Jack & Wil review the new Canyon Stoic
Launched right at the end of 2020, the Stoic is a brand new hardtail mountain bike from Canyon. Joining the Exceed (100mm carbon race hardtail) and Grand Canyon (120mm alloy hardtail), the Stoic is the punk rocker of the range.
Featuring a 140mm travel fork and chunkier rubber, along with longer and slacker geometry, the Stoic is what Canyon calls a ‘long travel progressive hardtail’. It’s designed to be tough and capable to suit a wide range of riding styles, effectively filling the role as the hardtail equivalent of Canyon’s Spectral. With prices starting at $1,899 AUD though, it’s a heckuva lot cheaper than its full suspension sibling.
Of course UK-style aggro hardtails aren’t a new thing. The British mob have been doing this style of bike forever – brands such as Orange, Sonder, Stanton, On-One, and BTR are notable proponents of the genre. As for hands on experience, we’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable experience with the Curve DownRock and our Cotic BFeMAX long-term test bike, which have both proved that with modern geometry and the right build kit, a hardtail can be just as capable as its fully-suspended counterparts, and in some cases, more fun too.
Bigger brands have also been tapping into the niche for a while too. The popular Kona Honzo was one of the first 29ers on the market to champion modern geometry and ultra-short chainstays, and the Commencal Meta HT and Norco Fluid have also both offered a more fun-filled take on the hardtail for a number of years now. Helping to legitimise the genre further, notable entries into the trail hardtail world of late include the Specialized Fuse, Trek Roscoe, Giant Fathom, Marin San Quentin and Merida Big Trail. For riders who are looking for a capable mountain bike without a rear shock, there’s a considerably broader range of choice now.
Canyon has ticked plenty of other boxes on the Technical Trail Bike Checklist™ too.
However, this is the first time we’ve seen such a bike from German mega-brand Canyon. It’s a totally new model for 2021, and zooming out for a moment, its arrival couldn’t have happened at a better time. Given the global COVID-19 pandemic, more folks are getting into mountain biking than ever before. And a tough, versatile hardtail like this represents a solid option for discovering the trails, without having to invest thousands more on an equivalent full suspension bike.
What vibe is the Canyon Stoic throwing down?
Built around a welded and heat-treated alloy frame, the Canyon Stoic features a slack 65° head angle paired to a 140mm travel fork. Smaller sizes utilise 27.5in wheels, while the Medium and above utilise 29in wheels.
Canyon has ticked plenty of other boxes on the Technical Trail Bike Checklist™ too. You get 780mm riser bars, a stubby 40mm stem, a long-stroke dropper post, Boost hub spacing, tubeless compatible wheels and heavy-duty rubber. Despite having a very short rear end, there’s still clearance for up to a 2.6in tyre in the back, and the RockShox fork will take a 2.8in tyre up front.
Our test bike is the higher-end Stoic 4, which comes with a retail price of $2,649 AUD. The cheaper Stoic 3 comes in at $1,899 AUD by subbing in a RockShox Recon fork, along with a more budget-oriented SX Eagle drivetrain and Level T brakes. You can get a closer look at the specs, geometry and frame details of the Stoic range in our detailed first look story here.
An important note on pricing; because Canyon sells its bikes direct to consumer, you’ll need to factor in another $29.90 for the cardboard bike box and $199 for shipping. For our Stoic 4, that brings the total price to $2,877.90 AUD. Still impressive, but not quite as sharp as it first appears.
2021 Canyon Stoic 4
- Frame | 6061-T6 Alloy
- Fork | RockShox Pike Select RC, DebonAir Spring, 42mm Offset, 140mm Travel
- Wheels | Sealed Bearing Hubs & Alex DP30 Alloy Rims, 30mm Inner Width
- Tyres | Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail ADDIX Soft 2.35in Front & Hans Dampf Super Trail ADDIX Soft 2.35in Rear
- Drivetrain | SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 w/Descendent 30T Crankset & 11-50T Cassette
- Brakes | SRAM Guide T 4-Piston, 200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
- Bar | Canyon Iridium, Width: 740mm (XXS-XS), 760mm (S), 780mm (M-XL)
- Stem | Canyon Iridium, 40mm Length
- Grips | Canyon G5 Lock-On
- Seatpost | Canyon Iridium Dropper, Travel: 125mm (XXS), 150mm (XS-S), 170mm (M-XL)
- Saddle | VELO VL-5120
- Available Sizes | XX-Small, X-Small, Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
- Confirmed Weight | 14.52kg
- RRP | $2,649 AUD (plus shipping)
Fit & Sizing
Canyon offers the Stoic frame in six sizes from XX-Small through to X-Large. We chose the Medium size to suit Jack (171cm tall) and Wil (175cm tall).
