This product was selected for our Editors’ Choice Awards 2022, as published in Singletrack Magazine Issue 146
In the Editors’ Choice Awards we highlight our standout bikes and products from the past year. These are the bikes that we’d like to have in our sheds. These are the components and clothing that we still use long after the nominal test period has expired. Only 15 products and six bikes made the grade this year. This is the good stuff.
To make the cut, each thing must have proven itself out on the trails. They’ve got to have been reliable and ride-enhancing. We don’t do technology for technology’s sake. Nor are we overly swayed by showy, high price tags and bling materials. That said, we don’t prioritise anything solely because it’s cheaper than its rivals. Nor do we penalise a genuinely great product if it is conspicuously expensive. Performance is what matters in Editor’s Choice.
These are the 20 star performers of The Class of 2022.
Canyon Torque 29 CF 9
- Price: £5,699.00
This 170mm travel carbon bike with 29er wheels turned my head this year. It’s light enough to spin up and over the hills with my friends on cross-country and trail bikes (they’re my friends, they’re being sociable – I wouldn’t race cross-country on this, obviously). It’s big enough to throw down the scariest lines I can muster the courage for, and has forgiven me some very bad choices. It feels stable enough to give confidence, but agile enough to be playful. I can ride down things, and off things, and even jump over things. It’s tempted me to go fast, and then a bit faster. It’s even made me forgive the fact that it’s carbon – though there is an alloy version.
The Canyon Torque 29 CF 9 is a big travel bike that won’t sterilise the trails. Heaps of fun from the trail to the race tape, in one package.
- Brand: Canyon
- Product: Torque 29 CF 9
- From: canyon.com
- Price: £5,699
- Review by: Hannah for 5 months
Three things I loved
- Lively and playful handling.
- Just so spec list.
- Keeps the trail alive but still handles the big stuff.
Three things I’d change
- The grips.
- I’d give it a protective wrap before I scuffed up the frame.
- Could I test it in aluminium too, please?
The Canyon Torque, billed as a ‘Versatile long travel gravity rig for the bike park and beyond’, comes in both alloy and carbon fibre models for 2022, and any wheel size you like – 27.5, 29, or mullet.
That’s a fair amount of choice, before you’ve even got on to build specs. Being a bike journo, the choice is taken away: you get what you’re sent, and you’ll probably be sent the top spec bike.
What I’ve got here is the Canyon Torque 29 CF 9 – a carbon fibre bike with 29 inch wheels, Shimano XTR groupset, Fox 38 factory 170mm fork, and Fox float X2 factory shock.
Wheels are DT Swiss FR 560 240 EXPs – aluminium rims with 30mm internal width, and you get some reasonable tyres in the form of a 2.4in Maxxis Minion DHR 2 3C MaxxTerra out the back and a Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip up front.
Own brand Canyon aluminium bar (780mm wide, 30mm rise) and 40mm stem with G5 grips give you somewhere to put your hands as you fly through the air, or down the trails.
This might be the top of the range bike, but it’s no weight weenie, with aluminium components giving both comfort on the bike and in your pocket – although component shenanigans meant that my Torque came with a carbon handlebar upgrade.
All that will set you back £5,699, which is perhaps on the spendy side for something that doesn’t have any electronics attached, but the bike is no worse off for it. In fact, it’s rather nice to have a high-spec bike that doesn’t have you having to remember to keep anything charged up.
There is a flip chip that will steepen the head angle and seat tube by half a degree, and raise the bottom bracket height by 8mm. But I’ve not felt the need for such tweaking and have been happy to ride it as it arrived, with a 63.5 degree head angle and 77.5 degree seat tube angle.
Reach on the medium I’m riding is 465mm, and at 771mm of standover there’s plenty of room for incident avoidance. In fact, there’s so much standover for me (175cm tall) that I could make use of a dropper longer than the (adjustable) 170mm option provided.
There’s also room for a bottle cage, making it a bike you can go for a ride on as well as doing shuttle laps.
If you look at the Canyon website, the Torque is listed under both the enduro and downhill categories, and while this model has an air shock, the Fabio Wibmer model in the range has a coil shock, and the frame is compatible with triple clamp forks (although none come supplied with one).
