Review: Canyon Lux Trail CF 8 – the best value bike of its type?

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Daz reviews the Canyon Lux Trail – another XC/trail bike in a long line of this ilk that he’s tested. Images by Rob Lockhart.

I’m sure it was just an unfortunate coincidence, but I can’t be the only mountain biker wondering why the bike industry chose the last two years to launch a glut of bikes in the XC/trail category, just when the demand for racy marathon machines designed for all day endurance and technical trail shredding was probably at an all-time low due to us all being told to stay at home, and not do anything stupid that might put undue stress on health services?

This very magazine/website told us no gnar and not too far (and who am I to argue with Chipps and Mark?) so it didn’t exactly provide the best environment to ride and test all these bikes. Even despite that though, I’ve ridden or reviewed bikes in this category from Kona, Intense, Specialized, Cannondale and Merida. And now, slightly late to the party, you can add Canyon to the list with the Lux Trail. I don’t know why Canyon were lagging behind the rest, but it was pretty good timing now that we’ve been released from our pandemic inspired sensibleness, and all the events and races which were cancelled in 2020 are ramping up again.

With that in mind, it seemed only right that I take the Lux to the 10@Kirroughtree for what was possibly the first endurance race to go ahead following the great shutdown. I’d ridden ‘The Ten’ before, and back in 2019 I found it something of a challenge with its steep rooty and loamy descents, and that was on a big 150mm suspension trail bike in the dry. This time the apocalyptic weather would present an altogether different, and vastly more slippery and unpredictable challenge.

The Bike

Back in 2018 I reviewed the XC version of the Lux and found it to be a technically capable race bike which was also comfortable over long distances. The Lux Trail takes these characteristics to the next level with 110mm of rear suspension and 120mm forks, more relaxed geometry, fatter tyres and longer bars. Sometimes with these XC-trail bikes you’re left wondering whether they’re a trail bike pretending to be XC or vice versa, but Canyon are up front in marketing it as an XC bike with trail bike descending capabilities. Which is a good thing in my opinion, as I rarely come across trail riders who are too bothered about weight and climbing prowess, but have lost count of the number of XC racers who wish they could go faster downhill.

On first appearances the Lux Trail doesn’t look much different from its more racy sibling. It keeps the 3-Phase suspension system and full carbon frame used on the Lux with a single pivot rear end, minimalist upper link, and the shock neatly arranged below the top tube. Combined with the curved down tube that provides ample room within the frame to accommodate two 750mm bottles. Where it differs unsurprisingly is the geometry, and of course this means it’s longer and slacker. There’s 20mm more reach on average across the sizes, with the medium on test here providing a roomy 460mm, and the head angle benefits from an extra 2.5 degrees of confidence inspiring slackness at 67.5°.

It’s not just the geometry which promises to improve its trail riding potential. The Lux trail has some other facets which won’t come as a surprise. The cockpit sports a shorter stem and longer bars at 60mm and 760mm respectively, and the tyres are fatter with a Maxxis Rekon 2.4 on the front and a 2.3 Rekon Race at the back. It has a dropper of course in the form of a AXS Reverb (more on that later), and the trail transformation is completed with the stiffer and burlier 35mm Rockshox SID Select+ forks.

The other standout feature of this model of the Lux Trail is the price tag (in a good way), or more specifically the value for money. At the risk of being called a middle class w*nker (again) in the comments section, £5,149 is an astonishingly low price given the spec, especially given the upwards pressure as a result of unwelcome world events and incompetent mega-tanker navigation (did that have much of an effect? I have no idea, but it sounds like a good excuse).

Yes, upwards of £5k is a lot to spend on a bike, and more than many will be prepared to stomach. But given £5k these days will buy you a mid-high range trail bike with less than top spec mechanical parts and wheels made of metal, it’s something of a shock to see the Lux Trail sporting a SRAM GX Eagle AXS groupset, DT Swiss XRC carbon wheels and, amazingly, a Reverb AXS dropper. If you’re still not convinced of the value for money this represents, then take a trip to the websites of some Canyon’s competitors and it won’t take you long to find the eye-watering prices for bikes with electronic gears and dropper posts.

Of course all this electronic gadgetry and carbon bling is for nothing if the rest of the bike doesn’t maintain the standard, and I’m pleased to report that the Lux has somehow avoided the need to skimp on the rest of the spec. The SID Select+ forks and Deluxe Ultimate shock are not exactly low spec components and are supplemented with a SRAM TwistLoc remote double lockout. I’m always torn on whether a remote lockout is required on anything other than an all out race bike, and this is no different with the Lux Trail. Given the pedalling efficiency of modern suspension, unless you’re Nino Schurter sprinting for a finish line I’m not sure what the point is.

