Canyon already has an enduro race bike (the Strive), a downhill bike (the Sender) and a playful trail bike with enduro angles (the Spectral), so where does the 170mm travel Torque fit into the range? Is it a pure bike park shredder, or does it have a side hustle outside swoopy berms and jumps?
The Canyon Torque has morphed into a bike park bike over the years, but can this redesign make it a more versatile proposition, that can challenge the best enduro mountain bikes on the market?
Need to know
- Latest iteration of Canyon’s park bike comes with either 29in, 27.5in or mullet wheels
- Carbon and alloy chassis options, both completely redesigned with new kinematics and geometry
- Now comes with room for a water bottle within the front triangle
- Travel is 170mm front and 175mm rear
- CF8 model dressed with Fox 38 Performance Elite fork and a coil shock
When we last tested the Canyon Torque back in 2019 it steam-rolled the rowdiest trails and crushed the competition. In fact, at the time we said that it was head and shoulders above its rivals, particularly on rougher tracks, where its superior suspension allowed you to pull away from your mates.
With a 10/10 rating, the old bike didn’t leave much room for improvement, but time marches on, and in the same way that bike parks have progressed in the last couple of years, so have the bikes being ridden on them. As lines like Vision, Vanta and Oakley Icon redefine what’s acceptable for public consumption, so sizing, geometry, wheel diameter and kinematics have moved the goalposts when it comes to what makes a stonking bike park bike.
In that test, the Torque championed over a selection of bikes aimed at enduro racing, but it was always billed predominantly as a bike park bike. Two years later and the proliferation of bike parks in the UK means that there’s now a growing segment of riders who never ride outside the park gates. Which makes its role more relevant than ever.
And yet at the same time, it’s become more versatile. Refinements to the geometry, wheel size and frame configuration mean it’s now a bike that we’d feel much happier riding in any zone lacking the luxury of an uplift.
Yes, it takes a water bottle cage!
By changing the angle of the kinked down tube and bringing it further away from the top tube, Canyon has created room for a bottle cage. Considering the shock sits roughly in the same place and the seat tube is actually much steeper – reducing space along one edge of the front triangle – it probably required quite a bit of re-engineering. But I reckon it was well worth the time and effort, as no one really wants to ride with a pack in a bike park. Along similar lines, there’s also a gear strap mount under the top tube just behind the head tube.
As previously mentioned, Canyon has steepened the seat angle on the new Torque. The old bike had an effective seat angle around 74º, while the new one boasts a much more climb-friendly 78.5º at a saddle height of 740mm. It’s a huge improvement, keeping you better centred over the BB for spinning up gradual climbs and further forward over the front axle for weighting the wheel on steeper pitches. This also mitigates the increased reach – it has grown a massive 30mm on the size large – to produce a comfortable, upright climbing position that stops it feeling like you’ve been swallowed you up.
Wheel size options
Just as it has done with the new Spectral, Canyon has completely democratised its wheel size offerings, with pure 29in wheel models, pedigree 27.5in models and mongrel mixed wheel options. Once again both of the mullet models use the front triangle from the 29er grafted onto the rear end from the 27.5in bike. The CF8 we’ve ridden here is joined by a Fabio Wibmer special with Ohlins suspension for £5,349, but we’re actually surprised that there aren’t more options as we can see the mullet bikes being extremely popular with the bike park crowd.
Canyon claims the new category 5-rated, Rampage-conquering, dual-crown-compatible Torque CF frame weighs 2.6kg without shock. Apparently that’s 200g lighter than the old frame. Somehow it manages to look slimmer and lighter from a distance, but substantially beefier up close. The deep chainstays and broad clevis pivots really exude strength and stiffness, while replacing the separate shock yoke with extended seatstays prevents it from looking top heavy. Compared to the previous Torque we tested, the complete bike weight has gone up by 1.2kg, but considering upgrades on the new model include a coil spring, bigger Fox 38 fork, 29in front wheel and Double Down casing rear tyre – all of which are heavier – every extra gram comes with a performance advantage.
There’s also a new alloy frame too, that celebrates the material rather than disguises it, shying away from smooth welds and overly complex hydroforming in favour of raw finishes and cost-effective production. It doesn’t get a flip chip, but Canyon has melded the head angle and BB height of the slack CF setting with the seat angle of the steep setting to create a custom hybrid fixed geometry. Obviously there’s a weight penalty (the alloy frame is around 400g heavier than the CF frame), but with prices starting at £2,649 for the Torque 5 AL, it’s definitely more wallet-friendly.
