Canyon Nerve AL 6.0 review

German brand Canyon has arguably done a better job than anyone else at combining superb quality bikes with unbelievable pricing for those who don’t mind getting their bike in a box rather than the local shop.

Nothing shows that more clearly than this, the firm’s most affordable full suspension bike.

Frame and equipment: outrageous value for money

The Nerve AL frameset is a previous What Mountain Bike Trail Bike of the Year and multiple bike test winner, and it’s easy to see why. The heavily shaped tubeset is light enough to build into an 11kg race weapon. Even though the AL 6.0 gets QR hubs and axles front and rear rather than the 15mm front and 142×12mm rear of the AL 7.0, the tapered head tube and shaped tubing still give reasonably tight tracking. Double rear brake clips can be used for a dropper seatpost cable/hose while internal routing keeps the gear cables tucked out of sight.

What’s blindingly obvious is the outrageous value for money you’re getting delivered in Canyon’s signature robust, reusable cardboard crate. Simply put, if this bike cost almost double we wouldn’t be grumbling with the XT highlighted Shimano transmission and RockShox Reba fork.

The nerve 6.0's evo spec fox shock isn't perfect, but knocks spots off what most of the price-bracket competition come with:

The Nerve 6.0’s Evo spec Fox shock isn’t perfect, but knocks spots off what most of the price-bracket competition come with

The Evo spec Fox shock is occasionally notchy rather than predictably plush, but the 120mm of travel is still far better controlled than most discount dampers you’ll find on the Canyon’s price competitors though. You also get a three position CTD damping lever for Climbing lockout, efficient Trail feel or soft and squishy Descend settings.

Canyon has always been impressively on trend and the Nerve’s been brought bang up to date with 650b wheels without affecting its trademark efficiency. Canyon has even managed to spec full PaceStar triple compound Evolution series tyres, and these impressively quick yet trustworthy German all-rounders are a great match to the bike.

Ride and handling: fast, light and responsive

In fact Canyon has done such a good job keeping the Nerve AL’s signature speed and responsiveness that at first we didn’t even realise they had made the change to 650b. It leapt out of corners and scrabbled up climbs more like a 26in bike than a 650b.

The handling is fast and light like a smaller wheeled bike too and even the suspension is tuned to be pert and skippy over smaller bumps rather than smothering the trail in a soft pillow. That does mean more clatter and slightly less traction than it’s mid sized wheel peers but if you want a bigger stride and a smoother ride, the Nerve AL 7.9 29er is every bit as outstanding in terms of detail and value for money.

There's ample steering speed and authority to get stuck into twisty technical singletrack:

There’s ample steering speed and authority to get stuck into twisty singletrack

The 720mm bars and 80mm stem give enough steering speed and authority to make twisty technical singletrack fun, even if there’s noticeable twist with the QR skewer-tipped Reba. However if you’re worried about losing your Nerve, Canyon’s all-new Spectral 650 and 29er bikes are specifically designed to push the pace harder on more challenging trails and comes with screw-thru axles and 140mm of travel as standard.

In summary, Canyon’s new Nerve – and the 29er and Spectral bikes – are a lesson in why it’s worth not getting stuck at three figures if you can possibly help it when shopping for a mountain bike. Pushing your budget a few hundred quid past a grand can get you a far better specialist bike that’ll properly ignite your riding.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

By Emma on August 30, 2014 | Mountain Bikes
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Top Taiwanese manufacturers launch new products at Eurobike

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — At a press conference hosted by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), several leading Taiwanese companies came together to launch new products on the second day of the Eurobike show. Agnes Hwa-Yue Chen, the representative of the Taipei Representative Office in Germany, made opening remarks.  “Taiwan’s presence at Eurobike is important for our continued excellence in the bicycle industry because the EU is the largest importer of Taiwanese-made bicycles,” said Hwa-Yue Chen

Eurobike odds & ends: Only in Europe, or coming to America?

