Interview with Canyon's development engineer.
An interview with Canyon engineer Lorenz Lay about the innovative Canyon DisConnect system that stops your gears messing up your rear suspension.
Last September we brought you news from Eurobike of Canyon DisConnect. DisConnect is essentially on-the-fly push-button freehub disengagement.
What is Canyon DisConnect?
By operating a remote lever on the handlebar, the pick-up engagement in the rear hub is effectively disabled. Yep, pretty much like when your freehub goes wrong – or freezes up in winter.
Or, to use a motoring analogy, it’s like putting the clutch down in a car; rev the accelerator all you want, but with the clutch down, the car doesn’t go anywhere.
Why would you want a system that mimics a broken freehub? Because your drivetrain prevents your suspension from doing what it wants to do. By disengaging the freehub, all of the drivetrain effects upon the suspension are removed. The suspension is freed from restriction.
What is pedal kickback?
The effect that your drivetrain has on your suspension is often called ‘pedal kickback’. Forces from the chain prevent the rear suspension from moving freely. This is especially noticeable on longer travel bikes.
As Lorenz Lay says in the video above, “The rear wheel moves away from the bike during suspension compression, the non-flexible chain connecting the two points impairs the rear wheels ability to move away freely. So to allow the rear wheel to move away from the bike the crank has to rotate backward. And your body weight on the pedals is working against the suspension.”
Pedal kickback can sometimes be good
Sometimes having the drivetrain effectively ‘stiffen up’ the rear suspension can result in positive and desirable outcomes. Around corners for example the bike can remain stable and consistent in angles. Through compressions and transitions the bike can generate speed on the downslope rather than have the forces go into compressing the suspension.
With the DisConnect system you can have you cake and eat it. You have a firm, responsive bike with the freehub engaged. You can have supple, plush suspension for the rocky and rooty sections. You just have to remember when to use the button!
And that’s the main thing that means, for now, Canyon DisConnect is not going to be included on any commercially available Canyon model. If a rider was to forget to re-engage the drivetrain after exiting a rough section where they had the freehub DisConnect-ed, it would potentially be dangerous when the rider goes to pedal and there’s nothing there!
When will DisConnect equipped bikes be available?
DisConnect is currently intended for pro racing but it’s arguably mainly for Canyon’s designers to be able to isolate certain effects and to get a better understanding of a bike’s suspension.
This is not to say that DisConnect is purely for a R&D and general riders will never get to use the system on a bike that they can actually buy. In its current manually operated form DisConnect won’t be publicly available. But the long term plan is to hopefully automate the system ie. have DisConnect automatically re-engage the drivetrain upon any pedalling movement.
All in all, Canyon DisConnect is genuinely one of the most interesting innovations and developments in mountain biking for quite some time. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.