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Canfield Brothers F1

Canfield Brothers Formula 1 Test

words & fotos Rich Steels

When a rider owned bike manufacturer from Utah decide to make a suspension frame they are often surrounded in perceived misconceptions that their frame is designed to be soley ridden off cliffs. Although this may be the case with Canfields mother of all huckers the fatty fat and Big-Fat-Fatty-Fat frame with its 12 inches of drop soaking travel it couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the Formula 1. Covered in all the right angles, with 9 inches of travel, less than 12lb in weight and a chain line designed to increase pedal efficiency you are looking at a true downhill race bike.

Lance and Chris Canfield are the men behind Canfield Brothers. Chris takes care of the marketing and management side of things and Lance is the designer. Lance is a well known rider on the free-ride scene and has competed 4 times in the RedBull Rampage ending last years event in a helicopter ride to the ER with a severely lacerated thigh - apparently right down his femur!!! Not only is Lance known for going big he’s also known for being pretty fast too and this all became apparent after riding the Formula 1.

The Bike

From first impressions you can tell that this is a bike that has been designed with a true passion for the sport it was intended. There’s no sign of corner cutting or compromise, its’ simply a bike designed by a rider for riders. Like a lot of top shelf manufactures such as Intense, Canfield has not forgot about aesthetics when designing the F1. Every part of the frame looks perfect from the open gussets around the head tube, the lacquered “Punisher” style graphics to the skull and cross bones holding the top links together, this bike looks amazing.

Made from 7005 series Aluminium and working on a true 3:1 compression ratio, the Formula 1 boasts a well-endowed 9” of travel. To keep things under control at the rear a Mojo Worx tuned Fox Vanilla RC shock and Ti spring allow you to hit rocks and ruts like Ricky Carmicheal over the whoops! Keeping the rear stiff, Canfield use 20mm bearings at every pivot point (which are not only easy to get hold of they are also dead easy to remove and replace when the British weather sets in) and 160mm-rear hub spacing with a 15mm axle. Not only does this make the rear stiff but the 160mm hub also builds a stronger, no dish wheel with a perfect chain-line for great shifting.

Canfield Brothers F1 Linkage - up close

So what’s pulley all about?

Platform technology without valves!!! All suspension designs are good at one thing but not all suspension designs are good at all things! The biggest question ever asked is “how does it pedal?” A low pivot design frame will suffer from pedal “bob” due to the chain pulling up on the suspension creating undulation whilst pedalling. For a frame to pedal well it needs a high pivot point situated above the chain line, this allows the chain to pull down against the suspension and thus reducing the pedal induced “bob”. Although this is great for a stiff pedalling platform ideal for racing it also means the design will suffer from pedal feed back from the chain pulling on the pedals when the bike hits a bump. With this in mind Canfield Brothers designed a high pivot design into the F1 with an upper pulley that removes pedal feedback. It doesn’t end there though, along with the chain pulling up or down on the suspension, it also pulls the wheel forward and down. This only affects multi-pivot designs such as the Horst-Link and parallel linkage as they have a “solid” suspension member connected to the main frame via additional links. Taking the latter in to account the Formula 1 lower link pulls down and back until it is level. If this position is breached whilst pedalling the lower link rises up and forward which the suspension then resists as the suspension is acting against it pulling it down and back and thus creating a pedalling platform made in heaven!

The Ride

I have spent a good three months riding this bike on several different courses around the UK, and struggled to find a bad thing about it. Apart from not being able to run my SAINT cranks on it, as the F1 requires a 73mm shell with a 128mm axle the bike exceeds my expectations. Every rock, root and rut you throw at it, the bike just begs for more. The faster you ride the Canfield the more stable it feels. There’s no sign of it feeling sketchy when the big rocks start coming fast, the rear wheel just stays planted to the ground soaking every bit of the trail up and rolling you faster rather than holding you back as on some other suspension designs. The bike feels so solid and stable to ride; there’s no sign of the bike wallowing when on the pedals. The rear end of the bike is exceptionally stiff, combined with Canfield’s chain pulley system the bike accelerates like no other with minimum pedal induced bob and a transmission that feels tight and responsive. At sub 40lb the bike is no fatty fat and Hammering down Abercarn I began to understand why the Canfield Brothers named it the Formula 1, as this is a bloody fast bike. Braking hard up to and through turns the bike sits you low and doesn’t want to throw you high keeping your centre of gravity low allowing you nail the corner. The 9” of travel feels endless on drops although unnoticeable when on the gas. With the rear end of the bike being so light the F1 is a must on UK courses making easy work of tight switchbacks. The formula 1 does push you to go bigger as you feel you can get away with a lot more than before. I’ve ridden plenty of different suspension bikes and this is up there with the best.