Highlighting Canyon’s recent push towards a more progressive approach with frame geometry, the Stoic features a substantial reach of 455mm on the Medium. Indeed the overall cockpit feel is very similar to the Canyon Spectral 29 we tested recently. While the Stoic’s 75° seat tube angle is slacker on paper, due to the fork sagging into its travel when you’re on board, it actually gets steeper on the trail.
The riding position is relatively upright and plenty comfortable, complemented by the 780mm high rise bars. These are a good fit for an aggro hardtail, though we’d consider chopping them down to 760mm to get just a little more clearance through the trees. Canyon’s own lock-on grips are quite thin with a firm rubber compound. We haven’t found them uncomfortable though, and they’ve also proven to be quite durable.
One thing we would look at changing however is the saddle. The shape isn’t terrible, but since your arse has a much closer relationship with the trail surface on a hardtail, some more cushioning would be welcome.
Setting up the Canyon Stoic
Being a hardtail, the Stoic is a straightforward bike to setup. The SRAM Guide T brakes do require a hex key to adjust lever reach, which is a little fiddly. They’re not the most powerful or the most refined brakes, but they’ve performed consistently throughout the past couple of months of testing, and Canyon has wisely bolstered their power with 180mm rotors front and rear.
To suit our 66-68kg riding weight, we setup the Pike with 80psi inside the air spring. The fork’s air chamber comes with a single Bottomless Token inside, though we added a 2nd Token for some head-slapping, bottom-out support.
The Charger RC damper offers you adjustable compression and rebound damping. We set the rebound dial at 10 clicks off the slowest setting (10/24 clicks) and wound the low-speed compression dial two clicks in from full open (2/5 clicks).
It’s no featherweight
Confirmed weight for our Stoic 4 is a not-inconsiderable 14.52kg – that’s without pedals and setup tubeless.
A lot of the overall mass can be traced to the wheels. The bare wheelset weighs in at a confirmed 2,537g, which puts it into downhill territory. It is totally solid though – the wheels are built with heavy duty eyeleted rims, large sealed bearing hubs, thick gauge J-bend spokes and brass nipples.
The tyres are also very heavy. The Magic Mary coming in at 1,487g and the Hans Dampf 1,298g. Both tyres use Schwalbe’s robust Super Trail casing, and the overall volume is big for their stated 2.35in width. As a result, we were able to run them with just 18psi in the front and 20psi in the rear.
Of course all that rotational mass means the Stoic isn’t the quickest accelerating bike off the mark. However, the rigid alloy frame feels nice and responsive under power, and the Hans Dampf offers decent rolling resistance, a smart choice for the rear.
But it absolutely rips!
From street riding, to flowy jump trails, through to technical black diamond singletrack, the Canyon Stoic has proved to be a mighty capable and adaptable bike, and mighty fun too.
There’s a heap of confidence up front thanks to the long front centre and slack head angle, and the Pike is a brilliant addition for a bike at this price point. The stout chassis inspires confidence, and the newly redesigned DebonAir spring helps to keep it riding higher in its travel. It’s plenty plush, but it’s also quite stable through the mid-stroke, helping to preserve the Stoic’s slack head angle for longer. Though the Charger RC damper isn’t quite as plush or as sensitive as the higher-end options from RockShox, it is easier to tune, and you can always upgrade the damper down the line if you fancy.
We found the Stoic to be a surprisingly stable bike over chunky rock gardens, and the rear wheel didn’t ping about nearly as much as expected for a hardtail. Of course it isn’t as comfortable or as planted as the full suspension Spectral, and it’s harder to maintain the same momentum when things gets really rough and rowdy. It’s also not as raked out as some of the bigger enduro hardtails on the market like the Norco Torrent and Cotic BFeMAX. In comparison, the Stoic is less enduro and more aggro trail. Still, there is a decent amount of stability, and providing you pay attention, stay loose over the bike and work the terrain, it’s possible to make your way down some pretty hectic descents.
The chunky, well-damped tyres play a big role in smoothing off harsh edges, and the Addix Soft rubber compound allows them to generate some serious traction. The Magic Mary is such a dependable tyre up front, whether the conditions are dry, wet, hardpacked or loose, and the robust casings meant there was minimal wobble when slinging the bike in and out of high-speed berms.
While it can bomb down chunkier and more natural singletrack, boosting lips and linking up doubles on bigger jump trails is for sure where the Stoic feels most in its element. You can crush the saddle well out of the way thanks to the 170mm dropper post, allowing you to make the most of its responsive, low-slung frame.
The 428mm rear centre length is also quite short, and that minimises the distance between your feet and the rear tyre’s contact patch. This more direct connection affords terrific agility, and it’s easy to find the balance point when popping up the front wheel. Along with the grippy Schwalbe tyres and wide bars, carving turns and manualling through rollers is an absolute delight on the Stoic.
Those attributes also make it a totally jib-able bike for street riding too. The Stoic has relished in railing down stairs, hopping off embankments and searching out creative gaps around town. And when things go a little off-script, you’re much less likely to run into trouble thanks to the heavy-duty wheels and tyres.
