Who is Canyon Bicycles?

German direct-to-consumer seller coming to U.S. this summer

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Canyon sells everything from wispy road bikes to Red Bull Rampage-ready trail tamers.

Canyon Bicycles has built a strong following in Europe with their carefully engineered bikes and direct sales channel to customers. The German brand does not work with dealers, which is how the bike industry has traditionally worked. Instead, Canyon sells to customers through the brand’s website. 

In August Canyon will begin selling in the U.S. for the first time. Mtbr caught up with Canyon’s global communications manager Thorsten Lewandowski to find out more about why they’ve chosen to sell exclusively online and what it means for customers. 

Check out the complete Canyon bike line-up.

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Buy a Canyon and one of these oversized “bike guard” boxes will show up at your house.

The Canyon brand story

Canyon began selling bikes through the internet in 2003, a time when buying anything online was little unusual. Facebook didn’t exist yet and Amazon was best known as a book seller. 

Canyon founder Roman Arnold grew up racing road and track bikes. As Lewandowski tells the story, Arnold’s father got bored waiting for his son to finish his races and decided to start a business. In 1985, he bought a blue trailer emblazoned with Rad-Sport-Arnold and started selling bikes and components directly to riders. Since racers tend to break parts regularly, the elder Arnold did a steady business. The trailer became a garage, and eventually a shop. Soon after, Roman Arnold took over the business from his father. 

When Arnold started Canyon, he maintained the belief that direct sales were the best way to reach customers. It also allowed Arnold to offer his products at lower prices, which remains one of Canyon’s key selling points. One of the brand’s core taglines is “democratizing performance,” and they believe by selling direct, they are able to give customers a better bike at each price point.

“If you want to spend $3000 and you go through a retailer, you will get a bike valued at $2000 or $2500, and the rest will stay with the retailer,” said Lewandowski. “We cut this off, so that for €3000 or $3000, you get a $3000 bike.” 

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Canyon uses CT scanners and other high-tech machinery in their R&D process to create 3D models of the products they’re developing.

How Canyon bikes are made

Because Canyon sells through the internet, their bike travel a somewhat different route than the usual dealer channels. Canyon’s frames and carbon cockpit components are built in Taiwan. That much is typical of the modern bike industry. Then the bikes are fully assembled by Canyon technicians and tested. For the European market, this assembly and testing happens at global HQ in Koblenz, Germany. Canyon also now has a U.S. facility to assemble and test bikes for North American customers. 

In an unusual move, Canyon’s carbon road forks and all cockpit components are tested for flaws in the lay-ups using CT scanners. Newly launched models are scanned at a 100% rate in both Taiwan and  Koblenz. Once the scans reveal fewer than .02% failures, the German factory will scan 10% of forks and cockpits, while the factories in Taiwan will still scan all forks and cockpit parts. Canyon also uses the CT scanners in their R&D process to create 3D models of the products they’re developing. 

“If something on your frame breaks, like a rear stay or a seat stay, you will notice it, but you will not necessarily crash,” said Lewandowski. “If your fork or your cockpit breaks, you will definitely crash, so that’s why [they’re] the most crucial things to test on a carbon bike.” 

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Inside the shipping box you’ll find a bike that is roughly 90 percent assembled, plus the tools and instructions to finish the job.

After assembly by Canyon technicians, the bikes are packed into what Canyon calls a “bike guard” and shipped to the customer. Canyon advertises a 15-minute build time for your new bike. According to the brand, when your bike arrives, you should be able to ride it after 15 minutes of basic assembly. Lewandowski suggests experienced home mechanics will find the assembly easy, though for newer enthusiasts it may take a bit longer. “It’s pre-assembled to 90%,” he said. 

Once unboxed, a Canyon mountain bike will need the front wheel installed, the bars and stem secured, and the seatpost dropped into place. Canyon provides a torque wrench for tightening the stem and top cap bolts. The bike comes with what Lewandowski describes as a “really thick” manual and Canyon also provides how-to videos on their website. 

Getting the right size

To help customers figure out their size, the Canyon website asks a detailed set of questions about body dimensions. In addition to obvious questions such as height and inseam, additional measurements such as shoulder width and arm length are submitted. “When we want you to be sitting on the best bike possible for you, we need to know the most of you,” said Lewandowski. 

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Each Canyon bike is shipped with a massive manual that includes build instructions in 16 different languages.

