The Canyon Strive CF 5.0 and the Canyon Torque AL 6.0 are both designed to be ridden downhill hard and then pedalled back to the top of the hill. Both bikes are listed in the “enduro” category on Canyon’s website and both should be great fun to ride in their own right. However, the similarities end there. Which one should you choose? Speed or style? Let us help you make the right choice!

Canyon Strive CF 5.0 160/150 mm (f/r) | 29″ | 15.26 kg | € 2,999
Canyon Torque AL 6.0 180/175 mm (f/r) | 27.5″ | 15.46 kg | € 2,599

The Contenders

The Canyon Strive and Torque are two very different bikes built with the same idea in mind – to create a bike that offers the most fun on the descents whilst retaining acceptable climbing abilities to let you pedal up and ride down all over again. However, while they are both great fun to ride, their riding characteristics are very different.

In one corner we have the Canyon Strive CF 5.0. It has a full carbon frame, 29” wheels, 150 mm rear travel and a 160 mm travel fork up front. The CF 5.0 model tested in this comparison comes in at €2999. In the other corner is the Canyon Torque AL 6.0. It gets 175 mm of rear travel from its aluminium frame and a massive 180 mm fork. The Torque rolls on smaller 27.5-inch wheels and costs € 2,599.

Both bikes weigh within 200 grams of each other, with the carbon Strive CF 5.0 tipping the scales at 15.26 kg, and the alloy Torque AL 6.0 weighing in at 15.46 kg. It’s safe to say neither of these bikes are featherweights.

The Canyon Strive CF 5.0 in Detail

Sleek, elegant and fast – three words that spring to mind when describing the Canyon Strive CF 5.0. Like a modern sports car, it is packed full of features and modern technology, such as its 29-inch wheels, full carbon frame and Canyon’s Shapeshifter technology, in an attempt to maximise its performance. The Shapeshifter lets you choose between a Downhill and XC mode, adjusting the Strive’s head and seat angles by 1.5° with the push of a lever. In XC mode the bottom bracket is raised and the rear travel reduced to 135 mm. The steeper geometry, reduced travel and raised bottom bracket in XC mode really transforms the Strive’s climbing performance. In Downhill mode the Strive CF 5.0 retains its full 150 mm travel out back.

Canyon Strive CF 5.0 | 160/150 mm (f/r) | 15.26 kg | 29″ | € 2,999

The spec on the Strive CF 5.0 model tested is largely made up of workhorse components. FOX provides the suspension components, consisting of a FLOAT DPX2 Performance shock and 36 Rhythm fork. The drivetrain and brakes are from SRAM, in the form of their NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and Guide T brakes. Whilst we have no issue with SRAM’s entry-level wide range transmission, we do think the wooden-feeling and underpowered SRAM Guide T brakes have no place on a bike of this calibre. The package is finished off by MAXXIS Minion DHRII tires which offer excellent grip and traction.

Fork FOX 36 Rhythm 160 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPX2 Performance 150 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide T 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed
Seatpost Iridium Dropper 150 mm
Stem Race Face Chester 50 mm
Bars Race Face Chester Riserbar 780 mm
Wheels Sun Ringlé Düroc
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4 29″
Weight 15.26 kg
Price € 2,999

Inadequate –i f you plan on riding any steep or technical trails we would highly recommend upgrading the brakes. Stoppers like the SRAM Guide RE specced on the Torque would be much more appropriate here.
2 for 1? – the Canyon Strive CF 5.0’s Shapeshifter drastically improves its climbing performance.
Grippy – both the Canyon Torque AL 6.0 and the Canyon Strive CF 5.0 are specced with grippy MAXXIS MaxxGrip and MaxTerra compound tires. However, we would have liked a tougher casing for our days in the bike park.
At the heart of the Canyon Strive CF 5.0 is a beautiful carbon frame, kitted out with solid, but perhaps not quite so refined, workhorse components. Despite this, we enjoyed the overall package and ride quality.
Size S M L XL
Seat Tube 400 mm 440 mm 455 mm 500 mm
Top tube 601 mm 627 mm 660 mm 695 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 110 mm 130 mm
Head angle 66° 66° 66° 66°
Seat angle 73,5° 73,5° 73,5° 73,5°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB drop 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm
Wheelbase 1,169 mm 1,196 mm 1,230 mm 1,268 mm
Reach 415 mm 440 mm 470 mm 500 mm
Stack 626 mm 631 mm 640 mm 658 mm

The Canyon Torque AL 6.0 in Detail

The Torque AL 6.0 is the rowdy cousin in Canyon’s Gravity lineup. This long-travel bruiser blurs the lines between categories with its 175 mm rear suspension travel and surprisingly civilised climbing manners. It is somewhat of a jack of all trades in the gravity sector. Compared to the elegant, carbon framed Strive, the alloy Canyon Torque AL 6.0 seems very simple. It foregoes the Shapeshifter and features neat external cable routing.

Canyon Torque AL 6.0 | 180/175 mm (f/r) | 15.46 kg | 27.5″ | € 2,599

The spec of the Canyon Torque AL 6.0 we rode for this comparison packs a serious punch. RockShox handle the suspension with their Lyrik RC fork and Super Deluxe RCT shock. A SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain delivers power to the Sun Ringle Duroc wheelset that is kitted out with MAXXIS Minion DHRII tires. Stopping power is provided by SRAM’s powerful Guide RE brakes.

