With World Cup Cross Country tracks becoming increasingly technical, companies are working to reinvent their XC race bikes, with the goal of making them not only faster and lighter, but also more capable. Hardtails with 80mm forks are increasingly rare, and dropper posts are now standard for many racers.
Canyon's engineers have been paying attention to trends, listening to their riders, and working to develop a more modern cross-country bike that they believe is up to the task of handling everything from long days at everything from the Cape Epic to XCO World Championships. The newly remade Lux has 29" wheels, a 100mm travel frame paired with either a 100mm or 110mm fork (depending on spec), space for two water bottles, and sheds weight in every way possible, with the top of the line CF SLX build coming in at 10kg.
Canyon Lux Details
• Intended use: XC race
• Wheel size: 29"
• Rear wheel travel: 100mm
• Boost 12x148
• 70º head angle (with 100mm fork)
• Carbon frame
• Two water bottle mounts
• Size: S - XL
• 1660g frame (CF SLX)
• Price: $2,999 - $6,500 USD
• Available now
For those familiar with the previous Lux, it's easy to see that the new Lux is totally different. The shock is now mounted horizontally, rather than vertically, and the entire package is much cleaner appearing with fewer cables and sleeker lines than before. According to Canyon, the shock move accomplished several things, including providing better suspension kinematics, increased durability of parts from a lower air pressure in the shock, weight savings due to the linkage having fewer parts, and the ability to run two water bottles, something that's critical for riders in many endurance events.
The new Lux carries over the same "flex-pivot" design that the previous Lux had, with the rear seatstays flexing through the suspension travel rather than using bearings as many designs do. With the seatstays of the Lux working as part of the suspension, the rear brake is a flat mount design on the chainstay. Flat mount brakes have been standard on road bikes for several years now - Canyon claim that the design works better and sheds a few grams as well in their application on the Lux.Frame Details Integrated chain catcher:
Chain retention devices are becoming less common on some bikes with narrow wide chainrings and higher tension derailleur systems. Canyon have decided to lean on the side of caution, knowing that a dropped chain can be the difference between winning or losing a race and have integrated a sleek and minimalistic chain guide to ensure that doesn't happen. To accommodate varying chainring sizes, the guide simply rotates up or down.Cable tubing:
Canyon engineered tubes to nicely guide cables through the frame exactly where they need to go in the Lux. Everything is internal - derailleur, brake, and the lockout for the rear shock, so being able to quickly and easily replace cables along with their full-length housing was important to the design team. The tubes hold the cables snugly and have extra foam around them where necessary to prevent unwanted rattling.
Frame Options / Build Kits
Impact Protection Unit: To keep brake levers from destroying carbon frames in the event of a crash or just a poorly leaned bike at the coffee shop, the Lux is equipped with Canyon's Impact Protection Unit (IPU) which is a unique, "winged" headset spacer coupled with a bump stop. The bump stop attaches to the top tube with screws designed to break away in an impact and prevent the rider from breaking the frame.
Quixle: Canyon uses their Quixle through-axle system on the Lux. The rear axle is tool free with the lever sliding into the axle and out of the way when not in use.
Two water bottles: With the new shock position providing more room in the frame, the Lux has room for two full size (800ml) water bottles in all frame sizes.
There are two different frames for the Lux, the CF SL and the CF SLX. Both frames are full carbon but each uses different carbon layup. The SLX is the highest end and lightest carbon and thus employs a higher end build than the SL. It's spec'd with a 100mm fork, fully ready to purposefully show up at the start line of a World Cup XCO race, where the SL has a slightly longer travel, 110mm fork. Prices range from $2,999 USD for the CF SL 6.0 Pro Race, equipped with SRAM's NX Eagle and a RockShox Reba RL fork, up to to $6,500 USD for the Lux CF SLX 9.0 Race Team with Shimano's 12-speed XTR group and Fox Factory suspension.