Canyon has a 30-day return policy for all of their bikes. Even with careful measurement, it’s still possible to get the wrong size. For riders between sizes, this allows customers to try a size, knowing it can be sent back. It’s also possible that a customer simply won’t like the bike they ordered online. Canyon will take it back, no questions asked, within 30 days. Because they realize customers are buying a bike they may never have seen before, Canyon wants to make it as easy as possible for customers to make returns.

U.S. Service Centers

Canyon is setting up a headquarters for its U.S. operations in Carlsbad, California. Similarly to Koblenz, there will be a showroom where prospective customers can visit and see Canyon’s product line in real life. Lewandowski estimates that Canyon will have a staff of 40 to service the U.S. market and hinted that Canyon’s U.S. showroom will host events, test rides, and pro athlete signings in the future. 

The U.S. service team will be the go-to for customers who need help with their new bikes or have questions about the product line. Lewandowski says Canyon also plans to set up a service network for bikes that need repairs or adjustments. For example, a bike may show up with a derailleur that needs adjustment. This network is not expected to be in place when Canyon’s U.S. site launches and Lewandowski described it as a work in progress.

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Global communications manager Thorsten Lewandowski (right) believes Canyon offers more than just inexpensive bikes.

Canyon expects U.S. riders to be more demanding on the service front than those in Europe. “Your customers are highly demanding,” Lewandowski said. “You know how great service can be.”

He sees this cultural norm as one of the challenges for the brand in the move to the U.S. market and planning for that dynamic has played a big part in Canyon’s preparations for their expansion to the U.S.

Parting words

As Lewandowski tells it, Canyon is an engineering-driven company. Put simply, they’re bike nerds. They’re bike nerds armed with CT scanners and high-tech software, out to design the best possible bikes they can. This isn’t too different from many of the brands you already know here in the U.S.  

“But we try to do it differently,” Lewandowski  emphasized. “We try to convince our customers through the product.” If people view Canyon as a “cool” brand, that’s great, he adds. “But what we like better is that people recognize that we understood the product differently.”

Who is Canyon Bicycles?

Canyon is a mainstay in the WorldTour peloton, sponsoring two teams that will be on the start line of the 2017 Tour de France.

More than anything, Canyon wants to be known for their engineering and innovation. They also want riders to get the best bikes for their needs. “We say, what [must the product be like so] that it’s the best product accessible to the customer? We want them to have the greatest fun and the best riding experience,” he said. 

For more information, head over to www.canyon.com.

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  • Randy Cougars says:

    Bikes don’t have souls. Neither do people. Canyon is a good company.

  • Syver says:

    Got my Canyon bike last week and it took me a lot more than 15 minutes to get it ready. The chain was all tangled and I had to find a SRAM Powerlink removal tool to fix the rear wheel, chain and derailleur. The manual is really thick yes but that is because it comes with translations in many languages. Overall it is pretty useless. I ordered a Canyon Strive and ran a search in the manual for “shapeshifter”. I got 0 hits ! Canyon still has some way to go with Customer Support too. I have opened 2 support tickets last week and have yet to hear from Canyon’s support team ! So be warned, if you buy from Canyon, you are on your own.

  • Goahead says:

    Like Amazon destroying all of the local businesses in the world(From warehouses to you), Canyon has the same idea. I wonder if it’s a good or bad idea for bike industry.

    • Dave says:

      It’s a good idea for some people and a bad idea for others. Like a lot of people, I do all my own work on my bike, everything. Other people don’t want to, don’t have the time, don’t have the tools, aren’t mechanically inclined, etc. I bought my last frame through my LBS. I love those guys, great people, great store. But the only thing I have asked them to do in the 2-1/2 years since I bought the frame is warranty it twice. If I bought it straight from the manufacturer I could easily have done that myself. The market will work it out.

  • Rufus says:

    A few years ago I had a Canyon Nerve FS frame and 2 months before the Warranty expired (5 years old frame…) I discovered a tiny crack on it.

    Contacted Canyon and they replaced the frame and even offered to cover the costs of sending the old frame back to them and the costs of disassembling/reassembling the bike.

    Do they sell bikes without soul? Who gives a f.ck…I have no idea what advantages a bike ‘soul’ gives me on the trails but its pretty expensive 🙂

  • eb1888 says:

    I hope Canyon comes in strong with updated models for the US.
    Boost 148 rear- nothing so far. Room for 2.6 or Plus tires- nothing so far.
    Trail oriented hardtail- nothing so far.
    Looking forward to the new models.

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