Review: The 2019 Canyon Neuron CF 9.0 is Conservative Yet Quick

Jul 15, 2019
by Daniel Sapp  



For 2019, Canyon redesigned the Neuron, their 130mm travel trail bike. The bike, which is now available for the first time in US markets, has updated suspension workings and more modern geometry. It takes some major aesthetic cues from the Lux, Canyon's 100mm XC bike, and the Spectral, their more aggressive trail bike.

The Neuron evolved from Canyon's Nerve. The Nerve had gone through a few iterations while holding a similar spot in the brand's line to the Neuron, which was not too aggressive, yet still fully capable of tackling a wide range of trail. Initially a 26" wheeled bike, the Nerve was reconfigured with 29" wheels and rose to popularity until 27.5" wheels again left it dead in the water.
Canyon Neuron CF 9.0 Details

• Intended use: XC / trail
• Wheel size: 29" (Small and XS 27.5")
• Travel: 130mm front and rear
• Boost 12x148
• Carbon frame
• Size: S through XL
• Weight: 27.3 lb / 12.4 kg
• Price: $4,799 USD
www.canyon.com

Canyon kept it on their back burner for a while, until the resurgence of both 29-inch wheels and the all-purpose trail bike encouraged them to re-imagine, re-design, and re-brand, the Nerve - now, the Canyon Neuron.

The 2002 Nerve was the first iteration of Canyon's all-around MTB.
The 2013 Nerve CF was the precursor to the Neuron.

The medium, large, and XL Neurons have 29" wheels, while the small and extra small bikes are designed around 27.5" wheels. There are several build options, including a women's specific build that has different touch points. The base model carbon Neuron starts at $3,499 USD, the top end 9.0 Unlimited build sells for $6,999 USD.

It's the $4,799 CF 9.0 model that's reviewed here, which comes spec'd with a Fox 34 Performance Elite fork, Float DPS shock, SRAM X01 Eagle shifters and derailleur paired with a GX cassette, and Guide R brakes. Reynolds carbon TR 309 wheels are shod with 2.35" Maxxis Forekaster tires.


bigquotesThe Neuron is balanced and nimble, a versatile modern day cross-country trail bike that doesn't make one feel as if they need to be lining up to a race as much as having a good time on the trails.Daniel Sapp




Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.
Canyon's Impact Protection Unit (IPU) prevents the handlebar from turning too far and contacting the top tube.

Construction and Features

As the name implies, the Neuron CF 9.0 has a full carbon frame, which is equipped with Canyon's IPU (Impact Protection Unit). It's a similar concept to Trek's Knock Block, where the rotation of the handlebars is limited so that brake levers and other controls don't have the opportunity to smash into the top tube in the event of a crash or haphazardly loading the bike onto or into the car. In theory, it's a convenient feature, however, it's still met with mixed opinions and some further frame engineering will be seen as a better solution by some riders over the IPU.

The Neuron has the ability to run a front derailleur via a removable front derailleur mount, a feature that's becoming increasingly rare given the widespread adoption of 1x drivetrains.

The downtube of the bike is protected by a replaceable bolt-on guard that also doubles as a sleeve for cable routing. The feature helps make cable replacement simple and protects the downtube from stray rocks or shuttle pad damage. Carrying on with the low maintenance theme, the bearings on the Neuron are sealed and covered or tucked away to prevent debris from getting anywhere close to where it could do damage.

The bearings are asymmetrical on the main pivot with two on the drivetrain side and one on the non-drive side. In addition to the standard sealed bearings, there is an added additional seal next to the bearings themselves functioning as an outer shield. The shock extension also acts in a protective manner, further protecting the bearings beneath it.

Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.
Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.



Geometry & Sizing

The Neuron, according to Canyon is designed to be balanced and "easy" to ride. To get this, they gave the bike fairly conservative geometry numbers. The headtube angle on the 27.5" wheeled XS and S frames is 67° and those bikes have 430mm chainstays.

The M-XL bikes with 29" wheels have a 67.5° headtube and 440mm chainstays. The seat tube angle is 74.5° on all bikes, which is on the slack side compared to what we've been seeing lately.

