It’s prime hardtail season, and just in time is this Canyon Stoic, with aggro components and geometry, a full spread of sizes and real world availability.
Hardcore hardtails have always been a thoroughly British breed – Cotic, Stanton, Whyte, BTR – but now the Germans are joining the party with Anglo-Saxon Canyon Stoic.
- 140mm alloy hardtail, with 29er wheels in the biggest sizes and 27.5in in the smallest
- Aggressive components: super tacky tyres, powerful brakes, RockShox Pike fork
- Keen geometry for descending, with a slack head angle and long wheelbase
- Short chainstays to appeal to the jibbers and the jumpers
- Amazing spread of sizes, from XXS to XL
It’s hard to believe, but Canyon has never had a proper trail hardtail before. Yes it updated the Grand Canyon a year ago, adding a dropper post to some models and stretching out the fork to 120mm but in our minds it was still an XC bike at heart.
The new Stoic steps into that gaping hole in the brand’s line-up, bringing slack geometry and downhill-focussed components to riders who still want the thrill of a hardtail. Decked out with a 140mm fork, tacky tyres and a huge number of sizes, it’s aimed squarely at the UK market, aiming to capitalise on our enduring love affair with the hardtail.
And why wouldn’t it? At their best, hardtails deliver cheap thrills, with less maintenance than full suspension bikes, but is the Stoic a proper hardcore hardtail to rival the Whyte 905 or Nukeproof Scout, or a pumped up XC bike?
The Stoic’s frame has been designed to take a beating, Canyon says, made from tough 6061 alloy rather than lighter and more exotic alloys. The fact that 6061 is relatively affordable probably helped it make that choice too. That frame then gets put through the same in-house Category 4 testing the Strive is exposed to, meaning Canyon expects this bike to be put through the wringer – a bike for winter, perhaps. Or a bike to learn jumps on. A bike that’ll take a crash or two without looking the worse for it. The Stoic will even work as a (big) kids bike, thanks to the biggest size range that spans from XXS to XL, fitting anyone from 1.49m in height to 2m.
To accommodate that huge spread of sizes, the Stoic uses 29in wheels on the M-XL bikes. It also uses 27.5in wheels on the XXS-S. We reckon you could mullet this bike too – it’s not something Canyon recommends, but a 27.5in wheel would probably fit neatly into the back end of the 29er version. Just sayin’.
The frame is a great looking piece of engineering all round, the top tube and seatstays form a sleek racing line from front to back giving it a dirt jump look and also supplying you oodles of standover height. It also has another trick up its sleeve, conjuring short chainstays without cramming the rear wheel right up tight to the seat tube and thus losing tyre clearance. How, you ask? Cleverly, the seat tube is welded onto the front of the BB shell, not the centre, and the effect is the whole tube is shifted further forward. That results in short 429mm chainstays that still let you run chunky 2.6in tyres on the 29er.
Canyon has produced a smart looking frame, the internal gear cable routing exits from a huge port at the bottom of the downtube, which should make servicing easy. To keep everything silent there’s a little hole in the downtube that lets you zip tie the cable against the frame – the idea came from Canyon’s road bikes, and the brand says it’s less faff and simpler than foam tubes. It’s not all internal though, the brake routing is fully external, with the hose run centrally underneath the top tube so you can put the levers either side without compromising the look.
Canyon’s kept it simple, choose from the Stoic 2 with a Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain, SR Suntour fork and Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf tyres for £849: the Stoic 3 with a dropper post and a RockShox Recon RL fork for £1,299: or the Stoic 4 with SRAM NX Eagle, and a Pike Select RC fork at £1,799.
If you’re buying from the US there are only two models though, the Stoic 2 (which is actually the Stoic 3 in all but name), and the Stoic 4.
On this top end bike you’re treated to an excellent Pike Select RC fork, complete with RockShox’s Charger RC damper. Canyon also sensibly opted for the shorter 42mm offset version to increase the steering stability and make the most of the slack 64° head angle.
We’re also pleased to see some smart tyre choices, with a Magic Mary on the front and Hans Dampf on the rear, something that continues right down the range. The Stoic 3 and 4 both come with Canyon’s own Iridium dropper post, the biggest sizes come with a 170mm drop, which is decent but not quite enough for my 6ft1in height – I had to live with 15mm of stanchion poking out the top of the seat tube.
How it rides
It’s the fork and nothing else performing suspension duties on a hardtail, so bike brands better get it right. Canyon has it spot on with the Pike Select as it’s tight and solid and a perfect match – the Stoic feels comfy on small, chattery stuff, and the little bit of stiction I felt from the off disappeared by the end of my first ride. There’s good support too, although I pumped it up slightly harder to stop any sensation of pitching forward on the steepest trails. Later, when I measured the sag I found I was running exactly 20 per cent, firmer than I’d usually run. I also jacked the stem up as high as it would go on the fork’s steerer to get the right fit.
Canyon has also got the tyres dead right, the Magic Mary and Hans Dampf combination is ideal for UK riding. The 2.35in width seems diminutive on paper, but in the gloom of a UK winter they slice into the trail and provide great dollops of grip, all without being pingy. That last point is particularly important on a hardtail, where the back end is more prone to being shot out of line. The Addix soft rubber kills it here, damping the trail down and cutting out some of the rowdiness a hardtail brings. Thank goodness too for the powerful SRAM Guide T brakes, Canyon has specced a big 200mm rotor to the front of the bike to put all that tyre traction to use.
To judge the Canyon Stoic on its components then, it’s a bike built for speed on the steepest, gnarliest trails. Take it there and you won’t be disappointed, it’s fun thanks to the short back end, while the slack head angle and long wheelbase – together with the wide bar and short stem – gives you great control. It could be better though, the bottom bracket is a shade too high and gives away some stability. In my mind the Stoic fulfills its brief, it’s a great all rounder; versatile and tough enough to appeal to a wide swathe of riders, and a welcome challenger to our favourite trail hardtail, the Whyte 905.