Canyon, the direct sales giant from Koblenz, Germany have just finished updating their Strive enduro bike and invited us to Malaga, Spain, to see what it's capable of.
The new model was designed for top-level enduro racing with the help of the Canyon Factory Enduro Team, but promises to be a step up in performance for your local trails too. The previous version took the team to 2x Enduro World Series team championships so it has a lot to live up to. The geometry and kinematic-adjusting Shapeshifter remains to help with climbing, and is arguably more useful than a shock lockout, but has undergone a redesign for greater reliability and easier switching between modes.
This iteration was solely designed for 29" wheels, following extensive testing with athletes such as Ines Thoma and Dimitri Tordo. It is also only
• Intended use: enduro
• Rear wheel travel: 150mm
• Wheel size: 29''
• Carbon only, CF and CFR (-300g lighter)
• On-the-fly geometry and kinematics adjustment
• 66° head angle
• 435mm chainstays
• 2400g frame weight (CFR w/o shock, claimed)
• S to XL frame sizes
• Colors: CF- Mint Blue, Black, Red | CFR- Blue, Black/White
• MSRP: $3,999 - $6,000 USD | €2,999 - €6,999 EUR
available as a carbon frame, with no cheaper aluminum bike available. Instead, Canyon have followed Santa Cruz and Yeti with two different qualities of carbon used to create a less expensive, slightly heavier CF frame and a lighter, more expensive CFR frame, but both with the same stiffness characteristics.
Six models are available, four with the CF frame and two with the CFR, but only three in the USA, along with the CFR frameset. Complete bikes are available from $3,999 to $6,000 USD, with the frameset costing $2,999. For the rest of the world, complete bikes cost from €2,999 to €6,999 EUR with the frameset at €2,999.Frame Details
The carbon frame uses an angular design language to create a slick finished product. It features full internal cable routing (housed in foam to keep it quiet), essential down tube and chainstay protection, a custom headset retaining cap, space for a full-size water bottle and a 180mm PM brake mount so that most riders shouldn't need to use a brake adaptor, which is also good to see.
Canyon have designed their own Quixie rear axle for the Strive, which is tool-free and allows the lever to be stored inside the axle, reducing the width of the rear of the bike – one less thing to snag on a rock.
The CF vs CFR frame's weight difference is down to a change of lay-up of the carbon fiber. The CFR uses higher quality carbon fiber; the resin and fiber are combined in a different way and the weave alignment changes to create a frame that is 300g lighter, but equally as stiff. Shapeshifter 2.0
Canyon's Shapeshifter enables the bike to be optimized for climbing or descending without adjusting the suspension setup, but they call the two modes 'pedal' and 'shred'. The geometry and kinematics are changed simultaneously to make the bike more efficient when you want it.
The system uses a handlebar mounted remote, air spring, and patented rear shock linkage. By changing the linkage locations, and kinematics with it, it is possible to switch between two different geometries with corresponding amounts of travel and suspension curves. In shred mode the bike has 150mm of travel, a 66° head angle and 73.5° seat angle. but with the Shapeshifter engaged in XC mode, these angles change by 1.5° for a 67.5° head angle and 75° seat angle, along with a reduction in travel to 135mm and a firmer suspension feel.
The original Shapeshifter did the same job but some riders experienced reliability problems, so this was a priority for the engineers working on version 2.0. Canyon made the decision to work with Fox, due to their experience with telescopic mechanisms, in the same way Yeti does with their Infinity systems. Changes made in the name of reliability are the new piston seals, which also reduce friction; the internal cable routing setup and the new air spring does not require an additional screw thread, enabling an integrated design to keep dirt out.
Other changes were also made to the system. The most important one being the ease of changing modes. The old version required a certain amount of effort and coordination to change modes, which could be tricky to accomplish during a race run. To change into the climbing mode, riders had to unweight the bike to let the suspension extend, and give a hefty bounce on the suspension to lower it back to descending mode. This also had to be timed in conjunction with depressing the remote lever on the bar and then releasing.
On the 2.0 it clicks into XC mode and then 'clacks' back into shred mode. The suspension no longer needs to be loaded, as setting the gas spring pressure equally to the shock allows it to change mode within a few seconds or with slight suspension movements.
