Canyon Nerve MR 9.0 SL review

High spec and understated appearance from Germany

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £2,199.00 RRP | USD $3,561.50
Canyon Nerve MR 9.0 SL

Our review

A fundamentally sound bike with a killer component list, but the reluctant DT Swiss fork lets it down
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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.

Product Specifications


Name Nerve MR 9.0SL (12)
Brand Canyon

Available Sizes s m l xl
Rear Derailleur Shimano XTR
Weight (lb) 24.9
Weight (kg) 11.3
Stem Ritchey WCS
Shifters Shimano Deore XT
Seatpost Canyon SLC
Seat Angle 72.5
Saddle Selle Italia SL Monolink
Rims DT Swiss X 1700
Rear Wheel Weight 2180
Rear Shock Fox RP2 shock, 100mm (3.9in)
Headset Type Acros AiX-03 tapered
Bottom Bracket Shimano XTR
Head Angle 69.5
Handlebar Ritchey WCS Carbon
Grips/Tape Canyon lock-on
Front Wheel Weight 1760
Front Derailleur Shimano XTR
Frame Material Butted aluminium
Fork DT Swiss XRM 100, 100mm (3.9in) travel
Cranks Shimano XTR 42-32-24
Chain Shimano
Cassette Shimano XT 11-36 10-speed
Brakes Magura MT8
Tyres Continental X-King 26x2.2in