DSC07143-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg
Hardtail Review

2021 Canyon Stoic 4

Words Cooper Quinn
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Aug 6, 2021
Reading time

Being a reviewer can be pretty neat – you get to thrash the latest and greatest carbon fiber things or electronic wizardry, and instead of shelling out big bucks for the privilege, it just shows up in the mail. The Forbidden Dreadnought, Santa Cruz Blur, Norco Range, We Are One Arrival; all bikes currently in the NSMB long term test fleet, all with pretty Gucci spec. Its been like this for ages. Review bikes are expensive AF and generally unattainable by most folks as tested; I keenly recall pouring over the pages and re-reading Mountain Bike Action’s latest head to head. Whether it was ‘17 Freeride Bikes You Can’t Miss’ or ’12 6” Bikes Put to the Test in Sun Valley”, I’m sure the cover was someone in a Primal Wear jersey doing a bar turn on Porcupine Rim. All the bikes were $4,000+, and I was in middle school. I scraped nickels together for ages, and bought a Gary Fisher hardtail because it was what I could afford. It had that sweet yellow Judy XC and a cable actuated front disc brake that was terrible. I rode it everywhere – from the first downhill trails on Teton Pass to Moab. I feel lucky to have survived.

This backstory is one reason why I put my hand up to review this bike – the decidedly non-Gucci 2021 Canyon Stoic 4. I’d argue bikes of this ilk, aluminum-framed, aluminum-wheeled, kinda heavy hardtails, are more versatile and important to the sport than anything listed in the first paragraph. The Stoic is built with geometry meant for aggressive riding, spec’d to take a beating, go back to do it all again tomorrow, and all at a reasonable price here in 2021. Bikes like this lower one barrier to entry (cost), grow with you as a rider as your skills advance, are simple enough to learn some basic maintainance, and above all can be really fun for anyone. And all that for an MSRP of C$2,449, noteably less than the drivetrain on my personal bike. MSRP on my Gary Fisher? A bit over US$1,000, or C$2,200 today after adjusting for exchange and inflation.

Frame & Geometry

The Stoic combines a modern front center length, reasonably slack head and steep seat angles, and low bottom bracket into a package that’s progressive without being extreme. There’s two chainstay lengths across the size range; on my size large tester and while I found the 428mm rear center shorter than I’d prefer, it has excellent mud clearance. You can’t really upgrade your way out of bad geometry – the Stoic toes the line of aggressive but maintains versatility and is built out of tubes that’ll last.

Geometry 2.jpg

Geometry for XXS through XL - my tester was a Large. Having XXS sizing is a nice touch.

Bike Spec & Components

To meet the sub-C$2,500 price point here, the Canyon product managers had to do some careful editing and I’d say they did a decent job spending where it makes a significant ride quality impact. The tires are an aggressive Schwalbe combo, both tubeless in the Super Addix compound with real Super Trail sidewalls on 30mm rims, and a 140mm Pike Select gives good support and adjustability. Guide T brakes may not offer easy reach adjustment and are on the heavy side, they offer the same caliper and all the braking power of their more expensive siblings. As spec’d here with suitably enduro sized rotors, they offer all the braking power this bike needs. The NX drivetrain shifts through 12 gears, the Descendent cranks will last the life of the bike. There’s some house-brand components in the cockpit to save some dollars, and a 170mm dropper.

I had a couple of minor component niggles through the test. The return spring on the NX derailleur is a bit anemic, the Guide T reach adjust is very poorly positioned, and the Canyon-branded Renthal wannabe stem was annoying at best. The seatpost lever feels a bit cheap, and the post only releases if you remove your butt pressure from the saddle. Overall everything more or less gets a pass at this price. The gears continued to shift throughout the test period, the brake levers didn’t need adjustment after my initial shakedown ride, and the post was easy to adapt to. The wheels are not light, required a bit of truing, but stayed relatively dent-free and I had no tubeless issues throughout.

Overall, it’s a reasonably well thought out spec; many of the places they’ve chosen to save dollars will be great places for small upgrades as components wear or break, or for personal fit upgrades, and where they have chosen to allocate a bit more budget its with smart parts that you want on your first ride like tires, or bigger ticket items you don’t want to shell out to upgrade down the road.

DSC07281-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

While the Stoic and I spent many hours together in the cold and wet, and July/August are generally my least favorite months to ride, its hard to complain about light like this at 8pm.

Riding Impressions - Climbing

It’s a hardtail. Next.

DSC07263-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

Pretty sure I was more or less hopping in place in this photo trying to get in a position I could put my meagre watts into getting over a big root step. Seated climbing position worked well for me on the Stoic.