Canyon went in with some slightly un-orthodox spec to get all of the bikes, in all sizes, to offer the same ride feel. The XS and S, even though they have 27.5" wheels, do use the same 29" fork with 51mm of offset that is found on the larger frame sizes.

The smaller bikes have 4mm less trail which is said to create the same feel as the larger sized bikes. Canyon also claim that for smaller riders, "a 27.5" wheel already feels like a 29er." To further complement the mission to have a similar ride feel on all bikes, Canyon spec'd the XS and S bikes with a 740mm handlebar.

Many smaller riders do have more narrow shoulders and need a more narrow bar but Canyon say there's more to it than just that. In their testing and research, they found that handlebar width coupled with the amount of trail a bike has was directly correlated to how the bike rides, especially in turns. Engineers and riders tested different bar widths on different frame sizes and with different fork offsets and even wheel sizes to come up with their conclusion and decisions.

According to Canyon, this is the same testing that led them to spec the XS and S bikes as a 27.5" wheeled only ride, coupled with a 29" fork. If you look at the geo chart, there's even a new column "ratio handlebar width-trail" and a correlating number to make this more scientific. In making this number consistent across different sizes of bikes the team claim that the bike feels and rides the same across frame sizes. Therefore, it works just as good for a shorter rider as a taller one. Maybe this is a complete over-engineering of a non-problem, or maybe there's more to it. One way or another, it's there.


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Suspension Design

The suspension on the Neuron takes some inspiration from Canyon's Sender DH rig and is scaled back to a "trail" application. There's a high amount of sensitivity built into all stages of the travel to keep the bike plush and comfortable.

The first phase of travel is sensitive to smooth out small bumps, the middle is designed to be supportive and then the end of the travel ramps up to prevent a harsh bottom out. The XS and S bikes have a 195x45mm shock and the M-XL bikes have a 210x50mm.

The smaller bikes have a different kinematic from the larger sized bikes. Canyon's engineers attribute this to the riders on smaller bikes generally being lighter than average and needing different tunes than riders on a larger bike, as well as the smaller bikes having a higher leverage ratio than the larger bikes. This puts a smaller and lighter rider more in the middle of the shock's range of settings, rather than at the extreme, allowing for more adjustability out of the box.


Specifications
Price $4799
Travel 130mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPS Performance
Fork FOX 34 Performance Elite, 130mm travel
Cassette SRAM XG-1275 Eagle 10-50 12s
Crankarms Truvativ Stylo 7K DUB 30T
Bottom Bracket SRAM BSA DUB
Rear Derailleur SRAM XO1 Eagle
Shifter Pods SRAM X01 Eagle Trigger 12s
Handlebar Canyon H15 Riserbar, aluminum, 15mm rise
Stem Canyon V12
Grips Ergon GA20
Brakes SRAM Guide R
Wheelset Reynolds TR 309 XD carbon
Tires MAXXIS Forekaster 2.35''
Seat Iridium saddle
Seatpost FOX Transfer Performance Elite




Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.








Test Bike Setup

After having spent a day on the Neuron in Europe at its launch, I was happy to get it back home to North Carolina for some familiar riding. Setup was quick and easy - I ran a little less than 30% sag in the Fox Float DPS rear shock, with it around 170 psi. I set the Fox Performance Elite 34 up with 69 psi and off to the trails I went.

I did end up changing the front Maxxis Forekaster tire to something with a little bit more consistent grip and then I swapped the seat out as well. Seats are personal, but I found that the Iridium Trail that comes on the bike is best used as a paperweight.

Testing took place in Western NC in wet spring conditions and ideally tacky early summer dirt.




2018 Pinkbike Field Test
Daniel Sapp
Location: Brevard, NC, USA
Age: 32
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 150 lbs
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @d_sapp1

Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.


