Review | The 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0 Is A Near-Perfect XC Race Bike

The not-so-minor details


2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0


Canyon Australia






- The lightweight, practical and spacious frame design
- Fantastic power transfer
- Razor-sharp handling
- Love the trick Quixle rear axle!


- Dual lockout creates a very stiff, awkward lever throw
- The SID fork isn't the most supple performer
- The unloveable Selle Italia saddle

Wil reviews the 2020 Canyon Lux

Adorned with 29in wheels and 100mm of rear wheel travel, the Lux is Canyon’s super light, full suspension XC speedster. Brand new for 2019, the latest generation Lux has been completely re-engineered with a newly augmented carbon fibre chassis that is more svelte and roomier thanks to a reworked suspension layout. Having integrated design elements found within the latest Strive, Spectral, Neuron models, the Lux is one lethal-looking race bike that, aside from the name, shares very little in common with the old model.

Watch the video review on the 2020 Canyon Lux here:

Canyon Lux overview

Weight is of course a key factor for any XC race bike, and every brand loves a headline figure. Canyon’s goal? To bring the Lux frameset below the elusive 2kg barrier. During its two-year gestation, Canyon’s engineers managed to shave 250g off the Lux, bringing the bare frame down to an incredible 1,660g. Add in a Fox shock, the dual lockout remote, derailleur hanger, hardware, and the tidy little chainguide, and the total frame weight is claimed to be just 1,986g.

Much of the weight has been saved by moving to a more compact suspension linkage. This is made up of a petite alloy control link, and a composite clevis that captures and drives the lower shock eyelet. Of note is that the three main pivots on the Lux are all rolling on sealed cartridge bearings. This differs from some other full suspension XC bikes that use lighter bushings instead, like the Scott Spark RC.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The new generation Lux shares very little in common with the old model.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The Lux uses a one-piece carbon swingarm, which sees the seatstays flex through the 100mm of rear travel.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
A tiny alloy link connects the seatstays to the seat tube, while a composite yoke wraps around the seat tube to drive the rear shock.

By flipping the rear shock up to sit parallel with the top tube, Canyon has also been able to increase space inside the mainframe, making room for two full-size water bottles on all four frame sizes. Each bike comes supplied with two cages – a pleasing sight for map-crossing XC riders and marathon racers.

Despite the focus on weight, Canyon hasn’t forgone practicalities. The Lux features the excellent IPU headset to prevent over-rotation of the bars, saving your top tube in the event of a crash. I also love the Quixle thru-axle lever, which delivers tool-free functionality before discreetly popping back inside.

The flat-mount brake calliper looks super neat, though any normal calliper will fit with a simple adapter. There’s room for up to a 2.3in wide rear tyre, and there’s also a 30.9mm diameter seat tube. Bar the cheapest model, every Lux comes supplied with a dropper post.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
Boost 148x12mm thru-axle dropouts lock down the shapely back end.

Despite the focus on weight, Canyon hasn’t forgone practicalities. The Lux features the excellent IPU headset to prevent over-rotation of the bars, saving your top tube in the event of a crash. I also love the Quixle thru-axle lever, which delivers tool-free functionality before discreetly popping back inside.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The IPU headset is simple and works exceptionally well – I never hit the stoppers while riding on the trail.

The 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0

Speaking of models, there are seven in total for 2020, with prices ranging from $4,549 AUD to $11,049 AUD. The three top models utilise the SLX frame, and are spec’d with 100mm travel forks with scary Maxxis Aspen tyres front and rear.

The bottom four models utilise the SL frame, which has exactly the same shape and geometry, but is 190g heavier due to using lower modulus carbon fibres. The SL models also come with a slightly longer 110mm travel fork, and a more sensible Maxxis Rekon front tyre.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 8.0 gets a new Reynolds carbon wheelset, and it also ditches the funky Grip Shift spec’d on last year’s bike.

For the past two months I’ve been testing and racing the piggy-in-the-middle of the range; the Lux CF SL 8.0. This bike is the highest spec option with the slightly heavier CF SL frame.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The package that Canyon delivers for the money is exceptional, but it isn’t totally sorted out of the box.

