Canyon Neuron CF 8.0 Review
Cons: Non-aggressive tires, steeper head tube angle, requires skilled pilot in rowdier terrain
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy this Bike?
The Canyon Neuron CF 8.0 is a reasonably priced 130mm travel bike that leans a little bit towards the XC side of the trail riding spectrum. This bike is an absolute blast to ride on the right terrain and trails, it rolls fast, climbs like a rocket ship, and has a zesty personality. Lightweight, lively, quick, and fun were words often used by our testers to describe its performance. Its somewhat conservative geometry gives it razor-sharp handling and a distinctly poppy and flick-able character. It's also quite capable on the descents, though it's held back slightly by its steeper head tube angle and the less aggressive stock tire specification; skilled riders can still negotiate rowdy terrain with finesse and calculated approach. The spec of Maxxis Forekaster tires along with a narrower rear rim reveals Canyon's XC-trail intentions for the Neuron. Otherwise, this bike's build is impressive, and the price to performance ratio is through the roof. If you're looking for a user-friendly mid-travel trail bike that's a blast to ride in all but the gnarliest of terrain, the Neuron CF 8.0 is an affordable option to consider.
If you're a true XC style trail rider, then the Specialized Stumpjumper ST Comp Carbon 29 is another sensible option. It is quite similar to the Neuron in that it is clearly oriented towards the XC side of things and the rider who favors efficiency over getting super gnarly. The Stumpjumper ST has 120mm of rear wheel travel and a stiff carbon frame that climbs fast and excels on moderate terrain at speed. The Stumpjumper feels a little tighter and less forgiving overall compared to the Neuron, which gives a little more freely of its travel and has a slightly slacker head tube angle. The Stumpjumper ST is available in carbon builds ranging in price from $4,220 up to $9,520.
Interested in something just as lively that can handle a little more aggressive terrain on the descents? The new Ibis Ripley is a sporty short-mid travel option that has a similarly energetic and spirited feel on the trail and when climbing but has a slacker front end that doesn't flinch when the pitch of the trail steepens, and you want to charge the descents. The Ripley also comes with wider rims and more aggressive tires that will suit the tastes of all-mountain/trail riders a little better than the XC style rim and tire combo on the Neuron. The Ripley comes in carbon fiber only with builds starting at $4,099 and topping out at $9,199.
The Neuron is a mid-travel trail bike designed with 130mm of rear wheel travel using Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design. The Triple Phase suspension is basically a Horst-Link system that has the main pivot attached to the seat tube just above the bottom bracket, a small rocker link midway up the seat tube, and a pivot at the junction of the chain and seat stays just forward of the rear axle. Canyon calls it Triple Phase because they claim there are three phases in the suspension travel, sensitive, stable, and progressive. Sensitive refers to the early part of the travel and small-bump compliance. Stable is in the mid-stroke where it supports pedaling efforts and smooths over mid-size chop. Progressive is at the end of the travel where it is designed to ramp up progressively to prevent bottoming out.
Canyon has given the Neuron a relatively modern but still somewhat conservative geometry. Our size large test bike measured with a 620mm effective top tube and a 453mm reach. The wheelbase is moderate at 1196mm with 442mm chainstays. The seat tube is a comfortable 75-degrees, and the head tube measured 67.1-degrees. It weighed in at a svelte 28 lbs 10 oz with the tires set up tubeless and without pedals.
- Available in carbon and aluminum
- 130mm of rear wheel travel
- Designed around a 130mm fork
- Triple Phase suspension design
- Offered in sizes XS-XL, XS and S frames come with 27.5" wheels while sizes M-XL are 29"
- Aluminum builds range in price from $1,899 up to $2,499
- Carbon builds start at $3,499 (tested) up to $7,000
- Women's specific models offered in both carbon and aluminum
The Neuron's performance on the descents is fantastic up to a point. It flies down smooth, fast, and moderately pitched trails, and the 130mm of front and rear suspension has balanced feel that makes small chatter disappear and handles mid-sized chunk well. It has precise handling and performs well in tight sections where longer and slacker bikes tend to struggle. You can certainly ride down anything on the Neuron, but when you find yourself in steeper or rowdier sections of trail, it demands a calculated approach or more conservative line choice than some of the competition.
The Neuron has a distinctly lively and playful demeanor on the descents. While cruising on moderate terrain, it likes to pop around, and it springs in and out of corners with energy. It has responsive handling and feels comfortable to pick your way around obstacles thanks to its modern but moderate geometry. In these instances, it feels a lot like the Ibis Ripley, one of our favorite shorter travel trail bikes, which also seeks to find the most fun way down the trail. Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design feels great over small and mid-sized chop and trail chatter, and we never felt like we were blowing through all the travel on bigger hits thanks to the progressive ramp up at the end.
While we thoroughly enjoyed riding the Neuron on descents, it's far from an aggressive downhill trail slayer. It errs on the side of moderation and prefers less aggressive trails and riding styles. This became apparent at high speeds on steep trails where its 1196mm wheelbase and 67.1-degree head tube angle started to feel a little twitchy when compared to longer and slacker bikes like the Giant Trance 29 or the more aggressive Transition Smuggler. Testers noted that they felt a little more forward on the Neuron, mostly due to the steeper head tube angle and the slightly longer than average 60mm stem. You can get down anything on the Neuron, it just feels a little less confident in rowdy terrain than some, and you'll need to dial it back a little accordingly.
