Take any full suspension trail bike, regardless of wheel size and if you leave it in the shed for any length of time, maybe swapping tyres or upgrading a few bits, it’ll inevitably come to about 31lbs. It’s just one of those things – like it used to be that any cassette tape left in a car for more than two weeks would turn into Best of Queen* – well, that’s certainly not the case with the new special edition Canyon Neuron SLX 9.0 LTD. It caresses the scales at barely 26.6lbs, or dead-on 12kg.
(* Thanks to Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett for that one.)
The Canyon Neuron SLX, with its none-more-top-shelf spec, drops about two bags of sugar in weight over your average trail 29er, yet it manages to come out without looking, or feeling, over-fragile or ‘race-only’.
While the bike looks to be an instant hit on paper, I’ll have to start with a dig at the name. The Canyon Neuron is already a well-established name in the Canyon canon, taking on the role of 29in wheel all-rounder. Capable enough for hardcore trail riding, but light enough for some bit mountain days, point to point racing or all round trail bike fun.
However, this being the Canyon Neuron SLX… having ‘SLX’ as the suffix of your top-end, Shimano XTR-equipped special edition bike is just silly and confusing. While it derives from the Super Light label that describes the lighter carbon frame layup, it’s bound to have people scratching their heads and looking for the SLX components – of which there are none.
No, there are no SLX components to be seen, just a special edition ‘journo spec’ top shelf component selection, hung off a special edition frame. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in to the Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9.0 LTD
The Canyon Neuron SLX frame
The heart of this carbon fibre, 29er trail bike is its special carbon layup, which saves 250g over the regular Canyon Neuron frame, which itself isn’t that chunky.
The bike offers 130mm of travel front and rear, courtesy of Fox Factory fork and shock: a Fox 34 Factory up front and a Fox Float DPS out back. The Fox Transfer dropper post matches with a Factory Kashima finish too (and uses the very fine RaceFace lever). Everything is very sleek looking and the bike features a special gloss/matte two tone black finish.
Continuing the neat features, the cables and brake hose all disappear into a downtube mounted guide that simplifies cable wrangling and adds to the seamless look of the bike, with no cable ports to spoil the sleek lines.
Despite a dramatically-dropped top tube, there’s still room for a bottle cage in the main triangle, and the Neuron even features a triple-boss arrangement for greater compatibility with bikepacking-style holders.
Geometry is reasonably conservative (these days, at least) and I sized up to a Large, which sees a 453mm reach. The tall seatmast meant that I had the 150mm dropper slammed which just allowed my 72cm saddle to BB height. Interestingly, the bike comes stock with a ‘do they still make stems that long?’ 60mm stem, which allows a decent amount of breathing room.
The bike, as you’d expect from a contemporary company like Canyon, is all up to date, with Boost rear spacing, 180mm rotors and no provision for front mechs or any of that other retro stuff.
As mentioned already, the SLX really has a top-shelf spec. There’s a full 2019 12 speed XTR transmission, with the exception of the RaceFace Next SL carbon cranks.
The XTR component choice is a ‘best of all worlds’ combo of the new Microspline 10-51T cassette (on carbon-rimmed DT Swiss XCM1200 wheels) and the Trail four-pot brakes with 180mm rotors. This gives the bike an almost wall-climbing ability on the ups and the supreme confidence of Shimano’s XTR Trail brakes on the descents.
Those DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon trail wheels are wrapped in Maxxis Forekaster 2.35in tyres. There’s a Fizik Taiga, Canyon stem, Canyon carbon riser bar and Ergon GA20 grips to help round out the package on this special edition Canyon Neuron SLX. Sure, you could swap grips and saddle to suit personal preference, and you might want some different tyres, but nothing needs fixing (you’d struggle to justify upgrading anything in terms of all-round performance) and the bike is ready to ride all day out of the box.
We didn’t have the Neuron SLX in for long, so for its first rides, I set the bike up with a swift adjustments of shock pressures, checked the tyre pressures and took off for the hills. There wasn’t time for lengthy token-swapping and fine tuning, but the bike felt pretty spot-on from the get-go. I’ve spent a lot of time on the electric Neuron:ON, so the riding position was immediately familiar. The Neuron has some reasonably conservative specs compared to some of the more envelope-licking geometry bikes we’ve seen recently. With a 67.5°/74.5° and that 453mm reach on a large (433mm on a medium) there are no real surprises to how the bike sits under you.
Components are all as top-notch as you can get. Shimano’s new XTR group has got one-by shifting dialled, with great shifts up and down the block, even under pressure. And despite vowing never to need that 51T bail-out spocket on the back, time and again I found I’d been happily spinning around in it without noticing.
The lack of weight is something that is immediately noticed. I found that many of the steep climbs around here were despatched in the saddle instead of standing up. While the massive range of gearing (10-51T) really helped, the lack of weight helped more. It was like I’d just emptied out a Camelbak full of water and tools. Historically, having such a dramatically lighter bike tended to involve drastic measures, like bald tyres, delicate machined components and a general lack of function and comfort – oh and maybe a drill. This tended to leave you with a noodly bike that could barely hold a line on a rocky trail.
