by Patrick M.
I always have liked a challenge. Two challenges in one? Even better. When I decided that I had to have the sleek Canyon DUDE carbon fiber fat bike from Germany for my next e-bike project, I realized I’d be taking on two challenges that – to my knowledge – have never been tackled before: buying / importing the bike from Canyon in Germany, and installing the BBSHD on a 120mm BB carbon fiber frame.
So, why Canyon? Why go through the trouble?
I’ve mentioned Canyon bikes in past articles. In short, Canyon is a direct-to-consumer bike manufacturer based in Koblenz, Germany. They have gained huge popularity in Europe, and countries around the world, for selling high-quality, high-performance bikes at prices much lower than the competition – due to their direct-to-consumer sales model. There’s no huge dealer margins added to the price of Canyon bikes. The downside, however, is that you can’t see and touch, or “test drive” a Canyon bike before purchasing, unless you live near Koblenz or have a friend who owns one. Frames for the Canyon bikes are made in Taiwan, but all bikes are designed by the company in Germany and assembled at their state-of-the-art factory in Koblenz.
My discovery of Canyon bicycles was completely by accident. I was looking to get another brand of fat bike – Bergamont – to use in Ukraine. Several shops in Ukraine showed the bike to be in stock on their sites, however when I went to order the bike I learned it was completely out of stock everywhere in the country. Desperate, I searched German sites and found a couple shops there where the bike was still available. But I needed a way to get it shipped to Ukraine – no sellers offered direct shipping. That’s when I discovered a freight forwarder called MyGermany.com – more about them later. When I contacted them about shipping the Bergamont bike to Ukraine, they replied and said they shipped bikes all over the world from Germany – and attached a photo of a Canyon bike carton they were shipping for a customer. Then it started – I had to know why these bikes from Canyon were so desirable.
The super-sexy Canyon Sender DH bike
To make a really long story short, I read up everything that I could about Canyon bikes – reviews from professional biking sites, owner’s forums, Canyon’s Facebook page, and more. Here are links to a few of the reviews I read – some of them must be translated:
The opinions of owners and reviewers were almost universally positive, so I scrapped the plan to buy and ship the Bergamont bike, and decided that I wanted to try Canyon and see what all the fuss was about. One problem for US residents: Canyon doesn’t have a US sales office and doesn’t sell or ship to America yet. They plan to open US sales in late summer 2017 – but I’ve read forum posts going back to early 2015 saying Canyon was planning on starting to sell in the US ‘very soon’, so I take that late summer 2017 date with a big grain of salt. On Canyon’s Facebook page, below almost every post published, I read many pleas from American biking enthusiasts who keep asking when Canyon bikes will finally be available in the USA. So I realized I wasn’t alone in my desire for a Canyon bike and my frustration that the company is not yet selling in the US.
Undaunted, I decided that the sleek Canyon DUDE CF 9.0 carbon fiber fat bike was the bike I wanted – and would get – for this project. No matter how much work I had to go through to get the bike to the USA. (EU readers: you guys don’t realize how lucky you are, when it comes to easily being able to buy from Canyon and have your bike delivered within the EU. About e-bike power limit laws, you’re not so lucky – but being able to buy from Canyon almost makes up for it.)
First, to Outlet or not to Outlet? That is the Question.
While learning about Canyon, I realized they have two sites: the main Canyon Germany Site, and the Canyon Outlet Site. The Outlet site sells previous model year bikes, as well as demo, magazine review sample, and scratch-and-dent bikes, all at reduced prices. Being someone with Caviar taste but an In-N-Out Burger budget, I decided to focus on the Canyon Outlet for my search. I was lucky: at the time I was searching for bikes (January 2017), the selection of close-out 2016 models (brand new bikes) was abundant. But I see that now, a couple months later, most of those 2016 bike deals have been snapped up – there are fewer bikes available on the Outlet site than before. Still, I’d suggest you begin searching there to try and save some money – if what you’re looking for isn’t there, then you can shop from the main Canyon site.
