Canyon Lux CF 7.9 £2425

Speed-freak marathon machine

BikeRadar score 4/5

Canyon’s marathon machine positively encourages the kind of riding that results in ragged gasps of breath and fatigue-blurred vision. Don’t be fooled by the name – the only element of luxury in this bike from the German maker is that it’ll let you push for long enough to suffer for what seems like an eternity.

Frame and equipment: marathon mandate

In continental Europe, marathon racing remains very big news. There are huge numbers of races for the endorphin junkie, from the relatively small 100km events to massive, multi-day, mountain range crossing suffer-fests. With that in mind, it makes sense that the Lux isn't an afterthought cross-country bike, but designed from the ground up to be as rapid as possible over huge distances.

RockShox' SID XX delivers 100mm of travel up front

Pairing big wheels with 100mm of travel means there’s just enough give to keep you in the saddle and on line when you’re slumped with exhaustion without sapping energy from the start. The carbon frame has a short, stumpy head tube to enable you to get low over the front, while the rear does without a seatstay pivot to reduce weight, relying on the give of the slightly flattened stays.

There are thru-axles at both ends to keep your wheels pointing in the direction you want, while the frame abounds with neat details such as the alloy chainsuck guard, asymmetrical stays and very clever ‘Impact Protection Unit’ that prevents the top tube from being damaged by the bars spinning round in a crash. It’s even routed for a dropper post, should you wish to fit one.

A neat bolt-on bumper protects the carbon top tube from bar spinning accidents

As we’ve come to expect from Canyon, the kit bolted to this base model is staggeringly impressive for the cash. When decked out in the Team Issue paintjob, it’s easy to mistake for the twice-the-price Team bike and, despite the cost difference, the frame is exactly the same. Where the top dog gets SRAM XX, the 7.9 gets a mixed SRAM X7/X9/X0 2x10 drivetrain controlled by Gripshifters. Suspension is also from the same family, with a RockShox Monarch XX rear shock and SID XX fork, both linked by a bar-mounted hydraulic lockout.

Ride and handling: casual users need not apply

Our abiding impression of the Lux was that no matter how much we wanted to take it on a gentle cruise, we’d come back drenched in sweat, hearts pounding and with a number more miles ridden than originally intended. It quickly scalped our best Strava times on trail centre loops and, despite the snappy 70-degree head angle, it was adept when pushed on more natural terrain – though in wet or damp conditions the limits of the hard compound 2.2in Continental X-Kings became apparent, despite the boosted big-wheeler traction.

Every time you get on the Lux, prepare to go long and hard

The suspension is nicely progressive, with enough initial give to boost grip without excessive bob, though the natural spring of the pivotless stays did mean that tuning the rear shock’s rebound to get a controlled but not dead feel took time. The rear shock’s remote hose junction does interfere with the operation of the rebound knob, so adjustment itself is a bit fiddly and none too positive.

Up front, the SID fork was superbly supportive, the Motion Control damper with Rapid Recovery adding to the generally taut and agile feel. It’s enough to briefly convince you that you’re on a longer travel machine, at least until the long, skinny legs start to give.

Despite the speed-freak nature of the bike, keep the riding within reason and it makes for a rapid trail machine too. Should you wish to increase that potential, the fork can actually be boosted to 120mm by switching the air spring. Combine it with a dropper post and you would have an interesting race/trail hybrid that could well make your riding buddies despise you, unless they’re into hunting down breakaway riders like cannibals.

Gripshift is a love/hate thing, but it allows rapid multiple gear shifts with ease

The drivetrain offers typical gunshot SRAM shifting and while Gripshift is a love/hate item, it does make mass-downshifts for when you’ve suddenly hit a sharp uphill corner easy to graunch through the range. The more precision-inclined might still prefer triggers.

While the cockpit on our medium test model doesn’t push the boundaries of stretched out length at 585mm, especially in combination with the steep 74-degree seat angle, the 80mm stem and 710mm Ritchey bars do end up with a front weighted – though effective – position.

If you wish to size up, there are both large and extra large models available, while the uninterrupted seat tube means you can drop the saddle as low as you like. Talking of saddles, the Selle Italia X1 isn’t the most comfortable of perches, so those that prefer their suffering to be muscular rather than corporal may want to switch it out.

A few kit tweaks and you'll have a highly capable trail machine on your hands

When people say a bike is love/hate, it’s not meant in the way the Lux conjures these two emotions. We loved riding it and how impulsively fast it made us push, but we hated the broken backed, exhausted and sweat sodden rider it transformed us into. It’s a cracking distance machine with a lively feel and with a few tweaks it’ll translate well to trail thrashing. The geometry is slightly conservative, but it works well in this application and there’s no doubt you’re getting a quality, well-featured frame with some superb kit.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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