Who’s this bike for then?
Being such a solid all-rounder, we reckon the Stoic would make for a great starting point for someone who’s ready to commit to mountain biking, and wants a bike that can put up with plenty of punishment.
It’s much more capable and versatile than a traditional 100mm-forked XC hardtail, and while there’s room for upgrades, there’s little on this bike that will hold you back as your riding skill and speed increases. Sure, you can get a full suspension bike for similar money, but the components will be compromised to get it to that price point, and it won’t be anywhere near as durable as this.
If your focus is already on XC or enduro racing however, then the Stoic won’t be such a good fit, since it sits smack-bang in the middle of those disciplines. It’s also quite a heavy bike, and on longer rides as you get tired or a little lazy, you do feel every rock and root on the trail. Those who are riding less technical trails and are more committed to a wheels-on-the-ground riding style may want to consider Canyon’s Grand Canyon hardtail instead, or perhaps even the Neuron if your budget stretches that far.
For someone who already owns a dually but is looking for something a little different to mix things up, the Stoic would also make for a great second mountain bike. Something that’s a little simpler, as well as being easier and cheaper to maintain, particularly over the winter months.
This has been the case for young Jack, whose only bike is his enduro race rig. Rather than riding that all the time and wearing it out, the Stoic has filled the role as a solid and reliable do-everything bike, both for training and for fun. Compared to his full suspension enduro bike, the Stoic has helped Jack to build new riding skills and encourage more considered line choices, all of which is making him a faster rider all-round.
Component Highs & Lows
No question, the Canyon Stoic 4 is such a solid package for the money, even when you do factor in the $200 shipping cost.
The Pike is a brilliant performer, and not exactly a common sight on sub-$3K mountain bikes. All of the Canyon-branded components have performed without hassle, including the internally-routed dropper post. There are nicer dropper levers out there, but the stock remote has done the job just fine.
We dig the solid, no-nonsense alloy frame, which features a home mechanic-friendly threaded bottom bracket and external routing for the hydraulic brake hose. The geometry is absolutely spot-on, and the 180mm disc mount and bolt-up thru-axle are tidy.
However, for a bike that’s going to be thrown around a lot, we’d like to see more frame protection. All that’s supplied is a thin plastic sticker for the lower third of the downtube and the drive-side chainstay, the latter of which was chewed up within a couple of rides. Not helping things, the NX derailleur clutch isn’t the strongest, so chain slap and the chance of chain suck is more prominent. We wrapped an old inner tube around the chainstay to deaden the noise and protect the paint work, but it’s still surprising that in 2021 a mountain bike can come without useful protection in such a key strike zone. Stoic owners may also want to get creative with an inner tube or old tyre to add some downtube protection against rock impacts.
The drivetrain itself has been fine, and the steel chainring will offer considerably better durability in the long-term compared to an alloy equivalent. We have had to make fairly regular adjustments to the derailleur to keep it shifting accurately. Some Loctite on those limit screws and the B-tension bolt is recommended to keep it in alignment for longer, though we’d potentially look at upgrading to a burlier GX mech down the line, or perhaps even to a Shimano Deore derailleur and shifter.
Given our very hot and dusty summer conditions, both the headset bearings and crankset have needed a clean out and re-grease to silence some emerging creaks, though they’ve been tight and quiet since. We did also lose the included water bottle early on due to the sloppy bottle cage ejecting it on a very rough descent. Of course a hardtail does bounce around a lot more, but the cage doesn’t have a particularly secure hold on any bottle we’ve fitted.
Otherwise the rest of the bike has been totally solid, and the wheels in particular deserve a shoutout here for putting up with a barrage of abuse. The rims are still yet to suffer a single ding or flat spot, and the wheels are running straight and true, with no obvious reduction in spoke tension. The tyres have been equally impressive, having suffered zero punctures throughout testing. Despite the soft rubber compound, and past Schwalbe tyre experiences, the tread is in good condition too.
Canyon’s Stoic is proof that you don’t necessarily need a rear shock to have a bloody good time – either on the trail or off it.
The combination of its solid no-nonsense alloy frame, contemporary enduro-style geometry, and burly parts package means it is exceptionally capable for a hardtail. The RockShox Pike fork and sticky Schwalbe rubber are notable highlights, and along with the robust wheelset, will help both the bike and you survive some pretty rowdy situations.
There’s room for refinement – we’d love to see more frame protection, and we’d also square away some dollars for a future derailleur upgrade. It’s also a pretty hefty bike, with a lot of the weight residing in the wheels. That makes it less suited to longer distance riding, though if that’s more your jam, you’ll be better off looking at the Grand Canyon instead.
For riders who want to grow and develop their riding skills however, for those who need a bike that can take the inevitable punishment from mis-timed takeoffs and cased landings, the Canyon Stoic is a solid, fun-loving and confidence-inspiring choice.