Take your time adjusting the cane creek double barrel rear shock and you’ll be rewarded with a smooth, controlled suspension stroke: Steve Behr
Fettling the Cane Creek Double Barrel shock rewards you with a smooth, controlled suspension stroke
That’s not to say it won’t handle things when the hillside steepens and the terrain deteriorates. With that raked-out head angle, long front centre and super-supple yet impressively composed Boxxer fork, there’s no shortage of confidence as you go belting over the brow of a drop and into the unknown.
The combination of the sensitive fork and aggressively treaded Maxxis Shorty out front means traction is never a worry. You can rip into turns with your feet up and load the bike hard, knowing it’ll stay glued to the ground. Through faster compressions and undulations, especially where line choice is critical, it doesn’t take long to realise the Torque needs a little more finesse to keep it on track though.
One you’ve got it mastered though, the torque is a confidence-inspiring blast: Steve Behr
One you’ve got it mastered, the Torque is a confidence-inspiring blast
That short back end does mean you feel less centred on the bike and the Canyon requires more exaggerated weight shifts forward and backward in choppy terrain when compared to the likes of the Vitus Dominer we rode alongside it. This doesn’t take long to get used to though, and doesn’t detract from how much fun this bike is to ride.
Setting up the Double Barrel shock takes time and requires a special tool, but the Cane Creek website provides plenty of information to get you on the right track and adjustments on the hill are more about refining performance than anything else. Control is impressive throughout the travel and the supple initial stroke helps to keep the back wheel planted as you pummel through rough, rooty sections at speed. The back end of the Canyon as a whole produces a nicely predictable ride with decent feedback and support.
Shipping charges: £33 + £15 Bikeguard / For other countries, check www.canyon.com for availability and delivery charges.