Canyon Outlet site has bikes up to 25% off
Next, how to buy and how to pay
I found my dream bike for this first Canyon build – the DUDE CF 9.0 – on the Canyon Outlet site. It was a new 2016 model, in M. Normally, the price of this bike was 2499 euros (about $2640), but the Outlet site had this bike for just 1699 euros – 800 euros off the regular price. Canyon has several sizing guides on their site to help you find the right size. By using that, and reading many posts about size in the Canyon Owner’s forums, I decided that M would be the right size DUDE for me – I’m 5’9″ with a 32″ inseam. And the size choice was right – the bike fits me perfectly.
Things started well – I’d found the exact bike that I wanted. But when I started to go through the checkout process, I realized there was a big problem. Because Canyon doesn’t sell in the USA yet, they don’t even offer the choice of USA when choosing your credit card’s billing country. I tried submitting the order listing Germany as the country, since I was going to be shipping it to Germany, but of course that didn’t work. Canyon does offer two other payment methods – PayPal and bank wire transfer. Because I no longer use PayPal (long story, suffice it to say I’m not a fan of PayPal at all), the only choice left for me was bank transfer. While this was a bit worrisome, I realized Canyon is a reputable company and there was very little risk of them taking the money and running.
The expensive bank lesson – followed by redemption: TransferWise
Like many people would do, I went to my local bank (Wells Fargo) to complete the wire transfer to Canyon. With the exchange rate of 1.07 dollars/euro at the time, I calculated what the total should be, and figured I’d end up paying a $30 or so fee to the bank for the transfer. Wrong. What I learned is that foreign exchange transfers are a really profitable source of income for banks. The rate I was charged for the transfer was at $1.10/euro, not the actual rate of $1.07/euro. When I asked about this, the bank rep said that the bank’s exchange rate isn’t necessarily the same rate you see on Google. Um, OK, I thought. All in all, between the inflated exchange rate and transfer fees, I ended up paying the bank over $100 for my wire transfer to Canyon. Oh yes, and the transfer took a full 8 days to show up in Canyon’s account. I left the bank feeling rather ripped off, and not wanting to go through that process again.
TransferWise doesn’t inflate the exchange rate for wire transfers
Later that day, I remembered a business I’d heard about several months before – TransferWise. This company has been called the “Skype of Money Transfers” for their low-cost approach to international bank transfers. Short version of my experience: After reading many reviews about the company on both their Facebook Page, and on TrustPilot, I was convinced the company is legit – and that by using them, my money wouldn’t disappear into the ether (or their owners’ bank account). A few weeks later, for my 2nd purchase from Canyon, I used TransferWise for the transaction. After entering your personal info, you start a new transfer and then enter all the bank information for the recipient. To fund the payment, it’s as quick and easy as electronic bill paying from your checking account. The TransferWise site opened up a window that let me log into my bank account, then approve a one-time ACH transfer for the amount of the payment.
My wire transfer to Canyon went smoothly and quickly
The great part – I saved huge money (as well as saving time and not having to drive to the bank) by using TransferWise. The exchange rate charged was the actual interbank rate (the same rate you see on Google) at the time of transfer. My only cost was the company’s fee of about $23. And the icing on the cake was that I got confirmation that Canyon received my payment the next day – not 8 days later, like with my bank.
The next problem – shipping from Canyon to the USA
Paying for the bike successfully felt like an accomplishment… but I had another problem – getting it to California. Canyon doesn’t ship their bikes to the USA, and that brings me back to the great freight forwarder I found when searching for that Bergamont bike in Ukraine:MyGermany.com.
The company’s rep, Johanna, had replied to my first contact and mentioned they ship German bikes all the time, all over the world. The photo she attached was of a Canyon bike carton, opened so the customer could see everything was inside. 2 Canyon bikes later for me, and the rest is history. MyGermany ships a variety of German products around the world, but besides just shipping they offer some cool services. One good bonus, in this case, is they will open the box once it’s received at their offices. Then, they send you a photo of the contents by e-mail, so you can verify everything is OK before your shipment makes the long trek to you from Germany.
This photo, e-mailed to me from MyGermany.com, made me very happy
The process of using MyGermany to ship for you is pretty simple. You first set up an account on the site, entering your card information. A 1 euro charge is made to your card to establish the account. Then, once your merchandise ships out from the seller, you create a new shipment on the MyGermany site. You’ll enter the carrier, tracking information, description and value of the item(s) that are coming to them. The first bike I sent with MyGermany, I had to upload a copy of the invoice from Canyon. Strangely, the 2nd time, I didn’t have to upload an invoice. Then once the package is received at MyGermany’s Weimar warehouse, you’ll receive an e-mail telling you it has arrived there.
