The Canfield Brothers Riot is one of those bikes that flew under the radar for me for quite awhile. I was super interested in the Balance last year but never could quite hook up with the Brothers to get a test ride. Meanwhile, discussion about the Riot kept appearing at the top of the Mtbr Canfield forum. As I got wading through the 70+ pages of e-speculation and e-anticipation I started to see why so many people were excited about this bike.

Canfield Brothers was one of the first companies to make an aggressive, fun 29er, with its Yelli Screamy all mountain hardtail back in 2011. But with the Riot they've taken the aggressive, yet playful 29er concept and turned it on its ear. The Riot is a FS 29er with 140mm of rear travel, 66.5-degree head angle, and downright stubby 16.3″ chain stays. How can you NOT want to ride a bike like that, especially after Evil has been taking the world by a storm with its own short travel aggressive 29er, The Following? We got our chance after meeting up with Lance Canfield at Interbike's Dirt Demo Expo. In fact, I got to ride Canfield's personal size large Riot.

Love the raw with blue ano bits. Very sharp.

Love the raw with blue ano bits. Very sharp (click to enlarge).​

Key Measurements

Canfield is 15 pounds lighter than me, but rides quite a bit more aggressively so his suspension settings ended up being spot on. The fit of the size Large, which sports a somewhat short effective top tube length of 24″ has a generous and roomy 18″ reach, which is the number that matters more to me when it comes to fit. The stack and bottom bracket height are a bit tall at 24.8″ and 13.78″ on paper, but for a longer travel 29er those numbers aren't bad and what's more important is how the bike functions on the trail. This bike felt right.

Canfield explained that the slot car, in-the-bike feel comes from having the BB below the axles yet still allowing for good pedal clearance in the rocks. The steep 76-degree effective seat tube angle puts the rider in a really good position to keep the front wheel planted on steep climbs.

Anodized awesomeness. No lateral flex was noted in these stout links or rear triangle.

Anodized awesomeness. No lateral flex was noted in these stout links or rear triangle (click to enlarge).​

On The Trail

We shuttled to the top of Bootleg Canyon and took the bikes down the fast, rocky, and ledgy Boyscout trail, which really tests a bike's high speed stability and gives the bike plenty of opportunity to show how it manages steep, tight, rocky switchbacks and pop over boulders and small drop offs. Wow, was the thought that kept coming to my mind as I flew down the upper half of Boy Scout. This thing is a Riot.

Lifting the front end was so effortless and so fun that you just wanted to manual everything. Except that popping over those same obstacles was also so entertaining that each successive hit had you trying to decide which to do. My only other thought as I was bombing that particular section of trail was how cool would this thing be with some nice fat 27.5+ wheels and tires on it. The Brothers have experimented with 27.5″ wide rims and plus sized tires. They claim they fit fine and take the Riot to a total frenzy level.

My next challenge was the up and down East Leg trail that has a few short steep climbs, sharp switchbacks, off-camber, exposed step-up moves and tricky gully traverses. But the section I really wanted to try was a super steep, narrow, long chute back down to the main road called "The Hour Glass." Lance Canfield had told us about it and pointed it out on the way up, thus all but requiring me to attempt it. This is a pucker factor 10 exercise in speed control on a very steep, sometimes loose, rocky chute with a couple potential wheel stoppers positioned right at the narrowest section. After a couple tenuous scoping out partial runs, the Riot took me down the Hour Glass without drama. It was a very impressive and confidence inspiring feat.

Continue to page 2 for on the Canfield Brothers Riot »



External cable routing was tidy and went where it should: down the top of the down tube, over the links then down the seat stays. This DB Inline worked as well as any shock I've tested.

External cable routing was tidy and went where it should: down the top of the down tube, over the links then down the seat stays. This DB Inline worked as well as any shock I've tested (click to enlarge).​

Suspension Set-Up

Overall suspension action was controlled and quite plush, and I fell in love with the MRP Stage fork that had already impressed me last year at Outerbike. It didn't quite match the awesomeness of RockShox's Pike, but, dang it was close. I really like this fork. I love that you can control the ramp up with a twist of a knob out on the trail, rather than adding tokens internally. This will likely be the first upgrade on my new bike.

The excellent DB Inline shock handled damping duties out back without me even noticing it. Canfield had the tune dialed in just right for me as well. I was really kind of torn between the DB Inline and the new Fox EVOL shock when I ordered my most recent bike because of trickier set up, a few reports of seal failure, and slightly higher weight with the Inline, but this experience confirmed to me that I made the right decision in ordering the Inline.

Canfield has several eponymous branded parts on their bikes including these cranks and wonderful Crampon Ultimate pedals.

Canfield has several eponymous branded parts on their bikes including these cranks and wonderful Crampon Ultimate pedals (click to enlarge).​

Climb Time

Extended climbing is the one thing I didn't get to do a lot of other than short steep grade reversals on the trails we rode. But from that experience, I don't have any reason to believe this bike can't handle the uphills, too. Smoother climbs feel surprisingly efficient. Just not a lot of squat or bob for a bike that is this plush on the descents. The Brothers patented Balance Formula double link suspension is impressive. It feels plush and controlled on the rough nasties, crawls up techy loose climbs while tenaciously sticking to the ground, yet still has a sufficiently firm platform for longer fire road climbs without the need of a lock out or climb switch.

You may want to reach down and flip that switch if you like to hammer out of the saddle, but even that did not induce the kind of monkey motion you might expect for a bike this plush and active.

Handling was not cumbersome like many 29ers tend to be. I assume this was due to the short chainstays and generous bottom bracket drop. I was never really aware of being on big wagon wheels except when it mattered: bombing over fast chundery, blown out terrain, and crawling over square edges, holes and wheel stoppers on slower technical sections.

Wide bars, short stem, and dropper post are all standard for this type of bike now days.

Wide bars, short stem, and dropper post are all standard for this type of bike now days (click to enlarge).​

Bottom Line

This bike is nimble enough to crossover into trail duty but still climbs with great acumen. It's plush on rough fast descents. Capable on super steep sketchy chutes. Hugs the ground on rough pedally climbs. Tracks well. Efficient on smoother climbs. I can't think of anything it didn't do well. I even loved the looks.

For more information visit canfieldbrothers.com.