While Canyon may be most famous in the mountain bike world for supplying high-profile downhill, enduro and cross-country teams with cutting-edge bikes such as the Strive CFR and LUX, it’s the under-the-radar Neuron that’s the brand’s best-selling mountain bike.
The Neuron is a mountain bike designed for the masses – those who enjoy the simple pleasure of riding an MTB and aren’t interested in racing the clock.
Canyon has overhauled this versatile all-rounder to modernise it, with the aim of giving us an even better mountain bike experience.
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL frame and suspension
The Neuron CF 9 SL is the second most expensive model in a new 11-bike line-up.
As such, it gets a full carbon fibre frame with several neat features. This carbon model has a straight seat tube to give better seatpost insertion depths, so riders can benefit from the longer dropper posts fitted as standard.
Canyon has slimmed down the down-tube profile for a sleeker aesthetic and widened the main pivot to increase rear-end stiffness and improve suspension performance.
The bearings are covered with additional double lip seals to help protect them from the elements. They also get new reinforced bolts to improve longevity.
The cable routing is fully enclosed through internal frame sleeves that run from the rear stays to the head tube. This includes the passage from the rear to the front triangle, inside sealed tubes to help keep any muck out.
At the head tube, cables are routed internally through the headset, which has its pros and cons.
Additional features include plenty of protection on the bike. The down tube protector is attached to the down tube and is sunk to fit flush with the carbon. This piece is bolted in place and can be replaced if damaged.
The chainstay protection is also bolted on. To help prevent damage, Canyon has employed a Chain Shield. This additional part of the chainstay protection prevents chain suck and stops the chain getting caught between the chainring and stay.
There’s also room to fit a water bottle inside the front triangle, plus Canyon’s Load Bag for stashing tools or spares. There isn’t any internal frame storage, with the intention of keeping weight low and maintaining stiffness.
The frame uses a threaded bottom bracket, Boost hub spacing, and a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger to make replacements or upgrades easy to fit.
Canyon uses its Triple Phase suspension platform to dish out its 130mm of rear-wheel travel. Canyon claims this Horst-link design gives the bike suppleness, support and progressivity.
The aim was to balance pedalling efficiency with bump absorption in a balanced package that will give confidence to the broad range of riders the Neuron should appeal to.
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL geometry
The shape of the new Neuron has changed significantly to bring the bike up to date in the trail bikes category. That said, it doesn’t push boundaries, but Canyon has made some sensible choices, resulting in geometry that should complement a wide range of riders.
The reach numbers have grown. On the size-medium bike I tested, the figure is now 455mm, up from 433mm. The chainstays are 440mm, which should help to create a balanced ride.
The head tube angle is 1.5 degrees slacker at a trail-friendly 66 degrees, and the effective seat tube angle has steepened by 1.5 degrees to a moderate 76 degrees.
Seat tube lengths have been shortened, and on the medium frame here, it’s a sensible 425mm, with a maximum 290mm dropper post insertion.
The bike comes with a moderate stack height of 626mm, which should seat riders in a reasonably upright position and give a handlebar height that provides confidence on the descents.
A bottom bracket drop of 38mm should help the Neuron feel well planted to the ground, too.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.5||74.5||74.5||74.5||74.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||66.5||66.5||67||67||67|
|Seat tube (mm)||400||400||445||480||520|
|Top tube (mm)||558||581||603||626||654|
|Head tube (mm)||88||100||102||112||143|
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL specifications
There is no shortage of high-spec parts attached to the carbon Neuron CF 9 SL frame, and for the price it’s an impressive list of components.
The suspension comes from Fox with its Factory-level 140mm-travel 34 FIT4 fork and Float DPS shock.
A highlight of the spec is the SRAM Code RSC brakes, with 200mm front and 180mm rear rotors. It’s a massive improvement to spec such capable mountain bike brakes on a trail bike and will only boost riders’ confidence.
