Canfield Nimble 9 Review: A Modern, Fun, Versatile Hardtail

Fat tires come in all shapes and sizes. There have been many trends in the mountain bike wheel world and the plus tire market might be stagnating, but I for one, thoroughly enjoy the “mid-fat” tires, especially on my hard tails. Unfortunately, my Specialized Fuse couldn’t handle the Fat Guy and a chain stay snapped at the weld when landing a tiny jump. This necessitated a new hard tail for my stable of sweet whips.

Enter the Canfield Nimble 9. This bike is a steel hard tail with the durability of a rhinoceros and a little pliability in the flex of the rear triangle to reduce some fatigue when hitting the rough stuff on the trail. The single-speed capable machine has sliding dropouts and slack angles that make the most avid of riders and even the enduro boys and girls drool. With the ability to run anywhere from 140mm to an 160mm fork I was able to swap over my parts from the Fuse and carry on with my mid-fat, hardtail desires.

The change over from an aluminum frame to a steel frame added a slight bit of weight but knowing that I can absolutely jackhammer the bike through rocks, off drops and jumps adds a vote of confidence that I never had on the Fuse. Honestly, I expected the wheels to fold next once I paired them to the Nimble 9 frame. They have held up on the new steed for nearly 18 months of abuse.

Another bonus of plus sized wheels is that the additional spoke width provides a stiffer, more durable wheel. I am a big guy and I break stuff. It’s expected, but the frame and components as a whole have held up well.

Read on to learn more…..

Canfield Nimble 9 Tetons

Review In A Nutshell

Pros:

  • Steel, Single Speed Capable Frame is both Durable and Current 10/10
  • Component Build is Functional but Cost Effective 8/10
  • Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Fork is also FUNctional but Cost Effective 7/10
  • The Ride Feel is Unique and Adventurous 10/10

Cons:

  • Brakes are Cost Effective but Not Very Effective 6/10
  • Heavier for a Hardtail 7/10

Price: $3,599 – $3,899 Full Builds

$899 – $1200 for frames  (Frame and Fork options as well)

Buy at CanfieldBikes.com


The Canfield Nimble 9

The rigors of mountain biking can really dish out serious abuse. The area in which I live has mostly, buff, smooth singletrack that doesn’t require a lot of suspension, but there are still rocks, brake bumps, and sand that can eat a drive train. I do have several fully suspended bikes, but my Canfield hard tail frame really handles most of my local riding efficiently.

Admittedly, I have taken my hard tail down some steeps in Squamish and Teton Valley. The head tube angle of 66 degrees and seat tube angle of 77 degrees make for an aggressive hard tail that can surf down the brown pow with bigger contenders. Without newer geo angles I may have died in Squamish this summer. Haha.

While the Nimble 9 may not have rear suspension to soften the blow of big hits, I can still hit a decent sized rock drop. There is a specific drop on my local trails that I suspect may have been the main culprit in separating the chainstay from my bottom bracket on my Fuse. The Nimble 9 seems to soak the flattish landing and carry speed out of it. The frame is agile and fits me perfectly. The frame itself is a durable, comfortable mountain bike.

How It Rides

Climbing feels light and nimble. Why would Canfield name it anything else? I love its climbing ability and for a fat guy, I feel quite fast on it. My recorded times on my Megatrail in comparison are only about 45 seconds to 1 minute slower, but that has an Eagle drive train, and my Canfield has a 1 x 10 with a “larger” climb ring at 46 teeth. This is a component I might switch in the future to make steep climbing easier on my sweet hard tail.

Canfield Nimble 9 RideOne

Descending on the Nimble 9 is quite enjoyable. In addition to hitting rock drops, the Nimble 9 frame has sliding dropouts that can adapt the frames riding to your preferred preference. The bike can be run geared or single speed. It can also run the rear wheel from 16.33 inches to 16.99 inches of chain stay length. This means that the short chain stays can be made a little longer for some stability vs the poppy nature of shorter chain stays. My dropouts are set as far in as I can get them. This bike is so fun to jump. The short chain stays and my legs make quick work of rock gardens too.

