It’s been quite a while since we’ve ridden a Canfield bike, and when we pulled this Pearl Patina Green beauty out of the box, we were excited. The attention to detail, nice welds and of course that bitchin’ head tube badge combine to suggest good things for the trail performance. We’re a bit nostalgic here, but we like when brands show some pride of craftsmanship in a day and age when everything is plastic and all about lowering production costs. Kudos to Canfield Bikes for keeping it real.
Admittedly, we haven’t spent a ton of time on Ohlins suspension products, but this spec came with some shiny new dampers, and we were equally excited to set them up and see if the bike rode as well as it looked. During the suspension setup process, we were a bit uncertain as the bike didn’t feel all that smooth, or active while trying to set sag. Little did we know that just sitting on the bike in the shop would be nothing like standing over it on the trail.
After riding so many longer, heavier and slacker enduro bikes, Drew dropped into the first trail and began cutting, carving and manualing the bike to get that “Nice to meet you, how’s this going to go?” introduction out of the way. He was surprised when he found himself and the bike effortlessly floating from one side to the other, and nearly looped out after yanking on the bars for that first manual. “Ohhh, you’re a lively one!” he muttered. The fun only progressed from there.
Despite not having the most plush, or active feeling suspension in the garage, our riders all commented on how active and fluttery the rear end was as we tackled trails day after day. The short rear end worked with the CBF suspension platform to give a very active and lively rear end. The Lithium really liked pumping and eking more speed out of every transition possible. The only thing it liked more was cornering. This was one of the best cornering bikes in our shootout, in most situations when the corner comes with some support. The short rear-end and high stack height puts the rider in a very confident body position to attack corners. Of course, with any good, there is a tradeoff.
The short rear end and lively feel mean that it’s not the absolute best bike if you’re hitting the World Cup DH trail at your local bike park day in and day out. Well, it’s not entirely the rear end as the reach and 64.5-degree head tube angle all play a role in the bike’s feel. What makes it so much fun and spritely can also be the hiccup for the gnarliest, steepest and fastest downhill trails. This could be an issue for you, or it could be something that isn’t in your normal trail menu, in which case, charge on.
While we’ve been talking a lot about the downhill performance, active suspension and capabilities, the reality is most riders are going to have to get themselves to the top of the mountain. Luckily, the Canfield Lithium is also a very capable pedaler and unbelievably only ways a few ounces more than our fully carbon Specialized Enduro. At just over 33.7 pounds, we couldn’t believe a small brand was able to create an affordable, aluminum bike that hangs this well.
There were some spec issues on our test bike that are worth noting. The TRP drivetrain didn’t manage to completely ruin the ride time, but it’s notably less smooth and consistent than the equivalent price SRAM or Shimano drivetrains. Sticking with the drivetrain woes, the cheap chain spec’d let us down on just the second ride and had us nervous to put down the watts until it was replaced. And lastly, the Ohlins rear shock didn’t possess the progression to keep us happy when hitting the jumps and drops that the Lithium otherwise encouraged, so be prepared to obtain and fit some volume reducers to suit.