Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Canyon Nerve XC Review

Over the royal wedding weekend I escaped to Scotland for a few days riding with friend and girl. To be honest I had very little involvement with the logistics so it was a bit like a package deal for me, with a bill at the end. We rode the Lake District on the way up - long techy climbs, loose rock descents some wind assisted single track. Then from our cabin near Dalbeattie we rode Kirroughtree, Innerleithen, Glentress and on the last day Dalbeattie - It was a bit of a trail centre bonanza. Unlike the centres in South Wales the trail centres in Scotland are far more varied and generally steeper and more technical than their southern cousins - some are very wild and natural others like Glentress are very engineered with high berms and rollers. In short (ish) a good mix and the new bike got a thorough hammering.

Four Day Weekend!

Its worth noting my previous bike was a Santa Cruz Heckler 150mm front and rear so this my frame of reference in terms of testing the Canyon - you would probably have a different perspective if your previous bike was a carbon hardtail or a Brompton commuter so its worth noting before I start.

So The Canyon - Day one was the Lakes - the day started with a rocky climb, the Canyon was really composed climbing in the saddle and the rear was plush and active when picking over the cobbled trail. At just under 26lb it is pretty light for a 120mm trail bike not mega light but not a fatty by any means.

After a long grind up the trail, we headed along some flat winding singletrack. Having ridden a slacker more sprung bike the taught Canyon was really fun, light stiff and just enough suspension the bike was engaging and efficient to hammer the flats.

The last descent was rocky and loose, I felt a bit more out of my depth as the Canyon is fairly low at the front. Having ridden trail centres for ages riding over loose cobbles was a bit of an experience, bike ok, disappointed with lack of confidence, partly bike position, partly me I think.

Next day we rode Kirroughtree, this trail has a bit of everything and would be a great litmus test for any trail bike its epic. If you haven't ridden Kirroughtree you should, every descent is followed by a sprint climb and it just encourages you to stay on the gas the whole way round. Bike held up great, the shifting is great and you really need it, constantly cranking up the hills whilst changing gears, the XO shifts held up really well and the 10 speed cassette is great, one more gear when you really need it.

While the low BB is great in the corners you just lock in, its awesome on the bends, props to the Nobby Nics they hold up really well, ace all round tyre. The downside is I clipped the pedals and cranks all the time, I got the hang of it after a while and got better at timing the pedalling. Its a trade off but worth it I think. The carbon cranks now look very secondhand now though.

I will try and stay on topic - Wheels: the wheels are Mavic Crossmax ST they are light and really stiff, paired with the low BB and the 15mm front axle they are somewhat of an equipment highlight stiff and light, they accelerate good and they corner good through the rough stuff - you can't really ask for much more from wheels, the freewheel is nice and quiet too.

The rear shock is really plush, I think the Fox F32 FIT needs more time, its stiff and light but I don't think I have had the best out of it yet.

Descending - Im a fan of wide bars, the Canyon has 685mm EA70 bars, they are ok but they are going, the narrow bars and the long stem might be changed for a shorter / wider setup then I think it will be all good. I wasn't missing it most of the time but on some of the faster stuff particularly at Glentress and Innerleithen I wanted a bit more high speed stability.

Ok to wrap up - For 99% of the riding we did - all good trail type riding the bike was superb, only on a few of the really fast downhills did I want a bit more stability - slacker head angle / wider bars / shorter stem - but there is always a compromise. I was surprised how little difference the travel made to the ride and I think with some wider bars it will be the perfect allround trail sled - the Canyon Nerve XC is as good as it looks on paper. If you think your currently riding too much bike and thinking of changing to a lighter shorter travel set up you probably should - I have no regrets and climbs don't suck as much anymore.

Sorry for the lack of photos - the weather was THIS good and no one wanted to stop riding - will do better next time.


  1. Appreciate your thoughts as I have the same Canyon being delivered next week (they did say wk 21). If you have any more thoughts or ride experiences then another post would be good ;).

    You mentioned the concern on bar width so I'll be keeping an eye out on that as I also like them wide. A few setup tweaks won't go a miss with all that nice bike bling out there.

    Just a quick question, do those Fox forks have the Kashima coating..?

  2. Hey Tim, thanks for the comment. Ill put another post up fairly shortly, tomorrow probably. Re your question, neither the forks or the shock have the Kashima coating. I think it will appear on 2012 bikes though - despite being called 2012 bikes they will probably be in the shops by autumn.

    The Sea Otter (big bike event in the states) was a week or so ago so you will see all the 2012 stuff turning up in the mags this month, they all go to check out new kit there. I think that its the start of the US mountain bike season unofficially. There will be lots of Kashima on show there I'm sure!

  3. Thanks for the post, it changed my mind to go for the canyon xc rather than for a bionicon edison.
    It is really good - keep on posting!