Here you enter the incoming package info
After they have received it, and you check out the e-mailed photo of your goods, you move the shipment from your Inbox on the site to your Outbox, where you’ll be given options for shipping (FedEx Economy, FedEx Express, DHL) and prices for each option. Prices shown are inclusive of MyGermany’s fee – which isn’t explicitly stated but must be pretty small. I know this, because I priced out the cost of shipping the bike myself directly from Germany to California with both FedEx and DHL. And in both cases the cost via MyGermany, including their fee, was less than I was quoted shipping directly with the carrier. For both of my bikes from Canyon, I chose the least expensive option – FedEx economy.
Your shipping history and tracking on MyGermany.com
The shipping cost was almost identical for both bikes, about 430 euros. After paying, within a couple days I received notice that my bike was picked up from the MyGermany warehouse by FedEx and was in transit. The first bike shipment – the DUDE – went very smoothly with FedEx, and arrived just 5 days after leaving MyGermany. My 2nd Canyon bike purchase (more about this in a future article) wasn’t so lucky – during an 8-day period, the shipment visited 2 cities in Germany, then made a brief tour of Europe, visiting airports in Paris and London, with a couple days’ stopover in London, before making its way to Memphis, then Los Angeles (right next to the future Luna Cycle warehouse, actually), then Compton(?), then Burbank, and finally to me. So I can say from my experience that you have a 50% chance that the FedEx part of this whole process will go smoothly.
Special delivery from Koblenz
Buying & Shipping Done – Let’s get to the build!
Buying and shipping the bike presented some challenges. However, I worried my troubles were just beginning – installing a BBSHD on a 120mm fat bike, with a carbon fiber frame, had never been done as far as I knew. But I did some research beforehand and had hope the build would work. The main issue with the BBSHD on a CF frame is the thickness of your bottom bracket – not the width (e.g., 100mm, 120mm), but how thick the carbon material is around the bracket. Some CF frames use many layers of carbon fiber around the BB in order to increase strength in this highly-stressed area, and that of course makes it thicker. And with the BBSHD, you only have about 13mm of clearance between the tube that slides through your BB, to the motor housing. So your frame’s BB thickness cannot be more than 13mm – I’d say keep it to 11-12mm max to be safe – for the BBSHD to fit through. When I researched the bike, I found close-up photos of its BB and saw that it appeared to not be overly thick – so I decided to take a chance and select this bike for the build. Worst case scenario – the BBSHD doesn’t fit, and I have to adapt another drive unit, like the Mini Cyclone or the Tangent Ascent, to the bike.
This review photo gave me hope the BBSHD would fit
I also knew the bike used an e-thirteen crank and bottom bracket set, with press-fit bearings. In the past, this would’ve meant using the BBSHD was a no-go, since it’s designed to fit standard threaded bottom bracket openings. The opening size for press-fit BBs is much larger. But now, several adapters are available on the market just for this purpose – allowing you to use the ‘HD with the larger press-fit BB opening. I decided to get the Luna Cycle PF41 BB adapter, which they machine in-house from a block of aluminum.
Luna adapter for press-fit bottom brackets
The cool thing about this adapter, described in a video here, is that it has ridges on both the adapter tube and the triangle bracket which attaches to the motor. This keeps the motor locked tight to the tube and prevents it from rotating inside the BB, due to motor torque or downward force from a big jump.
e-thirteen crankset removal required a specialized tool
Next step was to remove the e-thirteen TRS crankset and bottom bracket. This crankset doesn’t use the standard ISIS or square BB, so my crank puller tools didn’t work on the bike. After some research, I learned that there is a specific e-thirteen puller tool that must be used with this crankset – I found it on Amazon here. After some serious pressure was applied, I finally got the crankset off and was presented with the next problem: removing the bearings that were firmly stuck inside my delicate CF bottom bracket. I needed to use a lot of force, but still remove them as gingerly as possible as the last thing I wanted to do was crack and/or destroy my brand-new carbon frame.