All of the SRAM builds are equipped with 12-speed GripShift. Canyon's engineers claim that it offers great performance and weight savings - I can verify that it performs better than the 6-speed version I last used in the 90's.Geometry
Canyon's goal in the development of the new Lux was to give riders a tool to win endurance races and the geometry is very race-driven. As far as numbers go, on a size medium CF SLX with a 100mm fork, the head angle is 70-degrees, seat tube 71.6-degrees, the reach is 435mm, wheelbase 1126mm, and chainstays across all sizes are 435mm.
The CF SL gets a 110mm fork which slackens out the head angle to 69.5-degrees, and ever-so-slightly lengthens the wheelbase.
With my home in Western North Carolina experiencing rain and flooding of near-biblical proportions this spring, I was looking forward to heading over to Girona, Spain, to spend some time on the new Lux. That region of Spain typically has hot and humid conditions that are similar to what I'm used to, but as the trip grew closer, it appeared that, just like at home, it was going to be raining.
With the first afternoon having storms that were strong enough to delay over half of the others attending the launch from arriving on time and several previous days of rain in Girona, I knew that the trails were going to be less than optimal. One of the harder things about riding a new bike on new trails blind is doing it in horrible conditions. Fortunately, the trails drained water moderately well and we were graced with some sun for the start of our one day of riding.
Soaked from an afternoon shower and not looking stoked, but it was a good time.
With only one long day of riding to be had, I was happy to find that we were going to be covering a diverse amount of terrain with a moderate amount of climbing and descending. The ride was one large loop, starting out through the city of Girona on cobbles and pavement, transitioning to singletrack and forest road. The singletrack ranged from buff to freshly cut with a mix of rocks and roots. The bike climbs incredibly well, with a good amount of anti-squat throughout its travel. I didn't feel the need to lock the bike out, although I did at times just to observe the differences. On the more technical sections of climbing the bike stayed planted and offered up the traction necessary to navigate up roots and steeper pitches. On smoother climbs, the bike didn't experience much loss of power when pushing hard on the pedals.
The bike I rode was the CF SLX Pro Race equipped with a 100mm RockShox SID WC, SRAM Eagle drivetrain, and GripShift. Now, I know where this is going to go, so let's go there. GripShift? Really? SRAM still makes it? Yes, really, and the team at Canyon, along with some GripShift fans are stoked about it. It sheds a few grams and you can slam one way or another through all of your gears at once with the twist of your wrist, something some may see as beneficial for an XC racer. This is not a smooth or delicate way to shift in a real-world application, but hey, you can do it. I can't say I've spent a lot of time using GripShift in recent years, but it did work fairly well. I keep my hands positioned fairly far outboard on narrow XC handlebars anyways, so I didn't have troubles mis-shifting that some people in our group experienced. Personally, I would have rather seen a more typical trigger shifter as the stock spec, with GripShift offered as an option for the small percentage of throttle shifting fanatics out there.
Descending, the Lux is fast and precise, but it is most definitely a full-on cross-country race bike. With the 100mm fork and 70-degree head tube, you aren't left with much room for bounding down descents and having fun - it's more about getting business done. Couple that with racy tires and a very progressive suspension designed to stay up and far from wallowing, and you get a bike that is made for the terrain between the start and finish lines. While it could manage more technical higher speed sections, it's more of a survival feel than a blast, with the balance of the scale certainly tipping towards the bike being a much better climber than descender. I believe that with the longer travel fork, the CF SL would be a much more versatile bike for anyone looking to venture outside of the race tape.
The dropper post is a welcome addition to the bike, and I firmly believe that any modern full suspension bike should have one. With the post out of the way the bike corners well, but throughout any situation maintains its race-bred characteristics - it won't let you forget that it's designed more for the climbs than the descents.
With the Lux, Canyon has designed a light, sleek, and fast cross-country race machine. It does what it was designed for well, but its use, at least that of the SLX model that I rode, is of a very narrow scope, even narrower than some other XCO bikes on the market, and it's far from what I would consider an all-round trail bike. The SLX version would be a good choice as a purebred race bike, but I think most riders would be better served by the SL model and its additional travel.