Climbing

The Neuron feels fast and energetic, and it took minimal effort to get it up to speed and to navigate through tighter sections of trail. I did find myself toggling the pedaling platform on the shock a fair amount compared to some other bikes that have steeper seat tube angles. With the seat all the way up, my long legs put me further over the rear of the bike, which generated more leverage to push the shock into its travel. That said, the suspension is supportive and I didn't feel like I was sinking too deep into the travel when hammering up a climb.

The Neuron pedals with the liveliness of an XC trail bike, and uphill aficionados will enjoy its climbing abilities, especially how nimble it is through tight corners.

The Neuron boasts a generous amount of standover, but it does have a tall seat mast. With the stock seatpost, the lowest a rider is going to get on a size medium is a 70cm saddle height. In my opinion, that's a little unacceptable, as it forces shorter legged riders to either swap posts out or drop down frame sizes which is also going to put them on 27.5" wheels.


Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.


Descending

Rolling downhill, the Neuron feels just as balanced as it does when heading up. The transition is seamless which is one thing that makes it such a great all rounder. Swapping out the front tire to something with a little more tread, like a Minion DHF or Butcher completely changes the feel for the bike in terms of confidence. It also improves its handling tenfold and is something that I'm glad I did early on.

The Neuron remained quick and lively in turns and over moderately technical terrain, and it has no issues taking flight comfortably if there's something to double up or a random trailside attraction. Not all 130mm bikes are created equal, though, and the Neuron falls squarely on the more cross-country side of the spectrum. It has enough travel to get you out of trouble when the going gets rough, but it doesn't blur the line between categories.

This is a Trail bike with a capital T - it can handle a variety of terrain, but it's not the bike to choose if you're consistently seeking out super steep, rough trails, or have your sights set on dominating the local enduro race series. The 67.5-degree head angle is a little steep, and the reach is on the shorter side, two factors that can affect how a bike feels when gravity takes over. The Neuron is better suited to big days in the saddle, the type where you're trying to cram in as many miles before the sun sets, and want something that feels fast and comfortable.




Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.
Canyon Neuron

Derek DiLuzio Photo
Pivot Trail 429

How does it compare?

The Neuron and Pivot Trail 429 are both dedicated trail bikes, intended to be able to handle a little bit of everything. The Canyon has 10mm more travel in the back, but the geometry numbers are similar. Despite having less travel, the Trail 429 feels more capable when it comes to aggressive trail riding - it has a stiffer, more confidence inspiring feel to it. The Neuron feels a little more eager to climb due to its lighter weight, but it doesn't feel quite as solid on the descents.

One major difference between these two bikes is sizing. The Pivot is available down to an XS with 29" wheels. The Canyon swaps over to 27.5" wheels only for sizes below a medium - a major consideration for smaller riders.

As far as the price goes, both of the bikes can be built up in a similar manner looking at a middle of the road build, but the Pivot is going to cost more part for part - especially when you get into adding carbon wheels and such. There are higher end builds available on the Pivot, and, likewise, you can order a complete Canyon for less than the entry-level Trail 429.


Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.
Fox 34 Performance Fork
Daniel Sapp in Pisgah National Forest.

Technical Report


Maxxis Forekaster Tires: The Maxxis Forekaster tire is great out back but leaves some to be desired when on the front of a bike. It's a little lighter than a more aggressive option, but that weight is an easy sacrifice to make when it comes to confidence in riding.

Reynolds TR309 Wheels : The Reynolds TR309 carbon wheels help keep rotating weight down while adding some stiffness to the bike. The wheels have proven to be durable and have a wide enough rim bed that mounting up wider and more aggressive tires is perfectly acceptable.

SRAM Eagle Drivetrain: SRAM's Eagle 12-speed drivetrain is a go-to for many bikes currently and there is a mix of X01 and GX level components on the Neuron. The wide range of gearing helps the Neuron feel comfortable on longer rides and it's proven to be consistent and reliable.

Canyon Neuron Presslaunch 2018 Sintra Portugal Copyright Markus Greber

Pros

+ A very much all-around XC/Trail bike
+ Excellent spec for the price
Cons

- No S or XS in 29" versions and the tall seat mast height limits the size medium
- Geometry isn't all that modern
- Impact Protection Unit (IPU) could be annoying for some riders



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotes
The Neuron's sizing and tall seat mast could eliminate it as an option for some riders, but if it fits, it's a great bike for riders who aren't solely focused on what their Strava time is while headed downhill.

