Online shopping is en vogue and it seems like there’s nothing that can evade our clutches on the Internet. From groceries to 3D printers and shoes, road bikes are just another of the many products that we drop into our baskets, along with derailleurs, wheels and bar tape, of course. We headed to the cycling world’s leading direct order company at their home in Germany’s Koblenz for a sneak-peek behind the scenes of Canyon, wondering what happens when we put one of their bikes in our baskets.

Hinter den Kulissen bei einem der führenden Bike-Versender.
Behind the scenes at one of the world’s leading bike brands.

Founded in 1985, Canyon really cemented their position on the market after a fairly momentous re-branding in 2007, putting the original derision that had originally met their bikes to rest. Their direct order approach was initially hard for some to fathom, but the Koblenz-based company persisted, successfully carving out their own route within the industry, armed with cardboard boxes and incredible value for money. Fast-forward to the present day, and the perception of Canyon has changed drastically, boasting a reputation for producing some of the industry’s most innovative and popular bikes. In Germany alone, they dominate the market with a 30% chunk of it relying on their bikes. As a brand they haven’t just made steps to revolutionize manufacturing, but also logistics and quality control (and while you might cite those long waiting times, these teething problems have been resolved). We headed up to Koblenz for a look behind the scenes at the latest addition to their HQ dedicated to logistics and production as well as ultra-modern testing facilities.

Vom simplen Renn-Service Anhänger zu einem Konzern mit 118,8 Mio. € Jahresumsatz.
From their early days as mobile bike mechanics to a turnover of € 118.8 million euros.

From trucking with wares to sell from founder Roman Arnold’s mobile bike parts trailer to a turnover in 2014 of € 118.8 million, Canyon claim they’re now growing at 30 % each year – but as with any growth, it isn’t always a simple case of more is better. The widely documented issues with lead times even resulted in a personal apology from the founder. Fortunately, the new factory should mean an end to the seemingly endless wait. The new assembly line is equipped for 375 bikes each day, and the company has armed itself with all the necessary tools to meet further growth. Plus, should it prove necessary, there’s even excess land next to the new facilities that’s up for sale.

Canyons neue Fabrik liegt ein paar Kilometer außerhalb von Koblenz.
Canyon’s new facilities are a few kilometres outside of Koblenz.

The company is able to assemble, finish and deliver up to 14,000 bikes these days – plus keep them in stock. Of course, before anything leaves the terrain, the frames and components work their way along a pretty substantial production line.

14.000 Räder brauchen Platz. Verdammt viel Platz!
14,000 bikes take up more than just a garden shed!

Every single component is catalogued and meticulously coded, be it a tube or a whole frame; the company know where every single part can be found – so when call appears on a staff member’s tablet from below for a certain part, they’re able to seek out and send down the right part in a lift directly into the assembly hall. We won’t deny that it’s a fairly complex software system for handling the wares and orders, but it works. Every single part is fastidiously organized, available within a matter of minutes and ready to be assembled or shipped. Canyon may have found a way to keep prices down with their direct order approach, but they definitely haven’t scrimped when it comes to production.

Die angelieferten Teile werden auf diesen speziellen Wagen ins Hochregal transportiert.
The delivered parts are transported on this cart to their respective spots on the shelves.
Der Gabelstapler kann die Transportwägen einfach anheben und bis auf 10m Höhe liften.
A forklift can raise the transport wagon to a height of 10 metres.
Ein solches Tablet hat jeder Mitarbeiter am Arm. Darüber lässt sich der aktuelle Aufenthaltsort der Teile jederzeit bestimmen.
Every staff member has one of these tablets on their arm, giving them not only access to the current location of any part but also the ability to determine it.
Dank Magnetstreifen im Boden fährt der Transportwagen exakt durch die engen Regalschluchten, wodurch potenzielles Ankanten oder Crashes vermieden werden.
Thanks to magnetic strips on the floor, the transport cart navigates precisely between the narrow shelving units.
Der Überblick im Teilelager ist nur dank des komplexen Warenwirtschaftssystems möglich.
The new merchandise control system means they can keep track of where all the parts are stored.
Hier finden sich wahre Schätze – zum Beispiel Zipp 808 Laufräder.
A veritable treasure chest, take a look at these Zipp 808 wheels.
Brandneue Conti Grandprix TT ?
Brand new Conti Grandprix TT ?
Die Rahmen werden gut geschützt in die Montagehalle geliefert.
Frames are carefully delivered to the assembly room so they arrive scratch-free.
Gleiches gilt für die Komponenten, die per Hand in die blauen Boxen sortiert werden, nachdem sie gescannt wurden. Jedes Teil hat ein bestimmtes, „maßgeschneidertes“ Fach in der blauen Box.
The same applies to the parts, which are first scanned then sorted by hand into these blue boxes that have tailor-made compartments for virtually everything.
Über den Aufzug wandern die Komponenten, sicher in eine Kiste verpackt, in die Montagehalle.
Once inside a cardboard box, the parts make their way to the assembly hall via this lift.

