Canyon say "downhill is as much about creativity as it is about strength, skill and guts,"
and for a bike designed to be pushed hard in the most extreme of environments and scenarios, that certainly makes a lot of sense. But what attributes are needed to deliver these traits in a downhill bike, especially one being released in 2016? For the engineers, designers and product managers responsible for bringing the Sender to life, that meant developing the best suspension and geometry while similarly choosing the best parts to complement their new creation. While we've all heard that before, Canyon's popular Strive enduro bike and its 'Shapeshifter' technology and 'Race Geometry' certainly proved that Canyon like to push the envelope when it comes to bikes that don't follow the rules of convention. But would their new DH bike live up to the mantle set by its little brother? We headed to the South of Portugal to find out...
The Numbers Game
• Intended use: downhill
• Travel: 200mm
• 27.5" wheels
• 62 - 64° adjustable head angle with included headset cups
• 430 - 446mm adjustable chainstays
• 12 x 157mm rear spacing
• Carbon main frame and 6066 T6 alloy swingarm
• 4-Bar Suspension System with MX Link
• Integrated seat clamp
• Internal cable routing
• Integrated fork bumpers
• Removable fender
• Removable frame protection
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 16.2kg (claimed) size Medium
• For more: www.canyon.comPrices - EUR / GBP / AUD:
• CF 7.0: €3599, £2899, $5599
• CF 8.0: €4299, £3499, $6599
• CF 9.0: €4799, £3899, $7399Colours:
• CF 7.0: Blue or Red
• CF 8.0: Black or Red
• CF 9.0: Black or Blue
Canyon really have hit the nail on the head with the Sender's geometry by offering solid numbers in reach and BB height, coupled with adjustability in wheelbase and head angle. Not to mention a stack height figure which increases with each size to keep taller riders and those with a sizable ape index happy. The question begs to be answered - is this the blueprint for modern DH bike geometry? I think it's pretty damn close and with a reach-adjust headset in the works from Canyon, fine tuning the 'fit' of the Sender should allow many riders who frequently find themselves between sizes the option to fine tune reach in the desired direction. All of the above resonates Canyon's understanding of dynamic ergonomics when it comes to bike design.Sender Suspension
TPS – Triple Phase Suspension:Phase 1
Before work began on designing the Sender's suspension system, the engineers at Canyon understood the importance of creating a dynamic ride feel that would allow a good degree of connection with the terrain. While this might sound obvious, there is a fine line between 'pilot' and 'passenger' when it comes to some DH bikes and indeed some DH specific dampers. To do this, they first of all looked at the best suspension design currently out there for mountain bikes - that's your arms and legs. Understanding the relationship your body has with the terrain, they began to look at how they could amplify it through the Sender's suspension system. Aside from the obvious traits of a good suspension curve - sensitivity in the beginning of the stroke and a nice progressive curve at the end - the team at Canyon wanted to develop and harness support in the mid-stroke - something which they felt is often overlooked in full suspension designs.
Doing so would help to achieve a heightened level of balance and stability from which a rider could attack. Another element they wanted to use was the adjustability and suppleness of an air shock. With both RockShox and Fox offering suitable units, designing a linkage around the natural progression of an air shock over that of a linear coil shock was a logical step to make. At its core, the Sender uses one of the most proven linkages out there, but this is no ordinary 4-bar design. By using a secondary linkage system to drive the shock in a given path, the engineers at Canyon could effectively create a suspension curve independently of anti-squat, anti-rise and pedal kickback.
: Air shocks require more force for activation than coil shocks. To overcome this, the MX Link transmits more power at the start of the stroke, resulting in an increased amount of responsiveness, small bump sensitivity and traction around the sag point, which should 'feel' a lot more like a coil shock.Phase 2
: Support through the mid-stroke provides a stable platform to reduce momentum loss, enabling the rider to actively pump for more track speed and make decisive line choices.Phase 3
: Combining the progressiveness of air shocks with a more moderate progression at the end of the stroke to avoid blowing through the entire travel and to give the suspension its bottomless feel. Using volume spacers (note - we ran 6 spacers, which come as stock, but you can fit up to 8
), the rider can further fine-tune the shock’s progression to their needs.Form and Function
The Sender is literally packed with ingenious innovations that deserve some attention. And while these incremental additions to what is already a rather special machine could be considered as marginal in terms of their benefit to the rider, they also show - and quite clearly - how much thought has gone into the development of this new bike...
Portugal has become synonymous of late with off-season riding, especially downhill, boosted in part by the surge in holiday companies offering access to this Westerly part of Europe, once overlooked in favour of Malaga (Spain) or San Romolo (Italy). But in no time it's quickly become the place to shred in the winter months. Our destination was to the South and about an hour inland from the vacation friendly town of Faro, with mountain bike fun facilitators; Ride Portugal
. We asked for gnarly trails to ride and that's exactly what we got...
The first track we tackled was supposed to warm us up for what was to come and while it was the least savage of the day, it was savage none the less. But there was one particular section that stood out - steep as you like, wide and littered with lines, boulders and packed with small drops with blind landings. Coming in hot and picking lines on the hoof, the Sender remained poised and surprisingly planted taking both the drops with ease as it did the rocks that were pretty hard to avoid. Putting a few pedal strokes in to gain speed before a road gap and the Sender proved that it's no slouch when you put the power down, giving no noticeable cause for concern, reacting well to both smooth landings and cases alike. After a few runs and at the point where you're getting a feel for things, another trait of the Sender became abundantly clear.
They say silence is golden and so is the Sender - even for a carbon bike. As the day progressed, so did the trails and as things got decidedly steeper and wilder from the get-go. And as ante upped with the trails we encountered, so did the Sender's persona, delivering confidence in spades. Run after run and the Sender didn't skip a beat - I was, unfortunately, a tad worse for wear this day and would surely have been in a world of hurt had it not been for the bike I was on. After a day on the size large Sender, I have no doubt in my mind that while its suspension is up there with the best, it is the geometry of the Sender that really makes it stand out. Balanced, poised and above all else, comfortable to ride with the ability to turn it on - and off - as you command. This bike doesn't want a passenger, it wants a pilot.
While a single day on a new bike is far from enough to form a conclusive opinion, it certainly made a number of things abundantly clear. From the welcoming Renthal cockpit to the superb SRAM X01 7-Speed drivetrain, consistently brilliant Guide Ultimate brakes to the light and fast DT Swiss wheels, Maxxis rubber and outstanding Fox dampers - from one end to the other, there is literally no gap in the Sender 9.0's spec. And while the middle spec 8.0 will appeal to those who like the feel of RockShox dampers, the 7.0 stands tall, representing a serious piece of kit which could become a firm favourite with privateers looking to make a dent in the results sheet at their local races. Looking at the Sender, I'm struggling to find any discernible negatives.
It's fast, it's light and it's packed with more tech than you shake a stick at and away from that, you just need to look at it. It's a great looking bike and if you don't like the blue and black, well, there's options there too. Perhaps the direct sales platform might be an issue for some, certainly for those living in territories where access to Canyon's range comes into play. Canyon are expanding all the time, having recently moved into Australia and New Zealand with their crosshairs soon to be focused on the North American market. But business model aside, you have to look at what you're getting with the Sender and not just on a scale of economics as this is one hell of a bike full stop.
|The Canyon Sender represents one of the most advanced downhill bikes currently on the market and while their direct sales model might put some off, it will certainly turn others on and for good reason. But putting costs to one side if we can, this bike ticks all the boxes a great downhill bike should and then some. - Olly Forster|
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