Canyon refreshes the Exceed XC hardtail with new geometry and CFR option

Top models also get a swish new integrated cockpit

Canyon Exceed packshot.

Canyon has taken its Exceed cross-country hardtail and given it a refresh for 2021, with an updated shape, top-spec CFR frame option and a snazzy integrated bar/stem that’ll appeal to those looking for a super-flash race bike.

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The addition of the CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) carbon option means there are now three levels of carbon frameset on offer: the entry level CF, the former top-level SLX and now the range-topping CFR.

All the frames share the same mold, with the differences coming from the carbon fibres and layups used for each level.

As you’d expect, the CFR frame is highly competitive when it comes to weight, with a Medium frame weighing a claimed 835g (including hardware) +/- 5 per cent.

This puts it right in line with its competitors, such as the Specialized Epic HT (claimed 790g, Medium) and Orbea Alma (claimed 830g, Medium).

The Exceed, frankly, looks fast stood still.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

As we saw with the Orbea Alma (and BMC’s new Twostroke), brands still believe that there’s a strong market for the hardtail. However, it’s fair to say that a number of people we’ve spoken to from brands admit that the demand is higher in Europe than it is in the UK. This, combined with the (now cancelled) 2020 Olympic Games is the reason for the raft of new XC hardtails we’ve seen this year (more are expected, too).

Canyon says that there are still plenty of XC races that feature steep climbs and less-technical descents, where a hardtail, with its lack of weight, is still an advantage overall.

And, with the development of lightweight droppers, hardtails can still navigate down technical courses easily with the saddle dropped 60mm lower than they might have been (Canyon have been working with DT Swiss on its D232 60mm drop droppers, for example).

The D 232 looks to be one of the lightest dropper posts on the market.
DT Swiss

Finally, there’s also the value argument, with a hardtail almost always offering better spec components for the price, which will attract plenty of buyers.

As such, Canyon says that this frame is designed to be as light as possible, while still being very stiff for optimal performance on climbs, sprints and flat-out racing.

Canyon has adopted the Flat Mount standard for the rear brake caliper.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Canyon Exceed frame details

While there’s usually a little less to talk about with a hardtail versus a full suspension frame, Canyon has managed to pack a number of interesting details into its new Exceed.

Starting at the front there’s the Impact Protection Unit that prevents the bars spinning round in a crash, whereby the top tube and down tube can be damaged by the shifter and fork crown respectively. This is now internal to the head tube for a cleaner look and still features the breakaway bolt for that bit of last-gasp protection.

The head tube is also integral to the integrated cable routing. Canyon’s Acros headset allows the cables to enter into the headset’s top cap and through the inside of the head tube and then the down tube.

The top cap twists with the handlebars and, as such, the cables can take an incredibly direct route (which is lighter and sleeker) from lever to head tube. It’s the slack in the system, inside the head tube, that allows the bars to turn uninhibited.

Further back, the seatpost clamp is integrated into the seat tube / top tube junction, with the grub screw at the front of the junction out of the way of rear wheel spray.

Being located lower than a traditional band-clamp means the seatpost can flex more for improved compliance. The seat tube is dropper compatible with internal routing for a cable.

The rear triangle features a chain-suck plate as well as a chainstay protector. The rear axle has a pull-out lever, meaning no tools are needed to remove the rear wheel, while no lever itself is left exposed for a clean look.

The Exceed comes with Canyon’s S25 VCLS seatpost, offering some extra compliance.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Canyon decided that it wanted all sizes of its frames to be able to accept two bottle cages, even on the smallest size. This means the top tube doesn’t slope as much (giving room for a seat tube located cage) at the expense of standover height – something Canyon believes is a worthy compromise.

Two bottle cage bosses are found in every size bike. Standover heights are compromised, but this is a cost Canyon believes is worthwhile.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

At the back, there’s room for tyres up to 60mm wide – roughly a 2.34in to 2.4in tyre on a rim with an internal width of 30mm.

2021 Canyon Exceed CFR frames

CFR stands for Canyon Factory Racing and signifies its highest standard of build quality and material. These frames sit above its SLX frames and was recently seen on the Ultimate CFR and Sender CFR.

The Exceed sits alongside the Lux in their XC range.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Canyon is claiming a frame weight of 835g for a medium with hardware (including the Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH)). This is achieved in two ways…

First is that the specific frame layup, which is very carefully planned, with minimal excess overlap of carbon fibre sheets. This means there’s less margin for error during the layup phase of the frame, adding cost, but reducing weight because there’s less material.