Canyon Lux size and setup

At 175cm tall, Canyon’s sizing configurator suggests I should be on a Small. Which is unusual, because I typically ride a Medium in everything. For anyone out there who’s in a similar predicament, I would almost always recommend going for a bigger size than what Canyon recommends, since they typically aren’t long bikes.

That’s definitely the case for the Lux, which has a conservative 430mm reach on the Medium I’ve been riding. That’s combined with an 80mm stem and the narrowest handlebars I’ve ridden in about five years. Mind you, and despite my preconceptions, it didn’t take long to appreciate the extra tree clearance the 720mm wide bars afford on old handcut singletrack. And with the stem slammed, the Lux provides a fantastically racy stance, with a powerful and efficient climbing position.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The 720mm bars are the narrowest I’ve ridden in some time. I actually quite liked it, though big-chested folk will want to consider a wider bar.

For my 68kg riding weight, I set the front tyre to 24psi, and the flimsy Aspen on the rear to 27psi, since my local singletrack has a habit of chowing down on lightweight casings.

The Lux CF SL 8.0 comes with a 110mm travel RockShox SID Select+ fork, with one Bottomless Token inside the DebonAir spring. As per the setup chart, 100psi got me to 25% sag, and I ran the rebound dial eight clicks off the slowest setting.

Out back, the RockShox Deluxe Ultimate has an unusually long 55mm stroke. That’s a big shock for an XC bike with just 100mm travel. To put it into perspective, that’s the same stroke used on the 130mm travel Trek Fuel EX I’ve also been testing. On the Lux that creates a very low average leverage ratio of 1.81:1, which means operating pressures are much lower than other XC bikes. I found 110psi (20% sag) was ideal for XC racing, while dropping down to 100psi (25% sag) provided a suppler action for trail riding and 2+ hour races. I set the awkwardly-positioned rebound lever exactly halfway at five clicks from full slow.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 rockshox deluxe shock
Canyon has built the Lux around a huge 55mm stroke shock. Operating pressures are quite low as a result.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
Fat fingers will struggle to get to that red rebound dial.

What does the Canyon Lux do well?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Lux is a very fast bike. At 11.37kg, it’s a light package at this price point. Combined with the purposeful riding position and taut rear suspension, the Lux accelerates rapidly. Like many race-focussed XC bikes, there’s a firm feel underfoot, with a terrific response from pedalling inputs. This isn’t a bike that hangs around when you step on the gas.

Even still, it’s a pretty firm-feeling back end, and it takes a reasonable amount of force to break through the threshold.

Even with the suspension unlocked, the shock doesn’t easily surrender its travel. The swingarm is a single piece of carbon fibre with no dropout pivot, which means the impossibly thin seatstays flex throughout the travel. According to Canyon, the seatstays are at their most ‘relaxed’ at the sag point, which is to maintain traction and sensitivity. Even still, it’s a pretty firm-feeling back end, and it takes a reasonable amount of force to break through the threshold.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 wil lysterfield
The Lux quickly asserts itself as an efficient climber.

It’s certainly firmer than the Giant Anthem 29, Scott Spark and Santa Cruz Blur, which all have more sensitive suspension designs that are more reliant on remotes for sprinting efficiency. While the Lux is more organically efficient than those bikes, you will get more trail feedback and you will feel more of the smaller rubble when riding at slower velocities. If you’re after a supple magic-carpet ride for cruising, this is not your bike.

Get the Lux up to speed however, and the support through medium-to-big hits really is superb. The Lux’s suspension is more progressive than the old model, and that leads to fewer bottom outs and better stability when you’re dashing along at race pace. It isn’t plush, but the faster you go, the better and more reactive the suspension gets.

Are you paying attention? Good. Because you need to.