The build of the Neuron is generally quite good on the descents though a few of the stock components, notably the tires, detract from its capabilities. The Maxxis Forekaster tires are good on firm trail surfaces and smoother, mellower terrain though their performance is questionable in loose or loose over hard conditions. Testers felt that this bike's all-around performance, especially on the descents, could be dramatically improved with a set of higher volume and more aggressive tires that would provide better braking and cornering traction. The specification of a narrower rear rim on the Neuron is also a little odd in our opinion and results in the rear tire having a rounder profile than we'd like. Otherwise, the Fox suspension is highly tuneable and performed its duties well as expected. While not flashy, the smattering of house brand cockpit components was generally comfortable though we'd probably opt for a shorter stem length to bring our weight and hands back just a little for steeper sections of trail.
The Neuron has a decisively excellent performance on the climbs. Our testers were impressed with how spirited and user-friendly it was in virtually every aspect of its uphill performance. It's lightweight with quick handling and feels like it could toe the line at an XC race or leave your friends in the dust on long trail rides.
Weighing in at 28 lbs and 10 oz, the Neuron isn't XC race bike light but is definitely lightweight for a mid-travel trail bike, especially at this price. The weight of this bike was noticeable compared to some of the heavier bikes we've been testing lately, especially on long grinding climbs. There's no discernable flex in the stiff carbon frame, power transfer feels very direct, and it responds well when you get on the gas. The 75-degree seat tube angle is a tad slacker than we see in many modern trail bike designs, but it lines you up above the cranks quite well, and the seated pedaling position is comfortable and natural feeling. The 453mm reach strikes a nice middle ground that felt just right while climbing.
The measured wheelbase of 1196mm is moderate in length when compared to a lot of the longer bikes these days. The 67.1-degree head tube angle is also a little steeper than the recent crop of slacked out bikes. These measurements do work in the Neuron's favor on the climbs, however, and it has precise and responsive handling and a short turning radius. Popping it up and over technical obstacles and negotiating tight uphill switchbacks is easy, especially when compared to longer and slacker bikes. The Neuron's Triple Phase suspension platform is calm and supportive, and there is barely any noticeable suspension bob when seated pedaling and minimal when out of the saddle. Testers didn't feel the need to use the compression dampening switch on the trail at all and reserved it only for use on extended paved or dirt road climbs.
In general, the component specification of the Neuron was solid on the climbs with one minor caveat. We can't say enough good things about the consistent performance of the SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, and it provides plenty of range for any steepness of climb. The Maxxis Forekaster tires are very fast rolling and provide good climbing traction on firmer trail surfaces, though we found them prone to spinning out in loose or dusty conditions due to the less aggressive and lower profile tread.
Canyon is a consumer-direct brand, and that is reflected in the impressive value offered in their bikes. The $3,499 Neuron is a great example, and we feel it is an impressive value for a carbon fiber frame with a quality component specification. Non-consumer direct brands would have a carbon bike with the same components priced at least $1,000 more. Some riders will likely want to swap the tires out for something with a little more aggressive tread, but that is a minimal expense to make this bike a bit more aggressive right away.
The Canyon Neuron CF 8.0 is a reasonably priced mid-travel trail bike that any rider who isn't pushing the limits on the descents could love. This is a sensible option for a huge majority of riders whose riding styles and trails are more XC than enduro. This bike is lightweight and efficient with a nimble and playful demeanor. It scoots uphill like an XC race bike, and its 130mm of balanced front and rear suspension really shines on moderately technical and flowy descents. Those looking to really get aggressive on the descents will be better off looking elsewhere, but we feel that most other riders would thoroughly enjoy this affordable mid-travel trail bike.
Canyon makes the Neuron in several build kit options with both carbon and aluminum frames. The CF 8.0 model we tested falls right around the middle of their range.
-If you're looking to get the bling-est version possible, the CF 9.0 Unlimited, $7,000, comes fully tricked out with Fox Factory suspension, a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain, carbon cranks, SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes, and DT Swiss XMC wheels.
-The CF 9.0 SL hits an amazing price point at $4,799, with a SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes, and a Reynolds TR309 carbon wheelset.
-They also make two women's versions including the WMN CF 9.0, $3,999. It comes equipped with a SRAM XO1 drivetrain, Fox Float Performance suspension, and a DT Swiss XR 1501 Spline wheelset. The WMN CF 8.0, $3,499, come with a Fox Rhythm fork, a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, and SRAM Guide T brakes.
-There are three versions of the more affordable aluminum framed models. The AL 7.0, $2,499, comes with a Fox Rhythm fork, a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, Shimano MR-MT400 brakes, and a Mavic XA Trail wheelset.
-The AL 6.0 is the least expensive model at $1,999 and comes with a Fox Recon fork, a Shimano SLX/XT drivetrain, Shimano BR-MT200 brakes, and a dropper seat post.
-They also make a WMN AL 6.0, $2,099, that is equipped with a RockShox Reba fork, a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, Shimano BR-MT200 brakes, and a dropper seat post.
— Jeremy Benson