Sometimes we’re left to wonder who the really rad e-mountain bikes are for…the “kids” who shred, or the adults who can afford them. But with the new Canyon Neuron ON, things start looking a little more fun for all types of riders. Based on their non-assisted Neuron trail bike, the Neuron ON adds the Shimano STEPS motor and battery system but keeps the trail-worth performance.
In fact, Canyon says the Neuron ON is an e-MTB with “true trail performance”, their goal being to make a mountain bike that rode like a true trail bike, just with a bit of assist. The feel should be like that of the non-assist counterpart, and there’s more than one reason for that. First, they just wanted it to ride well. But they also needed the communication of a particular model to be really easy since they don’t have a retail or sales floor model where someone can explain it to riders. (Canyon is a consumer direct brand, if you didn’t know).
The Neuron ON uses the Shimano STEPS drive system because it has a narrow Q-factor and compact design that lets them keep the chainstays fairly short. The battery is also reasonably light, and the power delivery is smooth. All of this is a way of saying it let them create a bike that has some assist, not be a motorized bike.
They started their eMTB category was last year with the 150mm travel Spectral ON, which mixed a large 27.5×2.8 rear wheel and tire with a slightly narrower 29er front for better roll over. This design, with a short 430mm chainstay and long front-center meant it’s easier to lift the front end up, so to help keep that front wheel planted on climbs, they moved the battery up and forward a bit and made a custom saddle with a rear kick to keep your butt in place. It also has a very progressive suspension curve to make it more playful and aggressive for riders that really like to push the bike and use the suspension as part of their bike handling.
The Neuron ON, however, drops down to 130mm travel front and rear and gets a more linear suspension curve. It’s meant for riders that like to let the bike do its thing and just ride. The suspension platform borrows from their downhill bike, the Sender, that keeps things very sensitive at the beginning of travel to maximize traction, but makes the last bit of travel less progressive than on their longer travel bikes, which helps beginner and intermediate riders use more of the travel.
Sizing is a little unique in that they use 27.5” wheels on the XS and Small frame sizes, and 29er wheels for Medium and up. This lets them keep the standover height lower on smaller sizes and keeps the bike a little more manageable. But, all models get a 29er fork with 51mm offset, which keeps the head angle within half a degree of each other between wheel sizes. Combined with a 740mm wide handlebar on 27.5” and 760mm on 29er, that 29er fork also provides about the same leverage ratio.
Stays are just a little longer at 440mm, and rider position is more neutral. Basically, it’s aimed at the general rider or someone new to mountain biking that still wants a capable bike.
Starting price is just €3,299 / £2,999, helping get more people onto the bike. There’s a special price for extra battery when buying a bike, too. The bikes ship in a specially designed box that keeps the bike mostly assembled and upright. With traditional bike boxes, you have to pull the bike out of it, which can be tough with a 50lb+ bike. So, they designed it so the box top lifts off, leaving the bike sitting there ready for you to install the handlebars. What’s even more brilliant is that there’s very little tape used, so it’s very recyclable.
Lastly, they’ve added a USB charging port on the top tube so you can keep other stuff topped off while on longer rides!
Canyon Neuron ON Ride Review
Perhaps the best thing I can say about this bike is that it rides like a regular mountain bike. Which was their goal. But here’s what’s surprising: I consider myself well beyond a beginner or basic rider, so the concessions Canyon made to keep this bike approachable for “general” riders in no way diminished the fun factor for more advanced riders.
It climbs well, with the assist doing the expected duty to keep you rolling up hill…quickly. The low power setting seemed appropriate for the more technical climbs as it was less likely to influence the nuanced handling needed to poke around tight switch backs. But on more open sections, the middle setting was great. I rarely used Turbo mode.
To help with the climbing, Canyon has a proprietary saddle with a severe kick at the tail to keep you on it when the “boost” kicks in from the motor. While I can appreciate the thought, both I and another tester found it to be less comfortable than a traditional saddle. We’d probably swap it for something else.
Any mountain bike is going to get more fun on the descents, and the Canyon proves easy to transition to from a regular mountain bike. The geometry and handling must be borrowed very closely from their non-assisted Neuron trail bike, and it rides as such. I was initially surprised at how fast I could pilot the bike through tight, twisty, technical terrain with plenty of rocks, whoops and drops. I had ridden the same trails on regular mountain bikes the prior two days, and the Canyon was just as much fun on the way down with the added bonus of being able to get back to the top quicker and more easily.
The tricky part with direct-to-consumer brands is not being able to test ride it first. But if you’re already a fan of the brand and looking for an e-dditional bike for the quiver, the Canyon Neuron ON is worth checking out.