Finally, the remote has been made more ergonomic and combined with the dropper post remote, cutting down on bar mounted clutter, weight and putting both levers in the easiest place to reach.
The new Strive is available in sizes small to XL, with corresponding reach measurements of 415mm to 500mm, so it should fit most riders. The head tube length also grows from 90mm to 130mm, keeping the handlebars in a similar position for all riders. Other important numbers are the 66° head angle (shred mode), 75° seat angle (XC mode), 336mm BB height and mid-length 435mm chainstays. These are rather conservative numbers on numbers on paper for a new enduro race bike.Specifications
Four different builds (5.0 - 8.0) are available with the CF frame from €2,999 to €4,499 with a choice of three colors in each. The 5.0 uses an NX drivetrain up to X01 on the 8.0. Most models use Fox suspension front and rear (36 fork and DPX2 shock), with the 6.0 being the only Rockshox equipped choice. Some of the 8.0's price can be attributed to the Reynolds carbon wheels, but there are lots of choices without.
The two CFR builds, the 9.0 Team and 9.0 LTD, retail for €5,499 and €6,999 respectively. Both of these use SRAM Eagle drivetrains and Code RSC brakes, with X01 on the Team and XX1 on the LTD. The additional cost of the LTD is mostly down to the Fox Factory suspension and Enve M730 wheels, while the Team uses Rockshox suspension and Mavic Deemax Pro wheels.
Riders in the USA should be aware that only the CF 6.0, CF 8.0 and CFR 9.0 Team will be available to them for $3,999, $5,300 or $6,000, along with the CFR frameset for $2,999.
With the bike set-up with help from Fabien Barel, we were ready to shreddy. The advice was to set the bike at 30% rear sag in descend mode, with around 20% from the fork. Later I added pressure to the fork as the bikes were built with a Lyrik RCT3, which feels really under-supported and spends more time in the mid-stroke compared to the amazing 2019 Charger 2 version – luckily production bikes will be specced with this killer version of the fork.
The first thing I noticed with the Strive was how quiet it was, proving that the attention to detail and internal foam housing tubes work well. Secondly, the Shapeshifter really does offer performance benefits over the old system and worked on the trail every time. Just click into the mode you want and it changes quickly without bother. It pedals well in either mode, though slightly better under power in climb mode. More importantly, the changes in geometry make a real difference for climbing off-road. I think that raising the bottom bracket and steepening the seat angle is key for a travel and geometry adjusting bike: improved ground clearance, better climbing position, and increased fork sag (from your weight shift) make more of a difference than the 1.5º change in a static situation.
In shred mode the bike had great small bump sensitivity, mid-stroke support, and smooth bottom out control, all of which resulted in a bike that tracked well and gave a playful and responsive ride, wanting to be pumped through terrain and popped over things. Canyon didn't mention anything about tuning the carbon layup, but this bike is definitely on the more forgiving side of the stiffness spectrum, meaning great grip and compliance through rough sections.
Geometry? This is the sticking point for me, with the bike billed as an enduro racer. After going back and forth with so many bikes over the last few years, for me personally, the Strive has drawbacks. First, after riding with much steeper seat angles between 76 - 79º (hell, even those freeriders at YT just added a full 3º to the SA of the new Jeffsy), my legs just hate to pedal a slack seat angle. My quads and lower back were aching within minutes and it felt like pedaling through sand - maybe this would not be a problem if you already ride something similar. Secondly, the steeper head angle made it harder to commit to corners and brake hard in steep sections, forcing me to lean back more and lose grip on the front wheel. I rode an XL, which is the longest bike, with the steepest head angle I have tried to date (other bikes I have ridden with around a 500mm reach have had a maximum of HA of 65º). Leaning back to feel safe on steep sections made the bike feel too big (an Aston first!) and I would ride the large next time.
Overall, Canyon have improved upon their previous Strive chassis that was a hit with many riders and racers. Great suspension, feel, and now with a Shapeshifter that cannot be complained about (unless reliability issues show in the future), with a 'middle of the road' geometry and shape. The shape will work for many riders and scenarios, but it's on the tame side of things for an EWS racer.