The Neuron CF range combines 130mm of travel with a 130mm fork across all models. As mentioned, the Neuron is sandwiched between the Lux cross-country bike (that sports 100mm of rear travel) and the longer travel Spectral (140mm of rear travel matched with 150mm up front). That puts it in the sweet spot for Australian trail riding.
What’s been updated from the old Neuron?
Pretty much everything! For starters, Canyon has brought the shock orientation from a vertical position to a horizontal one. This has brought the bike’s suspension design, and aesthetics, in line with the Lux, Spectral, Torquecolourwayand Sender.
This design is motivated by Canyon’s ‘Triple Phase Suspension’ philosophy. Canyon describes the suspension design as a sensitive beginning stroke, a stable mid stroke and a progressive end to the shock’s travel.
The horizontal shock mount also provides clearance for a lower standover height, space for a full-size bottle on medium frames and above, and space for Canyon’s ‘Eject’ water bottle system (a funky side-by-side bottle system) on smaller models.
Moving on from the suspension configuration, the Neuron CF range consists of carbon front and rear ends, as well as a nifty composite shock linkage. The composite linkage serves a dual purpose of keeping the frame weight down (a medium frame with shock weighs approximately 2670 grams), as well as covering the bearings connecting the seat stays and shock linkage.
The composite linkage isn’t Canyon’s only effort to increase bearing life and decrease maintenance. Once again following the Spectral’s lead, Canyon have introduced bearing covers, metal inserts inside the frame, higher quality grease and additional seals, all in the name of longevity.
The asymmetrical main pivot also features two oversized bearings to cope with the higher loads brought about by chain tension. There’s also the option of mounting a chainguide, or if you’re after that retro vibe,, the frame is also front derailleur compatible. Yes, Canyon can’t shake that European allegiance to the front mech!
Keeping on the topic of small but pleasing details, Canyon is using size specific tubing with the Neuron range, meaning the smaller frames will be lighter with better standover clearance, and the larger sizes won’t lose stiffness through skinny tubing. The geometry numbers are also tweaked throughout the sizes, all with the aim of keeping the ride feel as similar as possible.
Lastly, the new Neuron adopts the cable channel system used on the Spectral. The idea behind this system is to offer the aesthetic of internal routing, by encasing the cables beneath a cover that also serves as downtube protection. In practice, we found the system pretty fiddly on our Spectral test bike.
While Canyon have gone longer, lower and slacker than the previous Neuron range, the numbers aren’t breaking new ground, in fact,, concerningthey’r,e pretty conservative really. Clearly this bike isn’t buying into the aggressive, short-travel 29er trend that some other brands are pursuing.
The head angle is 67.5 degrees, a little steeper than we’ve become accustomed to seeing on new bike releases for the trail category. By way of comparison, the new Giant Trance 29 sits at 66.5 degrees, and the GT Sensor 65.5 degrees. And the 60mm stems across all sizes is a surprise too – 40mm or 50mm has become the norm now.
So, is this a missed opportunity to grab a slice of the aggressive trail market or a smart move to build a bike that’s more realistic in terms of the aspirations of its target user? We’d lean towards the latter.
The Neuron encourages you to pop and play. On the thasopic of numbers, Canyon have stuck with the split wheel size approach of the previous Neuron range, meaning the smaller models (XS/S) will come with 27.5” wheels, but the larger models (M/L/XL) will come with 29” hoops.
One point Canyon was keen to make is that all models are equipped with a 29” fork. Why have they done this? Well, the combination of a narrower handlebar on the 27.5” models and a slacker head angle means that with a 29” fork the bike will retain a similar trail in both wheel sizes (95mm for the smaller sizes and 99mm for the larger ones), and consequently a very similar ride feel across the wheel sizes.
How does the bike ride?
The Neuron CF 9.0SL we rode weighs a scant 12.12kg in a size medium, and combined with the efficient suspension the bike is eager to power along. That’s definitely this bike’s happiest place; on the gas, chewing up rolling singletrack.
On the descents, the middle of the range frame numbers were a great reminder that the race to longer, lower and slacker geometry makes sense for riders who love shredding fast and technical trails. But for trails that aren’t hosting an EWS, the Neuron’s more balanced geometry makes for an engaging ride, one that is agile, quick steering and precise.
The lighter weight makes undulating trails a real treat, but perhaps an even bigger advantage noticed on rolling trails, or descents with a mild gradient, is the Neuron’s mid stroke support.
Rather than the wallowing feeling of a bike that’s eager to chew up everything in its way, the Neuron’s mid-stroke gives back everything you put in, screaming at you to pop between those roots, or pump out of a corner faster than you entered.
The pedalling efficiency of the new suspension layout is top notch, and whilst we’d still lock the shock out for long road climbs, we’d keep it open for pretty much everything else. One minor point we’d make is that the traction on technical climbs isn’t the best in class, but we’re happy to be more mindful in these situations in return for the excellent pedalling characteristics.
We didn’t get to take the bike down a great deal of steep terrain, and that’s something we’d love to do on our home trails should we get the chance.
Is there anything we didn’t like?
At this stage we honestly can’t fault the Neuron, however, we did test the bike in the perfect terrain for the bike’s scope of use. We’d love to see how far we can push the bike’s 130mm of travel on technical, steeper and rougher terrain, as well as trying to keep up with our lycra-clad mates.
There is a tiny part of us that wishes Canyon had pushed this bike into more aggthe ressive territory (perhaps even just a 140mm fork to expand the bike’s comfort zone, somewhat). But on the flip side, we really enjoyed the way this bike engaged with the trail, its quick handling and its responsiveness. Plus there’s the always the Spectral, if you’re really wanting to push things.
What model did we ride?
We rode the Neuron CF 9.0 SL model, and priced at $5399 you’re riding away with an incredibly specced package featuring X01 Eagle gearing, Fox Performance Elite suspension and a set of Reynolds TR309 carbon wheels.
How many models are in the range?
There are four models in the range in total, and the two cheapest models are also offered in women’s variants. Every model is offered in the matte black shown in the photo below, as well as an alternate colourway for each model.
Is there any difference in the women’s models beside the paint?
Indeed there is! As women are typically lighter than men, Canyon has opted for a lighter compression and rebound tune on both the shocks and forks of the women’s models. The women’s models also come equipped with women’s specific touch points.
Are there aluminium models available?
There is a range of aluminium Neuron models ranging from $2349 to $4999, but these bikes don’t feature a number of the updated features in the Neuron CF range. This includes the new suspension design, as well as the bearing protection and cable channel. Canyon has updated the geometry from the 2017 models, however, and the updated numbers are very similar to the Neuron CF range.
Who is the bike for?
The Neuron CF range features well-balanced geometry, excellent suspension and componentry that strikes a good balance between weight and durability. After riding a bike like this we often think anywhere from 110 -130mm is the perfect trail bike for most riders, many of whom are riding a bike with too much or too little travel for the majority of their riding.
We’re itching to get our hands on one of these to ride on our home trails, so keep your eyes peeled.
All photography, Markus Greber /Canyon.