While the Neuron is fully capable of handling a variety of terrain in the hands of the competent pilot, those who are looking to push their riding to a higher level or are more top end performance focused may be better suited on a bike with slightly more progressive geometry.
Daniel Sapp








67 Comments

  • + 113
 I've got an idea. Next year you pick seven of these capable XC/trail bikes (don't say the D-word) and sign up for the BCBR with seven PB editors. You swap bikes each stage so by the end of the race everyone has ridden each bike for a full stage and probably has a good idea of how well it does in these technical marathon XC races. Mike Levy is probably into this kind of stuff, so Mike Kazimer will pick up the gauntlet too. Forgot his name but there was another editor also really into XC. For the vast majority or riders who "just go out riding", this category of bikes is probably most interesting and might make more sense than that enduro bike.
  • + 29
 This isn't a horrible idea at all. Maybe there's a way. I had the idea to do the Pisgah Stage Race this year on a different bike each day but the timing didn't line up...there's always next year.
  • + 5
 Not sure that experiment is worth anything. They'll all be great.
I rode BCBR 4 years ago on a 120mm Titus Motolite way steeper head angle old skool might say and it rocked.
Except for the North Shore stage ...
Lots of the BCBR really is "The Ultimate Fireroad Experience" getting to those prime and featured single tracks.
  • + 5
 @vggg: Pisgah Stage Race is not like that...
  • + 24
 I get that Canyon needs conservative geo to sell enough bikes to make them this cheap. What I don't get is why the seatmast is so tall. Everyone complained about it with the Spectral, and yet, they did the same with the Neuron and to some extend the Strive too.
  • + 1
 On photos it doesn't look tall at all, does it?
  • + 1
 When is the Spectral due for a frame update?
  • + 2
 @Ktron:
Well the old one was in production 3-4 years. So probably 2021/22
  • + 8
 The Spectral and Strive are more in line with current industry trends, albeit still the shorter end of long. This is the average bike for just riding about in the hills, it does make sense to sell a middle of the road bike that someone (like say... me) who likes to tool about all day without especially pushing themselves will get on well with. It's a big market.
  • + 14
 I dunno why conservative geo is bad. This bike is exactly what I would want with the amount of travel the bike has. Not ever bike needs to be an enduro bike.
  • + 3
 @clink83: geo aside the sizing is a joke. Especially reach.
  • + 5
 @jclnv: that's an acceptable reach in the XL for a bike that you actually want to ride uphill. I know pinkbikers generally give no f*cks to proper bike fit, but that would put me in a good riding position with about a 40-50mm stem.
  • + 4
 @clink83: exactly why I am looking at it for my next bike. Capable all-mountain rig that is fun up and down.
  • + 17
 « Tad more money »! Funny guy! I should really work for pinkbike if 3000$ is just a tad more money
  • + 4
 Ya, I think the street price of the Pivot may not be so shockingly expensive, but MSRP vs MSRP is really messed up. But, still, it's annoying that you have to go into the shop and negotiate a bro-deal for the Pivot, when you can just order the Canyon at home in your underwear or on your coffee break or something.
  • + 4
 @pinhead907: I don't casually drop $3500 on my coffee breaks
  • + 2
 Also @danielsapp ... Reviewing the Neuron and only mentioning the 3.5-5k CF models and comparing with Pivot? Last I checked Canyon wasn't trying to be Pivot, Ibis, Yeti et al. At least please tell me @RichardCunningham will mention the Neuron comes in alloy builds down to less than 2k. Smile
  • + 17
 I don't get the cons on the wheelsize: 29er in S and especially in XS is just not working imho.
  • + 14
 Don't you dare doubting the god 29er ! Repeat after me: 29er is better than anything else no mater if you are 1m50 or if you just want a playfull bike !
  • + 3
 @Balgaroth: LMAO!! All hail the 29er! The One Bike to Rule Them All!
NOT! ; )
  • + 9
 If the previous generation of the nerve/neuron is to say anything of this bike it would be that it's a great machine. The previous gen nerve was the first proper bike I owned and for the two years I rode it, it never skipped a beat. The bike was super reliable, and for being 120mm I could ride pretty much anything on it. I took it on big xc days, but also rode it in several bikeparks. The bike was solid always. Me and the nerve parted ways when I rode it in a Bikepark and it had bucked me over the bars on a jump way too big for the bike. To be fair I had been messing with the shock's rebound, and that was the only reason we lost balance in the air. Spending the following 6 days in hospital got me the chance to think about new bikes and how I was going to get back on my bike as soon as possible. I ended up replacing the 120mm machine for an Enduro bike, and am still grateful for the experiences that Nerve has given me.