The drivetrain is a full complement of SRAM GX Eagle AXS kit. The Neuron CF 9 SL rolls on carbon DT Swiss XMC 1501 wheels, shrouded with a Schwalbe Wicked Will rear tyre and Nobby Nic front tyre in the SpeedGrip compound. Both tyres are 29×2.4in.
Along with a Race Face Next 35 carbon handlebar and stem, it’s finished off with a Canyon Iridium dropper post and Ergon SM10 saddle.
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL ride impressions
I was fortunate to get two days riding the bike in the south of Spain on a press trip. This included big 35km+ days with around 1,500m of climbing and more than 2,000m of descending.
The trails were dry, dusty and included a wide variety of doubletrack, technical descents and undulating singletrack.
I also tested a bike in the UK over blue and red trail-centre loops, off-piste singletrack and natural tech descents to see where it thrives and where it reaches its limits.
I set the bike up with 86psi in the forks, which is close to the recommended setting for my 75kg weight.
I left the stock two volume spacers inside, ran the low-speed compression fully open and kept the FIT4 3-position compression lever in the open setting. For fork rebound, I ran 11 clicks from closed out of 20.
I set the rear suspension with plenty of sag to enable me to reach full travel, closer to an enduro bike than a trail bike because there’s plenty of progression in the shock and frame. I settled on 180psi, which gave me just under 30 per cent sag.
That sag measurement was with the shock in its open setting, and in the first mode (plushest setting) of its three-mode tuning options in the open setting. I set rebound to eight clicks from closed out of 13.
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL climbing performance
If Canyon was looking to make a mountain bike for the masses, it hit the nail on the head with the new Neuron.
With its low weight and fast-rolling tyres, the Neuron CF 9 SL covers ground with efficiency and you can ride at speed without draining energy reserves.
The rear suspension is active when the shock is open. When climbing on smoother terrain, I was keen on using the shock’s climb switch. I set the lever to its middle position to help firm up the rear end without offering a harsh lock-out. This improved pedalling efficiency without making things uncomfortable.
The Neuron’s updated seated position put me in a comfortable place to deliver a strong pedal stroke, which helped when grinding up steeper or more technical trails.
Even though there’s a bit of suspension bob in the open mode, the bike doesn’t wallow deep into its mid-stroke, and you still get good forward propulsion from hard stamps on the pedals.
On rough trails, that supple suspension enables the rear wheel to track the ground and maintain grip.
The Schwalbe Wicked Will tyre gets out of its depth quickly in greasy terrain. The Nobby Nic on the front is more capable, but it’s still easy to find its limits.
However, for most rocky trails, such as you’ll find at trail centres, it’s a strong performer. On smooth trails, the low rolling resistance is very welcome.
Even with the 66-degree head tube angle (something we’d have seen on enduro bikes just a few years ago), uphill hairpins aren’t a chore. It’s easy to control the front of the Neuron and negotiate twisting, climbing trails.
I found I needed to weight the front of the bike on steep terrain, due to the fairly tall stack height, to keep it tracking where I wanted. This was only on the steepest trails though, and for most climbs this isn’t an issue.
Overall, the Neuron CF 9 SL is a versatile climber and will enable you to get to the top of most climbs without too much effort.
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL descending performance
It’s on flowing singletrack where the Neuron delivers most fun. The speed it enables you to carry down the trail and its reactive handling give a lively feel to the bike.
Still, the amount of fork and shock travel mean the bike has composure in rougher terrain, and you don’t feel you’re going to get pitched off at the first large bump.
There’s enough progression within the suspension kinematics to generate speed over terrain you can’t pedal on. This is great for flowing jump lines and pumping terrain.
In slower, more twisty singletrack, the Neuron’s geometry enables you to weave in and out of tight trails with ease. The bike helps you accelerate up to speed again if you stall on an awkward section of trail.
