Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Well I’ve finally done it. Splashed some cash on a new FSR MTB and taken a rather risky German bet that Canyon Direct MTB bike sales will save the day…read on if your interested......

Actually before I let you loose on my Canyon Nerve XC review its only right that I should clarify the true novice nature of my review credentials. I’m a man that’s been happily riding a 1999 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR. Slightly tweaked with an original and still very respectable Pace RC39. However, even with my most optimistic hat on, I realise that I’m highly unlikely to convince a cynical reader that comparing an 8 year old bike to a new Canyon provides a true reflection of any bikes credentials. Well all I’m left with then is to provide you with a personal reflection of its performance given that I’m probably an aspiring MTBer trying to find a bike that will provide maximum pleasure within a minimal budget….

Firstly my current bike has 80mm front and 60mm rear travel. It’s a classic ‘old style’ XC bike and frankly it’s served me very well. Why upgrade? Well I rode hard last year and covered some miles, much of my chain set needed replacing. I figured it would be better to put my money into new kit on a new frame then new kit on an old and restricted frame. I knew all along that 4” travel front and rear would be a massive step forward and my focus was on staying with a light bike with quality components. 90% of my riding is Chiltern Hills. Moderate to hard hill climbing and fun but not technical down hill. Fast forest tracks in between.

My research indicated that 4” was now considered to be a minimum and that every review is apparently positioning 5” as the new 4”. Well I didn’t want the extra weight and don’t actually think I’ve the downhill balls to max out with a 5” frame anyway!

My Options: Stay brand loyal with Specialized….maybe try a new brand….Marin, Trek, Giant, Commencal ???

Well I read every review, checked out the frame geometry, suspension geometry, looked at the quality of components and the amount of “own brand” alternative parts and realised that I couldn’t get what I considered to be a worthwhile upgrade at a sensible weight for less then £1800 min. It didn’t put me off, but I still consider it to be a fare wedge for a bike. That’s when by chance I found a small article re. Canyon in the back of MTBr magazine. Who? Never heard on them before. The only German brand I was familiar with was Cube.
Once I’d checked out the WEB site my interest level increased dramatically. So much kit for such a low price. In fact around 40% cheaper then UK retail. In summary Canyon is a German manufacture with a factory direct sales strategy. Great spec, great price but no chance to test ride…big risk! Well maybe not…. My research phase was still not complete. I few emails later and I’d specified a US (courtesy of Mountain High) component build option. However, it soon became apparent that even with US prices by the time I’d added on duty and VAT I still couldn’t buy all of the components on the Canyon for less then Canyon wanted for the whole bike. Here’s my logic…buy a Canyon….if the frame is crap throw it away and keep the bits…. I’d be no worse off. Well it persuaded me!

I waited for Canyon to launch their 2007 range of bikes and revamp their WEB site and duly set about the process of purchasing a Canyon Nerve XC 6.0. Its so simple. Either use the WEB tools (quite impressive) or phone direct (everyone speaks perfect English and is highly efficient in a classically German way!). I chose to call them direct. I handed over my essential body dimensions..inside leg, torso, shoulder width, arm length, body weight and Canyon recommend the correct frame size. I’d already studied the frame geometry and agreed with their size ‘S’ recommendation for the NERVE XC. All in with a set of Ergon grips £1300.00 (Euro @ 1.48). incl. freight and VAT. 10 days later Canyon emailed to advise the bike was ready to ship. 3 days later I received a big box with BIKEGUARD on the outside.....

From this point onwards it seemed like a demonstration of German efficiency. Firstly the bike was superbly packed in a very well designed cardboard carton. Easy to carry, every bike component protected. All I had to do was connect the handlebars to the stem and attach the wheels. They had even set up the suspension for me.
Finally, the attention to detail on the build is as good as I’ve seen on a bike.
Excellent welding, great finish to components and frame and detail touches like chain stay protector and cable frame protectors all fitted as standard.