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — Some say that what you see at Eurobike is coming to the U.S. market soon — maybe as soon as next month’s Interbike show (like the GoPro doggy camera mount), or maybe in a matter of years (electric unicycles? Well, maybe someday).  Others say there will always be some things in the European market that will never translate to the U.S

Cervélo introduces revamped road models

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — After winning awards for the S5 VWD aero road bike, engineers at Cerve?lo didn’t sit back and bask in the glory for long. “We took it as a challenge,” said Heather Henderson, senior product manager at Cerve?lo. “We knew we could make it faster.” Cerve?lo’s approach was to start from scratch to achieve greater stiffness and improve aerodynamics, producing more than 100 prototypes in the process.

Cervélo introduces revamped road models

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — After winning awards for its S5 VWD aero road bike, engineers at Cervélo didn’t sit back and bask in the glory for long. “We took it as a challenge,” said Heather Henderson, senior product manager at Cervélo

Pearl Izumi internal MTB bib pockets, protected Boa dials and more

In keeping with an expanding trend, Pearl Izumi now has a Liner Bib Short with pockets, for those who want to forgo the hydration pack while mountain biking, but still carry some food, tools or even a water bottle. The Liner Bib Short is part of a brand new line of mountain bike clothing that features some smart ideas in construction and technical fabric use.

Also new for 2015 is a redesigned X-Project, a flexible, lightweight shoe that has two bi-directional Boa dials mounted on the tongue, out of harm’s way.

Liner Bib Short

There are similar offerings from Specialized and Giro, so Pearl Izumi doesn’t have the market cornered on the concept of adding storage capacity to an undergarment, but the fact that said undergarment is attached to proven MTB 3D chamois should add some value to the equation.

While any standard bib short can be worn underneath MTB shell shorts, Pearl Izumi has included a fly on this dedicated liner bib to make nature stops easier.

Besides the stretchy mesh, an elastic band at the top of the pockets should secure the goods while riding: besides the stretchy mesh, an elastic band at the top of the pockets should secure the goods while riding

Besides the stretchy mesh, an elastic band at the top of the pockets should secure the goods while riding

New men’s mountain bike clothing

Pearl did a wholesale re-creation on much of its mountain bike clothing for 2015, and the MTB WRX jacket is a prime example of the new gear. The wind- and water-resistant shell has a hood that fits over a helmet with a vent at the back so it doesn’t billow in the wind. The outside of the forearms are covered with tear-resistant material to ward off the inevitable impacts of branches on the trail, and the fit is generous enough to accommodate elbow pads.

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the other new styles.

Pearl izumi mtb wrx jacket: pearl izumi mtb wrx jacket

The MTB WRX jacket has abrasion-resistant forearms

New women’s jerseys and shorts

Pearl Izumi’s mountain bike gear for women runs the gamut from legit enduro gear to the more accessible running-style pieces. The Journey short, for example, looks like a running short on the bike, but with a taller rear panel to stay in place when on the bike, a snap-front closure with zip fly and a detachable, no-inseam liner with 3D chamois. While it’s designed perhaps for newer riders, Pearl Izumi’s Andrew Hammond says a few Pearl employees use this as their go-to trail short for serious riding.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Elevate short is an all-mountain piece with water-resistant DWR treatment, four-way stretch rip-stop fabric, a 13in inseam and kneepad compatibility.

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the other new styles.

Pearl izumi women's journey short: pearl izumi women's journey short

The women’s Journey short comes with a no-inseam liner


Pearl Izumi launched the highly walkable X-Project shoe last year (read our review of the original X-Project 1.0 here), and for 2015 two bi-directional Boa closures have been replaced the original ratchet-plus-Velcro design. Positioning the Boa dials on the tongue “makes for even tension across the shoe,” said Hammond, “plus it lends a clean look with fewer crash issues than exterior-mounted closures”.

The top-end 1.0 version comes with Pearl’s 1:1 tunable insole, which has slots to insert 1.5mm or 3mm shims at the metatarsals and the arch. The 2.0 features the same flexible sole but with less venting and a single Boa. There is also a women’s 2.0 version. Look through the gallery above for a visual explanation of the arch inserts.

