Canfield Brothers is (or “are” if you prefer – companies made up of one or two people play havoc with the style-guide-dictated “companies are singular” thing) best known for big-travel freeride and downhill bikes. An XCish 29er hardtiail would be about the last thing that you’d expect the Brothers to produce, but the new Nimble is just such a bike.
Of the various criticisms levelled at 29in bikes, the length is high on the list, particular at the back half. If you like to pop the front wheel over obstacles then most 29ers will be working against you – the rear axle is somewhat furthe back, which makes it hard to get your weight over or behind it.
The Nimble addresses this issue by pushing the bottom of the seat tube forwards (rather than it joining straight to the BB shell as per normal) and using a direct-mount front derailleur. The Nimble features sliding dropouts to accommodate singlespeed usage, and with the dropouts in the middle of the adjustment range the BM tape measure said 425mm. Which would be an agreeable length for a 26in hartail – it’s a substantial 30mm shorter than the Fisher Superfly 100. The frame is made from double-butted 4130 tubing and is claimed to weight 5.5ln
The Nimble’s seatstays are curved downwards – the goal there is a comfier ride but we’re not convinced that curvy bits make all that much difference. It’s certainly quite comfy, though. Out on the trail it lives up to its name, feeling for all the world like a sharp-handling 26in bike but faster-rolling and with better grip. It’s still harder than you may be used to to lift the front – you’re trying to pivot the bike around an axle that’s further from the ground, and it’s hard to engineer that out.
Clearly it’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’ve been put off 29ers by their reputation for being unresponsive to wieght shift,s, the Nimble is worth a good look. Actually getting hold of one could be a challenge, though – Canfield doesn’t currently have a UK importer and the initial run will be of just 100 frames.