We really hate to disappoint you, but nope, there’s not much new about the Canyon Strive CFR. Besides a few updates to the componentry, the bike is entering its third season unchanged. Will that be enough for 2021? Can the bike still keep up with the ever-tougher competition?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

Canyon Strive CFR | 170/150 mm (f/r) | 14.40 kg in size L | € 5,999
Manufacturer’s website

Canyon recently unveiled the brand new Spectral 29 and rumours about a new Strive soon followed. The reason: they appear to be very similar on paper, and the Strive is getting long in the tooth. However, the direct-to-consumer brand is sticking to its proven platform for 2021, though with some sensible updates to some of the bike’s components. The Shapeshifter concept at the heart of the Strive remains, allowing you to adjust the geometry and suspension at the push of a remote lever on the handlebar. This moves the position of the upper shock mount, thereby adjusting the geometry and travel. You can choose between bike park150 or 135 mm travel at the rear, which Canyon combine with a 170 mm travel fork on the flagship model, as tested.

The components of the 2021 Canyon Strive CFR

The components of the € 5,999 Strive CFR flagship model leave nothing to be desired: FOX Factory suspension combining a 36 fork (finally with the GRIP2 damper!) and DPX2 shock along with a Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes. Fans of carbon wheels should be happy with the classy DT Swiss EXC 1200 that the German brand has opted for. We were impressed with Canyon’s in-house G5 stem as it’s a perfect match, both visually and technically. The compact OneUp V2 seat post is a fantastic upgrade from the previous model and with 180 mm travel, you can really get that saddle out of the way to move around freely on the bike.

Despite a whopping 20 mm difference in travel, the FOX 36 fork and the rear end of the Strive harmonise well, feeling nicely balanced.
Unfortunately, the riding position on the Strive is far too rear heavy by today’s standards. The only thing that helps is pushing the saddle all the way forward and putting the Shapeshifter in the steep position on the climbs.
Many riders are still suspicious about Canyon’s Shapeshifter system, with the first generation causing a lot of problems some years ago. However, the updated version has proven to be reliable in our tests. We haven’t encountered any issues so far.

Canyon Strive CFR 2021

€ 5,999

Specifications

Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPX2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost OneUp V2 180 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-piston 203/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR/XT 32/10-51
Stem Canyon G5 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 Carbon 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss EXC1200
Tires MAXXIS Assegai EXO Maxx Terra/MAXXIS Minion DHR II EXO+ Maxx Terra 2.4"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 14.40 kg
Wheelsize 29"


The new Canyon G5 stem suits the bike to a tee and its dimensions are spot on too.
For the new season, Canyon have made some useful upgrades to the Strive’s components. Among other things, you now get a 180 mm OneUp V2 dropper post and the GRIP2 damper in the FOX 36 fork.

The geometry of the 2021 Canyon Strive CFR

Compared to the competition, the geometry of the Canyon Strive is starting to look out of date. Even in the steep Shapeshifter position, the seat tube angle is still quite slack at 74.4°. At 66°, the head angle is comparatively steep. The reach in size L is a fitting 470 mm, and the bottom bracket is pleasantly low with a drop of 36 mm. The 2021 Strive CFR is only available as a 29er in sizes S–XL.

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 66-67.5° 66-67.5° 66-67.5° 66-67.5°
Seat angle 72.9-74.4° 72.9-74.4° 72.9-74.4° 72.9-74.4°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop 32 mm 32 mm 32 mm 32 mm
Wheelbase 1,173 mm 1,200 mm 1,234 mm 1,272 mm
Reach 409 mm 434 mm 464 mm 494 mm
Stack 630 mm 635 mm 645 mm 664 mm
Helmet Fox Speedframe | Glasses 100% Glendale | Jersey DEUS EX MACHINA Saber Moto Jersey
Pants Fox Ranger Pants | Shoes Ride Concept Transition

The slack seat tube angle is the Strive’s biggest drawback on the climbs. But you can compensate for this to some extent.

You won’t find this setup tip in Canyon’s user manual, but it’s one we can definitely recommend: push the saddle all the way forward on the dropper post. Even with the Shapeshifter in the steep position, the slack seat tube angle usually has you sitting uncomfortably far back over the rear wheel. Heed our tip and this won’t be as big an issue. With Shapeshifter in the uphill position, the Strive accelerates very willingly and is quick up the climbs. On technical uphills, the Strive offers lots of traction and intuitive handling despite the reduced travel in this setting.

Fun over speed! The Strive loves slashing through turns! However, you’ll have to tune the bike for rough tracks and high speeds.

The Canyon Strive has already proven how fast it can be, placing second in our race bike group test this summer. But that bike was far from stock and you’ll need a lot of upgrades to achieve the same build. Off the shelf, the character of the Strive is more agile than it is composed. Due to the steep head angle, its handling is very direct and it responds to steering input at the bat of an eyelid. Thanks to the low bottom bracket, you feel perfectly integrated with the bike while also being able to generate tons of grip through corners. You’ll also remain confident on steep terrain. However, the 2021 Strive CFR has a weakness and that is speed. Compared to the competition, you’ll find yourself on the brakes a little more often as you pick up speed. Otherwise, the bike starts to feel nervous, requiring vigilance despite the well-tuned rear suspension. The rear end responds sensitively, offers plenty of feedback and has enough reserves for big hits. However, it can’t compensate for the bike’s nervous handling.

How does the Canyon Strive compare to the competition?

Just two years ago, the Canyon Strive was declared our enduro bike group test champion. However, newer bikes like the Rocky Mountain Altitude have become significantly more composed and stable while remaining just as agile on the descents. The Strive is a willing climber but the slack seat tube angle makes for an uncomfortable riding position. If you’re looking for an agile 29er at a fair price the Strive is still a solid option, but be aware that you’ll find more rounded packages on today’s market – one of them even stems from Canyon themselves.

Tuning tips: push the saddle all the way to the front

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

The Canyon Strive CFR is starting to show its age. It’s still a great bike for those who aren’t too worried about clocking the fastest time and are instead simply looking for an agile and fun 29er that offers intuitive handling. However, if speed is your thing, you’ll have to accept some compromises, just as you do on the climbs.

Tops

  • agile and intuitive downhill handling
  • coherent high-end spec at a fair price
  • lots of fun on most trails

Flops

  • nervous at speed
  • seat tube angle is too slack

You can find out more about at canyon.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR | COMMENCAL Meta AM 29 Öhlins (Click for review) | GIANT Reign Advanced Pro 0 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro (Click for review) | Propain Spindrift CF Mix Custom (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 Rally Edition (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 RSV (Click for review) | Specialized Enduro Expert (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Transition Sentinel XT (Click for review) | Trek Slash 9.8 XT (Click for review)

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer, Valentin Rühl, Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.