Canyon Torque:ON CF 9 first ride review
Canyon has given the Torque:ON a big overhaul for 2023. It now features a new suspension layout and tweaked geometry, designed to be a mini downhill bike that can blast down bike park trails at breakneck speeds - it’s a bike that solidly pigeonholes itself into the freeride genre.
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Everything about this iteration of Canyon Torque:ON is big, with its massive travel and over-engineered frame. Compared to the existing Torque:ON AL, this bike has received a complete redesign as Canyon wanted to create a long-travel freeride e-MTB that can be pedalled around all day - totally negating the need to use an uplift. By opting for a full carbon frame, the designers have managed to lop off 1.5kg of weight while improving stiffness in the front triangle by seven per cent and in the rear by 25 per cent.
As well as the weight savings, the frame gets a moto-inspired design, where weight has been shifted as low into the frame as possible. That explains the new low-slung shock placement and motor that has been moved lower into the frame.
After turning to its pro athletes, Canyon designed the Torque:ON CF with a mullet wheel setup as the 650b/29-inch wheel combination offers the best of both worlds when it comes to gravity-orientated riding.
Like most of Canyon's bikes, this one benefits from the Triple Phase Suspension kinematic that was first introduced on the Canyon Sender downhill bike. This means that the suspension platform has been tuned to be supple at the start of the stroke, and supportive at the mid-stroke while ramping up for bottom-out resistance towards the end of the stroke. But this particular bike has had its anti-rise levels tweaked to keep things active under braking, which should help when riding bike parks that are rife with braking bumps.
It also gets less anti-squat compared to the new Strive:ON with the aim of reducing trail chatter through rough sections.
With the new Torque:ON being designed to be an all-out bike park shredder, Canyon's goal was to make an e-MTB that rides like a freeride bike when chucked downhill. That's why the Torque:ON's geometry isn't much of a departure from its analogue counterpart. It gets a slack 63.5-degree head tube angle and a lengthy 500m reach in its large frame size. It also gets a 77.5-degree seat tube angle and a 445mm chainstay for support and control while climbing.
It runs 180mm of travel at the front paired with 175mm at the rear.
As this bike is designed to replace the uplift, it's been given large 720 and 900Wh batteries that have been designed by Canyon in order to achieve the best possible weight distribution. The cells have been mounted horizontally in order to improve the bike's handling.
But perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the new Torque:ON is its bottle mount. It's unlike any other on the market and takes pride of place at the very top of the top tube, just behind the headset. Canyon's designers have made sure that you can still carry fluids without relying on a backpack. Coming with a securing strap free of charge, the bottle can carry 650ml.
As for other frame features, there are mounting points for a frame-mounted multitool like the Topeak Ninja Master+ Toolbox. Canyon has also designed mudguards and fenders specific for this bike to keep it looking slick, and there's an integrated rubber downtube protector, along with a seat stay and chainstay protector to fend off chain slap.
Differing from the other new Canyon bikes released today and featuring Bosch motors, this one is powered by a Shimano EP8 motor offering 85Nm of torque. Similarly to the Spectral:ON, the motor has been tilted upwards by over 30 degrees, which has allowed both the motor and battery to be placed lower into the frame.
Canyon Torque:ON CF 9 - Specification
During testing at Massa Marittima in Italy, I was riding Torque:ON CF 9 which uses a Fox Factory 38 fork with a GRIP 2 damper which is paired with a Fox X2 Factory shock. It utilised a Shimano XT groupset complete with four-piston brakes and 203mm rotors.
A pair of SunRingle Duroc SD 37/42 wheels wrapped in Maxxis Assegai 2.5in (front) and Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.6in (rear) handled progress and grip. Both tyres used MaxxTerra compound and EXO+ casing but, for a bike with such heavy-hitting intentions, I would have expected burlier casings.
Apart from the Fizik Gravita Alpaca saddle and Shimano motor, everything else comes from Canyon's G5 range. We're told that with a 900Wh battery, this build weighs in at 24.6kg. The CF 9 build costs £7,149
There are two other models on offer, the CF8 and CF LTD Roczen. The former gets a 720Wh battery as standard and Performance level suspension. There's then a Shimano SLX drivetrain. This one will set you back £5,749. The Roczen model gets a RockShox ZEB Ultimate fork with a Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate shock. It uses SRAM X01 AXS shifting with SRAM Code RSC brakes and DT Swiss HFR1500 wheels. Aside from the RockShox Reverb AXS dropper, everything is the same as the other builds. This bike is priced at £8,599.
Canyon Torque:ON CF 9 - Ride impressions
For my time with the Torque:ON CF 9 we headed to the nearby bike park but before I get into the nitty gritty, I must confess that the terrain I sampled was perhaps a bit too tame to truly test its mettle.
I tested a large and, while cranking up the fire road climb, it didn't feel as long as its reach figure suggests. Pedalling is more than comfortable but efficiency isn't really the name of the game here. I did notice that the climb we repeated did suck a fair chunk of battery but that occurred for a number of reasons, not only because of that super sticky MaxxGrip rubber at the front which isn't the fastest rolling tyre around. I found that with each 20-minute climb, I worked through a bar or 20% of the bike's battery, while using the EP8's trail mode.
When the climb got a little more technical, the Torque:ON was surprisingly manageable. A little forethought is required when hauling around switchbacks but thanks to the reasonably steep 77.5-degree seat tube, and the chainstay length, the bike was well-behaved and easy to crank through technical terrain.
But, of course, this is a bike that's built primarily for the descents and that's where it comes alive. Through long, straight and rough sections of trail, I could see the animalistic twinkle in the Torque:ON's eye as it very quickly picked up momentum, even when rattling over chunky technical features. But I think due to the terrain I was riding, I was only scratching the surface of what this bike is truly capable of dismissing.
During my time with the Torque:ON, its stiffness made for a ride that's pretty unforgiving but this makes for a precise and taught quality when hitting corners and technical lengths of trail. The same goes for the suspension platform. Even though it has more travel on offer than the Strive:ON, it stayed tall in its travel with the correct sag. It's a bike that needs to be ridden at supersonic speeds to get the most out of it.
Because the bike is so long, it's got stability on tap. It's very much a point-and-shoot bike but it has a real hint of playfulness built within its suspension due to a very supportive midstroke. It welcomes trail gaps and general trail tomfoolery which, considering its size, came as quite a surprise to me. Though if a more agile ride is what you're looking for, downsizing is a very viable option.
Canyon's efforts in placing weight as low as physically possible have paid off, too, as the bike holds its line in the corners like Velcro. That leads me to that bottle placement which, in a way, contradicts those low-slung weight efforts. A filled 650ml bottle on the top tube may affect the handling but then the bike's so long that fast, tight, and consecutive corners aren't its strong suit anyway.
While riding the Torque:ON, I got to test both the 900Wh and 720Wh battery and the lower weight of the smaller powered unit did liven things up a little more. Dropping the weight slightly eased up the initial turn-in and lean of the bike, making quick cornering a smidgeon easier.
The Canyon Torque:ON CF9 has been designed for lapping Alp-style bike parks or pushing the limits while hitting incredibly silly lines that probably shouldn't be attempted on a mountain bike - it's a true winch-and-plummet machine that should appeal to bike park rats all over the world.
If you've got a taste for speed and the balls to follow through when choosing sphincter-clenching lines, Canyon Torque:ON makes an excellent companion, especially if you want to ditch the shuttle. It lacks the all-out versatility of some of the other bikes in Canyon's range, though.