The Lux’s efficient and effective suspension performance is echoed by its truculent handling, which requires you to commit and wrestle it around to get the absolute best out of it. Unlike some other modern XC bikes that are integrating more contemporary figures, the Lux keeps it real with a sharp 69.5° head angle and a 74° seat angle. Are you paying attention? Good. Because you need to.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 wil lysterfield
Sharp angles give the Lux very precise handling.

The back end is pretty short too. By moving to a 1X specific design (yes, a Euro XC bike that won’t take a front mech – sacré bleu!), Canyon has also trimmed the back end of the Lux from a lazy 450mm, to a much snappier 435mm. This all keeps the wheelbase pretty tight, giving the Lux exceptional agility through tight and twisty turns.

It’s sharp, it’s direct, and it loves going fast.

The front-end steering is about as direct as you can get, and that offers you useful split-second decision making when a rock gets spat up by the rear tyre of the rider you’re chasing down, and you need to rapidly change your line. While it is more likely to flinch than a slacker-angled bike in the first place, the ability to micro-manage the front wheel also opens up options when you’re knee-deep in the rough and desperately searching for an emergency exit.

The Lux is no doubt at its strongest however, on undulating singletrack that ebbs and flows through the trees, where you need to continue inputting through the pedals to maintain speed, while darting from corner-to-corner, switchback-to-switchback. It’s sharp, it’s direct, and it loves going fast. The higher the intensity, the better it gets.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 wil lysterfield
This bike loves riding XC trails absolutely flat-out!

What does it struggle with?

It’s also no real surprise that the Lux can feel somewhat out of its depth the more precipitous the descent. The short cockpit and narrow bars simply give you less to hang onto when things go downhill fast, which will have you reaching deep into your skills bank for the necessary manoeuvres to negotiate your way down. You can’t rely on a huge wheelbase here.

The dropper post is of course a boon for descending, and the 100mm length is spot-on for an XC bike. Being able to drop the saddle is wonderful on a bike with such an aggressive riding position, and though the Lux can be pretty lively, it’ll also get down a lot of nasty shit that hardtails and full-suss bikes of old would struggle with.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
Big thumbs-up for the dropper post.

Alongside the competition, the Lux doesn’t feel as planted as the Specialized Epic FSR or the Scott Spark RC. The Epic has a reduced offset fork (42mm) and the Spark has a slacker head angle (68.5°), so both bikes have more trail, and that simply gives them more sure-footed handling. The Lux’s excellent rear suspension is more responsive than the Epic though, and because it manages its travel so effectively, it’ll surprise you with how hard it’s willing to be pushed.

For any owners out there who are finding their fork feels stiff and they’re blowing through the travel, consider adding some volume spacers.

The SID fork doesn’t exactly help things though, as it’s not as smooth as an equivalent Fox 32 SC. I was able to coax a little more suppleness out of it by adding a second Bottomless Token and dropping pressure down to 95psi, which helped dramatically. I’ve come across a few minimally-Token’d SID and Reba forks recently, so for any owners out there who are finding their fork feels stiff and they’re blowing through the travel, consider adding some volume spacers.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 wil lysterfield
The Lux isn’t the most stable XC bike on the descents, but the quality of its rear suspension keeps it impressively composed given the sharp angles.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 rockshox sid select+
I added another Bottomless Token to the SID fork to give it more bottom-out support.

While I’m on the fork, I gotta say that the dual lockout system leaves a lot to be desired. A single lever is trying to work against both the fork and shock’s compression assemblies simultaneously, which means the lever feel is really stiff – even with slick, brand new cables. In fact it requires so much thumb force to activate the lockout, that I rarely used it.

This steepens the head and seat angles, providing a better pedalling position.

Instead, I decided to remove the fork lockout cable entirely, which left the fork open with the remote only activating the rear shock. I actually preferred this for climbing, as it still allows the fork to sag. This steepens the head and seat angles, providing a better pedalling position. Even with the shock locked out, there’s also enough give in the carbon seatstays and 2.2in rear tyre that you can climb smoother singletrack and fireroad quite comfortably.