The Frame Build

The frame is built from 4130 chromoly steel. The long, sleek lines of the top tube and downtube have clean, smooth welds that blend one tube to another. I bought the frame with the Static colorway, and it glimmers beautifully in the sunshine.

The bike was designed around 148mm boost spacing in the rear and can fit 27.5 tires up to 3 inches or 29 tires by 2.6. It really is an amazing steed with some cool options to customize one’s own ride feel. All of these features make for both a durable and current frame that will provide miles of smiles.

My Functional, Cost-Effective Component Build

While my enduro rig is outfitted with massive brakes, an Eagle drive train and some stellar suspension my hard tail is not. I tried to build up my hard tail considering cost and quality. Really, I should have matched my big bike. I have put in a solid 18 months of pedaling on these components and they have stood the test of ride time. There are a few items that I want to change out but most of it is here to stay.

When I bought my Specialized Fuse, it was used via Craigslist and I bought the cheapest 2020 version that was offered. It came stock with Tektro disc brakes, a Shimano XT 1×10 drivetrain and a Rockshox Judy fork. The fork was the weakest link in the proverbial chain and had to go asap. Ride time consisted of about six months on that fork before my Marzocchi Bomber Z2 (read that review here…) arrived via the delayed Covid supply chain from JensonUSA.

The Fork

I chose the Bomber Z2 because it was a cost-effective option that would prove to be more plush and more functional than the Judy. The fork is configured at 140mm but I have the option to change the damper up to a 160mm and the Nimble 9 frame can run between a 140 and a 160 fork, so I am going to bump the travel in the future. It has been a decent fork thus far. I did have a 30ish mile ride last winter before it snowed that caused some noise. With a little research I discovered that Fox was able to sell the Marzocchi forks for a cheaper price by simply leaving some parts out. I ordered all of the seals, dust wipers etc and immediately performed a service on the fork, added the missing foam wipers and haven’t had an issue since.

Canfield Nimble 9 on Tiddlywinks in Bend, OR
This is a screen grab from a short video taken on the Tiddlywinks trail in Bend, OR. It’s hard to capture the fatguy in the wild!

The fork itself is night and day from the Judy I replaced. It has taken some big hits and as the name of the Website indicates….I am a big guy. Maxxed out tokens, air pressure and fairly high compression seem to do the job. It stays supportive through small bumps, doesn’t wallow in the mid stroke and rarely bottoms out.

Drivetrain

The drive train is decent, but I live in Idaho so there is a lot of climbing. A 1×10 is just a little old and does not have enough range. I bought a new Shimano cassette that has a small gear with 46 teeth and that made a huge difference in my climbing ability. Shifts are clean and having a few less gears make for an efficient machine that moves quick. I plan to upgrade this bike to a 12 speed, but the drive train works for now.

Brakes

The brakes are cheap. There is no way to sugar coat that. The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes will be the first component that I replace. They are similar to older Shimano XT brakes, but do not have the same modulation and bite. New XT’s with 4 pistons are on order.

Leftovers

The remainder of my Nimble 9 build consists of a Spank Spoon handlebar (785mm L, 38mm rise), 35mm Funn stem, Ergon GE1 grips, Cane Creek headset, SDG Radar saddle, PNW Loam dropper (200mm), Wolftooth seat clamp, Sram Dub bottom bracket, Sram NX cranks, and Specialized Stout wheels. The wheels are setup with a 27.5 x 2.8 Maxxis Minion DHF on the front and a 27.5 x 2.6 Maxxis Dissector on the rear. I did have a Minion DHR II on the rear and it was too much for my hard tail.

Things To Consider

I built the Canfield Nimble 9 up with cost as a prime consideration. Knowing that I wanted a hard tail for smooth, buff trails and bike packing led me down a rabbit hole of current hard tails. I am honestly glad that I broke my Specialized Fuse because the Canfield has been a game changer.

