I've been gushing for a few months about my new ride, a 2012 Canfield The One. It's time I post up something resembling a full review of the bike, rather than just saying the usual, 'it pedals really well' mantra for which the One has become known. So here it is. It's going to be rather long, but more information is always better than less when you're about to drop the big bucks on a new frame. I will try to respond thoroughly to the questions and doubts that I had while I was deciding on a new frame.
WARNING: long post ahead. If you don't want to read it all, you don't have to. But if you're seriously looking into the bike and want honest info, go ahead and read.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do not know the Canfield Brothers at all, although I met them once, years ago, riding Bobsled in Salt Lake. Didnt' know it was them at the time. I don't know any of their employees either. I'm not being paid or compensated in any way by them, and I really am trying to remain as objective as I can about this bike. If something is less than stellar, I'll be honest about it. Since I had never test ridden a Canfield before ordering the frame, I was a bit worried that I had possibly purchased the wrong bike. I want people to be able to make a good decision and get the bike that they want, that's all.
To put it into context, I'm 32 years old, 6'3" tall, I tip the scales at 240ish lbs geared up. I'm a big guy of caber-tossing Scottish heritage. I'm a former motocross racer, and I like to ride fast. Not all that into slopestyle hoppy jumpy park stuff. I can usually be found pounding rock gardens and fast singletrack.
I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I enjoy lots of varied terrain, ranging from spring slop/clay to mulchy forest, dust on hardpack, and Moab's sandpaper. I like it all.
I've owned a number of bikes, starting with a 1996 Cannondale F400 (yes, the sparkly purple one with the Headshok P-Bone), and most recently a 2009/10 Giant Reign 1. I've also spent a considerable amount of time riding a Santa Cruz Blur, Kona Dawg, a few different variations of the Santa Cruz Nomad, and recently the Yeti SB-66.
I have started riding steeper stuff in the past few years. One trip to ride lifts at Deer Valley, and I could feel my Reign was starting to wimp out. I wanted to ride more full on DH stuff, but I was being limited by my gear. All my friends are xc types, so I couldn't upgrade to some 45lb DH beast unless I wanted to ride alone. I heard all about The One being a great crossover between AM and DH, and all reviews of it were glowing. I had heard the same praise given to Ellsworth bikes, and one ride on one was enough to make me hate it. I was very skeptical of 100% positive reviews. Early this spring, I ordered a Canfield The One frame on blind faith that the internet masses were telling the truth: that it could pedal like an AM bike, and descend like a DH bike.
Here she is:
Frame: Canfield The One, XL
Rear travel: 8" mode
Fork: Fox Float36 180mm
Shock: Cane Creek Double Barrel Air
Brakes: Shimano XT IceTech
Rotors: Shimano IceTech 203/180
Bars: ODI Flight Control, 29.75" wide
Grips: ODI Ruffian lock-on
Drivetrain: 1x10, 28 x 11-36
Crankset: Sram X9, 170mm
Chainring: North Shore Billet direct mount, 28T
Shifter: Sram XO
Derailleur: Sram X9 Type 2, short cage
Guide: MRP Lopes
Hubs: Hope Pro2 Evo, black
Rims: DT Swiss FR600
Spokes : DT Swiss Comp, black w/ red nipples
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF Exo 2.5 (ghetto tubeless)
Pedals: Canfield Crampon Ultimate, black
Saddle: WTB Rocket V SLT
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb Stealth, 150mm
Headset: Gravity G1
Head angle: 65 deg
BB height: 12.7in
Weight: 34.6 lb
I admit I had a bad case of NewBikeMakesMeFaster-itis. I felt like superman, but that wore off after a few rides. The first week was dedicated to dialing in the Float 180 and Cane Creek DBair shock. The DBair is incredibly good, but it did take a lot of tweaking to get it where I wanted it. The first large difference between it and my recently sold Giant Reign was the bar height. The One is longer, and noticeably lower in bar height than the Giant. The One also felt much more rigid, and the center of gravity was much lower. The bars being a few inches lower than the Giant made me feel a bit over-the-front at first, but when descending, I realized what a benefit it was. More on that later.
