Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 first ride review

How does the updated Neuron AL compare to its more expensive doppelganger the Neuron CF?

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
EUR €2,199.00
Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
Pros: Supportive suspension lets you push hard and the spec is impressive
Cons: Geometry needs updating and the tyres might not be best suited to wetter climates or rougher terrain
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The Neuron AL has been updated to resemble the carbon version of the same bike that’s been around since the start of 2019.

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The updates include a horizontally-mounted rear shock, wider main pivot and the removal of front derailleur compatibility.

I went out to northern Spain, near Barcelona, to test the new Neuron AL. Having ridden and liked the Neuron CF 9.0, I was intrigued to find out how the cheaper alloy bike rode compared to its more expensive sibling.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 frame details

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
The Neuron AL now looks just like the CF bike.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

With internal cable routing, inbuilt chainstay protection and compatibility for a 750ml water bottle on medium and above bikes, the Neuron AL mimics its carbon counterpart almost identically.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 suspension details

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
The clevis shock mount system and horizontally-mounted shock is claimed to reduce loads compared to the vertically-mounted shock on the outgoing bike.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

Once again, like the CF bike, this one has Canyon’s Triple Phase Suspension.

It’s been tuned to give supple beginning stroke sensitivity to help with comfort and grip, mid-stroke support for turns and holes and pedalling efficiency, with ramp-up at the end of the travel to help keep you from unnecessarily bottoming-out.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 geometry details

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
The frame’s got pretty sleek lines.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

Stand out figures for the size large bike I tested include a 440mm chainstay length, 453mm reach figure and a 1,191mm wheelbase.

The head angle sits at 67.5 degrees and the seat tube angle is 74.5 degrees.

None of the geometry is groundbreakingly modern, but as an XC-come-trail bike the figures are respectable.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 components and specifications

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
The GX mech performed well.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

As the most expensive model in the Neuron AL range, the 7.0 is specced with a SRAM NX/GX Eagle mix, Fox Float 34 forks with the GRIP damper and a Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock.

You get an Iridium dropper post and Canyon own-brand bar and stem. Continental Mountain King III tyres are mounted to RaceFace rims on Shimano hubs.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
Up front, the brake caliper has four pistons.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

There are Shimano MT420/400 brakes, and the front caliper uses four pistons whereas the rear has two.

This model retails for €2,199.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 first ride impressions

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
Although it’s a trial bike, it’s comfortable in the air.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

I was lucky enough to ride the new Neuron AL 7.0 just outside Barcelona in Northern Spain on trails close to La Poma bike park.

The trails were dry and dusty and the soil had the perfect mix of sand and dirt, making grip predictable and abundant.

I only got to ride the bike for a few hours so these first ride impressions could change. It is also worth noting I was riding a medium bike and would have preferred to be on a large frame.

The Neuron CF that I previously tested was a large, so I was searching for comparisons between the two, focusing on whether the CF rode better in any way compared to the AL.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 climbing performance

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
Climbing proved to be fairly pleasant but the seat tube angle could be steeper.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

The rear suspension provided fantastic feelings of support on the climbs and I rarely felt myself reaching for the climb switch.

This also means that pedal strokes feel like they’re efficiently transferred into swift progress up the trails and, despite the bike feeling heavier than its carbon counterpart, I didn’t feel like there was a particular disadvantage created by the alloy frame.

Just like the carbon bike, I did have to angle the saddle nose down and forwards in the rails to help counter the relatively slack seat-tube angle.

This appears to be a consistent criticism of most bikes currently being produced and I can fathom no disadvantages to having a steeper seat tube angle for beginners or experts alike.

The bike fostered a comfortable riding position and I didn’t find myself constantly adjusting my weight front or back to generate more grip.

The saddle was hideously uncomfortable, however, and this was a comment echoed by several other journalists on the press camp. I felt myself slipping around on the seat and having to grip it to stay put.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
The Selle Italia seat was especially uncomfortable and provided no grip.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

Canyon could spec its electric mountain bike saddle, the SD:ON, to help counter the slack seat-tube angle because it has a raised rear that helped to keep me seated in the correct position when testing the Spectral:ON. I see no reason not to offer this as an option on the Neuron.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 descending performance

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
It cornered well and was fun to ride.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

The bike’s descending performance is dominated by its supportive and impressively capable suspension.

It’s surprisingly firm when I needed it to be, which meant I could push the bike harder than I was expecting, especially considering the geometry.

Because the chassis feels taught but not harsh, and the suspension firm at the right time, it’s possible to quickly take the Neuron AL out of its depth. This, like the carbon bike, appears to be its biggest flaw on the descents.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
Drift or grip, the Neuron AL didn’t complain.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

It encouraged me to go fast, but then suddenly hits an invisible performance ceiling where if you push beyond it, things can get sketchy quickly.

A few geometry tweaks could help here. A marginally longer wheelbase, a bigger reach and possibly a slacker head angle would help increase the bike’s scope without, in my eyes at least, having any detrimental effect on its performance for beginners or casual mountain bikers.

Those geometry changes would probably help them rider more confidently.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
The supportive suspension meant that it was possible to push on.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

The four- and two-piston brake combo worked well, but the discs are for resin brake pads only. This means that if you ride in particularly sloppy conditions the resin pads are going to wear down quickly and if you’d like to change to the tougher sintered pads, you’re going to need to invest in new discs as well.

While the tyres were grippy in Spain, I’m dubious about their ability to perform in wetter climes. One of the journalists did terminally rip a tyre casing on the press camp and had to use a tube to re-inflate the tyre.

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 early verdict

Canyon Neuron AL 7.0 mountain bike
Like the Neuron CF, once I’d accepted the bike’s limitations I enjoyed riding it.
Canyon / Nightmares&Sons

The Neuron AL is an interesting bike. It appears to offer almost identical performance to the carbon model at a fraction of the cost.

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First impressions indicate it’s as good as the carbon bike for a fraction of the cost, but could still do with some geometry updates.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €2199.00
Weight Medium
What we tested Canyon Neuron AL 7.0
Year 2020
Brand Canyon

Features

Available sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
Brakes Shimano MT420/MT400
Cassette SRAM NX
Cranks Truvativ Stylo 6K
Fork Fox 34 Float Rhythm 130mm
Frame 6061 Aluminium frame, 130mm travel
Handlebar JD Riserbar AL
Rear derailleur SRAM GX Eagle
Rear shock Fox Float Performance DPS
Saddle Selle Italia X-Base
Seatpost Iridium dropper
Shifter SRAM GX
Stem Iridium stem
Tyres Continental Mountain King III 2.3in front and rear
Wheels RaceFace rims on Shimano MT400/MT510 hubs