Canyon Exceed CFR Team review

Canyon’s Exceed wears its heart on its sleeve. This is unashamedly an XC race bike, with tight angles, a stiff chassis and a raft of lightweight kit bolted to its top-spec carbon fibre frame.

While some bikes aim for at least a hint of versatility, the Exceed really is aimed at one thing only – going as fast as possible between the tape.

Canyon Exceed CFR Team frame and kit

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Canyon’s Exceed is its XC race bike.

Ruseell Burton / Immediate Media

Canyon has rejigged its cross-country hardtail ready for the Olympics and optimised the frame with its CFR-level carbon fibre to give a (claimed) 835g weight.

The lack of heft is partly down to the use of high-modulus Toray M40X carbon, which is impressively light. With a flatter top tube than many, the frame has plenty of room inside the front triangle for a pair of marathon-friendly bottles.

A wedge seat clamp is built into the seat/top tube junction. Cables run through the Acros headset and into the head tube, for seamless integration and so they can be kept super-short.

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The cables run neatly through the headset into the head tube.

Ruseell Burton / Immediate Media

This near-top-spec bike features a Shimano XTR drivetrain, wide-but-light DT Swiss carbon wheels, race-ready Maxxis rubber and a 100mm-travel Fox 32 StepCast fork. There’s little to complain about here.

Canyon’s one-piece CP08 bar/stem lacks any adjustment, but is shaped for holding an aero position. Its VCLS 2.0 carbon post can be a bit of a hassle to set up but works fine once sorted.

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The spec includes Shimano’s XTR drivetrain.

Ruseell Burton / Immediate Media

Canyon Exceed CFR Team geometry

Seat angle (degrees)7575757575
Head angle (degrees)6969696969
Chainstay (cm)42.542.542.54343.5
Seat tube (cm)37.541.545.849.553.5
Top tube (cm)55.257.559.66264.5
Head tube (cm)999.51113
Bottom bracket drop (cm)
Wheelbase (mm)1,0791,1021,1231,1541,186
Standover (cm)78.180.382.885.488.3
Stack (cm)59.759.760.261.663.4
Reach (cm)39.241.543.545.547.5

Canyon Exceed CFR Team ride impressions

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Stiff, uncompromising, aggressive and fast.

Ruseell Burton / Immediate Media

Make no mistake, this is a thoroughbred XC race bike. The frame is stiff and uncompromising, with relatively traditional, short and steep geometry, including a 69-degree head angle and 455mm reach on the large size I tested. This puts you in an utterly aggressive, forward position that forces you to put every ounce of effort through the short, stiff back end.

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Acceleration through the bike and the DT wheels is instant, while the Aspen rear tyre’s svelte tread offers virtually no resistance on the climbs.

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The Canyon Exceed CFR Team has sharp handling, but tyre traction is a little limited.

Ruseell Burton / Immediate Media

This latest Exceed is a touch longer and more composed-feeling than its predecessor. While a keen eye for line choice is required on descents (especially those lacking consistent grip), the sharp handling gives it a fly-by-wire feeling as you pick the fastest line along sinuous singletrack.

The limited tyre traction can catch you unawares, but many racers will fit more UK-appropriate rubber anyway.

The cockpit looks incredible, but its fixed shape may not work for all riders and I found it a touch harsh. Thankfully, the Fox 32 SC is one of the best race forks and helps mitigate this.

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Canyon’s VCLS 2.0 carbon seatpost adds a touch of comfort.

Ruseell Burton / Immediate Media

The split seatpost works well too, adding a hint of comfort to the otherwise uncompromisingly stiff back end. Its layback head slackens the effective seat angle, but you can always flip the clamp round if you wish.

Saddle height and angle can be adjusted, but this means removing the post and fiddling with a bolt at its base. Get it set up just right and it’s well worth the slight weight penalty over a regular carbon post.

While the latest XC bikes from some other brands have more progressive shapes, the Exceed’s light weight, great spec and its designers’ single-minded focus on reducing energy loss give it an electric ride personality.


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