Jokes aside, the Stoic’s seat tube angle – and stack/reach - put me (5’11”, 30” inseam) in a comfortable riding position with no cockpit changes. I find that overly steep STAs are uncomfortable riding on flat terrain; the Stoic isn't too close to this threshold, but it's in sight. Short chainstays mean that on the steepest of climbs, you'll have to very consciously keep the front wheel weighted.

Riding Impressions - Descending

If you’re thinking about buying a Stoic, this is likely the direction of travel you’re more concerned about. If you’ve never ridden a hardtail, you’re in for a bit of a jarring surprise. The oversized aluminum frame is definitely quite stiff. Canyon uses the word “bomber” which is apt, and likely appropriate for the targeted customer.

DSC07135-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

Ned's Atomic Dustbin on a hardtail is great fun, if you approach it correctly. Given the trails lower angle but very rough nature, it suits the Stoic.

Active geometry on a hardtail works differently than on a full suspension bike – the headtube angle only gets steeper – so while 65 degrees may seem reasonably slack, this is the minimum angle you’ll experience. This, coupled with a fork that I found a bit lacking in mid-stroke support, made steep terrain more exciting than necessary at times. The low bottom bracket helps the bike corner effectively, however I’d prefer a bit more chainstay length on trail. If you love manuals and plan on spending time at the dirt jumps and pumptrack (only the latter of which I was able to try), the shorter length starts to make sense. It’s a versatile bike; its not the perfect bike for all situations.

On everything up to gnarly steep roots and rocks, the Stoic is a solid platform. While progressive, the geo isn’t overly aggressive, so the Stoic is comfortable cruising Lost Lake XC trails in Whistler and would be perfectly fine on a three ride sampler pass in the bike park on flow trails and less technical blacks. You can finish out the day in the dirt jumps by the river, or cruise the valley trail down to Function Junction where you can have a beer at Coast and oogle some Chromags.

DSC07215-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

Stoic goes well on the Shore's abundant Tech-C riding, where bikes a bit slacker, a bit lower, and with a lot more tire than your average WC XC bike possess really come in handy.

DSC07249-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

Knees.

Conclusion

Canyon’s own copy describes the Stoic as, “From pumptrack and trail riding to the occasional jump session: this progressive hardtail can do it all.” I’ve had the Stoic for a bit now – and taken it on everything from classic Shore winter hardtail rides to the current dustbowl conditions to the brewery patio. Overall, I think the Stoic accomplishes what it sets out to, and it would be an excellent platform for a new rider to grow on, an inexpensive way for a more experienced rider to try a hardtail, or a great way to save wear and tear on your expensive carbonium bike in the winter. It’ll need a few upgrades along the way, but its versatile and the frame should be bombproof.

DSC07324-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

Post ride lifestyle shot, debating the merits of trucks vs. vans.

If you’re shopping for a Stoic it may be because you’re on a limited budget, looked at the used options and realized that this frame has better geo than the newest used bike in the price bracket. And the components on that bike are ragged, I’m sure. Or you’re wondering if hardtailing is for you, but don’t want to spring all the way for that Ti Chromag Surface just yet. This is a great bike for either customer.

DSC07202-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

It'll definitely do skids, if you want to. Also don't ride like this, unless you're on Ned's. Then its fine.

DSC07317-denizmerdano-cooper-stoic-blackbirdworks.jpg

If you've made it this far, here's a bonus mini review. This included water bottle is stupid. EVERY OTHER water bottle in my house has a lid that's interchangeable. This Canyon bottle has a completely incompatible lid, and the little bit you suck out of is sharp and pinchy. Give this to someone you don't like.

Importantly, the Stoic is currently sold out on Canyon’s consumer direct website. With that in mind, I’d suggest an important takeaway from this piece would be that if you’re lusting for something new, or looking for a great entry to mountain biking, closing the classifieds, and taking a look at bikes like the Growler 40, Meta HT AM, and other “cheap” hardtails with good geometry is worth your time.

When they are back in stock, theStoic 4 will set you back 2449 CAD and 1779 USD.

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

Wilson
+2 Deniz Merdano Cooper Quinn
Wilson  - Aug. 6, 2021, 9:16 a.m.

Congrats on the luminous photos!

I wish bikes like this came with sliding dropouts.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 11:28 a.m.

I get you, but it'd be an additional feature that'd add cost* - and complexity. 

I can see why they didn't go that route. 

*some of this could potentially have been saved by only having one chainstay w/ sliders across the size ranges, though.