The bike’s press-fit BB opening is too big for the BBSHD
I again researched this topic and found that Park Tool makes a dedicated press-fit BB bearing remover tool, but at almost 50 bucks it seemed a little pricey to me. I learned that you can use a Headset Cup Remover Tool for the job, at a much lower price. Between that tool, and very careful tapping with a hammer and large flat screwdriver, I was able to get both bearings out without damaging the frame.
Thankfully, the DUDE’s BB was not too thick for the ‘HD
I then inserted my Luna BB adapter, and saw my next obstacle: the adapter was too short. While the diameter was perfect – a snug fit into the DUDE’s BB – it was about 30mm too short to fill my 120mm wide bottom bracket. The standard length of Luna’s adapter is 91mm – which fits some bikes that they build at the shop – but it is the wrong size for many other bikes. The adapter needs to be offered in several lengths in order to fit different popular BB widths: 68/73mm, 100mm, and 120mm. But actually, each adapter should be 1mm or so shorter than that, so the tightening force of the BBSHD’s mounting nuts holds the drive tightly against the sides of the BB, rather than pressing against the adapter. So I suggested to Eric that Luna adds 72mm, 99mm, and 119mm versions of the PF41 adapter to their catalog. A check of the site today does not show the size options on there yet, but I think they’ll be available soon.
At 91mm long, the Luna BB adapter was about 28mm too short for my bike
After some pleading, I convinced Eric to have Luna’s magic machine shop whip up a custom 120mm version of the adapter for my bike. It fit perfectly, and allowed me to continue with the build. One thing to note: to really get the full benefit of those locking ridges, your adapter must be locked tight into the bike’s BB so it doesn’t twist under force. Now, by doing this, you are really dedicating yourself to the BBSHD platform as it’s likely that adapter will NEVER come out in the future without destroying the frame – say, if you want to sell your bike at some point, or take it back to an unpowered bike, or use a different drive system. I test-drove the bike on trails several times before motorizing it, and I loved how it rode unpowered so much, that I couldn’t bring myself to epoxy my adapter into the bike’s frame. Someday, I may just decide to ride the DUDE unpowered again, it’s that good as a race-style fat bike. But because of this, I do check tightness of the drive unit every time before riding.
Custom 120mm long PF41 adapter from Luna
The parts, they are a-goin’ in
Here’s a list of parts that I got for the Canyon DUDE build. All items were from Luna Cycle except the last item:
Along with a bunch of miscellaneous XT90 connectors, wire, zip ties, etc.
A note about the Ludicrous controller: as some of you probably know, it is Luna’s policy to sell their Golden Child, the Ludicrous controller, only with complete e-bike purchases. I totally understand this choice – the Ludicrous is their baby and a competitive advantage, and it makes sense to use it to help entice customers into buying their complete e-bikes (which, as I revealed in my Crazy E-bike Pricing articles, are a pretty screamin’ bargain once you consider what it costs to DIY build the same bike). That said, Eric has been known to make exceptions on occasion for those who are close to Luna, or have helped him or the company in some way. Or – possibly – you can write a really good, useful, interesting article for this site – and Eric may just hook you up with one as your reward for creating interesting content for electricbike.com. So put on that writer’s cap and get creative!
It’s Christmas for me: goodies are here to begin the build
I started by test-fitting the BBSHD through my BB, once the Luna adapter was in place, and discovered my next problem. The mounting screw holders protrude out a bit from the BBSHD’s motor casing. And because the DUDE’s frame bottom tube is so wide (one of the things that make it look great, I think), this protrusion from the BBSHD was hitting the frame. I knew that if left this way, a lot of force would be applied onto a small area of the frame, and eventually it’d cause a crack or hole in the CF bottom tube – possibly with disastrous results if it happens while riding fast over rough terrain. I needed something soft yet firm, that could be placed between the motor housing and the frame tube, to distribute the force over a larger area. Canyon provided some great soft but firm foam as packing material with the bike, so I cut that to size and pushed it tightly between motor and frame, along with a dab of glue holding it to the motor housing. With use, the motor torque pushes it upward into the frame, compressing the foam a bit but still preventing the protruding part from sticking into the carbon frame tube. The fix seems to have held up after a couple weeks of riding over rough singletrack near me.
