Short travel, a carbon frame and an interesting approach to frame and wheel sizes.
We spent a day in the Surrey Hills to meet the new Canyon Neuron CF.
Canyon’s new Neuron CF is an interesting beast. Short travel, carbon frame and with big wheels for some sizes and small wheels for others.
Jamie spent a day with Canyon down in the Surrey Hills to explore what the new bike is all about. If you want to read more Wideopenmag bike reviews, just click here.
The full English
As you’ll see below, the Canyon Neuron CF’s ‘welcome’ video is all about wild-camping, alpine views, ribbon single track and snowy mountains. My first ride of the bike however, was an altogether more ‘British’ affair.
The mercury was hovering around ‘1’, there was a damp sheen to the trails and the fine views of the Surrey hills were muted with a thick, damp pea soup’er. We’d been invited to the Peaslake to give the new 130mm’er a proper try and, true to the invite, we were going to give it the full English.
Like the weather on our test ride, the Canyon Neuron CF isn’t necessarily setting the world on fire. It’s neither slack nor steep, the wheel sizes vary according the frame size and it doesn’t have acres of travel. It’s designed to sit beneath the Spectral in Canyon’s scale of radness and pitched as more of a ‘go on a big ride’ job than an enduro bike or hardcore ’thrash round the woods’ hacker.
It’s a mountain bike
Canyon’s explanation was simply that “it’s a mountain bike”. They looked at their customers and understood that we’re not all winning races or lapping Fort William every other day. They designed the Neuron to suit as wide a range of riders and riding as possible and to give all of those people a bike they can enjoy.
The CF needs a little bit of explaining. First up, it has 130mm of travel using Canyon’s ‘Triple Phase Suspension’ philosophy. Canyon have taken inspiration from their Sender DH bike and adjusted the system to be a bit more ‘trail bikes’. Essentially the suspension is designed to be sensitive in the first third of the travel, then stable and then progressive. No surprises there.
All bikes size medium or above have 29” wheels, a 760mm bar and 60mm stem. Below that they come with 27.5” wheels, 50mm stem and 740mm bar. The two size brackets also have their own carbon layup, with bigger bikes getting fatter tubes and their own shock tunes.
Interestingly, all sizes of the bike come with a 29” fork with a 51mm offset. Canyon reckon that this setup is the best way of making all sizes and wheel sizes feel the same on the trail. We only rode the 29’er so, no comments there.
The Neuron has a carbon frame, Quixle QR, bottle cage, the integrated cable channel you see elsewhere in the range and some very neat and tidy bearing covers to keep the crap out in the winter.
It’s worth noting that there’s a women’s version, the Neuron WMN, which keeps the same geometry as the men’s bikes but comes with different contact points. Canyon explained that they don’t, at the moment at least, have the capacity to make a women’s version.
Geometry always raises a few eyebrows at Canyon launches. The Germans aren’t known for sharing the British sense of adventure with sizes and shapes – and the Neuron follows suit. Sizes XS and small share a 67° head angle, whilst the larger sizes get 67.5°. Reach is 453mm on a large and 473mm on an extra large.
Canyon explained that their geometry is designed to suit a wide range of abilities. They feel that less skilled riders don’t move around on the bike as much, and their geometry helps them to load the front wheel without having to make larger movements.
Killer value, as always
There’s never any argument with Canyon value – the Neuron is available in 13 versions with prices ranging from £5,099 to £1,449.
We rode the Canyon Neuron CF 9.0 SL, which is £3,349 and comes with an excellent line up of kit including a Fox 34 Elite fork, Fox Performance Float DPS LV shock and SRAM XO1 Eagle groupset.
Slithery, slippery corners
Our test track for the Canyon Neuron was a lap of Surrey Hills, taking in a pedal up and out of Wotton, round to Peaslake for a cuppa and then back to base for a pint. The first climb up and out of the car park, on hungover legs, was a breeze.
Maxxis Forekaster tyres zipped along nicely and a lengthy Fox Transfer post kept me spinning up the climb and happily in the middle of the pack. Canyon explained that they have designed the bike’s suspension so as to do away with constant lock-out switch flicking. I didn’t touch the rear shock once after I’d set it up, so I guess they nailed that.
The day’s trails were chosen to be very “Neuron” meaning a bit more about tight and twisty than steep and technical. There was plenty of ups and downs, hundreds of of corners, one steep chute covered in wet leaves and loads of puddles. It felt like Proper Winter arrived exactly in time for our ride.
My favourite trail of the day was exactly what I think of British ‘trail’ riding to be – loose, muddy and rooty with a few jumps and plenty of awkward, slippy corners. With a pint at the end, obviously.
Through the slithery, slippery corners I had a lot of fun. It’s an easy bike to ride. Changes of direction are quick and effortless, there’s no hard work to pop on to the back wheel and corners are quick and pingy with no oil-tanker hauling required.
Our wet and muddy ride felt like more of a test of brakes and tyres than dampers, but the Triple Phase suspension felt like it worked well. Despite only having 130mm of travel, the bike didn’t feel out gunned and I was happily pushing myself to go faster and chase down the guy in front.
There’s only so far you can push a short travel bike and I wouldn’t be taking this down many black trails at the Bike Park (or maybe I would?) but… for fun, flowy singletrack it was plenty.
The ‘feel’ of the Neuron is very much about balance. It’s a bike you’ll hop on, feel comfortable straight away and ride easily without needing to spend time getting your head around it. It’s not steep or slack, it’s not long or short. It does nothing by extremes or even by wild swings in any direction.
It goes up hills comfortably and it goes down as quickly as you’re willing to push it. The point at which you start having fun and feeling loose arrives way quicker than your long travel bike… which is a good thing for the most part.
Should you get one?
My brief ride on the Neuron did a good job of making me want to ride Canyon’s Spectral again.
I know that if I had a Neuron in the garage I’d grab it almost daily for a quick lap of the local trails. On the other hand, the longer travel (160mm) and slightly slacker Spectral pedals almost as well and still has a bit more grunt for those trips to South Wales or your summer Alpine holiday.
The Neuron is one of those ‘do anything’ bikes … but only if your version of ‘anything’ means you’re happy to ride challenging trails on a short travel bike with relatively tight angles. Or, which is perfectly possible, that you’re relatively new to mountain biking, you stick to mellower trails or you keep your riding inside the trail centres. For that sort of stuff, the Neuron would be a great choice. I suspect most of you will prefer something that’ll make your life easier down your local downhill trails.
The Neuron is a bike that’ll go up, along and down with equal enthusiasm, it’s a bike for your Saturday-morning Cwmcarn lap and for your after-work night ride with the lads.
It’s not a bike for everyone and everything… but it’s a bike that’ll suit most people’s riding a lot more than they’d probably think.
- Easy to ride, easy to enjoy
- Great value with loads of bike for the money
Could do better
- Geometry and finishing kit won’t suit everyone
You can learn more about the Canyon Neuron CF over at Canyon’s website here.