Canyon’s latest bike is a bit of a departure from the industry’s longer, slacker, more aggro mantra lately. It’s not that Canyon thinks those longer, slacker, and more aggressive bikes don’t have their place. It’s just that they feel a lot of riders would benefit from something a bit more relaxed. A bike with a high level of technology, but an approachable ride and price point. Most importantly, a bike that you can ride on all day trail epics or XC adventures.
Something like the new Neuron CF…
2019 Canyon Neuron CF carbon trail mountain bike
When describing their thought process with the Neuron CF, the concept of a Gran Turismo sports car was brought up as an example. While a GT car is sporty and fun to drive, it’s not nearly as aggressive as a full on race car which makes it more enjoyable for the average driver. Canyon hopes the same can be said of the new Neuron CF. In the hands of an expert rider, the bike is still be fast and precise, but an average rider is also able get a lot out of the bike regardless of their skill level.
To get it there, the Neuron CF has an all new carbon frame that packs in a lot of interesting features. The frame uses similar a design to their other mountain bikes with a “Flash themed transition” between the top tube and seat stays which give the carbon bike a sleek look. While the frame is full carbon, the shock extension is an interesting fiber reinforced engineered composite construction which doubles as a bearing shield (more on that below).
Suspension Slight of Hand
This means that when the suspension compresses, the shock extension glides over the seatstay in a way that you might not even notice unless you know what to look for. But when you do take notice, it’s a pretty compelling design. The suspension itself offers 130mm of travel through the Triple Phase design. Originally developed for the Sender DH bike, the suspension kinematics have been tuned for bigger wheels and a supple first phase, supportive mid stroke, and progressive final phase. Basically, it’s designed to be extremely efficient when pedaling while keeping it highly sensitive over small bumps. Rear pivot placement was also chosen based on keeping the suspension active under braking.
The smaller bikes with 27.5″ wheels use a 190 x 45mm shock while the larger 29ers use a 210 x 50mm shock for the proper tune. If you’re wondering if you can just change the rear shock on the XS and S frames to be able to run 29″ wheels, the answer is no – the frames are different and will not clear the bigger wheels even with a different shock. Tire clearance is said to be 29 x 2.6″ on the 29″ models.
Either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels – but only with 29″ forks?
To go along with the 130mm travel out back, every bike also has a 130mm travel 29er fork up front – even for the models with 27.5″ wheels. Like other Neuron models, the new Neuron CF is built size-specifically for 27.5″ wheels and tires for the XS and S frames, and specifically for 29″ wheels and tires for the M-XL frames. But even with the different wheel sizes, all frames include a 29″ fork.
Why? Canyon says it’s all down to proportions. After initial testing, they found that smaller riders preferred the bikes set up with 27.5″ wheels but with 29″ suspension forks. After doing some research, Canyon deduced that the relationship between handlebar width and trail is probably what is causing the difference. Most likely, a smaller rider is going to be riding a narrower handlebar. That bar is essentially the lever that you’re using against the fork to turn the wheel, while your trail number is essentially the lever that the ground is using against the tire.
To keep a similar feel between all sizes, Canyon determined that using a 29er fork with a 27.5″ wheel results in less trail, which is proportionately similar when using a narrower handlebar to turn the bike. Long story short, Canyon thinks the 29er fork across both wheel sizes makes the smaller bikes handle better, which their test riders seemed to agree with. Because of this, the bikes also have a graduated handlebar size from 740 to 760mm.
Only the S and XS frames use the 27.5″ wheels while all other sizes use 29″. Going along with the Gran Turismo theme, the Neuron CF delivers a well balanced geometry that is purpose built for each wheel size. Each frame uses size specific tubing to balance stiffness, and the frames feature lowered top tubes for standover while retaining bottle cage placement inside the front triangle.
Going back to the design of the shock extension, a big part of the Neuron CF frame design is their Bearing Concept which goes to extreme lengths for protection. Rather than just relying on the dual lip seals from their sealed bearings, every pivot on the bike gets an additional cover from a simple cap at the smaller bearings, to a bolt on cap with x-ring seals at the main pivot. That main pivot also features an asymmetrical design with dual bearings on the drive side for additional durability to cope with drive side forces from the chain. The shock extension acts a shield for the bearings at the upper link so when you’re cleaning the bike, high pressure water deflects right off.
External Internal Cable Routing
Along those same lines, the Neuron CF has been designed with ease of maintenance in mind – but not at the expense of looks. The argument over internal vs. external cabling will probably continue forever, but Canyon has yet another interesting concept. The cables on the Neuron CF are run internally but also externally. That’s thanks to a bolt on down tube cover that doubles as a cable tunnel. The cables are run through the tunnel, which can be easily removed for installation of brake or derailleur cables – without having to bleed your brakes. The design continues with an additional guard on the bottom of the chainstay for the derailleur cable, and the typical zip tie on the other side for the brake cable. There’s also a bolt-on guard for the top of the chainstay to fight against chain slap.
While we’re on the subject of impact protection, the top tube is fitted with their Impact Protection Unit to prevent low handlebars and brake levers/shifters from smashing in the top tube in a crash or when loading the bike. The nice thing about the Canyon design is that it doesn’t lock you into a specific stem since it’s part of a spacer. It also doesn’t seem to be quite as limiting in terms of turning radius which is nice. If you take a bit enough hit, the hollow screws of the IPU are designed to break first, which is cheap and easy to replace.
Compatible with 1x or 2x drivetrains, the Neuron CF uses a removeable Low Direct Mount front derailleur mount (which also allows you to mount a chain guide if desired), and the frame requires a sideswing style front derailleur. The derailleur cable would then exit the left side of the frame, cross over the top tube, and meet the derailleur on the right.
While all frame sizes have room for a water bottle cage inside the front triangle, small and extra small frames might have trouble fitting larger bottles so Canyon made the frame compatible with their Eject hydration system which features two 400ml bottle side by side. The Eject mount requires three bottle cage bolts which is why all of the frames have three bosses.
No press fit here – just a threaded BSA bottom bracket to make maintenance as easy as possible.
Here’s another debate – do you opt for the convenience of a quick release thru axle or sleek profile of a bolt on axle? Canyon’s Quixle is a combination of both. It’s not quite as slim as a bolt on axle, but it is quite a bit less obtrusive than the standard QR thru axle. And when you need to remove the wheel, the handle slides out of the axle and works just like any other ratcheting thru axle. When you’re done, just slide the handle back inside the axle and you’re ready to go. Pretty clever.
Pricing and Spec
Offered in six different colors, five sizes, and two women’s models with the same frames but women’s touch points, pricing ranges from €2,699 to 5,599. In the U.S., we’ll see a few less models with the Neuron CF 8.0 selling for $3,499 and the CF 9.0 SL selling for $4,700, while the CF WMN 8.0 will be priced at $2,999, and the CF WMN 9.0 will go for $3,999. There will also be a CF SLX 9.0 Unlimited U.S. model for $7,000.
Stay tuned for our first ride review!
Here it is, our first rides climbing (and descending) Sintra, Portugal on the Canyon Neuron. CF