Canyon have certainly been busy. It feels like every six months another stalwart of their range gets a big refresh or update. With some of their bikes, in fact most of them with perhaps the exception of the Lux Trail we reviewed last year, these weren't mere facelifts but instead posed large, sweeping changes.
Whether it's the Sender, Torque, Strive or Spectral, Canyon seemed to put a focus on progressive geometry and sensible design. During this process the Neuron, which was never a particularly progressive bike even when it was launched, seemed to be falling away from the pack in regards to what Canyon were able to offer on other models.
Canyon Neuron Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Carbon or aluminum frames
• Travel: 130mm / 140mm fork
• 66° head angle
• 76° seat tube angle
• Chainstay length: 430 or 440mm
• Sizes: XS - XL
• Prices from $2,099 USD
It should be stated here, that the Neuron has never been, and isn't meant to be, the most out-there, descending-focused bike Canyon could make. In fact, it's more about how well compromises are struck and balanced. I would go further and say if you want a 130 mm-ish trail bike that places a bit more of an emphasis on going down then there is also the Spectral 125.
The new bikes does see it get the lower-longer-slacker treatment. The head angle is a degree less at 66, the seat tube angle steepens by a degree and a half, and the reach swells by around 20 mm on the extra-small to medium sizes, and by even more as you go to the larger sizes. The large sees an increase of around 30 mm and the XL of 45 mm - which is a lot.
Seat tubes haven't only gotten steeper but also shorter, around 20 mm less depending on your size. The carbon frame is also lighter than the outgoing model, with 200 grams shaved.Frame Details
Canyon have managed to include some clever design features for their new Neuron. The integrated chain device and ample frame protection is both impressive and appreciated. While the frame doesn't have an internal hatch, it does have a wallet that can clip to the upper-bottle mounts. The Canyon Load Bad includes all the basics you will need to get you out of a spot of mid-ride trouble.
This new bike also sees new pivot hardware with improved sealing compared to the previous version, as well as revised routing. Canyon claims this routing, which goes in via the headset is better sealed and lighter. However, I don't totally understand their thinking. I'm not averse to headset routing but it needs to justify the complication with a significant aesthetic payoff. Moving a cable a few inches, whilst also leaving them exposed to the point of entry seems a bit backward and poorly executed to me.
If the headset routing doesn't aggravate the internet so much that they turn away, hopefully the threaded bottom bracket brings them back. All the frames also have bolt-on protectors for the downtube and chainstay. The chainstay protection is specifically designed to prevent chain suck, too.
A medium carbon Neuron frame has a weight of 2448 grams, and the AL Neuron 3100 grams. Both have clearance for 2.4 inch tyres.
The bike also has three bolts for the water bottle mounts, meaning that if you choose to run a piggyback shock then you can move the bottle to the lower mount which, while harder to reach for some riders, will also give the required clearance.
For those riders nervous about going direct-to-customer, Canyon have made all the spare parts and bearings available to order via their website.
The Neuron seems a step in the right direction for the platform, while also not going so far as to stray away from what the bike is meant to do, and how many of its customers may intend to ride it. It's steeper in the seat tube but not so much so that it risks overloading the rider's wrists. It's also noted that it's generous in terms of stack. That should not only provide a more relaxed seated position but also stop the longer reach and still not-excessive seat tube angle making the bike feel too large when seated.
That stack on the new bike is greater than the outgoing Neuron, in the large in particular, where it increases by around 15 mm.
That stack may well also help the rider get their weight over the rear axle when the trails get steeper, too. The bike is also slacker. Again, nothing extreme. Having ridden the Neuron, I think they could have probably quite happily taken another degree off the head angle and it would only improve the bike but, then again, if you ask Mike Levy, people in the Sea to Sky only ride triple-black-rainbow-crushed-diamonds, so maybe our demands are different. However, I look at something like the Transition Smuggler, and when you ride that the 65-degree head angle really makes the bike feel a lot more planted and less willing to be bullied on the front end.
Models & Pricing
I've had to opportunity to ride the Neuron in between snowstorms in the Canadian winter. It's an exciting bike, that's for sure. The amount of these that will be sold will make it a very important bike, too.
My test bike, the Neuron CF 9 SL, has some great features and feels a lot like a long-legged cross-country bike that's happy to gallop up trails and cruise down them. When pushed, it's a bike that can sometimes get bullied by the trail slightly due to its combination of not-that-slack geometry and, in my opinion, peculiar spec choices. Then again, what it loses in this area, it gains in terms of sharp handling and efficiency.
It's versatile if you want something to double up for XC duty, and perhaps not if you're looking for something that's going to encroach on the territory of the 150 or 160 mm bike. That said, a 200 mm front rotor and GRIP2 damper would help.
The traction on the rear hasn't blown me away, and can often feel like it struggles to really track and settle on anything nearing rough. On smoother trails, though, it can hold its own, and is much more comfortable on trails that have a constant speed, rather than ones where you're trying to slow the bike down into turns or tech.
It feels efficient, and rides lighter than the 14ish kilograms (30.8 lb) that it is. The pedalling position is comfortable and neutral, and it's a strong technical climber.