I was pretty bummed that I had bought the wrong bike. More than that, I’d travelled across the western United States on my anniversary (yes my wife is that cool) because it was the only medium Canfield Brothers “the One” that I could find for sale in the west. Rare bike. Limited opportunity. And I’d even test ridden it in the guy’s cul de sac. Should’ve ridden it in the mountains near his house! was what I was thinking as I pedaled up my local climb with 7+ inches of front travel squishing with each pedal stroke and my knees feeling uncomfortably close to the bars.
But, as other people had testified that this was the light dh bike that could actually climb, and people my height (6ft) said the medium was good if you like a smaller rig, I went all in. I forced myself to forget how things used to be by selling my other mountain bike, a Trek Fuel EX9 (had to replenish some of the house downpayment fund I’d used to get the Canfield. Again, yes, my wife is that cool).
And after one month and a 20mm stem change, I love this bike like no other steed I’ve ever owned.
Yes I instantly lost almost 3 minutes on a regular 18 minute climb- the bike is at least ten pounds heavier and has more travel than anything I’ve ever owned before. But it does climb like a stubborn goat, and I ended up loving riding it so much that I’ve gotten in the best shape of my life and ended up crushing all my uphill times from my xc bike days. Yes I still have visible bruising on my right butt cheek from getting thrown sideways due to a pedal strike on a downhill three weeks ago- it has a lower bottom bracket than anything I’ve ever owned before, but that low bb makes for the best “in the pocket” feel I’ve ever experienced on a downhill. And yes, at first, when I hit road or xc stuff on my way to the real dh, it felt like the slack front end was a chopper that wanted to flop to the side at the slightest provocation making me doubt my purchase. But man… you point that thing downhill and lordy oh lordy. Sweetness ensues.
What I have found is that regardless of the fact that I have to work a little harder for that peak, I should’ve been riding this “downhiller that pedals” as soon as one was invented. This Canfield is so perfectly suited to my style of riding that I feel I’ve cheated myself for years. I’m 42 and I now feel like I’m in a rush to hit all the “big spots” before I don’t want to hit the big spots anymore.
If you’re at all like I was- on the fence about the type of bike you’re riding because you’re looking for a bike that slays the downhill, but you have to be able to pedal up your local steepness… spend no more time thinking. You love to jump and huck the bike off stuff? Me too. Love to slide and charge down -45 degree slopes? Same. Go get that Canfield (the One has been replaced by the Balance which you can set up with 650s or 26” wheels). Added bonus was that I just took it to Skeggs for the first time and it was so, so fun on what turned out to be the flowiest xc singletrack I’ve ever ridden in my life. It was roller coaster smooth, with lots of rollers and poppers to get air on, and the One handled it beautifully.
One caveat: if you’re already the slow climber in your group, you might consider adding an additional riding day to your weekly regimen to offset the time you’re going to loose in the transition from the bike you should have been able to pedal well in the first place. Your buddies will wait if they’re really your buddies, but let’s not be impolite eh?
My mantra as I climb now is, “I give a *%$# about an uphill. I give a %$&# about an uphill.” Which really is synonymous with- while a little more emphatic than- the mantra I’ve lived by for two decades: “I only ride up TO go down.”
The good thing is that now… I’m doing it on the right bike.
update: It is now one year later and I am now the proud owner of a Canfield Brothers Balance… the bike that the One morphed into in 2014. That should tell you what I think- after more than 20 years of mountain biking on other brands of bikes- what I think of the creations the brothers produce.