The Ride

It won’t come as any surprise that on first impressions the Lux Trail feels vastly differently from its original XC racing sibling. Even before you set off it’s very apparent that despite the marketing of a XC bike which can descend like a trail bike, it’s very much not an aggressive, stem chewing twitchy race bike. Instead, the slacker 67° head angle, more upright stack, wider 760mm bars and shorter 60mm stem provide a cockpit that very much resembles a trail bike rather than a race machine. Add to that the longer reach and what you have is a bike which feels altogether more trail than XC. In fact the riding position almost feels a little too comfortable for something which claims to maintain its XC pedigree.

First pre-ride impressions aside, on the first few turns of the pedals it becomes apparent that this is no trail bike in the traditional sense. The sub-12kg weight and stiffness provided by the thick down tube, bottom bracket and the reused Lux rear triangle provide a pedalling efficiency which instantly tell you that this bike is built for pedalling hard. If winching up the hill in the 52 tooth rear sprocket is your thing then this bike might be wasted on you. It’s so good at climbing in fact that you’ll only need the lowest gear on the very steepest terrain.

The triple phase suspension also plays its part in the climbing efficiency. Like the Lux it’s designed to be progressive in three distinct phases providing small bump compliance in the first third of the stroke, stable in the middle, and then ramping up in the final third to absorb big hits. Despite the progressive nature it feels a little more supportive and linear throughout than some bikes I’ve ridden in this category, and the anti-squat in particularly provides a pedalling platform which is very efficient, even in low twiddly gears when pedal-bob can be more apparent.

The suspension is easy to set up, without needing much more than setting the sag to 30% and then adjusting slightly as your preference dictates. Once set up the suspension provides a ride that is very planted on climbs and descents, and in combination with the wider rear tyre provides a level of grip on steep terrain which is very welcome. It’s not quite as much the uphill rocket as the Lux of course due to the slacker angles, but only perfectionists or race whippets will notice the slightly more wandering nature of the front wheel on climbs.

Whilst it’s no surprise that the Lux Trail is a good climber, the big question of course is whether it delivers on the marketing claim to descend ‘like a bat out of hell’ (no, I’m not going to use any Meatloaf puns). I’ll cut to the chase, it does, but within certain limits. One of the reasons I wanted to take this to the 10@Kirrroughtree is that it includes some steep loamy off-piste descents which you often don’t find on endurance XC courses. The slick mud and torrential rain foiled that plan though, as it’s tricky to push a bike to its limits when keeping it upright was the main challenge. Especially with Rekon tyres, which are very far from performative on off-camber mud covered roots.

The backup plan following the Kirroughtree deluge was a weekend in the Lake District, and on the man-made and natural slate trails of Grizedale the Lux Trail was in its ideal terrain. The geometry and supportive suspension provide an almost perfect combination for pushing the limits on fast flowing descents. And limits are hard to find, as at speed on flowing trails the bike is incredibly stable and assured and soaks up smaller rocks and roots as if they aren’t there. You have to pay more attention on rockier terrain as you can’t just muscle your way through obstacles as you could with a heavier bike, but judicious line choice will compensate for any lack of heft. On steeper terrain the geometry and longer forks come into their own and it will get you down steep enduro trails with surprising ease, although it would take a better rider than myself to negotiate these with any speed or style.

Perhaps the biggest strength of the Lux Trail is not the binary capabilities of climbing and descending, although it does very extremely well at those, but somewhere in between, and this is where the electronic gadgets play their part. The wireless gears and dropper are not just there to show off, and they provide a level of control and accuracy which mechanical parts can’t match. Gear shifts are lightning fast to enable continuous application of power on flat and undulating ground and the AXS dropper is nothing less than a revelation in the responsiveness and ease with which you can tune the saddle height to match the conditions. I never thought I’d ever entertain the idea of spending £700 on a seatpost but after riding this it’s top of my list for upgrades on my own bikes, however much I might have to endure the ‘how much?’ ribbing from my mates.

Combined with the excellent DT Swiss carbon wheels which have an almost frictionless quality, the whole package combines to provide a bike which goes faster on XC race course trails than almost any other I’ve ridden. Given this it feels a little pedantic to look for areas of improvement, but even so there are some. I’ve said little about the remote lockout, and the simple reason is I hardly ever used it. It’s probably better to have it than not, although it does clutter the cockpit and the Twistloc grip can move slightly if twisted too vigorously. Higher end brakes would be good too, although given the spec of the rest of the bike it’s probably asking too much.

3 Think I’d Improve

  • Twistloc remote lockout. Not sure it’s required at all, but if so the Twistloc is prone to movement.
  • Brakes. All that speed needs power, and the Level TLMs are adequate, but could be better.
  • Aesthetics. Not the prettiest of bikes, but with this performance and value for money who’s looking?

