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Pray that the city of the future is more like the utopia of Logan’s Run than the grimy, perpetually raining one in Blade Runner, because in the exceptionally clean urban environment of our dreams we’ll all be young and healthy and getting around on a combination of monorails and something like the new Canyon Precede:ON, a premium e-bike in hybrid and step-through editions that’s as practical as it is beautiful.
I took it for a short spin at the press launch and can report it rides like a dream, feeling much lighter and more manoeuvrable than the 23kg weight suggests. Part of that is down to the top-of-the-line Bosch Performance Line CX motor, centrally located between the pedals. The chunky 57mm-wide tyres and carbon frame with rather fancy Canyon-designed carbon seatpost (that’s £232.95 worth of fancy) were primarily responsible for the remarkably vibration-free ride on cobbled streets and a canal towpath.
It’s the second e-bike we’ve tried that employs automatic gear shifting, and the Precede:ON’s Enviolo system proved far superior to the clunky experience we had on the VanMoof S3. The shifting on the Precede:ON wasn’t noticeable at all and once I had found my preferred cadence setting, I pedalled comfortably at just the right level of resistance throughout.
It’s really rather lovely and easy to ride, and for such a futuristic-looking bike, surprisingly practical as well. There are built-in lights, with two settings on the front, one of which is bright enough to illuminate a road without street lights. A rear rack comes as standard and can bear 25kg of weight, taking panniers or a set of bespoke Canyon baskets. There’s an optional front rack that can handle 5kg, and the ability to attach a Croozer bike trailer for kids, pets or cargo. The main reason Canyon is releasing a unisex step-through version is to make it easier to maintain your balance when mounting a heavily-laden bike.
Mudguards come as standard, and the removable battery is taken out from the top of the downtube rather than the bottom so you don’t have to get intimate with the part likely to have been splattered with dirt and debris. The top-of-the-line CF 9 also uses a carbon belt drive so there’s no chance of getting grease on your trousers. A kickstand is integrated so closely you may struggle to see it when it’s tucked away, with just a small tab peeking out for your foot.
The quoted maximum range is 65km, although it’s likely to be less if you’re a normal person who doesn’t ride in any other mode but Turbo, the one with the most assistance. While that should cover you for the type of around-town trips this bike is intended for, it’s on the lower end of the range e-bikes offer and the 500Wh battery doesn’t charge particularly quickly, taking six hours to go from empty to full.
The smooth cycling experience and well-thought-out conveniences go a long way to justifying the price of (brace yourself) £4,699. It’s worth noting that Canyon works with the Green Commute Initiative cycle to work scheme so you could get up to 47% off the price of the bike if you use it to get to work. You can also pay for the bike in interest-free installments using a Klarna-alike service called Splitit.
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There’s a slighter cheaper version, the Precede:ON CF 8 (£3,999), whose main difference is a ten-gear Shimano groupset rather than the belt drive and automatic shifting. But if you’re spending that amount of money anyway I’d be tempted to go the whole hog.
But when considering a bike this expensive (and expensive-looking) that’s intended to transport you around town and therefore, by necessity, must be locked up outdoors in public, theft is a definite concern.
The good news, however, is that like everything else, security has been given a lot of thought. The Precede:ON doesn’t have a built-in SIM like a growing number of e-bikes, which would allow you to track it down (an approach which is not always as attractive as you might expect; VanMoof’s recovery service costs about the same as e-bike insurance, for instance). But what it does have is a removable Bosch Kiox display, which acts as a key – without the paired device the bike is useless.
There’s also space between the seatpost and rear wheel for a lock that’s about as secure as it gets, the Abus Bordo Granit XPlus 6500 folding lock (an extra £111.95).
Lock it, take the display with you and make sure you budget for bike insurance – it’s a bike that’s worth the risk.
Buy Precede:ON from Canyon | £3,999-£4,699
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.