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It seems like most of the brands on the e-MTB bandwagon have all kinda just been trying to make the same bike. Take a 600-something-watt-hour battery, a 60-something-newton-meter motor and make it weigh 40-45 pounds. It’s only what’s left over that varies from bike to bike. Specialized is an exception with bikes like the Kenevo and the Levo SL, but that’s the most variety you’ll see from a major brand, especially in the U.S. market. That’s why we were so stoked to see what Canyon is dropping today. The Torque:ON joins the Spectral:ON, which also got some significant updates that we’ll cover in a bit. First, the Torque:ON is, as you might guess, based on Canyon’s 27.5-inch enduro bike, the Torque. With 175 millimeters of rear travel and 180 up front, the Torque:ON is clearly meant for getting serious, but not too serious. There’s a reason this isn’t an electric version of the Strive, Canyon’s more race-oriented 29-inch enduro bike. At the risk of pigeon-holing the Torque:ON, you could maybe best describe it as an “e-park” bike, if there is such a thing. It isn’t necessarily meant for epic backcountry adventures. It’s more meant for laps. Lots and lots of laps.
Reason being, the battery is relatively small at 504 watt-hours. It uses Shimano’s new, light but powerful EP-8 motor, it just has a smaller gas tank. For comparison, the new Spectral:ON runs a 630 watt-hour battery. The battery on the Specialized Turbo Kenevo is 700 watt-hours. Now, 504 is definitely not the smallest e-mtb battery out there. The Specialized Levo SL offers just 320 watt-hours, and German e-bike motor brand, Fazua, it’s only 252. 504 was a sweet spot that allowed them to save about 2.2 pounds in overall weight while still offering a reasonable amount of range. That said the Torque:ON is only available in an aluminum frame, so light weight wasn’t necessarily the ultimate goal behind its design. You might say practicality was the ultimate goal. On top of the lighter battery and bash-friendly frame, the choice of front and rear 27.5-inch wheels were the reasonable choice for a bike with such unreasonable intentions. Chances are, the Torque:ON will be spending most of its time on short, feature-packed runs that inspire the sort of creativity that 29-inch wheels, even one 29-inch wheel, would tend to stifle. You’re fighting a weaker gyroscopic force in the air and you get more travel when you come down.
The geometry is also aimed at the party people in the house. Up front, it’s all about confidence. 63.5-degree head angle and a 485-millimeter reach on a large are forgiving numbers. But the 430mm chainstays are not. That’s rare to see on e-bikes, where most designers opt for stability over steez. Canyon’s approach to the Torque:ON’s geometry is spot on, with one glaring exception. Seeing a bike with this much travel designed around a 74-degree effective seat tube angle in 2021 is confusing. It’s made even more confusing by the fact that the Spectral:ON actually has a slightly steeper seat tube angle, despite having less travel and being a year behind the Torque on the timeline of The Great Steepening. Plus, because of the way Canyon calculates its effective seat tube angles, once you get your post to the proper height, you will be even slacker. But if you truly are only worried about the descents, the increased comfort and efficiency of a 76- or 77-degree seat tube angle may be less important than keeping the saddle at a familiar place between your knees.
The one level Torque:ON that will be available in the U.S. is the Torque:ON 8 for $5,400. That gets you a RockShox Zeb R fork, Super Deluxe Select R shock, a mostly SLX drivetrain and DT Swiss H1900 wheels. Pretty solid, except for the house-brand Iridium dropper post that maxes out at 150 millimeters, even on large and XL frames. There’s also a Fox-specced Torque:ON 9 that will be available in Europe, as well as an option to get a second battery for about an extra $600 U.S., if you wanted to have a backup in the car for round two. That’s about $100 less than the suggested retail price. But the fact that this is a Europe-only option speaks to how Europe-centered this bike is. The phrase “e-park” is one that doesn’t make much sense here in the U.S., with most bike parks here not allowing the use of e-bikes. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a broad application for a bike like this here in the U.S.. Tight networks of burly trails with a nearby parking lot, or private secret stashes with steep ascents needed to earn them. Few, if any, other e-bikes are better optimized for this setup.
Of course, Canyon has offered a more traditional e-bike in the Spectral:ON, just redesigned about a year ago. The 2021 version is one of the first bikes we’ve seen that was first introduced with Shimano’s E8000 motor, now being specced with the new EP-8 and a new larger 630-watt-hour battery.
Other than that, the Spectral:ON chassis hasn’t changed. It’s still a mixed-wheel-sized setup built around 150 millimeters of front and rear travel. Its geometry is, of course, more conservative than the Torque:ON, with a 66.5-degree head tube angle, 435-mm chainstays and a relatively short 465-mm reach on the size large. It’s also got a 74.5-degree effective seat tube angle, which pretty slack for a 150mm-travel bike released only a year ago. The frame is still carbon-only, but the lineup has expanded to three models, the Spectral:ON CF7, CF8 and CF9 going for $5,500, $6,700, and $8,500 respectively, including a women’s CF7 with unique touchpoints and colorways.
Even more than the already strained supply chains in the rest of the bike industry, e-bike availability is difficult right now. There will be some Spectral:ON models available in the U.S. in the coming weeks, with the Torque:ON following soon after, but quantities will be limited. So, manage your expectations and check canyon.com/en-us