Canyon’s new alloy hardtail, the Stoic, comes in three models: the 2, 3 and 4. With the Canyon Stoic 2 starting at £849, and the bikes starting at a teeny size 2XS, I’d have quite liked to get my hands on that entry level model in order to be able to comment on it for the sake of all those parents like me who I think will be looking at it and their not-kids-for-much-longer offspring and thinking the Stoic looks like an interesting proposition. But, as is the way, the marketing department sent me the top end model, so – and I know your heart bleeds for me – I had to make do with the £1799 140mm Rockshox Pike Select equipped Canyon Stoic 4.
The bike’s promotional materials looked promising: a no nonsense hardtail designed for fun at a sensible price. An alloy frame, tested to EWS standards of strength testing, simple cable routing, tubeless ready set up, and a finish that’s pleasing on the eye. While the marketing material makes plenty of noise about it being suitable for all and that it’s not just a beginner’s bike, there’s also plenty of indication that this bike is about making aggressive trail riding accessible to more people. I strongly suspect that includes a significant ‘youth’ market, for whom Canyon’s traditional carbon fibre offerings are a little out of reach. A rowdy hardtail for the aggressive trail rider to get rough, down and dirty on then? Step forward your tester: a 40-something mum.
Taking the Canyon Stoic 4 out of the box then, I’m eyeing this up from two perspectives: one of the parent who might buy this for their resident youth, and one of the rider who only owns hardtails, and for whom this would fall into the category of attainable and affordable bikes if I were buying one as a non-bike journo. Much as I can enjoy a full suspension bike and all the forgiveness it offers both line choice and ageing joints, hardtails are what I can afford to buy and run, and are well suited to the gritty demands of my local terrain.
Canyon has specced the Stoic range to meet a price point. On the Medium Stoic 4 you get an own brand Canyon dropper and cockpit, SRAM Guide T brakes, SRAM NX drivetrain, and Rockshox Pike Select 140mm fork. Wheels and tyres are the same 29er 38mm Alexrims and Shwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf in soft Addis compound across the range (but note that you’ll get the 27.5in version on size small and below, along with a 150mm fork). The longer travel 140mm fork puts it in a rarer category of hardtail, where you’ll be looking at pricier competition such as an Orange Crush, a Stanton Switch9er or the top end builds of some other ‘hardcore hardtails’. If you’re looking less specifically at the longer travel and include 130mm options in your search the spec and price puts it in competition with the likes of the Nukeproof Scout, the Whyte 900 series (albeit that’s a 27.5 model in all sizes), or Vitus Sentier, which have proven extremely popular and are like hen’s teeth to get hold of. It would seem then that there is room in the market for another player.
My test bike came set up tubeless, but buyers will need to do that conversion themselves as it’s not practical for Canyon to ship all their bikes this way. As you’d expect from a mail-order only bike company, the bike comes very neatly packaged and packed, with plenty of protection in the box. The Canyon branded G5 stem gave me a bit of trouble as I attached the bars, but I think this was as much down to a lack of familiarity with this top down fitting (rather than standard stem and face plate) than anything else. It’s not like it’s a problem – you’re only going to need to fit it once, and unless you’re a journo trying to get out in the last daylight of the day there’s no need for you to be rushing your bike build.
The own brand dropper post doesn’t have the butteriest of actions, but for an own brand post it seemed fine – I’ve just been spoiled by high end posts and after market actuators. Further testing over time would be needed to tell just how durable it is – the usual issue for dropper posts. The lock on grips with flanges seemed a little like a rubbery afterthought – there’s no reinforcement on the ends, and a minor knock started the bar end going through the grips. I’d certainly plan to replace them with something tougher in due course as I don’t think these would last long – especially if you throw in a few tumbles on jumps or hard surfaced built trails.