For 2015, pearl's x-project 2.0 features two tongue-mounted boa closures: for 2015, pearl's x-project 2.0 features two tongue-mounted boa closures

The new Boa dials micro-adjust in both directions, and pull open for a quick release

Interview: Hafjell Bike Park’s Snorre Pederson

With just over a week to go until this year’s UCI Mountain Bike World Championships,?we caught up with Snorre Pederson, the main man behind Norway’s Hafjell Bike Park, to find out more about the host venue.

MBUK :? When did you first get into trail building?

Snorre Pederson :? I started building jumps in my parents’ garden. You can still see some remains of the trail I built when I was nine! That’s 32 years ago. I was building trails before there was something called mountain biking in Norway. It’s been my lifelong passion.

When did you realise you wanted to build a bike park?

My wife and I were living in Oslo and moved to Hafjell in 2000. In Oslo I was building mountain bike trails, but up here there weren’t any trails, just the ones from when I was growing up. In June 2001 my best friend and I started building trails up on the mountain, without permission.

What did it take to get Hafjell to legitimate bike park status?

Well, I competed in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City in skeleton you know, the one where you go headfirst down a bobsled track on a tea tray – Ed and I met up with an old friend who was living out in the States at the time. He introduced me to another guy who was also into mountain biking. We spoke about the trails they were building in Park City, Utah, using small excavators to build way out into the backcountry. I said we were doing the same back home now. The guy asked me where I lived and I said Hafjell. He looked at me stony-faced and said: “I’m the manager in that resort.” I was like, ‘holy f*$*, what are the chances?!’

Well, after three or four beers we were good friends, so when I got back home he said we could start running the lifts in summer. In summer 2003 we had our first race, the King of The Mountain Chinese Downhill, and the guy who organised that event has gone on to organise the World Cups and the World Champs – we’ve all been around since the beginning. At the start we used regular excavator drivers and that didn’t work for building trails, so I started to do it myself –2003 was the first time I’d ever built a trail with an excavator.

So, you learned to build trails with an excavator while building trails with an excavator?

I’d done a bit of yard clearing with one before, but that’s a long way away from shaping berms with one! Because of my background in skeleton, luge and bobsled I’m really nerdy about lines and curves and shapes and profiles. I picked up shaping pretty fast because I knew exactly what I wanted.

That explains your vision for some of the trails here. Even after one day riding them I feel like I could go semi-pro in bobsled…

Ha! Well I rode jump bikes since I was four years old – I broke my first bike frame at that age! Then I rode motocross and raced karts a bit, basically anything that would go fast. That’s why I like to build really fast trails.

How long did it take from meeting the Hafjell manager in Salt Lake to getting the park up and running?

We met in 2002 and opened in summer ’03. We already had some trails ready because we’d been building illegally for two years, so we had the Norwegian nationals track, which was a full-on DH race course, and after that we started on Buldre Boulder Trail, our first freeride trail. After that it got more and more intense until I was employed full time in 2005, five years after we first started building trails on the mountain.

Health and safety in the UK is verging on the ridiculous. You have trails with huge jumps and gaps on them – what are the H&S laws you have to deal with?

The Nordic countries are still a bit different from the UK and the US. I mean, the suing business in the UK and US is crazy! Here how it works is that if you’re in nature and you hurt yourself, you have to deal with it. There’s no blame game. But if you move a rock or build a berm, you’re influencing nature and have to take responsibility for that. When we build things we have to make sure that it’s safe to fall. If you look behind the berms, all our crash zones are cleared out, branches are cut, there’s padding on rocks and trees. Also, I designed the trails so you can pretty much ride them brakeless if you know what you’re doing, so we’re using the jumps and the berms to take away or increase speed as needed. Basically, people have to think for themselves and not blame other people if mistakes happen.

Good, we like that – people do need to think for themselves! What are your visions for the future of Hafjell Bike Park?

To have the best World Championships ever! We’ve been talking with the local club about trying to have the UCI World Cup for three more years after the World Champs. The riders seem to like the downhill trail here and I have another three or four trails in my head that we just need to build.

Has the type of rider visiting the park changed over the years?