Reply

mrbrett
+2 Timer Zero-cool
mrbrett  - Aug. 6, 2021, 3:25 p.m.

Eeew, no! I think that at this price point and for the intended user sliding dropouts are far more likely to rattle loose than they are to be adjusted.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 4:48 p.m.

Agreed. Its complication in a spot that probably doesn't need it at this level.

Reply

rwalters
+7 Cooper Quinn cxfahrer Émanuel Valex Andrew Major cornedbeef Tremeer023 Pete Roggeman
Ryan Walters  - Aug. 6, 2021, 1:22 p.m.

It’s a hard sell, but I always tell new riders looking for their first mountain bike that they should at least consider a hardtail. There is no better way to properly build riding skill than starting out on a hardtail.

Rarely do those new riders listen to that advice though 😕

Great article Cooper.

Reply

cooperquinn
+8 Ryan Walters 4Runner1 cxfahrer Émanuel Valex Andrew Major Tremeer023 Mammal Pete Roggeman
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 2:49 p.m.

Absolutely, I've had this conversation many times. 

"I'm fairly new to riding, and looking at this very used 2015 [insert enduro bike here], what do you think?" 

"...buy a new hardtail?"

"What about this 2013 trail bike that's never been serviced? The price seems great!"

"..."

Reply

D_C_
+2 Cooper Quinn Timer
DMVancouver  - Aug. 6, 2021, 3:15 p.m.

I think it depends on the trails where you live. To really progress on a hardtail takes some commitment, and a more timid rider may not successfully build the necessary confidence in a place like the Shore. But other places with smoother trails, absolutely.

Reply

cooperquinn
+6 Ryan Walters Cr4w DadStillRides Zero-cool Andrew Major Greg Bly
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 4:42 p.m.

I don't entirely agree with that - trails most folks will start out on are very hardtail friendly. Circuit 8, Bridle, Empress Bypass, Lower Griffen, King of the Shore, Bobsled.... even once you graduate out of there to Expresso, Leppard, Kirkford, John Deer.... all great on a hardtail. 

Sure, maybe you won't immediately go as fast as a rider with the same skill level on a 160mm bike, but you're learning more about your relationship with the thing between you and the ground. 

Check the classifieds and tell me what you can get for $2,500, that's actually trail ready. It ain't much.

Reply

rwalters
+4 Tim Coleman DadStillRides cornedbeef Mammal
Ryan Walters  - Aug. 6, 2021, 5:21 p.m.

This.

When learning how to drive, you don’t start with keys to a Ferrari. Unless of course you live in Vancouver, then you sometimes do start with a Ferrari.

Reply

cooperquinn
+3 DMVancouver DadStillRides cole128
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 9:22 p.m.

I am also available and willing to test Ferraris.

Reply

Timer
0
Timer  - Aug. 7, 2021, 8:31 a.m.

Depends on what the new rider is looking forward to riding. Trying to get someone on a hardtail whos primary motivation is doing bigger drops than their pals will be very, very hard.

Reply

rwalters
+3 Cooper Quinn Andrew Major Mammal
Ryan Walters  - Aug. 7, 2021, 11:32 a.m.

If you are brand new to mountain biking, and your primary goal is doing bigger drops than your pals, you are doing it wrong.

Reply

Timer
0
Timer  - Aug. 7, 2021, 3:01 p.m.

I'm not saying it's smart, but it's not uncommon.

rcybak
0
rcybak  - Aug. 8, 2021, 12:35 p.m.

Uh, have you seen what's happening to the Shore these days? Smoothness almost everywhere. There's more gold up there now than in California in the 1800s.

Reply

cooperquinn
+2 Pete Roggeman DMVancouver
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 8, 2021, 3:13 p.m.

I'm reasonably cognizant of what happens w.r.t. trail maintenance on the Shore, yes.

There's plenty of roots and rocks out there.

Reply

LoamtoHome
+1 Cooper Quinn
Jerry Willows  - Aug. 9, 2021, 9:23 a.m.

You know the trails were pretty smooth when they were first built....

Reply

KarinG
+4 Deniz Merdano Cooper Quinn Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Karin Grubb  - Aug. 6, 2021, 2:53 p.m.

Great review Cooper!  

My first bike was a used stumpjumper hardtail that I bought for $100 on craigslist and broke every part of.  Riding a hardtail taught me a lot, was all I could afford at the time, and it was a great way to try out a new sport!  Bikes like these have such a huge place and I'm eternally grateful to have had that low-barrier way of trying out mountain biking, and then letting it take all my money for the rest of my life.