There’s no thick rubber downtube or chainstay protection, so your frame is largely exposed to all the world can throw at it. There is a subtle, clear, frame protection sort of thick sticker on both, and I can’t say I noticed any rattling chain slap, but a quick wrapping of inner tube round the chainstay would likely keep your bike looking fresher for longer. And that’s something I think you might want to do – it’s a good looking bike, and I did manage to chip the paint on the other chainstay – I have absolutely no idea how, as I don’t recall any rock strikes.
The decals are pared right down, there’s only the tiniest of Canyon logos on the head tube, and the paint finish is neat. The welds are pretty smooth and there are some nice hydro formed lines in the tubing. Head back to the chainstays, and there’s some very slender shaping – where the chainstay makes room for the chainring seems almost impossibly narrow. Stand back and your eyes take in a bike that looks more sleek than its aggressive and durable billing might have you expect.
If you think I’m worrying about the durability, then it’s not that I think the Canyon Stoic looks flimsy in any way – and the EWS level testing standard should reassure anyone with concerns. It’s more that I have realistic expectations of how this bike could be treated by the sort of people that may end up owning it. It’s easy to see how the marketing – and geometry – of this bike might attract a crowd inspired by Tea and Biscuits or the 50:01 crew, throwing themselves down trails, jibbing and jumping, and sliding off into the trees. I set out to decide whether the ride itself would inspire such activities.
Canyon Stoic 4: On The Trail
At first I was surprised at how purposeful the ride position was – a little more pedal on and cover the ground than I thought it would be with 65 degree head angle. So, it’s not just a bike for wandering up fire roads – you can go places on this too. With all the gear range you can want for, sitting and spinning or standing to grind it out were equally comfortable. Actually, sitting and spinning was not overly comfortable since the saddle doesn’t suit my mum bum, but that’s a minor point.
The tyres are quite noticeably soft, sticky and reassuringly grippy. The Soft Addix compound falls into Shwalbe’s ‘Enduro/DH’ category of tyres, and their inclusion here likely adds some comfort to the ride. Comfort and grip come at the expense of the durability found on the Speedgrip Addix compound on tyres billed as XC/AM/Trail, but this seems to me like a sound trade off on this bike.
This purposeful seated ride position and grippy tyres make for some satisfying upwards riding off road. You’re not going to be winning an XC race on the Stoic, but you’re also not going to be constrained to enduring the ups just to reach the downs – there’s a balance of geometry here that I found pleasing. It’s a trail bike, and something like 50% of your ride is going to be spent going up, or at least along. It makes sense then that half your ride shouldn’t be reduced to just ‘get it over with’.
Sitting and standing and wriggling my way up a route that needs a little precision in order to avoid unpleasant bog inspections, I found that there was no sensation of being bounced around the trail. Sure, there were slips and slides, but I didn’t feel like I was being subjected to that beating and shaking that can come with a hardtail – particularly an alloy one.
Pointing downwards, that sensation continued – fork coming to life and taking the jolts out of the trail, I took off down a familiar descent that I’ve recently become used to riding on a full suspension bike. Once again I found myself being reminded that rear suspension is nice to have but, for the most part, not actually necessary.
Brakes though are necessary, and the Guide Ts are just a little vague for my taste. I much prefer the SRAM G2s, so it’s a shame they’re out of reach of this price point. The thin grips and squeeze-awhile brakes did make my hands and fingers feel a little tired, but I didn’t suffer from that bashed wrist and jellied arms that can come from a harsh frame. Somehow – perhaps the alloy frame and promises of robustness – made me think I was going to experience every knock the trail had available, but happily I didn’t find this to be the case. Even on rocky trails I found myself happily ploughing on through, without ever feeling like the back end of the bike was kicking me off my pedals.
That said, the brakes didn’t stop me from taking the bike down the steep stuff, and even off into the kind of slippery leafy descents befitting a Tommy Cauldwell video edit. I even found myself riding some lines that I’ve been looking at all year but that have been intimidating me. The geometry seemed to inspire some confidence in me – slack enough to feel stable, but not so extreme that you need heaps of speed and EWS style front-loaded body positioning to stay control of the front end on turns. I could just wriggle and slide my way down the trail, and the low standover made it easy to bail when my nerve, balance or skill failed me.