After getting through quality control, the frames are ready for the assembly hall. The derailleur and the headset are fitted. If any defects are spotted, Canyon send the bike back to paint.

Erst werden die Rahmen vorbereitet.
The first stage of assembly.
Nichts für schwache Nerven: das Einpresswerkzeug für den Steuersatz.
The headset press: not for the faint-hearted.
Die Laufräder werden ebenfalls kontrolliert und vorbereitet.
Wheels are getting prepared for assembly.

While the frame is being worked on, the tires are mounted onto the wheels, controlled and prepped for the next stage of assembly. The bike is now ready to head into the home straight, where all the components are fitted to the bike before it’s taken for a short test ride – then promptly prepared for shipping (i.e., partly disassembled).

Anschließend werden die Bikes demontiert und verpackt.
The bikes are then partly dissembled ready for packing and shipping.

If the bikes don’t go straight to the warehouse then they might make a detour to the nearby Canyon showroom, resplendent in ultra modern fresh-looking steel, glass and sharp lines. A Lamborghini wouldn’t be out of place here, but fortunately this Koblenz showroom only has room for bikes. As we’re escorted out of the showroom with glossy eyes, it’s evident just how far removed Canyon are from the adage of style over substance: behind the closed doors there’s a hive of activity with development and quality control. So there’s the substance, we note.

Ein Monument aus Stahl, Beton und Glas.
Pretty majestic in concrete, glass and steel.
Im Eingangsbereich findet man Räder, die Geschichte geschrieben haben: hier zum Beispiel Nairo Quintanas Ultimate CF, mit dem er die Giro gewann.
Cycling history adorns the entrance hall, with incredible bikes on show like Quintana’s Giro-winning Ultimate CF.
In der nächsten Ecke finden sich Carbon-Molds und Fertigungsbeispiele.
In the next corner there are carbon molds and production examples.
Die aktuellen Räder findet man erst nach einer Zeitreise durch Canyons Firmengeschichte.
Their current bikes can be admired after a trip through Canyon’s history.
Wer möchte, kann eine Probefahrt vornehmen.
If you feel like testing out a bike …
Im hinteren Teil des Showrooms befindet sich der Service-Bereich.
… you’ll find the service area at the back of the showroom.
Welcher Bikeshop kann schon mit einem Mittagsbuffet und feinem Kaffee aufwarten? Mit dem Showroom bricht Canyon die Grenzen der Direktversenders.
How many bike shops can serve up a lunch buffet and great tasting coffee? Canyon’s showroom goes against the preconceived image of a direct order company.

Those who are permitted entry can stroll through a zone of destruction, noise and expensive machinery: we’re talking about the test labs where the prototypes are put through their paces – both statically and dynamically – before being x-rayed. As no Canyon bars on production bikes can leave this building with a defect, Canyon have their own CT scanner, which x-rays around 250 bars (and bar-stem combos) per day. It’s enough to make a surgeon jealous!

Vom Tretlager …
From the bottom bracket …
… und Schaltauge, ...
… to the derailleur hanger, …
… über Gabel …
… the forks …
… und Lenker ...
… and the bars …
… bis zum Impact: Alles wird getestet und gemessen.
…as well as the impact: Everything gets tested and measured.
Alle Canyon-Lenker werden im hauseigenen CT überprüft.
The company’s own CT scanner examines all of their bars.
Nebenan können Prototypen gefertigt …
Prototypes are finalized in the neighboring rooms …
… und Teammaterialien vorbereitet werden.
… and team materials duly prepared.
Für wen diese Bikes wohl sind?
Who’s going to be riding these bikes?
Qualitätsanspruch? Check!
High quality standards? Check!

Europa, Australia and heading stateside come 2017: Canyon keeps marching on with persistence. And deservedly so: as a brand, their bikes consistently (out)perform in tests and they appear to have tackled their delivery issues. Not content resting on their laurels, the German company also have a hell of a lot in the pipeline to keep at the head of the pack.

Did you check out our test of the Canyon Endurace CF SLX yet?.

More information can be found on the Canyon Website.

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