Ah yes. The first thing everybody wants to know about the bike. Does it really climb as well as people say? In a word, yes, but not how I was expecting. First thing I noticed was the different feel of the bike. It was a very different beast from the Giant I had just sold. The Giant's Maestro suspension I had grown accustomed to stiffened up a LOT when pedaling. The harder you cranked, the more like a hardtail it climbed. You could feel every pebble, root, bump, etc when climbing. The same could be said to a degree of the Nomad (both coil and air) and SB-66 (air). They were a little softer/more active while pedaling than the Giant, but still seemed to be in the same arena. Pedal harder = stiffer suspension, and stiffer suspension = higher efficiency, right? I thought so too.
The Canfield seems to subscribe to a very different philosophy. The rear end of the Giant would almost completely deactivate while climbing, but the Canfield's parallel-link suspension remains active. Very active. I did feel a little pedal bob, even after tuning the shock all over the place. I minimized it to about 1/8" of an inch or so on the shock stanchion, but I couldn't fully get rid of it without pumping up the shock to ridiculous pressures. Now, when I say pedal bob, I don't mean some galloping, 2002 Kona Stinky pedal bob. I mean just a tiny bit. But even with the minimal amount, I was honestly worried because I felt less efficient, less connected to the ground as I pedaled. I was about to get a little disappointed with my purchase.
It took me timing myself up a trail that I've done countless times on other bikes to realize the benefits of an active rear triangle. As I hit roots, rocks, and other obstacles, the One would gracefully gush right over them. The stiff back end on my Giant would allow me to feel every little edge, giving me the illusion of efficiency, but what it was really doing was killing my forward momentum. I destroyed my best time on the Giant up the climb, and have done so every time since, with remarkable consistency. It's only a 20-minute climb, but I am consistently ~2 minutes faster on that climb every time I ride it on the One. A bump comes along, the back end floats up and over it with zero increase in pedaling effort, and the bike maintains forward momentum. The rear end of The One stays planted and smooth even when pedaling through rough, loose, rocky climbs. The traction is unbelievable.
You do sit a bit more over the rear wheel than the average AM bike, due to the slack geometry. So that is something to take into consideration. To keep from looping out I sometimes have to really scoot up to the tip of my saddle. But it's not awful by any stretch. It's just a slack bike, and I had to adjust my riding style a bit.
Verdict: Canfield nailed it. Honestly. It feels so buttery soft, like it should be inefficient. But the One can climb fast. Amazingly fast. I don't know how it can feel so cushy and still climb so quickly, but it does.
Bottom Bracket Height:
This is a point of concern with many people. The BB height on The One is low. It's about 12.7" with my setup and no angleset. Before you freak out, realize that it it was designed that way for a reason. Generally speaking, the lower the BB height, the faster the handling. I've hit a few rocks with the pedals, yes. But I did so on occasion with my Reign that had an almost 14" bb height too. I have grown so accustomed to it in these past few months, I don't really even think about watching my pedaling anymore, and I rarely even tap anything with the pedals. I run 170mm cranks and Crampon Ultimate pedals. The one thing I will say is that the low bottom bracket height makes the bike handle like a scalpel. It corners better than any bike I've ever ridden (a title which was previously held by the SB-66). Just think it, and the bike is already responding. Corrections mid-course were often a scary thing on my Giant due to how tall it was. I've grown to LOVE the low bb height, and will not go back.
This is where the One comes into its stride. I do not have a dual crown beast of my own, but I have ridden/demoed DH rigs ranging from a Karpiel Disco Volante (awesome bike in its time) to a brand new V-10c set up just for me by Santa Cruz's techs. I feel I have enough ground to compare the One to full DH race bikes. Does it feel like a V-10c? Kind of. The V-10 feels a bit sluggish until you get up to a certain speed. Then it livens right up and will eat anything in its path. The Canfield feels very light and lively right out of the box. It is effortless to skip over rocks, and the suspension eats up harsh hits very well. I purposely cased a small yet peaky double on a local trail, just to see how it would respond. No problem at all.