The Rockshox Pike Select is excellent, as you’d expect, and the SRAM NX gearing shifts easily, though past experience suggests it will reward regular cleaning with more reliable performance. I have to wonder whether the ride quality of this bike is down to the fork and tyres, or whether it’s in the frame too – it would be interesting to test the Stoic 2 for a comparison, where there’s isn’t chunky Pike up front.
Looking at the Stoic 4 in a size medium, it’s up against a fair amount of competition. The spec at this price is good, but doesn’t stand out head and shoulders above other offerings unless you’re specifically hunting for a longer travel hardtail. If you’ve got your heart set on 140mm of travel, then it really does stand out. If you’re just after a trail hardtail, then this is in the ballpark with a few slack 130mm offerings, so maybe you start weighing up whether this particular mix of drivetrain and fork are the ones you’re looking for, how hard you’re going to ride – whether you’ll use that extra 10mm of travel. Whatever you decide, the ride quality is excellent and it’s made me think again about what’s possible with an alloy frame and quality fork.
Where the Stoic really stands out is when you’re looking for a smaller bike at the XS and 2XS sizing. Then you’re in a more unique realm, with far fewer choices around in any kind of travel. Whether you go for the top end Stoic 4, or the base model Stoic 2, you’re still getting a good selection of big brand components where it counts. With the frame, wheels, tyres and saddle spec staying the same across all models, and the cockpit sticking with Canyon own brand parts, it looks as though your money is going in the places you’ll notice it most. To be a little picky, I’d have liked to see a better dropper on the top end model and perhaps the house brand one squeezed into the budget for the Stoic 2. It’s a bike that demands a dropper, and particularly at that end of the market in sizes where it’s up against the likes of the Calibre Line (which has a dropper), I think this would help it compete. Yes, it’s an excellent ‘hardcore hardtail’ package, and there’s a lot to be said for a hardtail, but with full suspension offerings on the market for under £2k and some hovering around the £1k mark, some customers are going to be tempted to find the extra for full suspension rather than a better equipped long travel hardtail. After riding the Stoic, I think they’d do well to opt for the simple maintenance to fun ratio on offer here.
3 Things I’d Change
- I’d like to see a better dropper on the top model, and one added to the base model
- The SRAM Guide Ts lack immediacy
- Better quality grips with toughened ends
3 Things I Liked
- The finish – it looks sleek, clean and understated
- Availability of sizes – great to see more choice for smaller riders
- The ride quality – lively but comfortable, not at all harsh
In a world of increasingly bargain full suspension offerings, the Canyon Stoic manages to be a long travel hardtail that should make buyers turn their heads. For those that can resist the lure of cheap suspension, this is a hardtail that will match your skills and push them on, slithering and giggling through the trees.
Canyon Stoic 4 Specification
- Frame: Canyon Stoic AL
- Fork: Rockshox Pike Select RC 140mm (150mm sizes 2XS-S)
- Brakes: SRAM Guide T
- Wheels: MT400/ Alex Rims DP30
- Rim Width: 30 mm
- Tyres: F – Schwalbe Magic Mary, Super Trail, ADDIX Soft – 2,35 R – Schwalbe Hans Dampf, Super Trail, ADDIX Soft – 2,35
- Chainset: SRAM Descendant 6K 30t – 11/50t
- Drivetrain: SRAM NX Eagle
- Cockpit: Canyon G5
- Saddle: Velo VL-1589
- Seatpost: Canyon Iridium Dropper
- Colour: Green
- Sizes available: 2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL
- Size tested: M
- Weight: 14.66kg (without pedals, tubeless, with bottle cage)
- Price: £1,799
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|Tested:||by Hannah for 1 week|