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Canyon recently unveiled its own take on a purebred eMTB: the Spectral:ON. We managed to organise a factory visit and had the chance to talk to the development team that worked on the bike. We’ve put together our thoughts on the visit.
“Well that seems to be Nairo Quintana’s bike!” – we gawp.
The Canyon.Home is a complex that includes the service department, workshops, product development, management and various other offices. As a customer, this is where you can experience the brand, as well as its huge showroom at the front of the building. You immediate feel at home here. “Monoliths” guide visitors through the space and tell you what you want to know about the brand. Within the first few meters of your visit you can drool over pro bikes and Canyon’s impact on the sport of cycling becomes obvious. Drink a coffee whilst discussing your purchase or any other questions you may have. We also observed a number of customers who preferred to pick up their bike direct from the factory, working together with the Canyon sales people to get the setup right, and then driving off with it in the car.
“Until the system has understood that you need to store hazardous materials, well, it’s been a little bit stressful” – Mario Herbold, Production Director at Canyon
More than 400 bike a day are assembled on the Canyon site. However, the Canyon.Factory is one of the most modern production and assembly sites in Germany. Opened in Autumn 2015, the 22,000 square meter area is more than enough space to put together the 400 bikes and make sure they’re road worthy. The emphasis here is really on that road worthiness. Unlike a bike that gets delivered to a dealer and is safety checked there, the Canyon bikes have to be fully assembled and ready to ride out of the box. Safety critical bolts are all checked with a digital torque wrench, the data from which is stored in a central database. Every shipment delivered to the factory is labelled with its own QR code so that the right parts can be easily pulled off the shelves when they are needed for assembly.
For Canyon’s E-Bikes, a number of new parts have to be added to stock. One product in particular caused extra problems: the battery. Storing large quantities of batteries required new protocols, and getting the inventory system to play nicely with the fact that hazardous materials would be added to the stock took quite a bit of effort.
Canyon Spectral:ON – Development
“For a long time it simply wasn’t possible to build an eMTB that satisfied our PURE CYCLING philosophy” – Roman Arnold, CEO Canyon
There’s been a lot of speculation about when Canyon would finally release an E-Bike. Some claimed that the brand simply didn’t want to, or the delivery model wouldn’t work, or that the brand had simply missed the boat on the eMTB trend. That’s completely wrong according to Roman Arnold (Founder and CEO of Canyon). Staying true to the Canyon motto “Pure Cyling” only became possible with the release of the Shimano Steps E8000 motor (our coverage on this unit). Released in 2016 it has proved to be incredibly successful and popular. The variable trail mode and the adjustable (via an app) assistance modes let you achieve a very “natural” ride feel. Even more important was the small form factor of the unit. This meant the engineers at Canyon were able to maintain geometry similar to a “normal”, non-powered trail bike. With its 430 mm chainstays, and the low centre of gravity, we assume the Spectral:ON will just dance along the trails.
Vincenz Thoma, the chief engineer for the Spectral:ON told us:
“Thanks to the compact dimensions of the Shimano motor, it’s finally possible to build a true E-Mountainbike”
It took just under 3 years for the 5 man team to put together the Spectral:ON. Prototypes were built, drawings drafted, ideas came and were rejected, 29” wheels were fitted, and then a 27.5” + tyre was added and finally the first Canyon eMTB came into existence. There was a lot of experimentation to see if the Shimano battery could be integrated completely into the frame. However, being able to remove the battery, as well as being able to take a spare in your rucksack was a priority for the Spectral:ON. An integrated battery would have been hard to stow in a rucksack and in turn that would have limited the range of the bike. Having investigated the concept in some detail, the idea of a fully integrated battery was eventually discarded. Instead, the normal Shimano Steps BT-E8010 Battery would fit in a semi-integrated design. This battery is also lighter, and noticeably smaller than the Shimano Steps BT-E8020 battery, whilst providing the same capacity and being easy to swap out. This semi-integrated design also saves a little on the overall weight of the E-Bike.
“Range is a huge topic. I simply don’t go for a ride without taking a spare battery in my rucksack.” – Christoph Listmann, Head of the Research & Development Team at Canyon.
A lot of time and thought was spent on the topic of “uphill performance”. As a result the Spectral:ON features a completely new eMTB specific saddle, as well as the option to adjust its geometry. This lets the rider change head and seat-angle by +/- 0,8° and vary the bottom bracket height by 11 mm, depending on terrain and riding preferences. Simply loosen the upper shock mount slightly, let it slide forward or backward and retighten. Makes sense if you have a long section of climbing ahead of you, or simply like slacker (or more upright) geometry.
