Canyon Nerve MR 9.0 SL £2199

High spec and understated appearance from Germany

BikeRadar score 3/5

Canyon have built a reputation for soundly constructed, great value bikes. There are three ranges of Nerve bikes with different amounts of travel – the 100mm (3.9in) MR is the shortest and lightest.

Ride & handling: Potentially great cross-country bike hindered by a stubborn fork

On paper the Nerve looks like a great bike, and there’s a lot to like about it on the trails too. It’s an unashamedly cross-country style setup, with a head down, weight forward attitude, but the conservative geometry and large-volume tyres make it friendlier than you might expect. 

The four-bar rear suspension is very effective too. With 50mm of shock stroke and a high-volume air can serving 100mm (3.9in) of wheel travel, you can run pretty low shock pressures, giving the damping less work to do and delivering an impressively controlled feel for a short-travel bike.

Unfortunately the DT Swiss XRM 100 fork doesn’t come close to matching the back end. It’s great-looking and has bags of stiffness for a quick-release unit, but the performance just isn’t there. Set to the recommended amount of sag it mostly just sits there, feeding middling-sized impacts straight into the bars. The Single Shot internals don’t offer much scope for tuning either, making the fork hard to balance with the well-sorted back end.

It’s a shame, but it’s not necessarily the end of the world – the Nerve MR is so well equipped that you could swap out the DT Swiss fork for something better-matched to the rear and still have an excellent value bike. It’s light, agile, quick off the blocks, adequately stiff and would make a very good bike with a sorted fork.

Frame & equipment: High spec and understated appearance; lots of bike for the money

Compared with the curves and swoops of most bikes, the angular Nerve MR chassis risks looking a little old-fashioned but manages to come across as classically straightforward. The aluminium frame isn’t short of neat details, though. There’s a tapered head tube, internal cable routing, asymmetric chainstays and a chainstay-pivot four-bar back end, all finished in smart and hard-wearing black anodised aluminium.

When you buy a Canyon it comes straight to your house direct from Germany. You have to do some basic assembly – putting the wheels and bars on – which is simple enough. The advantage of this sales model is stonking value for money, with the 9.0 SL featuring a transmission that mixes a Shimano XTR chainset and derailleurs and Deore XT shifters. 

Elsewhere there’s a lot of high-end European kit. Magura’s new MT8 brakes look great and deliver good performance, while DT Swiss supply the fork and lightweight X1700 wheelset, shod with Continental tyres. Up front, there's a Ritchey stem and carbon bar.

A Selle Italia SL saddle perches atop Canyon’s own carbon fibre seatpost. We're not convinced that it’s a smart move specifying Selle Italia’s Monolink single-rail saddle system as original equipment – if you don’t like the saddle you’ll have to get a new seatpost too.

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

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