Editor’s Note: Along with longtime Mtbr forum member Kent Robertson (KRob), the 2016 Outerbike Test Sessions were conducted by Ben Slabaugh, aka Schlim. Ben, 37, has been riding mountain bikes since he was 12, and today leans toward the XC side of things. This year, the pair headed to Moab, Utah, for the annual Outerbike consumer demo event where they rode as many bikes as possible. These posts are first ride impressions only — not full reviews. However, they stand by their opinions, and feel like they are good at feeling out the true identity, strengths, weaknesses, and soul of any given bike. For each session, they attempted to get set-up and suspension as dialed as possible. Test rides usually lasted 30-60 minutes. All bikes were then rated on a scale of 1-5 for visual impression/looks, climbing ability, descending, cornering, general agility, fit, and an intangible factor. Lowest possible score is 7. Highest is 35.
Check out the entire Outerbike Test Sessions archive.
Knowing that I’d need a bike that could handle tricky ups and rowdy downs with equal skill, I sourced a Canfield Brothers Riot ahead of time for my ride up HyMasa and down Captain Ahab. I was looking for a bike that would handle the very technical step ups and scrambling sections with ease, but still be burly enough to take on slick rock drops when pointed downward.
The Riot is proof that aluminum still looks good. The bike paired 29er wheels with 140mm of travel and a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock keeping things under control. The net effect was a solid and predictable package. This is the kind of bike that should be navigating technical rocks. Period. Not even a question.
Never been to Outerbike? Find out what this consumer demo event is all about.
The Riot was definitely heavier than other offerings I rode, but I always felt like the momentum was working for me, helping me dig in and go. The weight didn’t feel dead, and I credit the short chainstays and dialed shock tune for livening things up. The green linkages were a nice touch to the raw aluminum frame. Surprisingly, though, the Riot has a 142×12 rear axle, rather than boost 148, which most other 29ers have adopted for shorter stays and better wheel bracing. How Canfield managed 414mm chainstays without boost rear spacing is beyond me.
The ride up HyMasa was superb. Technical step ups and adjustments weren’t insurmountable, and I felt the bike working with me rather than against me. I do wish it had a 28t chainring rather than the installed 30t to go with the 11-36 cassette in the rear. Instead, I fatigued too soon and my technical skills started to fall apart during the last quarter of the ride. On 29er set-ups, you’re effectively pushing a higher gear ratio, so the 28t makes more sense in my opinion. On the positive side, the Cane Creek Double Barrel performed flawlessly. It was supple under load while navigating technical climbs, and ramped up nicely, and didn’t bottom out when heading down hill. I heard lots of satisfying “whump” sounds from it as it absorbed bigger landings.
Read the Mtbr long term review of the Canfield Brothers Riot. Hint: We loved this bike.
One puzzle with the Canfield was how it felt fairly nose biased and I couldn’t fling it effectively forward underneath me. I’m not sure what the issue was. Partly, it was my own fatigue, but I wonder how much the ultra short chainstays and wheelbase were factoring into overall stability. I do think I’d get over this, and the shreddy nature of the geometry would be appreciated. It was an interesting puzzle, though.
One other nitpick was the DVO Diamond fork. Its bushings were a tad loose and knocked, and I felt some top-out at times. I’d love to see how the Riot performs with a Fox 36 or RockShox Pike. Also the Maxxis Ikon tire on the rear was a little scary on slickrock. It just didn’t bite like I wanted it to and slid out where I needed grip. Maybe an Maxxis Ardent or Minion DHR to match the Minion DHF up front would help.
Check out pricing and spec on complete Canfield Brothers Riot builds.
On the flip side, I was totally happy with the Shimano XT drivetrain and braking performance. For folks wary of carbon and looking for a solid feel that will likely translate into long-term durability, I think the Canfield Brothers Riot is going to be a good choice.
Outerbike Test Session Score: 27 out of 35
For more information visit canfieldbrothers.com.