Canyon Bicycles Neuron AL 9.9 2017 Mountain Bike Review

Canyon Bicycles Neuron AL 9.9 2017

Reviews / Trail Bikes

Canyon Bicycles 623,124

At a Glance

German direct sellers Canyon have a solid range of capable bikes; we tested their Spectral last year and were very impressed, but what of the rest of the collection? The Neuron fits into the line up below the Spectral (in terms of travel) and the even more aggressive Strive, but above the XC orientated Lux. These four full suspension bikes all are based on a similar suspension set up, but each gaining travel over the next.

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The Neuron is a 110mm bike (120mm in 650b version), delivered in the same Horst link as used on the longer travel bikes from Canyon. Whereas these bikes are trail and enduro, the Neuron is described as the ultimate all rounder, aimed at local blasts or high alpine epics.

The frame features some very nice touches, and the attention to detail and finish is great. Smooth lines integrate beautifully into the rear triangle and suspension rocker giving the Canyon its distinctive style.

The suspension is handled by a Fox Performance Elite DPS LV shock, and the front gets 10mm more travel in the Fox 34 Performance forks. The 9.9 build see plenty of desirable kit, rolling on DT Swiss wheels and a full XT drivetrain and brakes. We get a front mech on this model, which is common across the Neuron range apart from one model. Women's models are also available but based around the same frame with only a few minor component tweaks.

With more than ten versions in the range, there is a price point and component set up for everyone.

On The Trail

The Neuron has a difficult task to do, in convincing riders that it offers something over the excellent Spectral. Less travel, yes, but is it more versatile?

The riding position on the Neuron is very neutral and comfortable, suggesting long hours in the saddle would not be a problem. The front end feels high, the cockpit roomy but a little on the narrow side with 740mm bars. The stem isn't a barge, but neither is it super short, but that's fine on a bike such as this. The controls are all excellent, but the Reverb lever struggles to look at home with the Shimano shifters and brakes.

The longer than fashionable back end and comfortable position make climbing efficient. The 110mm of travel is a stable platform for putting the power down, and the shock is quickly calmed down at the flick of a switch if required.

The Neuron quickly shows its hand as a playful bike, but it is conservative: Happy to party as long as we're home for bed at eleven and things don't get too rowdy. Pedalling up to speed is not a chore and carrying it into the turns the bike feels stable to a point, but get too excited, the steep and narrow front end letting it be known that we need to ride within our limits!

As ever, a wider than 740mm bar would help things up front especially in the XL size I was riding. Smooth trails with swooping corners felt fun and fast, with a low enough bottom bracket to keep things tracking and stable. The Neuron was even happy getting airborne, but the minimal 125mm drop post didn't allow for a full range of movement to feel fully committed to the cause.

Being a fan of longer back ends, the balance of grip between front and back was pretty good. This was only diminished by the particularly sketchy tyres, which had me sideways on the first couple of gravel corners. The Continental Race Sport and Mountain King were certainly fast rolling but really lacked in the grip department. In the damp, they made for a wild ride needing to fully commit to the side knobs before any grip was forthcoming.

Trying to define the Neuron has been hard, but it certainly can turn its hand to many types of riding. Its geometry is firmly in the XC category, and the Neuron shares more DNA with the Lux than with the Spectral. Think of it more like an XC bike that's had enough of racing and wants to hit the trails and have some fun.

It’s going to suit the sort of rider who spends long days in the saddle and is looking for something fast and nimble. Pedalling uphill is easy, so if that’s important to you, then the Neuron is a solid choice. The geometry and travel give firm hints as to kinds of trail this bike enjoys. However, in capable hands, it can handle a decent amount of trail partying, as long as you are back before bedtime!

I would argue that more fun could be created with a bar and stem swap to something wider and shorter, then add a longer drop seat post and some more tacky rubber. This would not change the bike beyond recognition, but rather enhance its performance no end.The Fox 34s again prove them selves to be a great

The Fox 34s again prove them selves to be a great all round fork and keep the front end tracking straight and true, while the back end is happy to deliver on everything the front promises. The DT Swiss wheels are part of the key to the speedy nature of the Neuron, with rapid pick up and stiff, efficient rolling ability. Elsewhere all the components did as expected, and you can't go too far wrong with XT.

With trail bikes becoming more versatile, they overlap into all the other bike categories. The Neuron is a bike that knows what it can and can't do and is happy to cover serious ground and have some fun at the same time providing the trails don't get too wild.

Overall

A pedalling focused trail bike, the Neuron comes to the middle ground more from XC than Enduro and delivers an all round package. With so many models to choose from, and starting from incredibly low prices, the Neuron will be attractive to many riders. A few component tweaks could really open up this bike's downhill performance without compromising its efficiency and character. The build quality and attention to detail is, as ever, apparent and you’ll certainly have smiles for miles if you add this bike to your stable!

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This review was in Issue 49 of IMB.

For more information visit Canyon Bicycles

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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