It hasn't exactly been a secret that a new DH bike was in the works from Canyon. Teaser shots ranging from potato quality to professional shoots in a wind tunnel have been out there for a while already, driving a lot of speculation and internet chatter.
Finally, Canyon have pulled the curtain on their new Sender CFR and released all the details regarding their new bike.
With a clear primary focus as a race bike, the Canyon team set out over the past nearly three years to make project M082, Canyon's internal name for the Sender, lighter, more controlled and ultimately faster.
Sender CFR Details
• Wheel Size: S & M 29" F & 27.5" R / L & XL 29" F & R
• Carbon fibre composite mainframe, chainstay and seatstay with aluminium links
• 200mm travel
• 63° head angle
• 485mm reach (size L)
• 435mm (+10mm) chainstay S & M, 445mm (+10mm) L & XL
• Weight: 34.77 lb / 15.77 kg (size L CFR w/o pedals)
• Price: CFR version €5,799 or $5,799 USD, CFR FMD version €4,699 or $4,699 USD
The silhouette of the original Sender is still there, but Canyon have been through the whole bike from front to back over the past nearly three years. In that time another large brand has also adopted the same layout and suspension configuration.
Perhaps the most noticeable change, and the one most talked about, is the change in shock position. The previous bike had the shock mounted on the top tube, which meant that tube had to deal with all the shock forces. Moving the shock to mount on the down tube means it's connected to an inherently stiff and strong part of the main frame, requiring less additional reinforcement to make it cope with the shock forces. The lower of the two shock driving links also connects to the down tube now for the same reasons and its pivot can be accessed underneath the bolt on down tube protector.
Taking that need for reinforcement off the top tube and seat tube enabled Canyon to save some weight, and they sought to match the overall frame stiffness to the old bike, which was reportedly at a level favored by the racers.
At the rear of the bike, the chainstay and seatstay are now made from carbon fiber composite, and this is where the bikes sees the biggest weight savings. Frame weight is apparently down by over 650g compared to the previous version, with the frame coming in at 3.2kg. 300g of this came from the mainframe changes with the shock placement change and smaller seat tube box construction. Changing the rear triangle material, reducing the drop out and seatstay bridge volume yielded around 200g of weight saving and playing with the design and shape of the MX aluminum links saved a further 150g.
All the pivot bolts thread into replaceable inserts in the frame, to avoid threading directly into the frame and make manufacturing a little easier. Those threaded inserts are then bolted into the frame with tiny screws, which at least keeps them captive when you're working on the bike. All the small pivot parts are available to purchase separately in the Canyon online shop. The large seat tube pivot is still separated, allowing the seat tube to wrap around the shock, while the lower main frame to chainstay connection is a through axle system. The pivots all use seals to guard the bearings from dirt and moisture and keep them running smoother for longer.
The brake mount bolts on to the inside of the seatstay and has two mounting options to line up with the corresponding chain stay length, but bolt access means you have to take the rear wheel off to swap or check the brake mount bolt tightness.
Cable routing is all internal in both the main frame and rear triangle, with a small portion around the chainstay to main frame pivot where the cables exit the main frame. Tubes molded in the frame allow easy routing, but I'm not sure how many World Cup mechanics were asking for internal routing and mandatory brake bleeding.
Frame protection is plentiful, with rubberised chain stay upper and lower coverage as well as the inside of the seatstay. There's also stick on clear frame protection around the main foot rub areas on the rear.
Geometry, Sizing & Adjustability
To bring an even more controlled ride to the new Sender, Canyon increased the frame lengths for all sizes across the board. Front center is upped with an increased reach and a slightly shorter head tube than the previous bike to try and compensate for the larger front wheel and long 29" downhill fork length, although the head tube length increases for each side. The head angle is 63 degrees on all sizes with the 200mm travel 56mm offset RockShox Boxxer fork.
Frames now feature a reach adjust headset with +/- 8mm of reach adjustment. The inserts are drop-in units from Acros and allow the rider to tune the fit and ride feel of the bike and possibly brings in some ability to down or up size with there being less of a gap between sizes, 9mm to be precise, at the extremes of adjustment.
Sizes range from S to XL with the first two sizes using a mullet wheel setup and the larger two sizes using a full 29" wheel setup. This means that the shorter riders could still take advantage of the larger front wheel while not incurring the trouser clearance issues of a bigger rear wheel.
The S and M size frames have their own main frame and rear triangle compared to the L and XL sizes with their adapted frame for the full 29" setup. S and M have a 435mm chain stay length, with the option to lengthen by 10mm, while L and XL have a 445mm chain stay length with that same ability to add 10mm to the chainstay. That chainstay adjustment window is smaller than the previous bike, which had 16mm of change. Canyon state this was to create a more usable window as some riders felt the previous bikes change in chainstay length was too long and unsettled the bike balance more than they were after.
The seat tube angle is steepened up to allow more clearance to the larger rear wheel, and Canyon go ahead and publish all the necessary information, like seat height and seat tube offset, to show where they envisaged the seat position or where yours might be if you like to run your seat at a different height.
Canyon's geometry file is very detailed and covers every dimension on not only the frame but also in the spec, going into detail with the tires and fork dimensions used to design the frame. S and M size also have a slightly lower rise bar than L and XL.