It’s true that I only got to bike pack with it once this summer, but I thoroughly enjoyed that outing and have more planned. As I suspected, the hard tail has been my favorite bike for local trails. It’s easy to just throw a leg over and go. My full suspension bikes are quite big for most of the cross country singletrack that I am riding. My Nimble 9 is just right. If I get into some technical features it can still handle the rocks and roots. It loves tight turns. I never feel that the chain stays are going to break on me.

The Run Out: A High-Quality, Steel Hard Tail

The Canfield Nimble 9 has transformed my riding into something else. I still opt for my suspended bikes part of the time, but the hard tail gets most of the attention. The frame is steel, durable, and able to take some seriously hard hits. I was able to rekindle my memories of starting out in mountain biking.

The Nimble 9 can be built up single speed, geared and just about any way you would want it. With fork travel ranging from 140mm to 160mm it can be a trail bike or a beast of a trail bike. Canfield has made such a versatile frame.

I am excited to see the mountain tops, lake views, and aspen forests of Idaho and surrounding states with my family aboard this trusty steed. Moreover, I already have two other bike pack adventures planned out with it. I also am excited to turn my trail bike into a beast and extend my fork travel. I will upgrade components like the brakes eventually, but for now, I just want to ride.

Canfield Nimble 9 Jeans
Word of advice, don’t bike in jeans. It’s terribly uncomfortable. Haha

My current “mid-fat” hard tail setup below:

Bike: Canfield Nimble 9, Size Large, Internal/External Routing – Steel, Single Speed or Geared

Bottom Bracket: PF121

Rims: Specialized Stout 80mm with 32 spokes – Tubeless

Tires: Maxxis Minion F-DHF, R-DHR 27.5x 2.8

Hubs: F- Bontrager 15x150mm

           R- DT Swiss 12x197mm, Shimano HG Freehub

Stem: Funn 35mm

Headset: Cane Creek 44mm– tapered headtube

Handlebar: Spank Spoon 780mm

Grips: Ergon GE1

Brakes: Tektro Garbage

Saddle: SDG

DriveTrain: Shimano Deore 1×10

Cranks:  Sram NX

Cassette: Shimano XT 10 spd

Seat Post: PNW Components Loam IR 170mm, 31.6

Rear Shock: NA

Fork: Marzocchi Bomber Z2 (140mm, 44mm rake) max tokens

Weight: 30 lbs

Canfield Nimble 9 Features

  • 29″ All Mountain
  • 4130 chromoly steel
  • Radial-bent seat stays for vertical compliance
  • Increased reach and shorter seat tube
  • 66° head angle (w/ 150mm fork)
  • Recommended fork length: 140mm – 160mm
  • Custom sliding Boost 148mm x 12mm rear dropouts, axle included
  • 73mm BSA Threaded BB
  • 30.9mm seat post
  • 34.9 or 35mm clamp size (seat clamps available here)
  • Straight 44/44 headtube (headset available here)
  • Adjustable 16.33“ – 16.93” chainstays 
  • Brake mount: IS 160mm
  • Singlespeed-able
  • Stealth cable routing
  • ED Black treated for superior corrosion resistance
  • Two water bottle bosses
  • Brake mount – 160mm I.S.
  • Includes seat clamp, dropouts/derailleur hanger, rear axle and hardware
  • Max. seatpost insertion: 200mm(S), 235(M), 275(L), 320(XL)
Canfield Nimble 9 Specs from their website (Based on a 150mm fork, 563mm Axle to Crown)  L 
Top Tube Length (Effective)*  625mm 
Reach  475mm 
Stack*  648mm 
Standover Height*  800mm 
Seat Tube Length  445mm 
Wheel Base*  1212mm 
Head Tube Angle  66° 
Seat Tube Angle (Effective)  77° 
Chainstay Length  415-430mm  
Bottom Bracket Height  325mm 
Bottom Bracket Drop  50mm 
Head Tube length  115mm 

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