Canfield Brothers may not be a name you’re familiar with but the brand has been around since 1999. It’s run, as you might expect, by two siblings, Lance and Chris, Americans who’ve been pro racers and hucked their way through Red Bull Rampage.
The Balance is their first foray into the 650b-wheeled, 160mm (6.3in) travel enduro market, so we were excited to get it out into the woods and find out just what it was capable of.
Frame and equipment: all you’d expect, plus 26in compatibility
The Balance has been built around 650b wheels but the Canfields are quick to point out that it’s still 26in compatible with a longer fork bolted in.
It uses Canfield’s dual-link Formula suspension setup. The alloy frame has all the usual features you’d look for on an enduro rig – internal routing for a ‘stealth’ dropper post, a 12x142mm rear axle, ISCG mounts and a tapered head tube with 66-degree head angle.
Canfield’s dual-link formula suspension setup shone during testing:
Canfield’s dual-link Formula suspension setup shone during testing
Our test bike was a custom build, with plenty of parts from Canfield itself, including the firm’s AM/DH cranks and Crampon pedals.
A RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork took care of bump eating up front, while a Cane Creek DBAir shock with Climb Switch was on duty out back. A 30t single chainring was matched to a 10-speed cassette, with a 40t range extender sprocket to keep the hills in check.
Ride and handling: sweet suspension but beware small sizing
We initially tried a medium frame but found the reach, and consequently the front centre (the distance from the middle of the front hub to that of the bottom bracket), incredibly short.
The raw finish of the canfield’s frame stands out in a sea of neon enduro bikes:
The raw finish of the Canfield’s frame stands out in a sea of neon enduro bikes
Swapping to a large frame – a somewhat surprising move for our 5ft 7in main tester – solved this problem nicely, though it meant we had an extra 51mm of seat tube between our legs. The 607mm effective top tube length gave enough cockpit room, though the reach was still fairly short, at 438mm.
Grinding our way up some big climbs, the 1×10 transmission with extra large cassette sprocket did the job well. Pedalling had little enough impact on the suspension action that although we tried the Climb Switch on the shock in the interests of testing, we didn’t feel the need to use it in anger at any point.
When up turned to down, the Balance’s suspension action really shone. We had to get some advice on settings to get the Cane Creek shock’s massive range of adjustment dialled in, but once we had it sorted there was plenty of small bump sensitivity as well as good bottom-out resistance to deal with harsh compressions.
Only if you’re absolutely caning it on dh tracks are you likely to hit the limits of the balance’s capabilities:
Only if you’re absolutely caning it on DH tracks are you likely to hit the limits of the Balance’s capabilities
The only issue we encountered – and now we’re really picking holes – was that sometimes when we pushed deep into the stroke there was a short lag before the shock delivered the necessary support, but you’re only likely to notice this if you’re an aggressive rider riding full-on DH tracks on flat pedals.
Specification as tested
Frame: 6061 alloy, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Shock: Cane Creek DBAir CS
Cranks: Canfield AM/DH cranks (1×10)
Rims: Stan’s ZTR Flow EX
Hubs: True Precision Stealth
Tyres: Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5×2.35in tyres
Brakes: Shimano Deore XT
Bar: Ritchey WCS, 760mm
Stem: Ritchey WCS, 45mm
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb Stealth
Weight: 14.5kg (32lb), size large with pedals