Quite possibly the fastest cross country race bike on the market
Canyon Lux CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race sticks to 100mm of rear wheel but it now has both 100mm and 110mm front travel options dependent which model you choose.
Canyon’s Lux XC race full suspension platform received a major overhaul in the summer of 2018 bringing it in line with almost all of Canyon’s full suspension designs. With it comes a huge amount of refinements and a completely re-imagined suspension system. All of which is intended to help redress some of the issues riders had with the old Lux and improve the parts that did work.
Canyon Lux CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race 2019 review
The Canyon Lux range also carries over the split between the more accessible SL models plus two ultralight SLX versions.
Canyon has focussed on giving the Lux a sleek new frame outline with a flat mounted shock position to provide what it calls a three-phase suspension kinematic. It’s the same design as found on the longer travel bikes such as the highly rated Canyon Spectral and Canyon Torque trail and freeride machines. In theory it should provide excellent small bump sensitivity, a stable mid-stroke and a progressive end to the travel.
The designers were also keen to shed some of the weight from the old Lux and set a target of sub-two kilos for frame and shock. A target achieved by putting almost every part of the frame on a diet. Take the chain guide on the new Lux for example, this neat little item weighs just 4.6 grams!
Add this to a weight conscious build for the CF SLX 9.0 pro Race and you end up with a paltry overall weight of just 9.62 kilograms.
The old Lux made use of a flex stay rear triangle that was constantly under tension, giving it a very firm feel at the start of the suspension travel. This new Lux still uses flex stays but these are built to be in a relaxed state at the sag point and are also designed to flex over the entire length. Giving the whole system a more supple feel and boost traction on the climbs.
Okay, the Lux hasn’t got the same levels of progressive geometry as some of the more trail friendly XC machines but this new version has definitely improved dramatically over the previous variant. Reach on all sizes has increased by at least 20mm for the CF SL and 15mm for the racier CF SLX and the chainstays have been shortened by 15mm to create a nippier package.
But you won’t see the slack angles found on its rivals such as the Scott Spark, Canyon are still insistent that steeper head angles make little difference for skilled racers and for the kind of terrain the Lux is intended for.
The CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race is lavishly adorned with top end RockShox suspension front and rear. Both fork and shock are linked to a single handlebar mounted remote that quickly locks the Lux into a ruthlessly efficient beast when so needed.
The rear Monarch RLR gives out the 100mm of rear wheel travel with a supple and smooth action and unlike with the old Lux where the rebound had to be used to control the suspension design, this version allows the rebound to be used to suit the trail minimising compromise.
The SID World Cup suspension fork features a carbon fibre crown and steerer that obviously helps lose a little bit of weight over the lower models but its main remit is to provide added stiffness to the fork and to this end it certainly works. With just 100mm to play with it obviously isn’t as bottomless feeling as a longer travel fork but has enough progression to allow it to remain active on smaller hits whilst able to deal with larger forces with a large degree of composure.
SRAM XX1 Eagle delivers smooth and precise gear changes through all of its twelve gears no matter the conditions and combines with the 34 tooth chainring to provide the perfect gear range for racing and covering ground fast.
Rather controversially Canyon has specced the Lux with a Gripshift, while not to everyone’s taste I really like the way you can dump the gears when needed with the flick of a wrist. It also provides almost telepathic single gear shifts thanks to the minimal throw needed to click to the next gear. Yes, if you’re gripping the bars tight you can accidentally shift if you hit an unexpected bump but you soon learn to maintain a relaxed grip.
I have to mention the Reynolds carbon wheels as they are an obvious highlight of the spec. Not only are they super light but the ride quality is really stiff and responsive. The low weight of the rims add to the lightning fast acceleration the Lux provides. The wheels also make sure that everyone can hear you coming thanks to the Industry Nine hub. One hundred and twenty points of engagement ensures a rapid pickup and transfer of any rider input and has the by product of creating a sound unlike any other hub on the market.
Canyon has recognised that modern cross country racing is taking place over more demanding and technical courses and the Lux comes equipped with a KS dropper post to help ease it through the steep stuff. There’s only 100mm of travel but it’s more than enough for most riders.
On top of the post sits a Selle Italia SLR saddle. Many riders will look at it and wince but the thin shell is designed to flex and conform to the body and the result is a saddle that’s exceedingly comfortable despite initial reservations.
The only part of the spec that I would possibly consider changing if I was looking to use the lux for more longer distance events or typical trail riding would be the handlebar. At 720mm in width it’s bang on par with most XC handlebars but a little bit of extra width could help to slow the Lux’s fast race bike handling and increase confidence when pushing hard.
When you seriously consider spending your own money on a test bike you know it’s pretty special and in the case of the Lux was something I felt prepared to do. I’ve managed to keep my claws on it since the launch last summer and it really is going to be hard to let it go.
I’ve used it for everything from short course XC races, it’s helped me podium on 12 hour races and even used it for long distance gravel enduro events. Every time I ride it I’m blown away by just how blisteringly fast it is in almost every aspect of riding.
Pointing it up a hill and the combination of ultra low weight, traction finding suspension and wheels that respond tenaciously to every pedal stroke gets you to the top before you can even say ‘lactic acid’.
It isn’t an armchair ride though but one that really rewards rider effort, it’s fair to say that I kept picking the Lux for events as it really did feel like cheating!
The only area that the Lux struggles a little is during full speed technical descents when the steep head angle, longer stem and narrow bars gives it the persona of a slightly nervous puppy. Chuck a wider bar on and fit bigger volume rubber and it would certainly improve a little bit. That criticism aside a rider with a decent level of skill can still get the Lux to outperform many longer travel bikes on the downs.
This latest version of the Canyon Lux is without doubt one of the most complete cross country race bikes on the market today. The combination of low overall weight, superlative build kit and sorted suspension make it ride like a rocket ship and feel like you're cheating everytime you swing a leg over it. It doesn't quite have the progressive trail-like geometry of some of its rivals but if you're looking for the very best for cross country or marathon racing then you should look no further.