Before its release, it was ridden under the radar at Redbull Rampage by Tommy G, and it’s tested to Category 5, the same as their downhill race bike, the Sender. That all sounds like a lot of bike – would I, a mere mortal, be able to live up to it?
Canyon Torque 29 On The Trail
Riding along, it certainly feels slack, and has that feel to it as you cruise along on the flat that perhaps you’ve got a slight swagger. ‘Hey there, see me? Yeah… I’m just cruisin’ along, making my way to the trails. Uh huh. You should see what I can do there’.
I’ve an active imagination.
It wasn’t my imagination however that the Torque did give me stacks of confidence. Sure, it hasn’t transformed me into a root-dancing riding goddess, and I’m still as wary of going sideways in the slither and hitting the ground as I ever was.
However, it did have me out in the woods, repping turns, trying – highly unusually for me – to go faster. Swoop, swoop, hop, swoop… The Torque 29 CF 9 does not feel like a big travel 29er, it feels like a rolling party where the sound system is blasting out ‘Jump, Jump! Everybody Jump!’.
It’s a park bike for playing and throwing around, and it’s an enduro bike for pointing down the steepest trails you can stomach. It’s more fun than I like to admit I’m having on a carbon fibre bike.
Call me niche, call me prejudiced, call me hopelessly out of date, but I do struggle to get excited about carbon fibre bikes. Yes, on an XC weight weenie whippet I can see how that works and can be fun, but that’s not the sort of riding I generally want to do.
Something bigger then, trail or enduro style… meh.
There are so many great budget options to be had in alloy, or very nice indeed options to be had in steel, that the generic wobbly shapes of carbon fibre struggle to grab me.
But the Torque 29 CF 9… dammit, it actually looks nice. It’s black, it looks purposeful, it’s not shouty, and it rides…so well that it makes me want to ride it better.
At 15.29kg it’s light enough that it’s easy enough to winch back up the fire road and do that trail again, better. Importantly, the amount standover and relatively low weight combine to give me something that I feel in control of – I’m riding it rather than being carried along by it.
That said, it’s also got me out of a spot or two. Misjudged rolls that should have been drops, and drops that were surprisingly bigger than anticipated. The combination of geometry, suspension kinematics and – in my opinion – weight, have taken the hits but also helped me stay in control. Riding a jet ski, not an oil tanker.
It’s a big beast of a bike with forgiving amounts of suspension that doesn’t come with some of the tractor-like heavy handling that I’ve struggled with before. It feels lively, with plenty of pop, yet has enough presence to carry you through the rough stuff.
Speed, pop, confidence and handling all came together when I took the Canyon Torque 29 CF 9 to Peaty’s Steel City Downhill race – my first downhill race, and one which is very much a jump line rather than a steep and rough plummet.
While it is very much an ‘any bike could get down it’ sort of course (with the right rider), it was genuinely fun to swoop and jump my way down as fast as I dared.
I ended up on the podium, in third place, so I guess it worked out well.
With only two practice runs and two race runs, I think it’s a measure of the Torque’s performance that I had the confidence to keep pushing every feature and make each run faster.
There was no getting used to how the bike handled, or finding its limits, and all my focus was on learning the track: remembering where to brake, or where I could hit harder.
It does have limits however. It climbs well enough, and you can wriggle your way up a short technical section or spin up a long fireroad. But once you hit sustained steep stuff over the 18% gradient mark – like the Calder Valley has so much of – it feels a little like you’re pushing your feet into the hillside in front rather than pushing your feet forwards, and I found my lower back would start to complain.
Likely an even steeper set tube angle would help prevent this feeling, but it’s not like it’s a bike that’s been designed for endless climbs, so maybe just buy a different bike?
Standing up to mash it out isn’t so great – the shock’s firm setting is firm, not a lock out, and you can feel the suspension sapping your efforts. It’s much better to sit and spin up more gentle gradients, or manoeuvre up trail obstacles, than it is on long steep no dab challenges.
But that’s not really surprising – it’s more of a bike for pointing down, though that needn’t be of precipitous inclines to make it fun.
