Canyon’s Exceed wears its heart on its sleeve. This is unashamedly an XC race bike, with tight angles, a stiff chassis and a raft of lightweight kit bolted to its top-spec carbon fibre frame.
While some bikes aim for at least a hint of versatility, the Exceed really is aimed at one thing only – going as fast as possible between the tape.
Canyon Exceed CFR Team frame and kit
Canyon has rejigged its cross-country hardtail ready for the Olympics and optimised the frame with its CFR-level carbon fibre to give a (claimed) 835g weight.
The lack of heft is partly down to the use of high-modulus Toray M40X carbon, which is impressively light. With a flatter top tube than many, the frame has plenty of room inside the front triangle for a pair of marathon-friendly bottles.
A wedge seat clamp is built into the seat/top tube junction. Cables run through the Acros headset and into the head tube, for seamless integration and so they can be kept super-short.
This near-top-spec bike features a Shimano XTR drivetrain, wide-but-light DT Swiss carbon wheels, race-ready Maxxis rubber and a 100mm-travel Fox 32 StepCast fork. There’s little to complain about here.
Canyon’s one-piece CP08 bar/stem lacks any adjustment, but is shaped for holding an aero position. Its VCLS 2.0 carbon post can be a bit of a hassle to set up but works fine once sorted.
Canyon Exceed CFR Team geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||75||75||75||75||75|
|Head angle (degrees)||69||69||69||69||69|
|Seat tube (cm)||37.5||41.5||45.8||49.5||53.5|
|Top tube (cm)||55.2||57.5||59.6||62||64.5|
|Head tube (cm)||9||9||9.5||11||13|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||5.8||5.8||5.8||5.8||5.8|
Canyon Exceed CFR Team ride impressions
Make no mistake, this is a thoroughbred XC race bike. The frame is stiff and uncompromising, with relatively traditional, short and steep geometry, including a 69-degree head angle and 455mm reach on the large size I tested. This puts you in an utterly aggressive, forward position that forces you to put every ounce of effort through the short, stiff back end.
Acceleration through the bike and the DT wheels is instant, while the Aspen rear tyre’s svelte tread offers virtually no resistance on the climbs.
This latest Exceed is a touch longer and more composed-feeling than its predecessor. While a keen eye for line choice is required on descents (especially those lacking consistent grip), the sharp handling gives it a fly-by-wire feeling as you pick the fastest line along sinuous singletrack.
The limited tyre traction can catch you unawares, but many racers will fit more UK-appropriate rubber anyway.
The cockpit looks incredible, but its fixed shape may not work for all riders and I found it a touch harsh. Thankfully, the Fox 32 SC is one of the best race forks and helps mitigate this.
The split seatpost works well too, adding a hint of comfort to the otherwise uncompromisingly stiff back end. Its layback head slackens the effective seat angle, but you can always flip the clamp round if you wish.
Saddle height and angle can be adjusted, but this means removing the post and fiddling with a bolt at its base. Get it set up just right and it’s well worth the slight weight penalty over a regular carbon post.
While the latest XC bikes from some other brands have more progressive shapes, the Exceed’s light weight, great spec and its designers’ single-minded focus on reducing energy loss give it an electric ride personality.
|Price||AUD $9099.00EUR €5799.00GBP £6299.00|
|Weight||8.94kg (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Bottom bracket||Race Face Pressfit Cinch|
|Cranks||Race Face Next SL G5 carbon|
|Fork||Fox 32 StepCast Factory, 100mm (3.9in) travel|
|Frame||CFR carbon fibre|
|Handlebar||Canyon CP08 carbon cockpit, 740mm|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano XTR, 12 Spd|
|Saddle||Selle Italia SLR Boost Carbonio|
|Seatpost||Canyon VCLS 2.0 carbon|
|Shifter||Shimano XTR, 12 Spd|
|Stem||Canyon CP08 carbon cockpit, 80mm|
|Tyres||Maxxis Ikon 29x2.35in (f) and Maxxis Aspen 29x2.25in (r)|
|Wheels||DT Swiss XRC 1200 Spline|