..also, vans FTW

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 4:47 p.m.

If we want to go deeper, my first two 26" bikes were BOTH Stumpjumpers. The first was a grey one bought in Moab for $250 (????) out of a rental fleet at the end of the season. It had a dropped top tube, and people made fun of me for it because it was a "girls" bike. Whatever. I beat them in the local races. 

The second was green, and I remember scoring a set of fancy (possibly Avid? the ones with the fancy parallellogram setup) out of a shop graveyard at somepoint to upgrade from the cantis. 

The Gary Fisher was a Hoo Koo E Koo, and was the first bike I bought straight off a shop floor, new.

Reply

theaeriopagite
+2 Cr4w kcy4130
theaeriopagite  - Aug. 6, 2021, 5:35 p.m.

Beauty photos making use of the fading sun!

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 theaeriopagite
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 9:20 p.m.

I'm not a summer ride guy - July/Aug are the worst months for bicycling here - but evening light like that is hard to beat.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
0
trumpstinyhands  - Aug. 6, 2021, 8:43 p.m.

But is it better than your SICK! Bicycle?

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 6, 2021, 9:19 p.m.

HA! Someone remembers that. 

Frame to frame, I'd take this one. The STA on the Sick! was just too steep. It was nice steel, sliding dropouts, and a couple other nice things, but this is more enjoyable to ride overall. The geo was a fun experiment that helped show me what works, and what's too far.

My ideal Stoic build would probably be a bit 'upgraded', but still built around a Pike, 170mm dropper, and Eagle. With all due respect to Mr. Major, I can do without sliding dropouts. I like gears.

The Sick! now resides on the wall behind my work stand as a piece of art.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
+3 Zero-cool Cooper Quinn DadStillRides
trumpstinyhands  - Aug. 7, 2021, 11:10 a.m.

I remembered as I think you were one of the 5 people on the planet that had one successfully delivered!

Reply

Zero-cool
+1 Cooper Quinn
Zero-cool  - Aug. 7, 2021, 11:39 a.m.

Or at least had the right one delivered, that then didn’t break or was the wrong colour. 

Thieves

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 7, 2021, 9:43 p.m.

Yeah. Pretty wild. Lots of people got screwed. :(

Reply

Timer
+3 Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman kcy4130
Timer  - Aug. 7, 2021, 8:33 a.m.

It certainly helped to be Stoic after putting down money for the promise of a SICK! bike frame.

Reply

kurt-adams
0
Kurt Adams  - Aug. 7, 2021, 7:03 p.m.

What other bikes that can compete with this ?

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 8, 2021, 3:10 p.m.

As mentioned in the article there, the RM Growler and Meta AM are both solid. Marin San Quentin as well.

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Aug. 7, 2021, 8:18 p.m.

You had me at hardtail on truck with camo wrap. :)

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 8, 2021, 3:09 p.m.

Easy!

Reply

whateverbr0
+1 Pete Roggeman
whateverbr0  - Aug. 8, 2021, 8:57 a.m.

Teton Pass on an old hardtail - I have a similar memory on my first "mountain" bike (rigid single speed with canti brakes) going down Black Canyon then pedaling back up to hit Phillip's Canyon. One of my all time favorite rides; the dirt was perfect, everything was green and lush, only a handful of other riders all with smiles on their faces. After cycling through several much nicer full sus bikes in the years since, that ride is still one of my most joyful memories on a bike I'll have.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 8, 2021, 3:09 p.m.

Black and Phillip's are still there, for sure! 

There's a great climb up to Phillips now that avoids all that fire road. And another trail up on the ridge to the south. 

I remember my first ride down Black Canyon... the braking bumps in the switchbacks were memorable. They're still there.

Reply

just6979
0
Justin White  - Aug. 9, 2021, 8:39 a.m.

Would love to see a review of the XS or XSS. Yes, it's good to see those sizes, but with a 29er rear?

Wheelbase on this bike changes by 150mm and reach by 125mm through the sizes, but the chain-stays only change by 10mm. The XSS is just not going to ride anything like the largest sizes. Does Canyon think short riders don't like to do manuals?

Reply

Sean_D
0
Sean_D  - Aug. 9, 2021, 10:29 a.m.

FWIW, Small, XS, and 2XS frames have 27.5" wheels and 418mm chainstays.

Reply

just6979
0
Justin White  - Aug. 9, 2021, 10:35 a.m.

I noted the chainstay difference, but did not see anything about the 27er wheel. Good to know, but it's still a vastly different geo between the ends of the size range.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.