X Wing Fighter

Buying a Canfield

You can buy the F1 as a bare frame for $1900 or $2250 with a Manitou swinger 6way shock. Being a fan of shim stacks over valves, I opted for a bare frame and bought a FOX Vanilla RC off E-bay for £150. The frame is available in 3 colours, Gloss Black, Canfield Blue or polished for an extra $50. Canfield also supply the frame with a custom made boomerang that allows you to run a system 1 MRP. Being an awkward sod and a lover of the makrolon bash guard I designed a boomerang that would allow me to run an E-thirteen instead of an MRP. To keep your budget down to a minimum and get you riding as soon as possible, Canfield can also supply you with a Hadley hub (for mere $160), an FSA platinum bottom bracket and an MRP bash guard and black rollers.

As Canfield Brothers don’t have a UK importer (yet) ordering one is not that simple but not that hard either. Before I jumped headfirst into buying a frame from the USA I looked into any hidden charges such as V.A.T. and import duties that often catch people out when importing products into the UK. Knowing V.A.T. is 17.5% I then had to find out the cost of import duties as the percentage of import tax differs from product to product. After a short call to Customs and Excise, I found out that the import tax would be 4.7%.

Several emails later to Chris Canfield I finally decided to call him up to discussed buying a Formula 1. Chris is a great bloke who was more than happy to talk to me and answer all my insipid questions. The grand total came to $2446 or £1320 (that’s frame, hub, bottom bracket and shipping!!).With the UK taxes and shock (without Ti spring) the over all cost was £1753.

For further info call Chris at Canfield Brothers on tel. 801 548 2556 or visit

Custom and Excise tel. 0845 010 90 000



Chris Canfield Interview by Superfly

DW: Out of all the bikes you have designed and made which are your personal favourites?

CB: Lance's favourite is the Big Fatty Fatty Fat - because they are like our first kids. We both love the Signature 10" frames because they ride so good, 4130 smoothness at it's best.

DW: If offered the chance would you do a show similar to "American Chopper"?

CB: Sure but we don't fight enough to make the show watchable.

DW: Your favourite local riding spot?

CB: Bountiful- 5000ft vertical rides..

DW: Lamest invention you have ever seen bolted onto a bike?

CB: Bender's fork guards for his super monster. Derailleurs (aka- rock snaggers)

DW: How many frames have you actually manufactured and sold?

CB: About 75

DW: Has it been worth the hassle?

CB: YES, the search for the perfect ride has always been the goal. It is a lot of work but one ride on a Canfield makes it all worth it.

DW: Would you do it all again?

CB: Hell ya!

DW: The formula F1 looks super good, when in the design stages was it just using your ideas and testing them out or was it all done mathematically and then fine tuned?

CB: It is a little of both. One without the other would be worthless. We have been studing, designing and building Parrarel Link/Vertual Pivot Point suspension bikes for the past 5plus years. As riders that ride on the level we do, we are super sensitive to all aspect of performance (braking, pedaling, pedal feedback, wheel path and basic geometry). We believe we are great at feeling what is wrong or what we would like to work better and then fixing it. The problem we find in the industry is that a pro-tester is not an engineer that can fix a problem they feel. The engineers don't feel the problems so it's almost visa-versa.

DW: How long has it taken you to get the Formula F1 from the drawing board to the final stage of making the finished product?

CB: In all, 5 years of our research has lead to it's design.

DW: What qualifications/educations have you guys got, I read some where theres alot of physics goes into your riding and hucking let alone your bike design?

