Test ride Canyon Nerve CF 9.0 SL

Test ride Canyon Nerve CF 9.0 SL

Canyon is now a well-known brand – they made the buzz mid-february with the signature of top guns for the 2013 enduro team. French people knows that Fabien Barel was introduced into the team and already rides his Strive. Without being out of order, it’s not the enduro model on which we want to focus but the 120mn travel bike presented last year, called Nerve CF.


suspension arriere canyon nerve cfThe Nerve CF is the first full-suspension carbon frame of the german brand

They put a lot of new things on this carbon frame – you know that the company was criticized because of its lake of owned technology on bikes.
This time is revolved.

The rear suspension worked with a one-piece carbon rear triangle that do not use a rear pivot bearing – the system uses the flexion of the seat stays to work properly.

Results is an optimized weight frame (1900 gr announced) and a promise of a smart maintenance since there are less bearings than a conventionnal suspension system.

Canyon describes its Nerve CF as the perfect bike for trail and marathon uses.
The video edited by the brand (watch here) shows  a high versatility, bringing the riders from cross country to all mountain uses.

Quote :

The optimized kinematic guarantees outstanding climbing performance. The stiff rear triangle with its floating shock and the short, stiff and light monocoque carbon rocker sensitively delivers its 120mm of linear travel and allows you to glide smoothly down into the valley. In order to find the optimum seat position on the bike in technical sections, all models are fitted with a RockShox Reverb Stealth adjustable seat post, which can be easily operated from the handlebar via remote. Light, stiff and efficient are the adjectives which best describe the Nerve CF. This bike has a built-in trail fun guarantee!

So here is the program. We get the 9.0 SL version, equipped with lightweight components. We’ll try to see if this version of Nerve respects the promises of being a real versatile bike. The winter conditions do not compromise the tests – rain, snow, frost… the Nerve CF was ridden in real conditions of use.


canyon nerve cf 9.0 sl cathedrale

Just out of its delivery box, the Nerve CF 9.0 SL is eye-catching. Finishing of the frame looks really good, design is soft, colors are well-assembled. However, there is a real difference between the front of the bike with a massive structure and the sharpness of the rear triangle.
Full SRAM XO group impresses, Rockshox SID WC fork inspires curiosity with its carbon structure and pivot, Mavic Crossmax SLR wheels are straight to the point : obviously hyper-worked and machined. So there is no exotic components on this bike but it does not mean that it is a boring bike to watch. Most of the time, serious and premium keywords do not produce funny and eye-catching bike. This Canyon Nerve CF is charming and can count on its very light weight to seduce (about 10kg)

Let’s go


It is not exactly the feeling we already know when we ride 120mn rear travel suspension bikes. Positionning is good, we were right to ask a size L for our 1m80.. the size configurator on the canyon website indicated for us a size M. So we are comfortable on the bike but a bit pushed forward. The stem is long and could be responsible for that.

First thought : it is a full suspension bike but…

We follow the recommendation for the settings of the rear shock and the fork. Seated on the bike, we have a look on SAG indicators – the low driving is not important – between 10% / 15% of SAG… so, if the suspension works better on the ground contact than under our weight, it could be nice… firstly, we ride soft trails without difficulties – directly a WAOU effect..just ask the bike to move and it starts very quickly without requiring much efforts. We feel directly the stiffness and lightness of the frame, pretty amazing ! For people that wants to increase their skill in the Bunny Up Art, this is the bike they need.. it will not stick you to the ground !
In the same time, suspensions are firm – standing on the pedal, rear suspension do not pump at all – same observation with the fork.

canyon nerve cf 120mn

Second thought : the first bike that do not need rider’s power

The bike confirms that it’s a formula 1 – accelerations are clean – comfort is correct even if the suspension settings looks a bit stiff. We ride with a ASR-5 from Yeti. It’s not the same philosophy and definitely not the same efficiency – and you may know that this Yeti is not a bad boy when it’s time to ride and push hard on the pedals.
Feeling is also good with the lightweight Mavic Crossmax SLR.. you do not feel them, no inertia. The combination with the RS Sid is amazing because it creates a very light front bike – it could be surprising at the beginning  – a wrong idea that you can not trust the mounting.. Twice wrong since the Schwalbe Rocket Ron are fine until there is too much mood.

