Riding the Neuron can sometimes be a case of biting off more than you can chew - and then just trying to savor the taste. Simply put, it isn't the most capable trail bike - not by a long shot - but it does have an incredible balance that makes it feel so alive. It's genuinely one of the most fun bikes I've ridden in a very long time. It's raw, it's fast, it's sometimes slightly terrifying, but I really like it for these characteristics. You're not separated from the trail, and to get the most out of it you have to be very much in tune with it.
How much of this is down to the geometry and how much down to the setup of the suspension? Well, I'd say it was a fifty-fifty split. While going back-to-back with a GRIP2 34 it's clear how much this bike gets pushed around by the trail. When it gets rough it's quite simply bullied by fast-paced and high-frequency hits. It puts up a fight, but ultimately it's just a bit of a lightweight, which is something that funnily enough had me hooked. I actually spent a decent amount of time on this bike without any information on it other than the sticker on the downtube. I had a fun exercise where I wrote my guessed measurements down, and I was actually quite pleased with myself for how close I was. However, the one dimension I was furthest out from was travel - I thought this bike had 120 mm tops, paired with a 130 mm fork.
This does come back to you with dividends if you're a rider that enjoys pumping both obstacles and turns for speed. The Neuron is so responsive to rider inputs and manages to accelerate out of rough sections or downslopes in a sheer, grin-inducing way that is impossible not to find satisfying.
Don't compare this bike to a 130 mm bike like the Smuggler (although that's exactly what I'm going to do in the next section) but rather see it as a downcountry bike with a bit more security. It's slightly heavier, but rides light, and is more capable and comfortable than a lot of those offerings. If I compared this to some genuinely fantastic bikes like the 120 mm Trek Top Fuel or Rocky Mountain Element, this is a more surefooted descender, it also fits me better for climbs. It just so happens it's not quite as light and perhaps not quite as efficient, but when we approach the compromise that way it makes far more sense than trying to make this bike hang with the new idler-equipped Druid. Simply, in its stock setup, it won't, and you shouldn't expect it to.
Braking on the Neuron is neutral, and it doesn't seem to sink or squat. I think this characteristic blends in best with bikes that have a high front end as you can really brace against it. It was admirable on the brakes, and that stack height did a great job of also giving your body position a helping hand and keeping your heels dipped and eyes up. In fact, when things did get rowdy on this bike and I found myself trying to hit-and-hope my way out of trouble, the ability to really push off the bars and get into a strong, stable, and resistant position was a benefit.
Both bikes are "trail" designated with 140F/130R travel, reach figures are within 5mm, stack within 10mm, chainstays within 3mm, and total wheelbase within 16mm. On the geo front, 1 degree difference in HTA is the biggest difference.
Both bikes are 4-bar, with similar shock stroke - and both come equipped with Fox 34 upfront. Weights are separated by about 0.9 lbs between similarly spec'd bikes.
On paper, how much more similar would you like the bikes to be before they can be compared? The very purpose of the comparison is to highlight that either bike will get it done, but 1 is more of a "quiver killer" whereas the other is for folks defaulting to the XC side of things. Pretty interesting to see what 1 degree and a different suspension ethos can deliver in nearly identical packages.
To me, bikes like the Smuggler don't fit into any category because they don't have THAT much travel to get you out of trouble, and the slack head angle doesn't do you any favors climbing.
My current bike has a 63deg HA, the previous one was more like 69deg or so. Reach was so small that I couldn't shift my weight forwards enough on climbs as my kneepads would hit my handlebars. So my front wheel would wander on steep climbs. On my current bike, I've got more room to shift my weight forwards and I have no issues loading the front. I think reach is the main thing (as the body is heaviest of everything on the bike). Rear center actually is shorter on my current bike (415mm vs 420mm on the old bike).
The tables are turned on the way back down, which just goes to show that everything geo related is a compromise and there is no perfect setup for every type of riding.
All things being similar you really can say one bike is slacker it'll descend better. One bike is steeper it'll climb better. Literally the two bikes compared in the review prove this.
Does the help the cause?
@TimnberG: CBSA--extended stay unit
If I keep improving at this rate I figure I could be an EWS contender around 45 years old
"If I compared this to some genuinely fantastic bikes like the 120 mm Trek Top Fuel or Rocky Mountain Element, this is a more surefooted descender, it also fits me better for climbs. It just so happens it's not quite as light and perhaps not quite as efficient, but when we approach the compromise that way it makes far more sense than trying to make this bike hang with the new idler-equipped Druid."
DT Swiss 1501's?? not 1051s
Ok proof reading aside - totally agree on the FIT 4 versus GRIP2 - I have a FIT 4 on my down country bike because I use the lock out BUT cannot compare to the GRIP2 when pointed down.
Thanks for the heads up for the typo.
MAYBE -the next podcast or video you do you could disucss PB Staff preferences for brakes and rotors.
Thanks for replying - and keep up the great work and having an opinion!
For me, I appreciate the way Henry said it, as it made me note the comment rather than gloss over it.
If only we had another word to describe this genre of bike.
I'm 183/83, for this Canyon recommends a medium size, same way for Henry's measurements but a size L was tested...
As someone who has a Canyon I'd say this. If you have a question on their service, call or email them. Ask a Customer Service agent. Frankly I trust them to know more about their products than about half of bike shop employees. Oh, and I don't have to put on pants and leave home to have that conversation.
Feel is a great bias but really means nothing.
All the field tests have shown that so far!!!
The creaks would do most riders head in though. Poor link was probably jet washed and all dirty, might have just needed a good manual clean.
(first time I jet washed my Hope BB it developed a creak, how annoying)
You are that guy who reads something then writes about something else.
Have a good ride!
Was busy out building trails in the woods and riding.
You can have an amazing feeling bike that takes 15 mins for your local lap. Let's say 12 mins up, 3 down (it's an easy down)
Now a poor feeling bike that is 12 minutes for the lap 10 mins up, 2 mins down.
The better bike is the quicker one, go slow on it and it feels smooth like that amazing feeling (slow bike).
I am not talking about reliability or the odd creek as most bikes can creek (my Sessions mimo link fell off on my first ride... Did I ditch it, no, I put a new one in, raced it all season, won national champs on it, it creeks like a mad thing and is so unreliable compared to my old V10).
Just did a loop of heart real ridge on my Nomad, it felt great, 1h9 into a head wind and 8min30 on the descent, did a loop on my hightower trail bike with no dropper with an extension in the past... 55 mins, felt sketchy on the descent, but it was faster than my more capable Nomad up and down. Sometimes data makes no sense compared to feel. But data is what actually matters.
Trail bike... Can it climb something super janky (hightower, no, nomad yes), how quick can it do a loop with control tyres on.
GMBN have covered this much better than Pinkbike and have it spot on. Pinkbike is fashion, GMBN great for actual, real testing. Plus they put out videos and it's very well explained by an ex world cup racer.
Sorry, was out building features again on a trail (digging is often more enjoyable than riding).