This piece of Canyon packing made the perfect cushion to protect the frame
Those two problems (adapter tube length, and protection from motor bracket hitting the frame) solved, I then moved onto the next problem – which it seems, most 120mm fat bike users of the BBSHD must encounter. You can clearly see it in the photo above- there is a huge gap between the triangle plate for the BB adapter, and the screw holder on the motor housing. In my case, I measured the gap at 24mm – nearly an inch. It would’ve been even more if I had needed to use spacers on the drive side of my BBSHD, but thankfully, the motor ended up in the perfect position with no spacers needed. While I see that the BBSHD kits for 100/120mm bikes come with black spacer tubes to fill this gap, I wasn’t able to locate any in my kit. Next stop was Home Depot, looking for aluminum tube spacers, but everything they had was too small. I ended up getting nylon spacers that I cut to length as a stop-gap measure, until I could locate the proper spacers. After some searching on amazon, I was able to find theseAluminum Tube Spacers, available in a variety of lengths like 15mm, 20mm, 25mm – but the only problem is that they’re silver. Like the screws I have, and the triangle plate, They stick out like a sore thumb in plain silver aluminum finish – these parts all need to be black for a more stealthy and coherent look that better matches the BBSHD. Hopefully in the future, Luna will offer all these parts, including spacer tubes in a variety of lengths, with a black anodized finish.
My nylon Home Depot spacer, and silver screws, look pretty cheesy
Wrapping up the assembly!
Once the difficult part – motor adaptation and installation – was done, then it was onto the easier, more fun parts of the build. I installed the 30T Mighty Mini chainring next, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had a pretty good chainline – even without the benefits of greater offset offered by either the Luna Eclipse or the Lekkie 42T chainrings.
Even with the Mighty Mini, chainline was not bad
I then proceeded to mounting all handlebar components – the DPC-14 color display, power/control switch, and Luna throttle grips. As a previous motocross rider, I prefer the traditional twist throttle, but I am going to be experimenting with a thumb throttle as well. There are some benefits to it for singletrack riding – like being able to hold onto the grips firmly over rough terrain, and to not accidentally juice the throttle when you go over a huge bump. After that, it was just wire routing, using about three times as many zip ties as I ever thought I would need. You can never have enough black zip ties, in all sizes, I always say. What to do if you have lots of ’em left over? I suggest you have fun with your neighbors and do ‘mock citizen’s arrest’ demonstrations. They’ll really like you after that. Or they can come in handy for boudoir games (I have been told).
The build, coming together
What about the battery!?!
Oh yes, the battery. You probably thought I forgot about that, but no, it’s been in the front of my mind ever since I started looking at the bike. Knowing that I planned to use the 50A Ludicrous controller, I knew a Shark Pack battery was out. The Shark Packs max out at 30A, which doesn’t let you take full advantage of the Luda’s immense power. No, I knew I needed a triangle frame battery pack to have the juice needed to power this bike. But the frame has a long, low, kind of squat shape that’s popular with modern DH and Enduro bikes, so most big standard-shaped triangle packs wouldn’t fit.
Template for battery box
Plus, the bike (to me) was sleek, cool, and sexy looking – so I didn’t want the standard nylon velcro-mounted soft frame pack on this bike, which I felt would look kind of dorky and out of place on it. I knew this frame needed – and deserved – a really cool hard frame box, made from aluminum, to house the battery pack. Inspired by Adam Livingston’s amazing fabrication work on his Titanium bike and custom battery box, I’ve already begun work on it. The details and result will be saved for a future article. But for now, I can say that I’ll be using Samsung 25R batteries for their high-current output – the 25R supports up to 20A continuous. They’ve been surpassed by newer cells in capacity and energy density, but what I am looking for is high amps and the 25R is the perfect cell for that job. Plus, now you can find them pretty cheap. I made a cardboard template for the battery case, which is also handy for testing how many cells you can fit inside. The space inside my M frame triangle is not very big, so I’m hoping for either a 14S/6P or 14S/7P configuration, to max out the limited space inside the battery compartment.
Having fun with cardboard and paper
For now, I get by testing the bike with my 6-year-old, 48v 20Ah LiFeP04 pack taken from one of my Super Lithium 1500 scooters. This 20+lb. behemoth isn’t the most fun thing to have strapped to your back while riding rough trails, but it did allow me to get the bike on the road immediately after the build was done. Sadly, this well-worn and elderly pack is only putting out about 25A max – so I’m not feeling anywhere near the hit that the 50A Ludicrous can provide, at least not yet.
