The Canyon Precede:ON seems every inch the concept bike made real. The winner of the 2021 German Design Award certainly looks the part, and it boasts a commitment to integration with no external cables, integrated brake levers and kickstand as well as a completely integrated ebike system. Essentially, this is a bike that is all about no-fuss, no-nonsense commuting.
The specification on the Precede:ON CF 9 is impressive, featuring a top-of-the-line Bosch Performance Line CX motor (more commonly found on high-end electric mountain bikes), a big-capacity 500Wh integrated battery that is easily removed for remote charging, plus the equally impressive Enviolo Automatiq hub.
With a constantly variable internal transmission that alters its resistance to match your pedalling, this rear hub removes the need for gears. For the more technically-minded, you can even set your cadence level and the bike will alter the gearing to match.
Unlike most hub gears, the Enviolo doesn’t ‘step’ between ratios, rather it glides across a 510 per cent range. This is best explained by imagining the bike having its 50t (belt drive) chainring matched to a massive-range 10-51 cassette (in reality it has a single 24t sprocket), so there’s plenty enough gearing available and, because it’s constant, there are no awkward jumps.
Canyon Precede:ON CF 9 kit
It would be easy to get bogged down in the technical aspects of the hub, but that would really be missing the point of the Precede:ON.
This is a piece of urban transport that’s just as suited to new cyclists as it is to well-seasoned riders. It even comes in two frame shapes: the standard version as seen here, and a step-through model that’s easier to mount.
The bike’s cockpit is another marvel of integration, with the full-colour Bosch Kiox head unit integrated into the bar. It simply clicks into place and you can remove it and take it with you, effectively immobilising the bike (using ‘lock’ mode the motor system can’t turn on without it).
This is undoubtedly a great security feature, however, I’d still recommend a good bike lock too. Canyon has selected Abus X Plus and Abus Bordo locks as compatible with the radically shaped Precede and both can be bought from Canyon online via the Precede:ON accessories page.
The Kiox unit allows full customisation of the display (using the Bosch app connected by Bluetooth) and you can even upload routes from route planning app Komoot via the app to the head unit.
The brake levers are also integrated into the one-piece carbon bar/stem. Along with the hydraulic brakes, these were designed in conjunction with brake manufacturer TRP.
The braking is superb, offering plenty of power (it comes with huge 180mm rotors) and there’s bags of feel from the long levers – just what you need to arrest the pace of this chunky 23kg bike. The hoses front and rear are completely hidden, which adds to the Precede’s great looks.
I particularly love that the bike’s powerful integrated Supernova headlight (550 lumens on full beam) has a remote dip switch, just like a car. We’ve all been blinded by super-bright bike lights coming in the opposite direction on a dark commute, so the ability to be kind to a fellow rider’s vision is excellent, and it’s something I’d like to see on all urban commuter bikes.
Canyon has got the contact points just right: the Ergon ergonomic grips provide lots of comfort for bare hands, while Fizik’s Essenza saddle sitting atop Canyon’s clever VCLS seatpost with its leaf-spring suspension all adds up to a very comfortable ride.
The huge Schwalbe tyres, coming in at 57mm wide, look like the sort of rubber you’d find on a moped rather than a bicycle, but they’re incredibly tough, fast-rolling for their size and have enough volume to absorb the worst surfaces.
I like that Canyon has chosen the G-One textured version, which means the Precede can easily cope with byways, towpaths and tarmac. They do, however, contribute significant weight (762g each).
Canyon Precede:ON CF 9 geometry
Canyon Precede:ON CF 9 ride impressions
The bike’s handling is stability personified and provides a good balance for rookie riders, yet is not so sluggish as to be boring for more experienced cyclists.
At low speed the Precede is plenty agile enough to navigate offset gates and tight gaps through traffic. You’ll thank Bosch, too, for including a ‘walk assist’ in the motor settings because it’s a heavy bike to push up steep slopes when you can’t ride.
Canyon is quite conservative with the Precede’s range, claiming up to 65km (it is a heavy bike compared to most Bosch-equipped ebikes), but I managed much more than that. Admittedly, I’m possibly riding harder and being more frugal with the assistance than some Precede customers, but I achieved between a top range of 95.43km (821.4m of ascent) and a maximum ascent of 1,102.8m (85.29km range).
By staying under the 25kph limit, so that the power was delivering the majority of the time, I achieved just shy of 72km per full charge, which is more than sufficient for most people’s daily commuting distance.
The Precede comes complete with a rear rack that’s rated to a weighty 25kg load capacity and works with Ortlieb’s clever and very secure QL3.1 mount system.
There is an option for a front rack as an accessory and special wire-frame baskets that fit onto the rear rack too. Parents aren’t forgotten either, with Canyon offering a rear-axle end accessory that makes the Precede fully compatible with Croozer trailers.
There’s no question that the Precede:ON CF 9 is expensive (Canyon also offers a CF 8 model with a Shimano XT drivetrain at a more modest £3,999). I’ve yet to find another bike brand with anything as near as radical looking as the Precede, but in terms of price range Trek’s Allant+ 9.9 comes in at £5,800, Specialized’s Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ costs £4,000 and BMC’s Alpenchallenge AMP City 1 prices up at £3,800.
However, none of these rivals come close to matching Canyon’s design integration and ease of use. The Precede:ON is simply the best urban-focused ebike I’ve ever tested. The fuss-free riding experience, handling and comfort all make it a significant cut above the average flat-bar ebike.
Canyon Precede:ON CF 9 overall
I haven’t tested a bike in years that turns the heads of both cyclists and non-cyclists as the Precede:ON does. It is the sort of forwarding-thinking design that could convert plenty of non-cyclists to the joys of bike commuting and Canyon deserves much applause for bringing a daring design such as this to market.