Talking of tyres, the bike comes fitted with 2.35in Maxxis Forekaster tyres, a ‘lightly treaded’ but still reasonably knobbly all-round tyre. Having got used to seeing Minions on nearly every bike I’ve tested this year, the lack of chunkiness and the associated lack of weight was obvious. However, ridden with enthusiasm and confidence, the tyres were pretty good. If you’re good enough to ride fast, you can boss these tyres round to do your bidding. Obviously if you’re trying to set record times on the rocky slab-death chunder descent, or you’re devoid of any riding finesse, then you’ll want to swap them out, but for all round trail riding in all-round normal conditions, they performed just fine.
The fore/aft balance of the bike worked well. It’s odd to see a 60mm stem on a mountain bike this side of an XC race rig, but it fitted in fine on the Neuron SLX. A longer reach would be in keeping with the hot trends, but for this bike’s all-terrain ambitions, it was fine. The same can be said for the fork (which Canyon doesn’t list, but which is a ‘long’ or ‘non-short’ 51mm offset.) – a look at our Fork Offset feature here lists Canyon’s reasons for running a longer, standard offset on the Neuron. It means that the rider can do more steering from a more conservative riding position and not have to ride, crotch on stem, elbows out, in order to get the bike to do their bidding.
Climbing, the bike has moments of bob, which could be tamed with the shock’s pedal platform lever. It’s rare to need that on many ‘clever’ suspension systems, but the Neuron SLX is a traditional four-bar that naturally has a bit of bounce to it and it’s easily tamed (or ignored). This conversely gives it a great small bump feel that tracks well and keeps the wheels gripping, whatever the tyre tread might say about it.
In all, the Canyon Neuron SLX is a great trail bike that gives back as much as you’re willing to put in. If you want to sit and spin up the climbs, enjoy the view and cruise the trails, great. It’s perfectly happy to do that, but if you want to push things (and really, with this bike, you should…) then it’ll happily go there with you.
While £5,500 is a lot of money to spend on a mountain bike, there’s nothing here that you can really upgrade – unless you have ideas outside of the bike’s remit (which suggests that it’s good for drops up to 2ft/60cm). The brakes, gears, forks and dropper are top-shelf items that only G.A.S. or specific, geographic or personal needs can persuade you to swap out. Just looking over the bike, there’s nothing – even the tyres – that I’d want to change on a bike like this. For daily after-work blasts, weekend trips to trail centres or distant hilltops and for the odd Lake District jaunt, the bike will handle it. Certainly, with more travel, I don’t think it would be the bike holding me back, rather than my personal speed limiter. 130mm of travel on a 29er is a serious amount of capability.
If I were to pick holes in the Neuron SLX, then I’d reckon that the 180mm XTR four pot brakes are possibly sending out a different message to the 60mm stem and relatively conservative (67.5°/74.5°) geometry. However, I’m a firm believer that you can’t have too much braking – and the larger rotors and calipers don’t seem to be weighing the bike down.
The sizing I had a bit of an issue with, given that at 5ft 9in/175cm I’m only just tall enough to ride a large (actually I’m about 5mm too short) due to the rather tall seatmast. Canyon suggests that anyone under 182cm should be on a medium – which might not suit you if you’ve come from a new-school, longer reach bike. If you’re more restrained in your riding style (i.e. if you’re not a ‘crotch on the stem, elbows out’ kind of rider) then you’ll doubtless be fine on the size that Canyon suggests.
Three things that could be improved:
- Seat mast height – it could do with being lower. For people who want to size up, but also for riders who want all the dropper post length they can get.
- Colour – the shiny black/matt black paint job might be too subtle for some riders
- Price – it may be a bargain for all the kit on it, but it’s still over five grand for a push-bike.
Three things I loved
- Weight – anyone who tells you that two kilos doesn’t make any difference, has never lost two kilos off themselves. It’s a pleasure to ride.
- The spec – the bike has every fancy component that you could need, and nothing that you don’t. If you can’t enjoy riding on this, try golf.
- The price – yes, it’s five grand, but compared to similarly specced carbon rivals, you’re saving the price of a deluxe trip to the Alps.
In all, Canyon has taken a popular 130mm, 29er trail bike, lightened up the frame and specced it with a list of components that would be hard to beat at any price. The bike isn’t cheap by any means, but there really isn’t anywhere to go up from here unless you want to get into the world of electric gears and carbon fibre everything.
Canyon Neuron SLX 9.0 LTD Specification
- Frame // Carbon
- Fork // FOX 34 Factory
- Shock // FOX FLOAT DPS Factory
- Wheels // DT Swiss XMC 1200, Carbon
- Tyres // MAXXIS Forekaster 2.35”
- Crankset // Race Face Next SL G5 Carbon 32T
- Rear Mech // Shimano XTR M9100 SGS
- Shifters // Shimano XTR M9100 12speed
- Cassette // Shimano XTR M9100 10-51 12speed
- Brakes // Shimano XTR M9120
- Stem // Canyon V12
- Bars // Canyon H23 Carbon Riserbar
- Grips // Ergon GA20
- Seatpost // FOX Transfer Factory
- Saddle // Fizik Taiga
- Size Tested // Large
- Sizes Available // M, L, XL
- Weight // 26.6lbs/12kg
For more details, see Canyon’s page on the bike.
|Tested:||by Chipps for Two weeks|