On the downhills, the bike has a surprisingly wide comfort zone on a vast variety of terrain. It will provide you with an engaging ride on flowing blue trails, where the bike’s fun factor enables you to rail berms, pumping and jumping your way down the trail to carry speed.
When the trails get rougher, the progressive suspension does a decent job of helping isolate you from the bumps and not blowing through the travel.
I had to push the bike surprisingly hard, probably above where its comfort zone would usually be, to get full travel from the shock.
I would probably remove the volume spacer completely, or replace it with a lower-volume spacer to give the bike a more linear feel. This would maintain the efficiency of running less sag but still enable you to use the bike’s full travel.
That said, when pushing the bike, it was surprisingly capable off-piste and on steeper trails. In these situations, you reach the limits of the tyres before the limits of the frame, suspension or brakes.
It’s great to see Canyon spec SRAM Code RSC brakes on a trail-oriented bike. The braking performance was excellent and that helped inspire confidence on more difficult terrain.
The Fox forks did a decent job of keeping the front end supportive yet comfortable.
However, the front of the bike is quite stiff. That’s down partly to the handlebars, carbon rims and the FIT4 damper within the fork. This tended to vibrate feedback into my hands on longer descents.
The nimble Neuron appears happy to be thrown around into turns, and it can be lent over from side to side without hesitation. Through corners, the bike is agile and fun, while its low bottom bracket creates a feeling of stability and calmness.
How does the Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL compare to the YT Izzo Core 4?
Both of these direct-sales brands offer impressive value for money. While the YT was aggressive for a short-travel trail bike when it launched a couple of years ago, it now sits alongside Canyon’s modest trail bike.
Both have 66-degree head tube angles, dish out 130mm of rear-wheel travel and roll on 29in tyres. Weights and prices are similar too.
The more modern Canyon has slicker frame features and is more user-friendly. It also runs a 140mm fork, compared to the YT’s 130mm, which will help on rougher trails.
Both bikes have plenty of progression and a lively ride feel, and are great for covering ground in a rush or cruising around the trails to help build confidence.
The Canyon has a taller front end, offering a more comfortable seated position and more confidence on the descents. The YT’s shape is more aggressive for those looking to push their speed rather than cruising.
Canyon Neuron CF 9 SL bottom line
Canyon has built a versatile trail bike that will work for plenty of riders, and a wide variety of terrain. If you want to cover ground quickly, but still have some firepower for the descents, the Neuron CF 9 SL is a good option.
It can tackle all-day adventures and quick blasts around the local woods.
The updated geometry and suspension offer plenty of security on the trails it’s most likely to encounter. If you want to go mountain biking and are after a bike that’ll do a bit of everything, the Neuron is worth checking out.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $7099.00EUR €4999.00GBP £4599.00USD $4799.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 13.11kg (M) – without pedals, Array, kg|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Canyon|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Bottom bracket||br_bottomBracket, 11, 0, Bottom bracket, SRAM DUB BSA73|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, SRAM Code RSC, 200/180mm rotors|
|Cassette||br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, SRAM XG-1275, 10-52t|
|Chain||br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, SRAM GX|
|Cranks||br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, SRAM X1 carbon|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Fox 34 Factory FIT4, 140mm travel|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Carbon fibre, 130mm travel|
|Grips/Tape||br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, Ergon GA 2|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, RaceFace Next 35 carbon, 760mm|
|Headset||br_headset, 11, 0, Headset, Canyon internally routed|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, SRAM GX AXS Eagle|
|Rear Shocks||br_rearShock, 11, 0, Rear Shocks, Fox Float DPS Factory|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Ergon SM10 Sport|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Canyon G5 dropper, 170mm|
|Shifter||br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, SRAM GX AXS Eagle|
|Stem||br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, RaceFace Turbine 35, 50mm|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Schwalbe Nobby Nic SpeedGrip SuperGround 29x2.4in (f), Schwalbe Wicked Will SpeedGrip SuperGround 29x2.4in (r)|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, DT Swiss XMC 1501|