3 Things I Liked

  • Electronica. The AXS seat post is excellent. Once you try one, it’s hard to go back.
  • Value for money. £5k is a lot, but you get an awful lot for it.
  • Speed. This bike is blisteringly fast on trails meant to be ridden fast.

Overall

There was a time not long ago where XC bikes were the preserve of racers or the unadventurous. You either had to be extremely talented to ride them everywhere or be extremely selective about where you rode. I think it’s fairly safe to say that’s no longer the case – it’s not true with the latest crop of all-out race bikes, and it’s certainly not true of XC/Trail hybrids like the Lux Trail. In fact, I’d go as far to say that these bikes are now so good over a wide variety of trails and potential uses that traditional trail bikes are in danger of being limited. Why ride a big heavy bulldozer when you can ride a nimble, mile-munching rocket like this on the same trails?

This poses questions for trail riders, but it’s even more relevant for the racers or KOM hunters among us. Apart from a tiny few who form the elite, I’ve rarely met an XC, endurance or marathon racer who doesn’t want to go faster downhill. It is after all an easy way of gaining time if you can do so safely. The Lux Trail falls squarely into this category, and if you’re a rider who seeks more downhill speed on non-extreme trails whilst minimising the risk of injury, then this bike could well be the answer. It might not be the trendiest or best looking bike, although that’s entirely subjective. But it’s almost certainly one of, if not the best value bike in this category you can buy, and you’ll struggle to find better at this price.

Canyon Lux Trail CF SL 8.0 Specifications

  • Frame // Lux Trail CF, 110mm travel
  • Fork // RockShox SID Select+ Remote, 44mm Offset, 120mm Travel
  • Shock // RockShox Deluxe Ultimate Remote, 210x55mm
  • Wheels // DT Swiss XRC 1501 Spline S12
  • Tyres // Maxxis Rekon 3C Exo 2.4 front/Maxxis Rekon Race Dual Exo 2.35 rear
  • Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle Carbon DUB 34T
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle AXS 12s
  • Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle AXS Contoller
  • Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed (10-52)
  • Brakes // SRAM Level TLM
  • Bar // Race Face Ride Riserbar 760mm
  • Stem // Race Face Ride 60mm
  • Seatpost // RockShox Reverb AXS 30.9 125mm travel
  • Saddle // Selle Italia SLR Boost
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large & Extra Large
  • Weight // 11.8kg (claimed)
  • RRP // £5,149

Review Info

Brand: Canyon
Product: Lux Trail CF SL 8.0
From: Canyon.com
Price: £5,149
Tested: by Darren Hall for 2 months
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Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 25 total)
  • Review: Canyon Lux Trail CF 8 – the best value bike of its type?
  • thegeneralist
    Full Member

    incompetent mega-t wanker navigation

    I’d assumed this was alluding to the fact that BoJo couldn’t find his arse with both hands.

    Weight // 11.8kg (claimed)

    Cmon, this is piss poor. You had the bike for how long, and you couldn’t be arsed to put it on the scales and find out one of the most important things for a bike of this type….

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Cmon, this is piss poor. You had the bike for how long, and you couldn’t be arsed to put it on the scales and find out one of the most important things for a bike of this type…

    Give him a break, possibly weighed it and and an editorial decision was made to stick with the claimed weight?

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    And maybe the tested weight will be added when the review info is filled in?

    Review Info

    Brand:
    Product:
    From:
    Price:
    Tested: by for

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Cheaper than my road bike!

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Worst bragg ever 🙄

    Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

    Sorry folks, the scales are at the office and I missed the chance to weigh it when it came in and when it left again.

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Get them to lend it to you for another 3 months:-)

    igm
    Full Member

    Over £5k.

    Do you have twice as much fun as on that Boardman the other week?

    No not good value. Sorry.

    argee
    Full Member

    It looks and sounds like it’s about 12kg, and a pretty impressive kit on it, but it’s properly aiming at the XC and weight weenie trail market, not a bad thing these days, and 5k isn’t horrific when you compare that to other brands fighting it out at this level.