It does feel like it gets a little nervous in comparison to the V-10 when going REALLY fast, but that is to be expected. The One isn't designed to be a full DH race bike. That's the Jedi's territory. But the One does feel almost as capable in every way, and easier to jump and corner. If your technique is good, I believe you can rail corners faster than any 6" AM bike out there. Rock gardens, even steep ones, are easier than ever. The One is the funnest bike I've ever ridden when pumping through twists and turns on a fast section of trail. It's SO nimble!!
I'm a big kid, and I don't go easy on my gear. Nothing has broken on it, and I've definitely been putting it through its paces. The welds look to be of good quality, and the machining is well done too (I work with CNC machines, so I'm particularly picky about that). Haven't had any massive get-offs yet, but i did have numerous close calls this spring in Moab. Lots of rocks have smacked all over the frame, but all I have seen are a few tiny scratches in the anodizing. No dents at all. It is also comforting to see the oversized pivot bearings and built-in bearing shields in the bolt heads. The pivot bearing size was a problem on the first Nomad I rode. The little toy bearings got hammered very quickly, and the once smooth linkage started to grind and rattle. It'll be a while before I expect I'll need to replace them on the One. Even with my big boy size, everything feels extremely tight and tidy.
As mentioned earlier, the frame is nice and rigid. It doesn't twist nearly as much as my Giant did. Just a degree or two of twist will translate into a lot of displacement over the length of an XL frame, so rigidity is important to me. The Canfield is plenty rigid and tracks very straight in rock gardens and turning g-outs. I'd love to see a carbon version of it, but I admit that would be a tall order from a company or Canfield's size. Definitely possible, given the talent that went into the current offering, but carbon development requires VERY deep pockets and a few years' time.
I'm actually scraping to find any that are worth mentioning. Honestly, all fanboy stuff aside. It is hard to find anything that I truly wish were different on the bike. Most are small items of personal preference, like cable routing options. The XL sized frame could be a bit taller in height, but that would mess with the quick handling, so I don't know if I would really want that to change.
The weight of the bike isn't exactly feathery, but it doesn't feel heavy at all when riding. If you're coming from a light duty AM bike, the weight will probably add to your time while pedaling up hills, so it will be important to build it light. That means more money spent per part, but it is worth it. Keep in mind that it is not an xc machine, and never will be. A super light xc leg shaver rocket bike will still beat it to the top of the hill, but you'll pass them back on the way down. Keep in mind that the One is more of a Grizzly bear in ballet slippers, not a sparrow with combat boots.
If I was to complain about anything, it might be that the rear linkage seems to have a pretty progressive rate to it. Yes, this is another matter of personal preference, not something actually wrong with the bike. The progressive linkage makes it a bit hard to use the last bit the travel if you are using an air shock like the CCDBair. I haven't tried the extra volume air canister for it yet, but I hear that it might help make things a tad more linear (which I usually prefer). But again, that's preference, and I'm sure others that jump a lot will want to keep that progressive rate for added bottoming resistance. I'm finding a very wide range of people ride this bike, and it can be tuned very easily to suit a number of different roles.
Anyway, that's about all I can think of at this point. I'm incredibly impressed with this bike. It feels different from other bikes. Those differences took a few weeks to get used to. But I now see the logic in every one of the differences I've found, and I would not go back to what I previously liked. It is that elusive mix of DH and AM that everyone seems to want. It feels like it should be inefficient on the climbs, but it gets you to the top very quickly, and does not sap all of your strength in the process. It is incredibly playful, super plush, and very agile on the way down. It is strong, well designed, and handles exceptionally well. What more can one want?
(Bull Run, Mag 7, Moab)
(Climbing Jacob's Ladder, Corner Canyon, Salt Lake City)
Oh, one more thing. Canfield's customer service is outstanding. It's been said over and over again in these forums, but it is true. I called well before ordering to ask a few silly questions about compatible components. The guy (Sean) answered all of my questions very honestly and enthusiastically. While we chatted, I could hear noises in the background hat sounded like bikes, and I eventually asked about it. Turns out, he had stopped mid-ride/photo shoot to answer his work phone! That is a person truly dedicated to the customer. Incredibly nice and knowledgeable people, and they stand behind their products 100%. Not that they need to though, The One stands just fine on its own.
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