In fact, sustained steep climbs are pretty horrible whatever you’re riding, so I feel like critiquing this bike on the basis of its performance there is pretty unfair. If you’re on the Torque and all your friends are on 130/140ish trail bikes and like to cover as much ground as possible on your group rides, then you’ll likely feel like you’re pushing a little harder to keep up with them on non technical transfers between the fun bits, thanks to that lack of lock out.
However, the merest hint of a downwards slope, or a nice flowy trail with plenty of pump-action opportunities, and you’ll have forgotten any extra sweat – this bike manages to be big and capable without sterilising ‘smaller’ trails, and retains the fun and playful feel perhaps associated more with shorter travel bikes.
Unlike shorter travel bikes, when you hit bigger trails, or faster trails, or head to the bike park, you’ll not run out of bike. Conversely, unlike some bigger travel bikes, you’ll not have to leave it sitting in the shed for most of the year, awaiting a rare outing of radness. The Torque is a big bike that won’t leave you feeling overbiked or bored when you’re dialling it back.
Having ridden the bike, how does the component package stack up? Honestly, I think I’d be pretty happy to ride this bike more or less off the peg. I’d swap the saddle for a slightly wider model, and in time I’d probably swap the grips – I’m not a fan of the G5 grips, and find them rough on the hands, as well as lacking in squish. But otherwise, it’s a really sound selection.
Everything just works and it doesn’t feel like there are any weak spots. Sure, a longer dropper would be good, but for an own brand dropper, even the lever is pleasingly functional and I could live with it. There really isn’t a lot to quibble about.
The only thing I would say is that I can now see why riders wrap their bikes in jazzy patterned frame wraps – the plain black shiny finish quite quickly started to scuff up a bit. I’d definitely want to give the frame a good wrapping in protective films if this were mine.
Canyon Torque 29 Overall
I have previously dismissed the idea of owning a ‘big’ bike as taking the fun out of all but the scariest of trails, and therefore the wrong bike to have for most of the time. However, the Canyon Torque 29 CF 9 has made me reconsider that position. In the Torque, Canyon has delivered a big bike that retains a playful feel that makes you want to play more.
The Canyon Torque 29 is heaps of fun, and will take you all the way from the trails to the downhill race tape, not just because it’s so versatile that it’s capable of riding everywhere, but because it’s so much fun that you’ll want to ride everywhere. It’s a fantastic big bike for those that like a broad spectrum of riding but don’t want a vast collection of bikes to serve every niche.
I can totally imagine owning this bike, and having a blast for all but the cruellest of XC rides. Perhaps, then, I might have a gravel bike (or a very racy XC bike, if you were so inclined) to cover the pedalling end of the spectrum, and the Torque for the other end, with a small overlap in the middle where I’m either sweating on the Torque to keep up on the climbs, or squealing in fear on the gravel bike to manage the descents.
A middle ground of excess sweat and peril, with loads of fun on either side? Yes, that really is a two-bike-shed that I can imagine working very well indeed.
I think you should consider it. I’m trying quite hard not to…and while I’m totally sold on this one, a little bit of my soul wonders how the alloy model would ride..?
Canyon Torque 29 Specification
- Frame // Carbon (CF), 170mm
- Shock // Fox Float X2 Factory
- Fork // Fox 38 Factory, 170mm
- Wheels // DT Swiss FR 560 240 EXP
- Front Tyre // Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip 29 x 2.5in
- Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxTerra 29 x 2.4in
- Chainset // Race Face Next R
- Drivetrain // Shimano XTR
- Brakes // Shimano XTR M9120, 203/203mm rotors
- Stem // Canyon G5, 40mm length
- Bars // Canyon G5 Carbon
- Grips // Canyon G5
- Seatpost // Canyon G5 Dropper
- Saddle // Fizik Gravita Alpaca X5
- BB // Shimano, BSA
- Size Tested // M
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
- Weight // 15.29kg (33.7lb)
Geometry for our size M test bike:
- Head angle // 63.5°
- Effective seat angle // 77.5°
- Seat tube length // 430mm
- Head tube length // 105mm
- Chainstay // 440mm
- Wheelbase // 1,253mm
- Effective top tube // 693mm
- BB height // 30mm BB drop
- Reach // 465mm
While you’re here…
|Product:||Torque 29 CF 9|
|Tested:||by Hannah for 5 months|
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