Canyon tips the scales with the new Exceed Hardtail


We’ve seen a few top XC RIBs released last month. BMC has twisted the Twostroke, a modern but measured approach to a category that is still relevant, but takes a back seat to full suspension. On the flip side, Orbea ditched the Alma, a purist racing machine that takes a no-cost approach to making the best (read: lightest) hardtail on the market. The new Canyon Exceed is part of the latter school, and since it sits within five grams of the Alma, we’ll call this part a tie. But there’s a lot more to that, so let’s dig into it.

Photo credit: Canyon Bikes

The Exceed doesn’t see many of the updates we usually talk about in the track bike category. The geometry hasn’t changed much at all. The reach increased by approximately 10 millimeters in all sizes and the size-specific chainstay lengths decreased by two millimeters. Other than changing to 80mm rods in all frame sizes and adding an XS option (which still fits two water bottles in a triangle), not much has changed in the fit of the Exceed. The finish, on the other hand, is another story.

The buzzword you’ll see in Exceed news the most often is “unicorn hair,” which refers to the special Toray M40X blend of carbon fiber material. Since we couldn’t find the phrase associated with anything other than the new Exceed and a trendy hair dye brand aimed at millennials, it seems unicorn hair is Canyon’s term, not Toray’s, but it is quite appropriate. Unicorn hair is rare and expensive, but exhibits a rare combination of stiffness and strength, while most carbon is, to some extent, one or the other. This is how Canyon achieved the 835 gram frame weight of the mid-size Exceed CFR. There are also two other new frames in the Exceed lineup, the entry-level CF and the confusingly named SLX, weighing 1312 and 1015 grams respectively.

Headphone cable routing

Photo credit: Canyon Bikes

But there are plenty of other updates making the headlines at the Exceed. Canyon has developed a unique helmet design that runs the cables through the helmet itself. Part of the benefit is its neat appearance, but Canyon also claims the new routing reduces inhibitions on steering forces, while not inhibiting shifting performance. This introduces another variable into cable replacement and prevents the rider from enjoying the ease of entry and exit of tube-to-tube routing, but anyone who opts for a hardtail racing frame is all about results, not convenience. At the top of this routing is a new integrated carbon bar and stem combo that is specified on the CFR and SLX models.

Integrated stem and handlebars

Photo credit: Canyon Bikes

At the other end of the contact points, the Exceed has a new clever hidden seat clamp, which integrates under the top tube. It’s probably lighter, it can allow the seat post to start its comfort flex an inch or two lower. But really, it’s probably just to look cool. At the top of the clamp is a 60-millimeter dropper post, designed for Canyon by DT Swiss.

DT Swiss Canyon dropper

Photo credit: Canyon Bikes

It’s 60 millimeters for several reasons. One is lighter. There is a 390 gram carbon body version and a 420 gram aluminum version. But also, 60 millimeters is the most effective amount of drop for XC racing. It takes less effort to squat and compress than a full-length dropper, and still allows for semi-efficient seated pedaling when lowered.

Traditional disc brake bracket

Photo credit: Canyon Bikes

The frame has a few other practical features like limited helmet rotation to protect the frame and aluminum chain drop plates to do the same. And the Exceed is another bike to adopt the SRAM universal derailleur hanger, and stick to traditional post-mount brake calipers.

Complete Exceed models start at $ 2,000 with the entry-level CF frame, $ 4,500 with the mid-range SLX frame, and $ 7,000 with the premium CFR frame. Get all the details at


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