But where the Precede:ON was all about slick integration and futuristic looks, the Pathlite:ON 5 takes its cues from the world of the best hardtail mountain bikes.
Its smooth ride quality, the ample amounts of power on tap and the impressive value for money make it a serious contender if you’re looking for a commuter machine to help you enjoy the benefits of riding an electric bike.
Some impressive handling chops bring the new Canyon into the realms of the best electric mountain bikes, too, but at 23.5kg there’s a heavy weight penalty to pay.
How we tested
Some models are motor-equipped folding bikes for nipping around town. Others have mountain-bike style wide tyres and can cope with rugged terrain.
Besides commuter-bike staples such as racks and full-length mudguards, some have integrated lights and locks. The range of most is sufficient for all but the longest and hilliest trips home from the office.
In this test, we’ve looked at four premium assisted bikes that offer different riding experiences in the £2,000 to £4,000 bracket.
Also on test
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 frame and suspension details
One nod to the mountain biking world is the Pathlite:ON 5’s aluminium frame, which is paired with an SR Suntour suspension fork that has 100mm of travel. The fork performed well, even when I tried it down steps and riding over speed bumps and kerbs.
The fork lacks some high-speed bump response and, as a coil spring rather than an air spring, it’s harder to adjust for a particular rider, but I was impressed with it, and on smooth roads you can lock out the suspension to keep the ride efficient.
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 geometry
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 spec details
The off-road flavour is continued in the drivetrain, which uses Shimano’s workhorse Deore components, with a 42t chainring and a long-cage rear derailleur to shift across the super-wide 11-51 cassette. Shimano’s MT200 hydraulic brakes combine with the rotors to provide ample control in stopping the bike’s considerable 23.5kg weight.
The big 29in wheels are shod with Schwalbe’s tightly studded G-One All-Round tyres in a huge 57mm width. The combination of such large-volume tyres, the front suspension and the tyres’ diameter makes the Pathlite hugely capable over pretty much any surface you encounter.
The Bosch Performance Line CX powertrain is controlled by Bosch’s Purion display, which enables you to switch between off, Eco, Tour, eMTB and Turbo modes.
The display/controller doubles as an on/off switch for the integrated lights, and the system also has a Walk+ button that’s handy for pushing the bike up steep ramps.
Canyon claims an impressive 100km / 62-mile range, and I found that pretty much spot on. My test rides included 64 miles / 103km with 2,750ft / 838m of climbing and 56 miles / 90km with 3,635ft / 1,108m of climbing on a particularly lumpy route.
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 ride impressions
Bosch’s latest Gen 4 motor is an ideal companion for commuting. It’s unobtrusive when you’re pedalling above the 15.5mph assist limit, but when the road starts to steepen to a serious degree, the motor has heaps of meaty torque on tap to keep your average speed as high and relative effort as even as if you were on the flat.
I still get a bit of a thrill in switching into ‘Turbo’ and using the 85Nm of oomph to blast up double-digit ascents.
The eMTB mode takes the motor to a new level of control, with the power delivery progressive and more sensitive than on previous Bosch systems.
This means the bike doesn’t respond with a kick as the power is delivered, which boosts your confidence when you’re dealing with wet or loose gravelly surfaces.
The battery is integrated into the down tube, which not only looks great but is practical for commuters, as one turn of the key lets you drop the battery out. The latest Bosch charger is light and compact too.
The mudguards provide superb coverage from the elements, though over chattery surfaces at speed the front guard buzzes like a plastic ruler.
The integrated lights are neatly done, with the front sensitive to ambient light levels and the rear’s three LEDs set neatly into the seatpost.
The wide bar and straight-backed riding position are great for navigating busy streets and bike paths, and the Fizik saddle isn’t bulky yet is comfy enough that you don’t have to wear padded cycling shorts.
Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 bottom line
Canyon’s Pathlite:ON 5 goes far beyond the realms of your average e-commuter. It’s comfortable, but its handling chops enable you to hit mountain bike terrain.
It has a great riding position, powerful motor in an excellent drivetrain and it’s loads of fun.
You’re unlikely to find anything that delivers this many smiles per mile, which isn’t something I often say about a commuting machine.
Throw in the range, plus Canyon’s usual value for money, and about the only downside is the Pathlite’s weight. But, if you don’t have to haul it upstairs, it’s hard to beat.
A lot more
- Canyon Pathlite:ON 7
The same rugged frame and fork but upgraded to Shimano’s premium XT for the rear derailleur and 12-speed 1x Deore. Up-rated brakes and a rear rack make this an even better all-road commuter option.
A little less
- Canyon Pathlite:ON 4
This shares the same frame and fork as the other two options here, but it strips down the bike to its bare minimum. So, if you want to spend less and ride lighter, the ON 4 may just be what you’re looking for.