This new generation of the Neuron looks great, and I would really like to take it for a ride. I'd say compared to the previous generation it has grown up a bit and has become a little more capable. I truly hope this new Neuron is going to get as many people excited about the sport as the previous generation has done for me!
  • + 5
 How about BB Height and drop ,cause I think bike manufacturers are getting a little crazy low in that category ,I get that they corner way better with a low bb ,a little more stability on the downs ,but real world trail riding is getting hard with those low bb’s,like you have to watch out cause if you it the pedal is bye bye ,and running short cranks is just a little weird
  • + 5
 The price seems strangely high. In Europe this model is 3700 € ($4160) and that price includes VAT. The US price is over $600 higher and doesn't even include VAT.

In Europe this is a great price for a full carbon, carbon wheels, Performance Elite trail bike. For comparison, a Santa Cruz Tallboy aluminium costs around the same.
  • + 4
 If you can come up with the IPU as a con, the bike must be good! If you don't like it, just don't mount the block on the top tube or get a different top cover and you're all set.
  • + 3
 I really don't like the specs with the carbon wheels. Many manufacturers seem to be doing it like this lately, but I would prefer the bike to come with high end alloy wheel set like some DT swiss XM1501 or something similar and put the price budget towards actually good brakes, complete not mismatched group set and top tier (Fox Factory in this case) suspension. I feel like the carbon wheel set just pumps the price way up high for very little performance or weight benefit.
  • + 2
 I agree overall, but a cursory search for the wheels that came on this build, the "Reynolds TR 309 XD carbon" shows them to be a little over $1kUSD. DT XM1501s are ~$1300 for a set. Granted, XM1501s are a pretty pricey alloy wheelset and fantastic versions can be had for less. I was surprised at the cost of the Reynolds, those seem pretty reasonably priced for sure.
  • + 2
 @cgdibble: Damn, prices went up lately. I was able to buy my EX1501 ~2 years ago for less than 800,- EUR and that was including the massive 20% VAT. And you are right that that is a nice price for carbon wheels. Still feels weird to see these bikes on carbon wheels not being top spec everywhere else. Always considered carbon wheels as a last ditch over the top upgrade.
  • + 2
 The performance increase for carbon rims is pretty huge compared to better components IMO.
  • + 3
 It's a good point. The manuf could spec a DT350/XM481 build for about $400 cost.
  • + 3
 Demoed both the Neuron and the Trail429. Their Neuron is a weird looking bike. That seat tube and the head tube make the bike look really weird. It was fast and capable all around, but yeah the geo feels dated and again the looks of the thing. The Trail429 felt way, way faster but also felt harsher and that it could out of travel quickly the faster you go but man does it make you feel like you're flying down the trail.
  • + 2
 The seat tube looks weird yet people buy Yetis and Pivot Mach 6.
  • + 1
 @JohanG: the seat tube combined with the headtube and the angle of the top tube just makes this bike look weird.
  • + 3
 I really like stuff like this. I would never buy such a normal bike as I prefer something that CAN take on bigger terrain when the time comes but occasionally I get to ride something more 'everyday' usually as a rental.
It's nice to be reminded just how good average bikes actually are. If you're not into mega-tech and steeps (and most people aren't) these modern XC/Trail bikes are incredibly good.
  • + 1
 I agree with you but an "average" bike should cost less. I have always bought bigger bikes than I normally need for insurance but I'd like to try a well made trail bike. I also have a feeling this bike is above average.
  • + 3
 130/130 travel is too downcountry for downcountry and not enough trail for trail. It's stuck in weird middle that's meh. This needed to be 120/120 at most for xc or 140/140 for trail.
  • + 5
 $4800 with X01 and a carbon wheelset is a crazy deal
  • + 3
 2002 Nerve looks so old can`t beleve that i started riding mtb at the same year
  • + 1
 Geo is pretty damn similar to the current model Fuel EX. I wonder which one rides better? I can say that the Canyon has better spec for the money.
  • + 1
 The medium has 800 mm standover clearance. This is the exact opposite of the supposedly "generous" standover clearance the article claims!
  • + 1
 Like the Spectral, I presume no bash guard tabs to protect the BB & chainring?
  • - 2
 "Canyon also claim that for smaller riders, "a 27.5" wheel already feels like a 29er." " - utter bs, as a smaller rider (5'4" 140 lbs) I can tell you that while a good bike doesn't have you thinking about wheel size a 27.5" DOES NOT fell like a 29er
  • + 10
 I think they meant that a 27.5 bike feels the same way for shorter riders as a 29er feels for tall riders.
  • + 0
 @Grmasterd how would you know if you’ve only ever been short
  • - 3
 @AvidTrailRider: it’s clear that what their saying - it’s the fact it’s not true. I have rode a lot of 29 and 27.5 and they do clearly have their own qualities that can be felt regardless of rider ‘size’
  • + 4
 @Grmasterd: but you’re experiencing that as a short rider. A tall rider may experience those things with a 29 and 32 wheel. You will never know how a tall person feels on a 29er unless you have a massive late growth spurt
  • + 2
 @kleinblake: your missing the point - no matter if your short or tall there is a definite difference in how a 27.5 feels vs 29 - can you not feel a difference between the wheels sizes? I can assure you don’t have to be tall to notice the difference
  • + 2
 Love to demo one in Canada, but, to no avail.
  • + 2
 That will be nimble with those long chainstays. Not.
  • + 2
 When I first read the table, I thought it said '448', but I think the zero just has a strange font, and it's actually 440mm upon closer inspection. 440mm is definitely NOT in the "short" chainstay regime - but not nearly as Titanic-like as the 448 that I thought I saw.

