Canyon Neuron AL 9.9SL first look

Versatile 29er with 12-speed gearing

The Neuron joined Canyon’s line-up of full suspension mountain bikes towards the end of last year as the replacement for the company’s outgoing Nerve model. Its short travel arrangement means it tucks in nicely below its longer travel siblings — the Spectral and Strive.

This particular model, the 29in AL 9.9 SL, is almost as much as you can spend on a Neuron, retailing at £3,249 / €3,599 / AU$5,199 depending on where you live (sorry, America, you're still missing out on these).

It’s also worth noting that the Neuron range includes bikes with 650B wheels as well as the 29in model we are introducing here. The .9 from the bike’s name denotes 29in wheels while Neurons with .0 in the name use 650b wheels and use a frame that offers an additional 10mm of suspension travel.

Proven Horst-link rear end is dominated by SRAM's enormous Eagle 50t, 12-speed cassette
Proven Horst-link rear end is dominated by SRAM's enormous Eagle 50t, 12-speed cassette

As above, the Neuron AL 9.9SL uses 29in wheels and has a frame and fork that both offer 120mm of travel. It’s sold in just three sizes: M, L and XL, so smaller riders looking for a similar bike should take a look at Canyon’s cheaper, 650B Neuron AL 9.0 SL.

There’s nothing radical about the Neuron’s Horst-link suspension arrangement, nor does there need to be. Between its linkage sits a rather spendy Factory version of Fox’s Float DPS LV shock, which offers quick and easy adjustment between two pre-set and one adjustable compression settings. Canyon also uses a bearing in the eyelet of the shock to reduce friction.

Stick the Neuron next to much of its competition and you’ll find it to be noticeably steeper. In fact, its 69.3-degree head angle is steeper than many 100mm cross country race bikes nowadays and could well put a few people off. It has a pretty tall bottom bracket height too, with the centre of the crank being placed just 27mm below the axles.

Not everyone wants a low and super-slack sled though and it was similarly steep geometry plus the unusually long rear chainstays that won the old Nerve 29 so many fans. If you were in the fan club then fear not, the chainstays have kept their length and measure in at 445mm (17.5in). The 73.8-degree seat tube angle is nothing out of the ordinary though and the frame’s top tube lengths are generous if not radical.

The Boost spaced Fox 34 offers the same three position adjustment as the Float DPS rear shock
The Boost spaced Fox 34 offers the same three position adjustment as the Float DPS rear shock

The front wheel is controlled by another top-drawer part from Fox, this time the Factory version of its 34 Float fork. Mirroring the rear end, the FIT4 damper allows for adjustment through three compression settings, two of which are fixed and one is adjustable.

The Neuron rolls on Mavic’s aluminium XA Elite wheelset, with 24 straight pull, bladed spokes per wheel and rims with a tubeless-ready, hookless design and an inner width of 25mm. Mounted to those rims are a pair of 2.4in Continental X-King RaceSport tyres and they appear to be the proper Black Chili compound versions rather than the ‘ditchfinder’ original equipment parts fitted by some brands.  

It’s hard to look at the Neuron and not notice the enormous 12-speed SRAM Eagle cassette with its shiny 50t lowest cog dwarfing the bike’s rear brake rotor.  Interestingly, this is the only Neuron in the range to boast Eagle level componentry, as the range topping AL 9.9 LRD switches to a Shimano XTR double set up. At the opposite end of the drivetrain is an X1 Eagle chainset, this rotates on a GXP press-fit bottom bracket.

The own-brand cockpit is nicely done
The own-brand cockpit is nicely done

The Neuron stops thanks to SRAM’s Guide R four-piston brakes and this model also comes with a 125mm Reverb Stealth dropper as well as Fizik’s popular Tundra 2 saddle. Canyon’s own-brand cockpit is not to be sniffed at and includes a stubby stem and a 740mm carbon bar. Our XL test bike tipped the scales at 12.58kg (27.73lbs)

This one is being passed over to What Mountain Bike as we speak, so expect a full review in the near future.

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