In the beginning it was perhaps five per cent women and now it’s up to 30 per cent. We see a lot of skier and snowboarder girls try it and get hooked on that feeling of flow and speed. Our average increase overall, year on year, has been 15 to 20 per cent.

You seem to pride yourself on the aesthetics of the park. What drives you to make it not only work but look beautiful at the same time?

Well, thanks. Since we started very small and to begin with most of the trail building was by volunteers, we knew we needed to get photos out there and articles published to bring more people here. I learned that for photographers it makes it easier to have good framing and backdrops. I like clean lines and shaping stuff and taking photos myself, so we tried to design the park to have photographable spots all over it, which would get us more media play. When we built the trail we looked at how we could place berms and jumps in a way that would create the best photographs – and riding, of course.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own bike park?

Don’t do it! No, learn from other people’s mistakes. Make a good plan, not just for the first year but where you want to be in five, 10 and 15 years. When you design the trails, think not just about the first two trails but where you’ll be when you have 15 or 20 trails, to make sure you’re not blocking yourself off. Also, think about the passion people have for riding – take that seriously because it’s a powerful thing.

Did the UCI pick Hafjell for the World Champs or did you approach them?

Actually the UCI approached us about World Champs and that was even before we had the first World Cup. They were really impressed with the progress, with the organisers saying: “You’re asking questions we’ve never been asked before and it’s still one year until the event.” I think we were second in the best event competition – Fort William beat us.

What’s this we hear about damage to the downhill track?

We had 80mm of rain in a few hours. Until now we’ve never closed a trail because of bad weather – we’ve put a lot of effort into water management so we can offer good riding no matter what – but we had rivers going over the banks and some ended up coming into the trails and washing them out.

And how about these reports about Hafjell’s owners possibly closing the lifts in summer to save money?

Our board have still not decided what to do. They’ll look at the results from this summer and then decide.

Where does the bike park fit into the grand scheme of things?

I’d say the bike park is 90 per cent of our summer revenue. The regular tourists bring in a little money, but nothing compared to the biking. People come and rent apartments and bikes, and get lift passes, and drink in the pubs, restaurants and bars.

Find out more about the 2014 World Champs in issue 308 of Mountain Biking UK, out now. You can watch the World Champs live on Red Bull TV, from 11.05am BST on Sunday 7 September.

A new color for Park’s iconic truing stand (guess which color?)

At Eurobike, the company is showing a flood of new products, including a cure for internal routing headaches. FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — Park Tool has made a change to one of its most iconic shop tools, the TS-2.2 truing stand. More precisely, the Minnesota manufacturer is offering a new version of its pro quality truing stand in a powder-coated finish in its trademark shade of blue.

Fizik releases new saddles and shoes

Fizik has revealed a ground-up redesign of its popular Aliante saddle at Eurobike. The Aliante debuted 16 years ago and has become a benchmark saddle for sportive/gran fondo and endurance riders.

The full saddle range has now been reordered to fall in line with Fizik’s shoe range and bar and stem lineups. The latest range of saddles is topped by the R1 series, mid-range saddles are now all R3 models, with the lineup now starting with the R5.

Fizik’s brand manager, Alberto Fonte, explained: “We needed to make the range easier to understand, and as we have moved into other areas (like shoes, bars, stems and seatposts), it’s important to us that our Fizik riders can fully coordinate everything for their riding.”

The new flagship Aliante has been slimmed down and reworked to shed some weight. It now tips the scales at a scant 185g. Alberto was quick to point out that “with our studies and research through the University of Boulder Colorado, we’ve gained plenty of knowledge about physiology and rider position in relation to saddles. The research shows that it’s not as easy as wider sit bones, wider saddle. The rider’s position and the rotation of the hips is a huge factor in creating a comfortable performance seat”.

Fans of the Aliante will be glad to read that the actual seat area of the saddle is unchanged – if you take a measurement from the nose to tail, and the width too, this triangle has the same dimensions as the original. The shape is the same iconic waved design too. Essentially, the new Aliante looks similar to the original but is a little longer and slimmer and has a much lower overall height.

