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Canyon Bicycles: From Workshop to Global Stage

As the pandemic bike crunch began to soften, many of the biggest brands responded by scaling back the traditional dealer-manufacturer relationship in lieu of the now-beloved direct-to-consumer (DTC) model. Smaller boutique brands relied on the DTC model for some time, but it largely escaped the big manufacturers.

German brand Canyon has always been DTC, perhaps as one of the earliest adopters, and the model has given the company a leg up as it transformed into a serious competitor in the modern bike industry.

“I considered no other options on the same level, as Canyon bikes were at the top of my list,” says Canyon/SRAM Racing athlete and Olympian Chloé Dygert, who joined the team in 2020.

Canyon’s somewhat brief yet successful run in professional cycling is an important part of its quick ascension, and much of that racing ethos has trickled its way into the bikes that even the newest riders can find from the brand. This is a label committed to the finest details, while making the broader sport more accessible through a wide range of models and sizes in almost every discipline imaginable.

noteworthy shift in the bike industry.

Illustration: Forbes / Photo: Canyon

A Brief History Of Canyon

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Canyon’s history isn’t exact, as founder Roman Arnold and his brother (who is no longer a part of the company) started building bikes out of their garage in the 1980s with no brand name. However, these early iterations would be crucial in defining the first bike to don the “Canyon” label, the FX1000, a mountain bike which the brothers released in 1996 as one of the industry’s first DTC offerings via the then-nascent Internet.

Canyon as a brand didn’t expand outside Germany until 2006, when it entered France, working to highlight a growing road bike offering. The following year, Canyon began sponsoring various professional road cycling teams, and won several design awards in celebration of its modern rebrand that’s fairly close to the branding and style seen on its bikes today.

In 2017, Canyon entered the U.S. market with a mix of road and mountain bikes, quickly making an impact. In 2018, it released its first e-bike, a mountain product dubbed Spectral:ON.

“(The American market) still feels relatively new,” says Simon Summerscales, Canyon’s VP of marketing.

Selling exclusively DTC, Canyon had a decent head start on the other big bike brands, who were reliant on the traditional dealer-shop model to move product. Canyon could move and innovate faster to meet demand, which helps explain why they’ve made so much ground in less than a decade Stateside.

blends refined styling with trail-ripping capability


An Extensive Lineup Of Bikes

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Although Canyon doesn’t have as lengthy of a history as, say, Specialized or Trek, the brand has come a long way in a short amount of time. If nothing else, the sheer variety of bikes Canyon offers is impressive, and all designs take some sort of inspiration from its recent racing success and the general evolution of what an enthusiast rider is looking for in a bike.

Canyon has almost two dozen individual product lines, ranging from finely-tuned, pro-level road racers to everyday alloy bikes for the casual commuter.

We recently spent time with two of Canyon’s popular releases: the road-ready Endurace CF SLX 8, and the gravel-worthy Grizl CF SL 7.

What’s great about Canyon is that it produces bikes that don’t have too much of a learning curve. Each one winds its way through a rigorous secondary inspection between the factory overseas and the end customer, and they arrive mostly assembled. Assembly instructions are clear, and don’t require much more than the tools provided in the box.



Canyon Endurace CF SLX 8 Di2

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“There is a lot of growth potential in endurance riding, bikepacking and gravel,” Summerscales says, and the two bikes we tested aim squarely at all of those categories.

The Endurance CF SLX 8 is the latest iteration of one of Canyon’s most popular road lines, dating back to 2014. This is a bike meant for long days in the saddle, and it does that quite well. It’s quick and nimble, especially on the descents, and does a duly capable job with the equipped Shimano Ultegra electronic groupset.

During our testing, we loved how the frame seems to flex and move just enough to stay on pace through a ride. We weren’t initially sold on Canyon’s proprietary three-piece handlebar (which requires screwing in during assembly) and seatpost, but both performed quite well. The handlebar has not moved or separated during use and the seatpost absorbs general road vibration with ease. The new Endurace also comes with increased tire clearance (should you ever wish to tackle gravel or ride on a wider road tire), and Canyon says you can run up to a 35-millimeter tire, but in all reality, anything around 33 millimeters or less is probably more realistic. The clearance between 33-35 gets rather tight.

What’s more, there are a wide range of sizes available (a rarity with some bikes), starting at 3XS and topping out at 2XL. We cannot stress enough how important this is to help increase access for more bodies and riding styles. This is a bike that a rider of any ability could hop on with confidence.


Canyon Grizl CF SL 7

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The Grizl CF SL 7, meanwhile, felt most at home when it finally left the tarmac. Its relaxed geometry made it easy to spend hours on rolling trails throughout the Pacific Northwest, and as soon as a downhill approached, it was eager to absorb the spine-shaking chatter. Outfitted with a series of mounts about the fork and top tube, the Grizl is also ready to pull its own weight should you choose to ride leisurely into the sunset, but the 45-millimeter Schwalbe G-One Bite tires add confidence to every sharp corner if you’re simple looking for speed. Like the aforementioned Endurance, the Grizl comes in seven different sizes ranging from 2XS to 2XL. And because Canyon doesn’t take itself too seriously, you can find the Grizl line in a series of unique colors, from Hazy IPA (yellow) to Matcha Splash (shades of green).

Although most of our experience with both bikes were rosy, we did report a couple of issues. The Endurace features a new version of Canyon’s in-frame storage in the top tube, which includes a specially-built Velcro case for on-ride maintenance tools. In theory, this is a great idea, but our tester’s lid never quite latched properly and would often pop off during a ride, only to be held on by the Velcro underneath (Canyon says they’ve fixed this issue, and all production versions of this bike now have a more secure lid). And after a 50-mile gravel grind, the Grizl’s derailleur hanger screw was in need of a replacement, although it was easy to source from the Canyon website and just as easy to install.

All in all, we couldn’t be happier with each bike’s performance, especially at such competitive prices.

others are built for the podium.


What’s Ahead For Canyon

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Summerscales says Canyon is putting extra emphasis in the e-bike category, much like the rest of the industry. He says there will likely be big growth in the e-MTB segment next year, and that they’ll continue to refine the Canyon app as a key interaction point for both current and future customers.

He also notes that customization is going to be a big mover.

“This is primarily happening in road and MTB,” he says.

At a certain level of the enthusiast market, cyclists want to pick a bike’s specifications and components, and have it dialed in exactly the way they want it. Canyon’s business model allows the brand access to a wider range of bikes and componentry, offering a better chance of granting the wishes of that specific customer in ways that other big names cannot.

As Canyon enters its third decade, it’s clear that the brand is gaining momentum quickly, both on the racing front (with athletes like Dygert and Mathieu van der Poel), and on the enthusiast side, honing in more connected customer care throughout the entire purchase journey.

“I think we both are not scared of failing, and we both want to grow,” says Canyon athlete Sam Laidlow, who won the 2023 Ironman World Championship.

“Self-development is at the heart of our projects and I’m excited to see what the future must hold for us both.”

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