Fork RockShox Lyrik RC 180 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe RCT 175 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RE
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 12-fach
Seatpost Iridium-Teleskopsattelstütze
Stem Canyon G5
Bars Canyon G5 Riserbar
Wheels Sun Ringlé Düroc
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4 27.5″
Weight 15.46 kg
Price € 2,599

Burly – the Canyon Torque AL 6.0’s frame is visibly more rugged compared to the Strive’s elegant carbon lines.
External – the Canyon Torque AL 6.0 features external cable routing, which should make it very straightforward to fix or replace any cables if needed.
Smaller – the Torque’s smaller wheels make it a blast in the air and in tight corners. However, it doesn’t hold its speed as well as the longer legged Strive.
Better specced – the Torque AL 6.0 has a higher spec compared to the Strive CF 5.0. However, it foregoes the latter’s carbon frame.
Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 380 mm 400 mm 440 mm 455 mm 500 mm
Top tube 571 mm 597 mm 620 mm 642 mm 665 mm
Head tube 105 mm 105 mm 125 mm 135 mm 145 mm
Head angle 65° 65° 65° 65° 65°
Seat angle 74° 74° 74° 74° 74°
Chainstays 428 mm 428 mm 428 mm 428 mm 428 mm
BB drop 15 mm 15 mm 15 mm 15 mm 15 mm
Wheelbase 1,147 mm 1,171 mm 1,195 mm 1,219 mm 1,243 mm
Reach 400 mm 420 mm 440 mm 460 mm 480 mm
Stack 609 mm 618 mm 627 mm 636 mm 645 mm

The fight

Both the Canyon Strive CF 5.0 and the Canyon Torque AL 6.0 need to be ordered online direct from the Canyon website and will arrive by post in a bike box. Unpacking and assembling both bikes is made easy by the instruction manual and included tools. Despite its Shapeshifter feature, the Strive is no more difficult to set up than the Torque.

The Canyon Torque AL 6.0 is kitted out with better kit than the Canyon Strive CF 5.0, despite costing €400 less. The biggest difference comes in the form of the Torque’s drivetrain (it is equipped with SRAM GX Eagle instead of NX Eagle) and brakes (SRAM Guide RE rather than Guide T) as well as the better fork. So if you are after the highest spec for your money, the Torque takes the lead. However, the Strive shines with a lower overall weight, full carbon frame and Canyon’s clever Shapeshifter unit which effectively gives you two bikes in one.

Both bikes climb well enough, but nonetheless, there is a clear winner here. The Shapeshifter on the Canyon Strive CF 5.0 transforms its climbing abilities with the touch of a button. The steepened head and seat angles in XC mode are clearly noticeable and improve climbing comfort and efficiency. The Strive’s rear travel also firms up and reduces to 135 mm when XC mode is engaged, providing a stable pedaling platform whilst retaining good grip in technical sections. The Shapeshifter also raises the Strive’s bottom bracket height, greatly reducing the risk of pedal strikes when climbing.

With the Canyon Torque AL 6.0, climbing is definitely more of a means to an end. It has no geometry adjustment, so you are stuck with the slack 74° seat angle. However, the Torque does climb reasonably well if you consider its long travel and gravity-biased geometry. We would definitely recommend slamming the saddle forwards on both bikes to increase their climbing abilities. As long as you keep your legs spinning the Canyon Torque AL 6.0 will happily winch up even the steepest climb, but don’t expect the same snappy acceleration you get from the Strive.

Strive vs. Torque – which is the king of the descents?

Both of these bikes are very fun descenders in their own right. The Canyon Strive CF 5.0 appeals to those who get pleasure from going as fast as possible. Once you reach the top of the mountain, a click of the Shapeshifter remote is all that is needed to engage Downhill mode. The previous Shapeshifter design required a precisely timed movement to change modes, but the new and improved Shapeshifter is a lot easier to operate. Once the button is pressed it will automatically switch modes at the first opportunity. The Strive picks up speed very quickly, and you’ll feel nicely balanced between the wheels. It’s this balance and integrated ride feel that makes the Strive excellent at holding its speed through corners. When the trail gets fast and rough the bike really comes alive. Its plush yet capable suspension soaks up bumps admirably, feeling like way more than just 150 mm travel at the rear, and the balanced geometry ensures you stay confidently in control through even the roughest rock gardens.

On the other hand, the Canyon Torque AL 6.0, is all about playing with the trail. Its smaller 27.5-inch wheels and compact geometry mean it loves to be chucked about in the air and slammed into berms. While the Torque’s massive 175 mm travel is not the plushest, it offers great progressivity and bucket loads of reserves. On mellower trails with less gradient, the Torque can feel a bit clumsy and it does not hold its speed as well as the bigger-wheeled Strive. Overall, the build and frame of the Torque AL 6.0 performed solidly and took all the abuse we threw at it. However, despite the Torque’s long travel and capable geometry, we still found the Strive CF 5.0 to be the king of stability on fast, rough tracks and also more direct and engaging on flatter sections.

Which bike is for me?

The Canyon Strive CF 5.0 and Canyon Torque AL 6.0 are two very different bikes, with very different ride characteristics. We would recommend the Strive CF 5.0 to anyone looking for a stable, confident and fast bike that will perform equally well on an EWS race stage as it will conquering your local off-piste trails. In this comparison, it’s the greater allrounder.

The Torque AL 6.0 is best suited to a small niche of riders. Those who spend the majority of their time riding fast bike park trails and sessioning big jumps in the woods. It’s even more playful than the Strive and the spec and value for money are impressive. If you are looking for a very agile big hitter with an awesome build kit on the cheap this may be the bike for you.

This article is from ENDURO issue #039

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Words: Finlay Anderson Photos: Christoph Bayer