Early testing – How’s it ride!?!
So, was all this hard work, time, and effort worth it? In a word (or two): hell yes! The bike rides great. In fact, it rode great even before I motorized it. On my favorite trail in the Santa Monica mountains, I found myself taking the downhill sections even faster than I’d ever done on my usual 27.5″ hardtail mountain bike. I was inspired by the great traction from the Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tires, and the huge stopping power of the Shimano SLX brakes. The bike was incredibly light – I couldn’t believe how svelte it was, the first time I picked it up. At about 12.5kg, it’s much lighter than both my hardtail bike and my new Canyon Strive DS enduro bike. The frame weighs an incredible 1.5kg – about 3 pounds. You can tell from the frame design and geometry that this isn’t your Grandfather’s fat bike. The frame shape, head angle, geometry, and looks, all make this seem much more like a racing Enduro bike that just happens to have 4″ tires than a traditional fat bike. I liked the bike so much, non-motorized, that in a way it seemed a shame to put a motor kit and battery on it and add all that weight to such a superb-handling machine. Really, the right way to do it is to have 2 DUDEs – one manual and one motorized.
Ready to go out and hit the trails
The first trail rides revealed that the bike hadn’t lost its great handling character with the motor kit added. It was a joy to ride through the rough trails near me. Of course, as I said, I am still not able to feel the full power available with the Ludicrous controller, due to my old backpack-carried battery. Even with the limited battery power, the bike still powered up steep inclines with hardly a slowdown, thanks to the Mighty Mini.
That said, there were a couple minor negatives I took away from the ride. First – I found myself missing the super-supple and long travel suspension of my Kuberg FreeRider when going over the rough bumps. The trails are much rougher than before due to recent rains and storm runoff, so there are harsh and uneven sections everywhere. And with no rear suspension, my butt was getting a pounding (not in the good way, either) that after a while made me need to stop and take a rest. The problem was made worse by having a backpack battery. I usually stand when riding over rough sections, but due to the power cable coming out of my backpack battery, I had to sit through all the rough stuff. Also, after spending some time with the 30T Mighty Mini, I found it provided a little too short gearing for my taste (using the bike’s standard 11-36T, 10S cassette). I was rarely using gears 1-3, as they topped out at very slow speeds. Most of my time was spent in the middle of the cassette, mainly in gears 4-8, and I found myself shifting frequently to stay in the motor’s comfort zone. For my 2nd test ride on these same trails, I switched to the Precialps36T chainring, and I liked the resulting ratios the 36T provided better than the 30T sprocket. Maybe there’s a 36T “Maxi Mighty Mini” chainring coming in Luna’s future, if we all bother them constantly about it?
After the first testing session – what a great bike
Conclusion – you CAN buy and build a Canyon carbon fiber fat bike from Germany
As you can see, it was a long and involved process to buy this bike, pay for it, have it shipped internationally, then do the build with some custom parts. There were several times in the process that I questioned my own sanity in taking this project on, as it would’ve been a lot easier to just buy one of the great ready-made fat bikes that Luna Cycle offers. Or to buy a bike locally, with an aluminum frame and standard threaded bottom bracket. But, like I said before, to me it was totally worth it. The bike looks and handles great, and I can see the quality that Canyon puts into their bikes. Thanks to Luna’s adapter and a few small parts I had to custom-make, the installation wasn’t really that hard – it just took me a long time. So if you’ve been eyeing Canyon bikes for an e-bike conversion, but thought the process would be just too difficult – or impossible – I hope this article has shown you otherwise. Yes, it’s a little more work than a standard e-bike conversion, but the end result is worth it.
About the Author:
Patrick M. is a A former coupon-book entrepreneur and travel agency owner, and Patrick developed one of the first consumer-review web sites way back in 1996. In the early 2000s, he worked as a journalist, serving as contributing editor for two home theater magazines. Now, Patrick splits his time between producing documentary movies and renovating homes – but his true passion has always been anything with wheels and ultra-high performance.
Written by Patrick M, March 2017