If this were my bike, I’d upgrade the fork with an RLC damper cartridge, which would allow for more fine-tune adjustability while losing one cable from the busy cockpit.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 lockout handlebar
The KS dropper post remote works well, though the dual lockout lever is too firm and awkward to use. Ditching the fork lockout cable helped to lighten the action considerably.

Component highs & lows

Being a direct-to-consumer brand, Canyon always delivers an alluring package for the money, and the Lux CF SL 8.0 is no different.

The SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain was flawless throughout testing, punching out shift after shift without complaint. The angle-adjustable lever on the X01 shifter is a small but ergonomically-advantageous detail, and the carbon cranks are both pretty and lightweight.

The DUB bottom bracket inside the PF92 frame shell was smooth and quiet too, which mirrors my experience with the latest DUB systems. Personally, I think it’s about time we put to bed the complaints we used to have about old press-fit systems.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 sram x01 eagle 1x12 drivetrain stylo
The Lux gets a tiny integrated chainguide for a little extra security. No chain drops through two months of solid testing and XC racing.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The DUB bottom bracket was tight and quiet throughout testing, and the 92mm wide BB shell creates a broad and stiff junction point for the frame.

The Selle Italia SLR saddle proved to be a slippery slope to pain though, and lasted a single ride before I replaced it with an Ergon SM Pro – one of my current favourite saddles. The Lux comes stock with Ergon grips (the founders of Ergon and Canyon are brothers), so why can’t we have Ergon saddles too please Canyon?

Points are won back thanks to the top-notch Reynolds TR249 wheels

Points are won back thanks to the top-notch Reynolds TR249 wheels, which feature carbon rims with a 24mm internal width that suits the stock 2.2in rubber well. The wheelset is lightweight at 1601g (confirmed w/tubeless tape & valves), and they achieve a nice balance between rigidity and compliance to complement the Lux’s sharp handling, without being overly harsh. They’re no doubt stiffer than the alloy Hunt wheels I recently reviewed, but they’re more compliant than a lot of other carbon XC hoops I’ve ridden.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 reynolds tr249 carbon wheels maxxis rekon tyre rockshox sid select fork reynolds tr249 carbon wheels
The Reynolds wheels are superb, but the without the oversized Torque Caps, fitting the front wheel is more awkward than it should be.

The only annoyance is with the standard front hub end caps, which float around inside the cavernous dropouts of the SID fork when you’re trying to locate the axle when fitting the front wheel. Either the hub needs the oversized Torque Caps to fit properly, or RockShox needs to ditch the concept and go back to standard dropouts like everyone else.

Speaking of other mild annoyances, the lever reach on the SRAM Level TLM brakes requires a tiny hex key inserted at a really awkward angle to adjust – I had to take the grips off to get to it cleanly. Sure, it’s not the sort of thing you adjust all the time, but it would be most wonderful if SRAM and Shimano work out an easier way to do this on their XC brakes.

Once the lines are rid of pesky air bubbles, the Levels feel rock solid with usable power and terrific modulation.

Using the new generation two-piece calliper, the Level brakes offer more braking power over the previous version. I did need to add a dab of Teflon lube to the lever pivots, which got quite squeaky after some dusty race action, and I also had to run a full system bleed partway through the test period to rectify some squishy brake levers. Once the lines are rid of pesky air bubbles, the Levels feel rock solid with usable power and terrific modulation. These are great brakes.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 sram level tlm disc brakes
Squeaky brake levers were rectified by dropping some Teflon lube into the main pivot bushing.
2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The flat-mount disc brake calliper is very tidy, though any standard brake calliper will fit with an adapter.

Any changes to the bike?

Of course! Aside from the saddle, partway through the test period I also fitted a slightly meatier Pirelli tyre combo – a 2.2in Scorpion M on the front and a 2.2in Scorpion R on the rear. The stock Maxxis tyres are light (662g for the Aspen and 681g for the Rekon), but they’re somewhat flimsy and the Aspen is basically a glorified gravel tyre.