I took my time and tinkered with the suspension to get the re-bound just to my taste, fitted my new Ergon grips and generally tweaked. Before I new it, it was time to test ride…

So far I’ve ridden the bike 3 times. First a 15 minute set-up ride. Second a 1 hour, has anything fallen off ride. Finally a 2 hour twenty mile full-on ride and so far I think my Canyon is fantastic.

Before I purchased Rob#1 suggested that the 7xxx Aluminium frame combined with 4 bar linkage and quality Fox suss front and rear would give me a very plush ride. He was right. With the suspension fully active the bike just soaks it up and tracks the terrain fantastically well. I can already ride this bike much faster then my old Specialized. When the suspension is locked out and pro-pedal is activated the bike firms up and rides really well, the frame seemingly providing enough give to still connect me with the terrain and climb really efficiently. The position of the lockout’s both front and rear makes this adjustment very easy whilst ‘on the fly’ and it’s this combination of performance options that I’m really enjoying. Here’s a quick summary of the components:

Canyon frame: Genuine 4 bar linkage (Horst link rocker and swing link design), 7xxx aluminium frame, and cartridge bearings on all pivots. 5-year guarantee. Does what it says on the tin!
Fox front fork: Plush out of the box and so easy to set up and use. Quality product
Fox RP23 rear shock: Plush out of the box and so easy to set up and use. Quality product
Formula ORO K24 disk brakes: Very light lever pressure and excellent braking performance. (Oh, German levers fitted the opposite to UK levers i.e. front on left hand, rear on right hand. Not an issue for me)
SRAM X9 triggers and rear derailleur: Slick and impressive.
Shimano XT cranks, Chain and Deore cassette. It’s what Shimano do very well.
DT rims, Sun Ringle hubs and Schwalbe tyres: Hard to tell at this stage. Types appear to provide excellent grip although I’ve not yet exposed them to a variety of conditions.
Selle Italia saddle: Ouch!!!! So sore!!!!! I’m going back to a Specialized Body Geometry ASAP!
Ergon grips: Superb product, no more numb hands!

All this weighing in at just over 26.4 pounds.

Well at this early stage its all looking very encouraging. Clearly I need to put some miles in and report back. Watch this space…Maybe I’ll post another article after the planned Ridgeway epic. That should test Canyons endurance and marathon credentials!

Incidentally if any of the posse want to have a closer look either through curiosity or an intension to purchase drop me a line and I’m sure we can set up a viewing.



Farqui said...

Wowzers, finally here she is after all these weeks of teasing me!

The frame looks a beaut and she builds up real light too :thumbu Pssst, "welcome to the HL frat" :p The bearings all appear to be well sealed = good for us crazy, ride all year Brit's.

That's a splendid build spec you've snag'd yourself, if it were mine I'd doubt that I'd change anything. ..apart from those grips ;)

The DT rims are new to me, do they match up with DT hubs, say 240's ?

Those Italian brakes seem to be increasing in popularity, so I'll be keen to hear how you get on with 'em. Although I think you should have kept to Bavarian stoppers...

I'm a big fan of the Racing Ralph's so I'm keen to see how the Nobby Nic's compare.

Heck, it even come with cable protectors, how cool is that. Dang them German's don't miss a trick.

Can't you do something with that fork tho, it's so BRIGHT ! ;)

Well done mister, well done indeed. You took quite a gamble but early indications are that you've pulled one out of your cap. Now go get her dirty and report back.

toons said...


Fair play for buying something that is relatively unknown; but it looks like you've got a bargain, the spec is quality.

Looking forward to a ride report..

26.4lb wow


Rob#2 said...

Thanks for the comments. Your right, I need to ride it, get it dirty and report back.

I love the grips! I know they look odd but they are so comfortable. I've always suffered with wrist/palm pain, maybe I didn't excercise them enough as a teenager!

Hubs are Sun Ringle- Dirty Flee