The new shell is constructed from a carbon composite co-injected with nylon, this new material means that the shell doesn’t have to have the same cutaways and surface machining as the old saddle to gain the same flex as the old twin-flex design. The new cover is thermo-welded over a new high-density yet super light padding that’s unique to Fizik. The new Aliante is completely handmade in Italy, as is the rest of the range.

The R3 version uses a composite (fibre) glass hull co-injected with nylon to provide the flex and is finished with the same thermo-welded cover as well as Fizik’s own K:ium rails. The R3 tips the scales at 220g. The base model R5 shares the new design of the R3 and R1 but has a carbon-injected nylon base, K:ium rails and a microtex cover. It weighs 245g.

New Kurve saddle

Fizik has also redsigned the Kurve saddle range. The Kurve’s unique Mobius rail design debuted as a 3D-forged alloy piece but it’s now been reworked in braided carbon-fibre. We never really got the point of the original Kurve line – yes, it was a different way of constructing a saddle but compared to the original range, the Kurve saddles were identical in performance, yet weighed a little more.

With the new Kurve range, Fizik aims to make a clear distinction between the two. Alberto explains: “We aim to find the very best saddles for competitive riders where light weight is as important as performance, but most cyclists (who aren’t pro tour riders) want and need a more comfortable and flexible saddle, with the new Kurve range we have that. Our new carbon Mobius rails are lighter and more forgiving than the alloy and the new hull has strategic cutaways to offer a more comfortable riding position especially for endurance riders.”

The new hulls ‘Re:flex’ carbon material offers plent of flex within whilst the large cutaway sections are re-inforced with a super-tough kevlar based fabric. Its far lighter than the original material used in the cutaways but also much tougher and thinner, so the new Kurve range like the standard range is much reduced in overall height and volume too. The new Kurve carbon snake (Arione style) is 180g, the Kurve Bull (Aliante) 185g and the Kurve Chaemeleon (Antares) 185g.

2015 shoe range

Fizik’s Italian handmade shoes remain unchanged for 2015 – they still feature the traditional two velcro straps and aluminium ratchet buckle. The R1’s kangaroo leather finish, sail cloth straps, and carbon fibre buckle mean they are still the pinnacle of the range.

Fizik has added a parallel line of shoes, however, in both the R3 and R5 range, with the latest BOA IP1 dial. With a single sailcloth-tensioning velcro strap at the toe, the new R3 tips the scales at 230g (for a size 43). The IP1 BOA offers two-way micro adjustment on its dial and still has the pull-out fast-release function of the previous BOAs.

Alberto says: “We could have used a different BOA dial that is a little lighter and a little slimmer but we think that the IP1’s two-way adjustment is a much better system meaning that you can adjust the fit as you ride easily, and for the extra 2mm in depth (overall on the one-way BOA ratchet), we think its more than worth it in terms of performance.”

Its not only the road R-series that gets the new IP1 BOA; the mountain bike M range now has a dial option too.

Specialized Myka Sport Disc – in brief review

Specialized has done an amazing job of shoehorning 29in wheels into even its smallest women’s bike. The 14.5kg weight and bigger wheels needed some serious effort from our smaller testers to get the Myka – like other 29ers – moving and successive stop/start trails weren’t a ton of fun.

  • Highs: Custom tuned fork works even under the most petite riders; low standover and agile handling through size specific bars and team favourite flanged grips
  • Lows: So-so saddle; long, skinny fork legs and semi-slicks are best coaxed rather than carved through slippery corners

Once running the fast rolling tread and bump shrinking big wheels of the Specialized steamrollered over trouble without us even thinking about it. While there’s a big clunk as it bounces back if you really wallop the fork into something, it’s great to see Specialized has actually tuned the spring to a lighter rider. You get full travel if you really try and the smooth traction offsets the flex coming from the skinny fork legs and QR hub axle.

The Myka is still remarkably quick witted for a 29er, turning with ease and rarely feeling too big for even the tightest singletrack. Standover clearance on our sample was better than some 650b bikes we’ve tested too.

An immediate rider-to-bike connection is helped out by size specific 640 or 660mm handlebar widths, and all our testers liked the small diameter flanged comfort grips.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.