Canyon have even managed to rethink what’s required from an eMTB saddle. We’ve mentioned before (here) that you spend a lot more time seated and pedalling on an E-Bike and as such need more comfortable positions to choose from. The saddle on the Spectral:ON has extended rails, letting you position it far forwards. A “spoiler” at the back helps scoop you up and noticeably improves your security on the steepest of inclines. The broad and dropped nose minimises pressure points when you’re right at the front of the saddle.
These are the different models available
You can read detailed ride report for the Spectral:ON here.
E-Bikeguard – more than just a box
“It won’t take long before it’s completely normal to buy E-Bikes online.” – Dr Michael Kaiser, Managing Director/CTO
Service and delivery are an essential part of the business model that Canyon have pioneered. It’s no surprise then, that Canyon spent a whole year developing a special E-Bike box. On the one hand the bike has to be transported safely, on the other it needs to be packed so that the customer can get into it easily and get out riding as quickly as possible.
Dr Florian Imgrund, Project Manager for Sales and Marketing who was also responsible for the development of the E-Bikeguard told us:
“Our eMTB has to arrive with our customers quickly and safely. If there are any problems our service team has to be qualified to provide a solution.”
Having done some research, Canyon realised that they have to offer easily accessible and helpful service with their E-bike. Any customers can get all the telephone support they need during and after their purchase. Because Canyon ships internationally and can ensure secure and safe shipping of the E-Bike and battery – DHL Freight makes delivery and returns easy for Canyon and its customers. The shipping costs for the Spectral:ON also remain the same as all other Canyon bikes. No doubt the real costs are higher with the increased weight of the E-Bike and the size of the E-Bikeguard, but Canyon are adamant that the E-Bike should fit seamlessly into the range. We like that!
Transporting an eMTB posed new challenges for Dr Florian Imgrund and his team. The whole package is a lot heavier and batteries are classed as a hazardous item when shipped. That’s why Canyon developed the E-Bikeguard – an innovative, secure and reusable bike box that sets benchmarks on how to ship E-Bikes. Well-designed details mean the eMTB can be easily shipped, unpacked and even repacked if there are any problems. The three-part box is “locked” and secured with plastic tabs. Detailed graphics on the top of the box show clearly how to unpack the contents. Canyon have even considered portability, with sturdy grips on either side of the E-Bikeguard making it easier to transport for the courier. Once you’ve opened it, a Quick Start guide helps you get set up. This doesn’t replace a comprehensive manual, but does get you up and running. Our tip: if you add some rollers or wheels to your E-Bikeguard, then you might just have the perfect bike box for travelling.
The Shimano battery is shipped as a hazardous item, though in the same shipment as the E-Bikeguard. Regulations have to be complied with when shipping batteries. There were ideas to deliver the battery separately, but that would have served neither the customer, who wants to ride their brand new E-Bike straight away, nor Canyon, who want happy customers. So you’ll get battery and E-Bike in one shipment, ready to assemble and ride straight away.
What happens if you need to return your E-Bike?
You contact the Canyon customer service – by chat, telephone, email or online. You’ll be informed about all the available options and it might be possible to resolve minor problems here already. If you do need to return the bike, Canyon will arrange this with DHL Freight. DHL will then contact you to organise a convenient pickup time and will deliver it to the Canyon service centre in your country. If you haven’t kept your E-Bikeguard then Canyon will send you one before the E-Bike is picked up. Canyon recommend that you leave the battery mounted for returns. It’s easier, and the battery is kept “tidied away”.
Shipping the Spectral:ON back to Canyon can’t be done for free. Whether you or Canyon cover the costs depends on the circumstances of the return.
- Return within 30 days: free for the customer
- Service return for warranty claim: free for the customer
- Service return (e.g. inspection, repairs): will vary depending on location
We can’t deny that with the Spectral:ON and the E-Bikeguard, Canyon have once again shown their focus on good design, product development, service and customer satisfaction. Time was taken to create a product perfect for the active mountain biker, with details that we’ve never seen considered before.
The E-Bikeguard and the additional service that you receive with the E-Bike will no doubt influence purchasing decisions. It’s likely that this could be the reason that a potential customer will choose to go with Canyon.
Have you been to Canyon? Did you know how large and modern the Canyon.Factory is?
This post is also available in: Deutsch