Sneaking around the pits or looking closely at riding footage of big races is always a good time to spot ‘secret’ kit being tested. Canyon is clearly trialing a potential new version of its Lux CF SLX, the company's best full suspension mountain bike, at the grueling Absa Cape Epic MTB stage race in South Africa. Canyon couldn’t have asked for a better debut either. Thanks to World and European MTB Marathon champion Andreas Seewald the bike currently sits in first place overall after 537km and 12,200m of climbing over the first five stages. A similar-looking bike is being used by Kristian Hynek (Canyon Northwave MTB 2) who’s currently battling on solo after his partner had to abandon.
While the overall layout of the Lux looks unchanged, spy shots clearly show a new rear-end design. This uses a straight offside chainstay rather than the kinked upwards profile of the current Lux and Lux Trail designs. That could remove material weight and/or create a stiffer rear end and looking at the pictures it doesn’t seem to compromise tire clearance either.
While Canyon Bicycles themselves wouldn’t provide any more definite information when we asked about the new bike, they did confirm that a prototype was in play. To stop us badgering them about expected release dates they also reminded us that they have a long history of putting prototype bikes under top racers well before they’re on sale. That includes Mathieu Van Der Poel race testing (and winning on) a development version of its Aeroad race bike for over a year before it was available in its online store.
While it’s still one of the lightest full-suspension frames available at a claimed 1,662g, the Lux is definitely due an update as the current version is one of the oldest bikes still being used for pro-level racing. The 70-degree head angle geometry is very steep and short compared to most of the more recent bikes it’s lining up against too. That’s been addressed in the recently introduced Canyon Lux Trail which uses a longer and slacker angled mainframe, but keeps the older back end. Given that the pictures of the ‘secret bike’ don’t look as cramped or vertical upfront Andreas may already be running a slacker, longer mainframe, or even a Lux Trail front end.
Our tests on both Lux Trail and Lux show the suspension gives a traditional uptight feel that puts traction and comfort in second place behind a stiff pedaling feel. Again that’s a contrast to the latest full suspension race bikes like the Santa Cruz Blur where grip and reduced fatigue are seen as a key part of a rounded performance. Then again, Andreas’s teammate Martin Stosek appears to be on a standard-issue Lux so it’s still clearly a competitive bike even at the top level.
Alternatively, the real edge the team have are the appropriately named Schwalbe FIRST RIDE tires that they’re using. Again we couldn’t find out any more confirmed information on these minimal tread prototypes apart from the comedy “DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT! #SUPERSECRETPROTOTYPETIRE“ graphics. They appear to use the same translucent Super Race carcass as the WICKED WILL race tires though, but with much less tread, particularly on the shoulders. That would definitely suit the particularly dry and dusty conditions at the Absa Cape Epic this year and they’re also proving a lot more puncture-proof than Nino Schurter’s Maxxis tires at the event so far.
Obviously, we’ll be the first to let you know as soon as we hear any more details on the new bike or the new tire and we’ll definitely be watching intently for more stealth testing of new kit by top riders. That includes careful checks of what Canyon riders Mathieu Van Der Poel and Emily Batty are riding at the World Cup XCO and Short Track openers at Albstadt at the start of May, where we’re almost certain to see new bikes and kit from other brands, too.