Third thought : we find back ingredient of a 120mn

After a couple of kilometers and various trails sections, we look again the SAG indicators – barely 40% of travel used. We take the decision to drain some air… maybe it could change the face of the bike.. and we were not disappointed. The bike directly gains agility on turnings, becomes more easy to drive and more player. We start to feel the benefits of this compact frame, even if the global agility would be better with a shorter stem. Nothing to declare with the work of the rear suspension, it is a very good surprise – softness and efficiency without using too much travel.

canyon nerve in action


This Canyon Nerve CF gives us its secret quickly – it’s always the same when a ride is pleasant. But.. there is a feeling that we do not manage to evacuate. This feeling is quite simple. This SL version is definitely a XC bike (efficiency and equipment) but not exactly the boasted trail bike.
In the facts, the front of the bike is XC,  the rear of the bike is “trail Bike” / all mountain with its efficient rear suspension. Both are good in their field but the assembly is weird.

relance nerve cf

This analysis does not mean the bike is not interesting. It’s still a great XC bike but the promise of getting a trail bike with this version is not fully true. This bike will help you to ride faster and will give you a lot of pleasure. And be sure that a bike about 10kg will be always your best friend the day you’ll need some courage or more energy :-)



poste de pilotage canyon nerve cf 9.0 sl

This cockpit is super-clean and is ergonomic. The carbon ritchey handlebar has a nice little shape. The SRAM poplocks are discrete but are not essential since they work only when it’s needed. We ride all the time with the suspensions opened.

rockshox sidWheels

Mavic Crossmax SLR are very nice wheels. As some pieces of art, we do not take any risks on small jumps or steps. SLR are the premium XC wheelset offered by the yellow brand – they are not ST.


Again, we find on this Nerve CF the best you can find on a line of products. Settings of this RS SID world cup are quite simple. The duo with the crossmax SLR is very interesting for people who want to gain weight. Be careful on your firsts wheelings, it does not ask for too much force to rise up !


One of the curiosity of the bike is the gripshift provided by the SRAM Xo drivetrain group. It was a couple of years that we do not ride gripshifts !
What we can say is that it was a pleasure to use it – easy – fast – comfortable. Just be careful – the system does not allow you to jump too much speeds in a same movement – it’s fast but not magical !

sram x0 grip shifter

Avid XO brakes are also nice – we do not push them to the limits but they were always here on muddy, snowy and rainy conditions. If you love soft touch brakes, they are made for you.


It’s time to conclude. We did not want to send back the bike to Canyon after the test period. Why ?
The Nerve CF is rare since it’s not common to get a bike around 4000€ with such evoluted frame and equipments. It demonstrates also than a 120mn is able to be an excellent XC bike – without blocking the suspension or using pro pedal like. For that reasons, this bike is sweet.

But the 9.0SL is not fully suitable for those looking for other thing than pure performances. According to us, the SL version (for Super light) is mounted with components not ready for versatility. Some components such as the wheels or the stem bother the funny side of the bike.
Sure that 9.0 or 8.0 version of the bike will suit riders looking for a complete versatile bike. Canyon put an adjustable seatpost on all models except the SL.. it is a sign that the brand is confident on its 120mn trail bike.

frame Canyon Nerve CF
shock Rock Shox Monarch XX
fork Rock Shox SID XX World Cup 15QR taper
wheels Mavic Crossmax SLR Disc
brakes Avid X0
derailleur SRAM X0
cassette Shimano Deore XT 11-36 10-speed
crankset SRAM X0 10-speed
Shifter SRAM X0
stem Ritchey WCS 4-Axis
grips Ergon GA-1
handlebar Ritchey Low Rizer WCS 710/20 mm
saddle Selle Italia SLS Kit Carbonio
seatpost Ritchey  Flexlogic Trail Carbon
tyres Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2,25″ Evolution Line
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