The material used is also different. Canyon is using Toray’s Torayca M40X fibres, something only a couple of other factories have access to, which are combined with Toray’s ‘NanoAlloy’ resin.

Apparently, this carbon fibre is both strong and stiff, which can be something other carbon fibres have to compromise between. This means that its ‘unicorn hair’ carbon fibre needs less reinforcing sheets to be used to achieve the same stiffness to weight, and strength requirements.

This is the CFR version of the frame, with its higher modulus carbon.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

In fact, Canyon claims that while this CFR layup has a higher stiffness to weight ratio than the SLX layup, and the frames are so light in comparison, they’re also more compliant.

Interestingly, Canyon has given us the breakdown of where the weight is held in the 835g frames.

  • Raw frame: 740g
  • Artwork/finish (CFR LTD): 39g
  • Chain suck plate: 6g
  • Chainstay protector: 9g
  • Mech hanger (SRAM UDH): 27g
  • Integrated seat clamp: 6g

Canyon Exceed frame weights (claimed)

  • Canyon Exceed CFR: 835g
  • Canyon Exceed SLX: 1,015g
  • Canyon Exceed CF: 1,312g

2021 Canyon Exceed geometry

As you’d expect, the Exceed is longer and slacker than the outgoing model, but not drastically so.

Reaches have grown by around 10mm, while the chainstays have shrunk by just 2mm. Head angles are half a degree slacker. Canyon says that this helps the bike become faster over a whole range of XC courses, rather than just focusing on the steepest.

Bikes will be available in XS to XL sizes.

The view from the top. A Garmin/Wahoo mount comes with the bike and sits under the top cap for a centralised view of your data.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

The integrated handlebar and stem come with a 740mm width and 80mm length as standard, though other stem lengths and stem angles should be available aftermarket.

Large Canyon Exceed geometry

  • Reach: 455mm
  • Chainstay: 425mm
  • Seat tube length: 495mm
  • Head angle: 69 degrees
  • Seat tube angle: 75 degrees
  • Fork offset: 44mm
  • Wheelbase: 1,154mm
  • BB height: 309mm

2021 Canyon Exceed models

Canyon will be offering nine models of the Exceed, including two women-specific models.

Canyon Exceed CF 5 / Canyon Exceed CF WMN 5

  • RockShox Recon Silver RL 100mm
  • SRAM NX Eagle
  • SRAM Level T brakes
  • RaceFace AR25 wheels, Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres
  • €1,699

Canyon Exceed CF 6

  • Fox 32 Rhythm 100mm
  • Shimano SLX/XT
  • Shimano SLX brakes
  • DT Swiss XR1700 wheels, Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres
  • €2,199
Stock bikes will come with an 80mm stem, but longer (and shorter) variations will be available aftermarket.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Canyon Exceed CF 7 / Canyon Exceed CF WMN 7

  • RockShox SID SL Select 100mm
  • SRAM GX Eagle
  • SRAM Level TL brakes
  • Reynolds TR309/289c carbon wheels, Maxxis Ikon/Maxxis Aspen tyres
  • €2,699

Canyon Exceed CF SLX 8

  • Fox 32 SC Performance Elite 100mm
  • SRAM X01
  • SRAM Level TLM brakes
  • DT Swiss XRC1700 wheels, Maxxis Ikon/Maxxis Aspen tyres
  • €3,699

Canyon Exceed CF SLX 9

  • RockShox SID SL Select+ 100mm
  • SRAM X01 AXS
  • SRAM Level TLM brakes
  • DT Swiss XRC1501 wheels, Maxxis Ikon/Maxxis Aspen tyres
  • €4,699
The top of the bar is shaped so that hands can comfortably be placed closer to the stem for a more aero position on long, fast marathon drags.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media

Canyon Exceed CFR Team

  • Fox 32 SC Factory 100mm
  • Shimano XTR
  • Shimano XTR brakes
  • DT Swiss XRC1200 wheels, Maxxis Ikon/Maxxis Aspen tyres
  • €5,699
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Canyon Exceed CFR LTD

  • RockShox SID SL Ultimate
  • SRAM Level Ultimate
  • Reynolds Black Label wheels, Maxxis Ikon/Maxxis Aspen tyres
  • €6,499