Canyon Urban 8.0 Review: A Smooth-Riding Commuter Bike

On the top flap of the cardboard bike box holding the Canyon Urban 8.0, a greeting is printed in blaze orange: “Welcome to a community of passionate cyclists.”

Passionate, sure, but also confident and enterprising. Inside the box was a sleek new German commuter bike, and I was going to have to put it together myself.

Like most people, I generally pick up my bikes fully assembled. They tend to just come that way. Here in the litigious US, bike manufacturers prefer that a mechanic at a certified retailer makes the final wrench turns. Plus, many consumers don’t have the tools, time, or patience to assemble a bike themselves.

Canyon

Canyon is changing that model. The company specializes in direct-to-consumer sales and has simplified the assembly process to the point that it’s as easy to put together a Canyon bike as a piece of Ikea furniture, even for the most oblivious end user. By side-stepping the labor costs of a bike shop visit, Canyon is enabling consumers to buy a high-quality product at a reasonable price. The 23.2-pound, aluminum-frame Urban 8.0 costs $1,999—a decent price, given the Urban’s collection of high-end components—and it will be made available directly to American consumers on Canyon’s US website later this month. The first bikes will ship at the beginning of April. Canyon launched in the US just last year with some road racing and mountain bikes, but this Urban commuter model has only been offered for sale in Europe until now.

All Together Now

In addition to its welcome-to-the-tribe vibe at the top, Canyon meticulously packs the bike, padding it with reusable bubble wrap and foam, ensuring safe arrival. The packing job also makes it easy to visualize the short list of required steps: Attach the front wheel, pedals, seat, and handlebars. The box includes idiot-proof instructions and a torque wrench. Set aside 45 minutes to build the bike up. The process isn’t difficult, but the two-piece handlebars, secured by four screws, two on each side, are a tight fit. You’ll need to add your own bike grease and muscle power before torqueing the four hex screws into place.

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Once the bike is assembled, you check your work, then sit back and admire the ride. The Canyon is at once evocative of the past and pointing toward the future. The riveted seat and leather handlebar grips give it some retro flair, and the integrated stem, which is slightly reminiscent of the nose of a Concorde jet in that it tilts downward toward the pavement, gives the bike a look of strength and speed. The subtle, slightly glittery anodized paint job adds glamour. At first glance, the split seat post looks like a design element. But the duality is designed to more finely position the fore and aft of the saddle by way of an easy-to-adjust hex screw at the base of the post.

Street Smart

The real beauty of this bike, however, is how commuter-friendly it is. My maiden voyage on the Urban 8.0 was not to my office—something that, admittedly, may have added extra joy to my ride. I work wherever I happen to be, which, for a few weeks this spring, was in Sedona, Arizona, where I was mountain biking. The singletrack of Thunder Mountain trail was a little too jarring for the Urban 8.0, but I did take a few spins through residential neighborhoods, and on the wide concrete sidewalk along busy highway 89A during a few uncharacteristically wet and snowy spring days.

What immediately struck me was how nimble and tight the Urban’s steering was, from bars that felt substantially more narrow than those of my mountain bike. I also reveled in the silent whir of the Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal hub. Paired with a carbon Gates belt drive, the system greatly reduces the potential buildup of grit that can so easily gunk up a conventional chain and derailleur, not to mention smear your office attire or skirt-exposed calves with bike grease.

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