Canyon have had a busy winter having signed two of the most marketable riders in mountain biking, launched the Collective and mislaid all their vowels. On top of that, it looks like they have been beavering away designing a new downhill bike too.
The Sender platform was first released in 2016 and downhill has changed a lot in the four years since then. The current Sender platform is in desperate need for an update as it only runs 27.5" wheels and still uses Imperial standards on its shocks. It was possible to bodge 29" wheels into the old Sender if you put the chainstays into their longest setting, as Magnus Manson was doing last year
, but as we've seen from other brands, a bodge job is not going to be as fast as a platform designed around bigger wheels.
However, Canyon looks to be updating the Sender platform for 2020 and we've now seen a combination of spy shots and social media posts that make it look completely different to the current platform. Here's what we know so far.A Linkage Update
The old Canyon Sender was designed around the MX Link, inspired by, you guessed it, the kind of linkages you see on motocross bikes. The linkage was designed to offer three separate stages of suspension - a supple, coil-like first stage, a supportive middle and a progressive, bottomless finish. It looks like the MX Link, or at least something similar, is still in use on the picture of Tahnee's bike above but the shock is now mounted more horizontally and is now connected to the downtube, not the toptube.
We’ve always admired the Sender’s MX system that uses 2 separate sets of links with different jobs. The main links connect the front triangle to the rear axle and control acceleration and deceleration responses like anti-squat and anti-rise, whereas the second set of links drive the shock and can be modified without affecting the anti-squat and anti-rise figures. This allows them to create a super tunable bike that can be adapted for riders as diverse as Tahnee Seagrave, Troy Brosnan and Mark Wallace. It probably also explains how they were able to bodge in the 29inch wheels for so long without needing to re-invent the bike.
It’s a cool system and it’s pretty different to anything else out there. The closest we’ve seen is the new Demo however this uses concentric pivots so it isn’t quite as tunable.
We’re purely speculating here but we believe the shock has been moved to the downtube so they can take some material out of the top tube area and let the bulkier downtube deal with the loads. It should also save a bit of weight and slightly lower the bike’s centre of gravity. A New Front End
With the shock now changing position, it makes sense that Canyon would take the opportunity to re-work any niggles that might not have been quite right on the old model. We've had the clearest pictures of the front end of the new bike and it's very obvious that it's going to be a bit different than before. From the wind tunnel pictures, we can see that there's a slightly different head tube shape and that the cable routing hardware has all changed too. 29 Inch Wheels
Full 29er or mullet setups are now the norm in downhill racing so it makes sense that Canyon will be designing the new Sender around bigger wheels. Every picture we've seen of the new Sender has it fitted with a Fox 49 fork, hinting that it's at least a mullet set up. The side-on photo above seems to hint at a mixed wheel bike as the rear tyre definitely looks lower than the front tyre but it also has a much slimmer tread and it could just be a camera perspective trick. It's also possible that it could be set up to run both combinations thanks to some adjustable geometry. What else could be included?
Remember Eurobike 2016? We don't blame you if you don't as it was an eMTB dominated affair, but there was one bit of downhill tech that definitely grabbed our attention - Canyon's DisConnect
system. Coming the year after Gwin's chainless win, this was a system that allowed the drivetrain to be disconnected from within the hub in order to completely free the bike's suspension from chain-induced forces. Doing so eliminates the pedal kickback you see in the above video but also means the rider pedalling will not turn the wheel, so it would have to be toggled on and off during a race run.
At the time Canyon said they were working with Fabien Barel to refine the system but nothing has come of it since. With Fab looking very involved with the recent wind tunnel tests and the team clearly hunting marginal gains, we wouldn't be surprised if we saw this concept resurface in some form on the new bike.Anything Else?
We’ve spoken to Canyon and they’re staying tight-lipped on any details for now. It won’t be long before the race season now though and it will be much harder for them to hide the details between the tapes. We’ll update this piece with any extra info when we get it.