CB: Lance was educated at Davis Applied Technology Center in Mechanical Design. Chris dropped out of the University of Utah to start Canfield Brothers. All of the suspension design is Physics. We have learned the most about suspension design from designing them than we ever would in a class room. We didn't find Suspension 101 in school so we had to make it up as we went along. We still feel the greatest asset we have is our experience on bikes, on the hill.

DW: Are you currently looking to employ any design engineers?

CB: Nope..

DW: Do you think there is less hype and more fact in high end bike marketing now compared to say 5 years ago?

CB: We think that the hype level is the same- High. There is a lot of design theory that goes into the marketing and design of bikes that in the real life application are pointless. They sound better than they work.

DW: Gearboxes... overhyped or overdue?

CB: Overdue as derailleurs suck.

DW: Best race DH fork? Really - we'd like to have your honest opinion on this... you are one of the few companies that actually seem to have a clue about bike dynamics - love to hear what you think and why?

CB: The best set up for a race fork would be light and stiff. All of the new forks feel good as for the dampening. I would buy the more reliable ones and one that is not inverted. The new White Brothers DHR is the best-5.5lbs for 7" and is stiff and a over a pound lighter than anything else. The new Fox feels good and is really light at 6.75lbs for 8".

DW: Yeah, as in so many words people have already asked, we'd like to know about the general design process from the concept stage to production, how you prototype stuff, on a test rig, on the hills, with data logging, purely in CAD for example? How many different design solutions they had before final decision on the F1 was made, is there anything that did not make it to production worth knowing about? How important do you consider the asethetics of a new bike? That little extra wheely thing on the drive train must be under huge strain, was it difficult to get it running right?

CB: We design by first deciding on what we are looking for. We basically build the bikes that we want for ourselves. We really have a clear view of the ride we want with travel and geometry being the biggest issues. Once we draw around that, it's usually a question of space and how the physics work with suspension and then how to make that work around the tubes and Bottom Bracket. The prototypes are always the first bikes off the line and if we find something we don't like we change it before it goes into production. Our F1 protos had beer openers on them. We dropped them from production because of liability and the fact that we sprayed down our bikes a couple of times with beer which is never good. We consider the asethetics of our bikes to be second only to function. We want our bikes to look like a pieces of art. Like with our F1 we put a super cool skull and crossbone piece bolted in between the upper links. It's function is for added stiffness which we could have done with something much smaller and lighter but we felt that a skull and crossbone looking piece would be the way cooler.

The upper pulley we use was not too hard to get to work right. The hardest thing was getting them made. The upper pulley wheel is such a cool thing for rearward arc travel bikes. It takes away all of our pedal kick. Super fast and smooth rearward travel without pedal kick-SWEET! That is the biggest reason someone should buy our bike. Yea, we made the suspension pedal perfect and brake perfect (squats down), But Rearward ARC is the KEY! Here is why: We studied a ton a riding footage and found that flexy forks and rear wheels hanging up on bumps are the main cause of loss of control/wrecks. The rear wheel hanging up on bumps caused the rear wheel to bounce the rear wheel to the sides or even up. We designed our wheel path to travel in the same direction as the bumps hitting it. It allows you to carry more speed and keeps you more balanced. It is the fastest rolling bike out there. Not feeling the bumps at speed makes riding feel really slow and controled which causes you to ride faster. If you break down a race course and add up how much of the trail is rolling and straights:- Like 70-80% if not more. I really feel like our bike will give you a 30 second advantage at every race.

It is also easier to ride steeps: The wheel not hanging up on bumps down steep terrian keeps the rear wheel on the ground where it should be. Plus the suspension leans back under braking. The wheel path pushes you forward on landing. The direction the rear wheel moves pushes the rider forward which aids in landing drops. It feels like it adds more transition to the landing and skims you forward on touch down. It feels like it skims you down the trail instead of into the landing. You might be thinking that you don't have a problem with your forward arc wheel path bike. It feels smooth and you have no problems off drops and going down steeps. But, if you owned a Canfield Brothers you would understand. Our bike rides so much differently than any other bike I have ever been on that most people don't know what to think of it when they first get on one. But after a month of owning one they can't part with it.

DW: Are you going to get a British distributer/importer... as your bikes look and ride amazing!

CB: We have one, Richard Seager at

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