Originally introduced on the current Sender DH bike and carried across to the Spectral and now the Torque, Canyon has made an effort to engineer a bike that lets you maximise more time on the hill and minimise time in the workstand. And if something does go wrong, you won’t need to scrap the frame. Specifically there are details like double-sealed bearings, specially formulated grease, replaceable thread inserts and tube-in-tube internal routing. Equally, as many parts as possible have been shared across the Spectral and Torque ranges, which will help when sourcing spares.
Torque CF9 specs
For £4,399 this CF8 model gets a Fox 38 Performance Elite fork. With four-way damping adjustment, it’s a couple of Kashima gold stanchions away from the top end Factory model. All the performance without the need to shout about it. This is paired with a DHX2 Performance coil shock also boasting four-way damping adjustment. Canyon thoughtfully supplies three springs in the box, so you shouldn’t be left with a compromised spring rate if you’re lighter or heavier than average.
The Shimano XT drivetrain has sufficient range to let you twiddle up the average fire road with ease, the double downshift function is useful for cranking into a jump line, and the XT brakes pack a lot of power, particularly in the early part of the stroke, so just a small amount of lever travel brings a bucket-load of confidence-inspiring retardation. We did have a bit of an issue develop with the rear brake hose, though. Running the softer spring, there was enough slack where it exits the chainstay that it would get hit by the non-drive side spokes. Pulling it back through would cure the issue for a few runs, then it would start again.
Other component highlights are the excellent tyre combo – in this case a MaxxGrip Maxxis Assegai up front paired with a Double Down DHRII out back – and, surprisingly, the neat top-loading in-house G5 stem and adjustable travel G5 dropper post.
How it rides
Getting set up on a bike with a coil shock can be a bit of a pain, but fundamental to making the bike work as intended. Online calculators can help get a ballpark spring rate according to average height and weight per frame size, but Canyon goes one step further by giving two extra springs in the box – one 50lb lighter and one 50lb heavier.
At around 78kg fully kitted out, my sag on the large Torque with 400lb spring and minimum preload (measured by using the bottom out bumper like an o-ring) was 20mm, or 28.5% sag. A little on the firm side but within the right zone. Swapping to the 350lb spring increased that to 32%, and it was a relatively easy job after a couple of rides, as the shock hardware loosens off enough to be able to slide out by hand. After riding the same trails at BikePark Wales back-to-back, my preference is for the firmer spring. The Torque had a bit more support for pumping, the front end didn’t rise as much pulling out of tight bucket turns and I had fewer pedal strikes. Given a more alpine setting, I might feel the need to go softer, but for UK riding, running a touch less sag worked well.
Jumping on the Torque it was immediately noticeable how much this bike has grown. It’s really long at the front (840mm), but while the back end is fairly short at 435mm, the back wheel doesn’t feel tucked right up underneath you.
Plodding along flat singletrack connectors and up fireroad climbs (the MaxxGrip front tyre is soul-crushing when the gradient isn’t in your favour) there’s a bit of nodding dog syndrome, despite the increased anti-squat compared to the old model, but the seated position is nice and relaxed and glance down and the climb switch is right there if you want a more stable pedal response. As long as you’ve got patience, it’s a decent bike for cruising back up to the top for another run.
Get on the gas and the Torque clenches against your input. At 15.8kg it’s not a bike you want to do intervals on, but for getting up to speed sessioning a jump trail, it does the job. On my first ride aboard the Torque, on home trails, I suffered a few pedal strikes (hardly surprising given the sub-340mm BB in the low position) and a few instances where my back foot got slapped off the pedal. It seemed to point to the spring rate being too high, putting me in the high anti-squat zone above the 30% sag point.
But on the next ride, at BikePark Wales, on a mix of chundery, square-edge infused trails such as Root Maneuvers, Rim Dinger and Watts Occurring, it didn’t seem to hang up on anything. In fact the Torque was impressively smooth on anything chunky, the coil soaking up the abuse with a beautifully fluid response.
Soft trail conditions and draggy tyres meant most jump trails were off the menu, but on the ones that were running, the Torque was unflinchingly solid but enjoyably exploitable. It was pretty easy to throw about given the overall weight, and the 27.5in rear wheel literally saved my ass on a few drops.
It carried speed like an enduro bike on tracks like Rim Dinger and Root Manoeuvres, settling into its sag and scudding across the square-edge rocks. On jumps like the last hip hip on Insufficient Funds, it felt solid and planted, but there was also enough pop when reaching for a landing, or bouncing out of the last few turns of Blue Belle into the tunnel. It felt unfazed by everything I threw at it, and given better conditions, I know it would have been egging me on to tick off new and challenging features.
So far the new Canyon Torque feels like a bike that’s got your back if you want to push your limits, but also a bike that’s exciting enough to make a more mundane trail come alive. Whether faced with nibbly bermed pipelines, gap-toothed rock gardens or supercross-size tables, as a bike park bike it hits all the right notes. It’s your job to put them together into a symphony.