    AD
    Full Member

    I’ve got a CF6 currently on order. I’ll weigh it when it arrives…

    G Kelly
    Full Member

    Sorry but the headline judgement around value is misleading, best value cannot surely be aligned to a £5k price tag unless you’re trying to generate clickbait, which we wouldn’t expect from @singletrack. At £5k you are clearly out of the value end of the market (which exists in plentiful supply between £1.5k and £2.5k) and into the medium to the high end of the market. I could list 5 brands of bikes that could be pitched against this, albeit weighing a couple of pounds more, however at half the price, which would easily win the vfm argument.

    ff29
    Full Member

    Whatever the definition of a value bike. Daz is right. If you price up the cost of the Axs components, xrc wheelset, fork and shock. Those parts would easily take you up to 3500 leaving about 1500 on the carbon frame.
    Not to mention try getting your hands on some of that stuff currently.
    A good bike to buy, break down and flip on eBay.

    danp63
    Full Member

    Budget and value are very different things. Whilst this bike is clearly not a budget bike, for the kit you get it seems pretty good value to me.

    jonba
    Free Member

    I ordered the CF 6 on the day it was released. I’d been in the market for a down country style bike as they fit the riding I want to do*.

    It came in a few weeks, far quicker than I thought. Only ridden it twice as we are in the middle of the CX season.

    I’ve not weighed it but it is lighter than my Scandal ;). 12kg is probably about right for mine.

    Great bike, fits me really well and rides superbly. The last FS I had and rode for any length of time was an FSR 26″ so really not a fair comparison. For most of the last 15 years I’ve had hardtails, racey alu things to long travel steel jobbies. It is nice balance between XC speed/weight downhill fun for an XC rider. I was at Hamsterley and Kielder. I set many PRs on the way up and on the way down. I had no trouble pointing it down some of the steeper off piste stuff at Hamsterley. It’s probably not the most subtle rear setup but it is good at what it is intended for. Even without the lock out it felt firm climbing and putting the power down and then softened things up when it got faster and rougher. That might annoy some people as it lacked small bump sensitivity. But I’m used to riding hardtails, cx bikes and stiff road bikes so to me it was like riding a cloud!

    I also looked at the Scott Spark, Sonder Cortex and a few others. Value/budget wise it came out on top, and it was in stock! Only downside is the press fit bottom bracket – that is more based on hearsay than experience, my CX bike has been fine with one and that get’s hammered more than any other bike in terms of slop and jet washing.

    *I’m definitely the target market for a down country bike. Long XC rides on natural trails and manmade red/blacks. Enjoy the odd bit of steep technical stuff on rides but I don’t go looking for it specifically. Dabble in some competition, short XC and marathon.

    AD
    Full Member

    Thanks for that post jonba – you’ve helped put my mind to rest about buying a bike without a test ride! I currently ride an ’09 Turner Flux so basically can’t swap a single part (apart from the saddle!) which meant the CF6 looked really good value for money.
    Canyon have also dropped the price by £150 since I ordered it and they immediately passed this saving on without me needing to query it.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Budget and value are very different things. Whilst this bike is clearly not a budget bike, for the kit you get it seems pretty good value to me.

    Yep, for what you get it seems very good value to me.

    igm
    Full Member

    Depends how you measure what you get.

    Fancy components are just cost (sometimes a necessary cost).

    Grins are what you get.

    Value is £ per grin (or something like that)

    Daz Hall
    Full Member

    I knew I’d get in trouble for saying 5k is good value. All I’ll say is go have a look at how much an AXS equipped Epic Evo costs!

    Sorry about the lack of weight measurement. I didn’t have a digital hanging scale to hand and my bathroom scales massively over-report (honest!). Not sure what difference it makes though. Even if the claimed weight from Canyon is optimistic it will only be by a couple of hundred grams so that shouldn’t stop you buying one.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Maybe STW should only review sub £500 Halford specials and see how popular that proves….

    Chipps
    Full Member

    £5000? But you could buy a secondhand Swiss watch, a handbag or some hifi speakers for that… 🙂
    I guess value is in the eye of the purchaser.

    salad_dodger
    Full Member

    Would this still be considered decent value once the Brexit import tax has been applied? Great looking bike and spec and ticks a lot of boxes for me. I’m just wondering how much the bike would actually cost once delivered to my door?

    salad_dodger
    Full Member

    Just checked and it’s £5149 including all taxes. You probably all knew that already though. Apologies for the daft question above.

    youareoverbiked
    Free Member

    I’d been hovering between the Epic Evo, Blur TR and Scalpel SE for months until this appeared. Solved all the problems of availability, spec, cost or geo that the others had.

    AD
    Full Member

    My Medium CF6 arrived (three weeks early – awesome!).
    With a pair of M540 pedals it weighs 12.4kg on my (admittedly uncalibrated) luggage scales.

    I won’t get chance to ride it until Thursday so I’m hoping my views are closer to Darren’s than Pinkbikes 🤣

    Stu S
    Free Member

    Was seriously considering one of these. Cracking value for money with a great spec list. Geometry is more or less on point, although it’d be perfect with an extra degree off the head angle.

    Out of sheer luck though, I managed to find a Transition Spur in the size / colour I wanted. Nowhere near as good value but sometimes you have to follow your heart.

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