One additional point of adjustment at first glance is also the two shock mount positions. Labelled 29" and 27.5", you would think that this enables the bike to be converted from either a mullet setup to a full 29" setup and vice versa. But this isn't the case, and Canyon specifically instructed us that your shock position is fixed to the wheel size that the bike comes delivered with and no adjustability is possible in this. Both frame setups have the same BB height and head angle, so the effects of changing the rear wheel size on the frame would be profound and the linkage adjustment would offer no compensation for this.
The two shock positions on the link are more related to altering the leverage ratio curve of the bike, and Canyon label them up with the curve they advise running for each wheel size setup. It's likely to cause a bit of confusion out in the market, but essentially you should run the bike in the wheel size and shock position setup that the bike arrives with.
The new Sender carries on with the same suspension system as the previous version with a four-bar layout connecting the rear wheel to the main frame and an extra pair of links used to actuate the shock. As the bike compresses the distance between these two links gets bigger and they pull straight to compensate, compressing the shock in turn. Compared to the previous bike these links have grown in size considerably, and the lower link now mounts to the down tube rather than the seat tube. All the links run on bearings, rather than the floating bushing setup of the previous bike.
Canyon massaged the leverage ratio curve to deliver the frame progression a little earlier in the travel. The curve starts and finishes at the same ratios, which aren't measured in mms like Canyon's graph states. The bike hits the lowest leverage ratio earlier in the travel and then has a portion of linearity to the end. Perhaps this was something to do with a certain light and fast Australian who runs an air shock? Canyon were open about Troy Brosnan's involvement, along with the other team racers and mechanics, and the bike was designed with the goal of having him win the World Cup overall aboard this new ride.
The other main point for Canyon was to reduce pedal kickback. Learning from their Disconnect Project, a concept that allowed disengagement of the rear freehub mechanism, they felt they needed to reduce the influence of the chain extension on the rider for the new bike and dropped the maximum amount of pedal kickback. They also experimented with prototypes that had adjustable pivot positions to arrive at this. Due to the drop in pedal kickback the new bike also sees a drop in anti-squat, but with the previous bike's really high anti-squat levels this meant that they had some room to play with. Our test bike also came specced with 24T in the DT Swiss freehub.
Options, Price & Availability
The new Sender CFR is available only as a complete bike, with two versions of specification, mirroring the two race teams using the Sender bike.
The Sender CFR version follows the Canyon Factory Racing part choice with a RockShox Boxxer Ultimate fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, a SRAM X0 drivetrain and Code RSC brakes handling the go and stop and a DT Swiss DT240/FR560 wheels with Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres front and rear.
The Sender CFR FMD version follows the FMD team part choice with a Fox 40 Performance Elite fork and DHX2 shock, a Shimano Saint drivetrain and brakes and a DT Swiss DT350/FR2020 wheels with Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres.
The CFR version retails for €5,799 or $5,799 USD while the CFR FMD version retails for €4,699 or $4,699 USD.
Currently there are no plans from Canyon to offer an aluminium version of the new Sender, although the previous Sender aluminium version is still available.
The all black Sender CFR and green Sender CFR FMD are available in the US, with the other colours, like the white, red and black bike we have for test, available outside the US.
All bikes are available right now through the Canyon website directly.
Canyon weren't lying. I've had three good days of riding so far on the new Sender CFR in Champéry and Morzine and it really is a race bike that only wants to go fast. The first ride down the Champéry World Cup track was at a speed usually reserved for full-on days with reckless abandon and crews of, well, senders. Out of the box this was surprising to say the least.
It is a big bike in comparison to downhill bikes of not that long ago, but I'm feeling comfy when I'm on it with my hands in a very similar position to most of my enduro bikes. This overall bike length contributes to huge straight line speed and control, to the extent that you arrive at corners markedly quicker than on other bikes. That bike length and stability do then require you to be on your game to get it round the corners at the speeds that it wants to go. You definitely need to be a pilot to maneuver it around turns and obstacles, but when you do, it rewards with a simply thrilling ride.
It's not necessarily a bike that likes to slow down and weave around, finding features here and there to up the fun level. Instead, it derives its fun from hitting things at speed with a manner so composed that you want to push back up again and again, hitting the same thing faster and faster each time. I've been riding it so far in the "short" chainstay setting and 0mm reach position on the headset inserts, so it will be interesting to see how the bike's character might change with the increase or reduction in bike length from the front and rear centers.
So far it's doing exactly what it says on the tin. With its constant desire to go fast there's no real pootling around on the new Sender. Mellower trails or sections now have a quietened riding experience, like someone turned the volume down a notch. But you're deceptively still going the same speed as on other bikes. I'm not sure you'd buy a race car to just meander round a track, when you know full well it was built for being driven to within an inch of its life. That said, when tired or with a bit more of a passenger riding style it feels like it will take you for a ride with its single-track mind, as it will still pick up speed between the turns without much input from you. When you're involved with it, piloting the bike, leaning it over hard into the corners, the rewards are tremendous speed and composure, which around this region of the Alps is hugely addictive.
With this addictiveness, thankfully, we've got the Sender CFR for a while to come, with not only a full review to come but also a downhill bike comparison later in the year looking at pitting four of this year’s new downhill bikes against each other objectively with timing, and subjectively with ride impressions.