But, the bike has a steep-ish head angle, so it might be nimble enough in switch backs and things like that even with the not-short chainstay.
  • + 1
 @pinhead907:
Ah yes you’re right! What a stupid font!!!
  • + 1
 Is there a shock linkage tucked into that extension? What’s goin on there?
  • + 1
 I can’t tell either and its not explained at all despite having a video trying to show how it works.
  • + 1
 Haha. Looked up some videos on YouTube. Its just smoke and mirrors- the link has a cover which is what we see look like its sliding. Thanks interesting take on aesthetics....
  • + 1
 there's a bike for everyone...the madness with aggresive geo is for 10% of riders...
  • + 1
 What's the point? I've never even had a Big Mac in my life.
  • + 1
 would it make sense to put a 150mm pike on it ?
  • + 5
 Why? Just buy a spectral.
  • + 1
 you could
  • + 1
 @Ttimer: If you want 29 inch wheels...
  • + 1
 @wmoody54 exactly. keeping it a bit more xc than a spectral, but a bit slacker than it is
  • + 1
 @BastiBas: go 140front
  • + 0
 ...Canyon, Pivot, bla, bla. We’re waiting on that Tallboy reboot Santa Cruz - get on with it!!
  • + 0
 This review is just full of Marketing Kool aid, it's not even funny.
  • + 4
 Yeah? I thought that the reviewer sounded a little un impressed. “Middle of the road bike for middle of the road riders!”
  • + 5
 Every single bike review is marketing kool aid. That's how you sell bikes.
  • - 1
 Man that thing weighs about the same as my 24'' DJ bike Cry
  • - 1
 GO PIVOT

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