The Pirellis have much more stable sidewalls, and they’re really well damped too. These are quickly becoming my go-to combo for XC and fast trail riding due to their dependability, versatility, and dry condition grip.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 maxxis aspen tyre
The stock Maxxis rubber is light, but the Aspen isn’t the stickiest tyre going. I fitted a set of Pirelli Scorpion tyres partway through the test period.


The other component I wanted to experiment with was the fork. This is because every Lux model that’s spec’d with a RockShox fork has a 51mm offset, while the models with a Fox fork have a 44mm offset. In speaking with Canyon, this purely came down to availability – at the time the bikes were being spec’d at the factory, RockShox was only offering the 51mm offset. That has changed since, and moving forward, Canyon will be running the shorter offset for 2021 and beyond.

Lucky for me, I had a 2020 Fox 32 SC fork in my possession with 100mm travel and a 44mm offset. So I fitted it to the Lux to see how it would ride.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 fox 32 step-cast sc fork
I also tested the Canyon with a 100mm travel fork with a shorter 44mm offset.

For a start, the Fox 32 SC dropped a considerable amount of weight. The SID weighed in at a confirmed 1731g, while the 32 SC comes in at 1406g (both with a cut steerer and star nut installed). This brought the total bike weight down to just on 11kg.

With the 100mm travel fork, the Lux’ angles also sharpened by 0.5°, while the BB height dropped by 4mm. I still never clipped a pedal though – the stable suspension performance ensures the cranks maintain ground clearance, as you’re not wallowing through the travel.

I felt more confident and in control on the descents, especially at speed.

Aside from having much better small-bump sensitivity and a more responsive action overall, the 32 SC’s shorter offset gives the Lux noticeably steadier steering. Even having reduced the travel from 110mm to 100mm, the shorter offset helps to increase ground trail, which calms down the steering and increases the front wheels ability to self-correct after being knocked off-line. I felt more confident and in control on the descents, especially at speed.


The downside? I needed a little more muscle to thread it around slower, really tight corners – particularly on the flats or uphill. This is something you can adapt to relatively easily though, and it could also be mitigated with a slightly wider bar that would increase leverage over the front wheel.

Having tested both, I preferred the ride quality with the shorter fork offset.

Having tested both, I preferred the ride quality with the shorter fork offset. However, changing the fork is a pretty expensive upgrade in anyone’s books. With that in mind, my pick of the 2020 Canyon Lux range would be the Lux CF SL 7.0, which sells for $5,199 and comes with a 110mm travel Fox 34 Step-Cast fork, that should offer a bit more comfort and descending oomph.

For those who are particularly serious about their racing though, the Lux CF SLX 9.0 Team comes with its XTR groupset and 100mm Fox 32 Step-Cast fork. With a claimed weight of just 10.2kg, it looks like an absolute weapon, but sells for nearly double the price at $10,249.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0
The Lux cuts an aesthetically pleasing figure, but it hasn’t done so at the expense of real-world practicality.

Flow’s Verdict

As far as XC race bikes go, the Canyon Lux is one of the most well-rounded packages on the market. It might not be silky smooth, but it’s faster and more responsive than the Giant Anthem. The lack of proprietary suspension also means it’s less polarising and more practical than the Specialized Epic. It doesn’t descend quite as well as the Scott Spark or the Santa Cruz Blur, but the Lux will take two water bottles inside its mainframe and its superb suspension possesses more natural pedal efficiency.

The Orbea Oiz is a bike that shares a lot in common with the Lux on paper. I’ve only had a single days ride on the new Oiz, so I’m looking forward to getting one in on home trails to see how it stacks up against the Lux. The Trek Supercaliber is another new contender with dual-bottle compatibility and the intriguing IsoStrut suspension design, and we’re eager to see how the latter performs on the trail. Stay tuned for more on those bikes.

None of that takes anything away from the fact that the Lux is a highly refined XC bike though. With a high-value parts package, and a streamlined chassis that places a focus on efficiency and practicality, this is an ideal choice for the privateer racer.

2020 canyon lux cf sl 8.0 wil lysterfield
We reckon this is one of, if not the most well-rounded XC race bikes on the market right now.

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