Canyon enter our big 2023 enduro group test with their new enduro racer, the Strive CFR. It features Canyon’s proprietary Shapeshifter technology, which allows you to alter the geometry and rear suspension kinematics on the fly. The Strive has already made it onto the podium of several EWS races,but how does it fare against the competition in our group test?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review

Canyon Strive CFR | 170/160 mm (f/r) | 29″
15.7 kg in size M | € 6,299 | Manufacturer’s website

The Strive CFR was developed to ride fast and can be found in the enduro category on Canyon’s website. With the Collective Factory Team, the Strive has already ruffled some feathers in the EWS circuit. Retailing at € 6,299, it’s the cheapest bike in the entire test field alongside the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO. It combines 170/160 mm of travel front and rear and tips the scales at 15.7 kg. However, the striking feature of the Strive is Canyon’s proprietary Shapeshifter, which has been an integral part of the Strive since 2013 and was revised from the ground up for MY 2022. A gas piston shifts the position of the shock mount on the rocker link, altering the geometry and rear suspension kinematics of the bike at the touch of a button. Put simply, it’s a flip chip that can be activated via a handlebar remote.

The Canyon Strive CFR 2022 in detail

As the name suggests, the Strive CFR relies on Canyon’s high-end CFR frame, which employs more advanced carbon materials than the standard CF equivalent, allowing engineers to achieve the same degree of stiffness at a lower weight. For the time being, the Strive is only available with the CFR frame. The cables are routed inside the frame and clamped at the ports. A generously sized seat- and chain-stay protector ensures a quiet ride and prevents paint chips. On top of that, protective frame tape prevents your shoes from rubbing away the paint on the swingarm. A big TPU plate shields the down tube from stray rocks while a tool mount on the top tube allows you to carry basic trail essentials.

Delivering the balancing act
The Strive offers an excellent compromise between agility and composure, faring equally well in both high speed sections and fast consecutive turns.

The spec of the Canyon Strive CFR 2022

The Canyon Strive CFR takes on the competition with a top spec at a fair price. The suspension consists of a bling FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 fork and FOX X2 Factory shock. Shifting and braking is taken care of by Shimano, featuring XTR brakes with 200 mm rotors front and rear and a matching 12-speed XTR drivetrain. However, Canyon combine Shimano’s top tier rear derailleur with a cheaper XT cassette, which might be slightly heavier, but ensures the same excellent shifting performance on the trail. At 170 mm, Canyon’s G5 dropper post doesn’t offer enough travel, restricting freedom of movement in combination with the long reach. That being said, bigger frame sizes from L upwards come standard with a 200 mm dropper post. In both versions, the travel can be reduced by up to 25 mm without tools. Canyon also rely on their in house components for the 800 mm G5 alloy handlebars. A chain guide with bash guard prevents the chain from falling off and protects the chainring from nasty impacts. The Strive rolls on a robust DT Swiss wheelset consisting of EX 511 alloy rims and 350 hubs, which is exactly what the EX 1700 consists of – a wheelset we’ve already praised on several occasions in the past. Only in this case, the wheels are built in house by Canyon, rather than by DT Swiss. MAXXIS supply the tires, pairing a 29×2.5″ ASSEGAI with soft MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front, and 29×2.4″ Minion DHR II in the harder MaxxTerra rubber compound at the rear, both in EXO+ casing. While this setup ensures top traction at the front and a long service life at the rear, such a potent bike deserves more robust tires with a tougher casing like MAXXIS’ DoubleDown, both front and rear.

Clearly labelled
The two levers at the top control the Strive’s Shapeshifter. The side-by-side layout is quickly internalised and makes the system easy and intuitive to use.
Same, but different
The DT Swiss EX 511 rim and 350 hub are the same you find on the DT Swiss EX 1700 wheelset, only in this case, the wheels are built in house by Canyon.
Two in on
With its gas piston, Shapeshifter allows you to alter the geometry and rear suspension kinematics of the bike while riding.
Although at 780 mm, Canyon’s own brand G5 alloy handlebars are narrower than most bars in this test, the Strive is incredibly composed.
Almost nailed it…
While the soft rubber compound at the front is an excellent choice, a potent bike like the Strive deserves more robust tires with a tougher casing, like MAXXIS’ DoubleDown.

Canyon Strive CFR

€ 6,299


Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX X2 Factory 160 mm
Seatpost Canyon G5 170 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 1x12
Stem Canyon G5 40 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 Alu 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss EX 511 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI, EXO+, 3C MaxxGrip/MAXXIS Minion DHR II, EXO+, 3C MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 15.7 kg

Specific Features

Adjustable reach

The geometry of the Canyon Strive CFR 2022

The Canyon Strive CFR is available in four sizes, S to XL, offering a suitable size for all riders between 163 and 200 cm. However, reach is extremely long across the board and our frame size M is comparable to a size L from other manufacturers – and even other Canyon bikes! Moreover, Canyon deliver the Strive with additional headset cups, allowing you to adjust the reach by +/- 5 mm. We mainly rode the bike in the medium reach setting. While at 420 mm, the seat tube is comparatively short, the short-travel dropper post prevents you from taking advantage of its benefits. When switching the Shapeshifter into “Uphill” mode, the bottom bracket rises by 15 mm while the head and seat tube angles steepen up by 1.5° to 78° and 64.5°, respectively. In addition, the system reduces the rear travel by 20 mm to 140 mm while increasing the progression of the suspension and reducing anti-squat.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 400 mm 420 mm 435 mm 460 mm
Top tube 601 mm 627 mm 654 mm 684 mm
Head tube 105 mm 110 mm 120 mm 140 mm
Head angle 63/64.5° 63/64.5° 63/64.5° 63/64.5°
Seat angle 76.5/78° 76.5/78° 76.5/78° 76.5/78°
Chainstay 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm
Wheelbase 1,234 mm 1,262 mm 1,291 mm 1,325 mm
Reach 450/460 mm 475/485 mm 500/510 mm 525/535 mm
Stack 629 mm 634 mm 642 mm 660 mm
Helmet Giro Insurgent | Goggle Fox Main Stripe | Hip Pack Canyon Hip Bag | Jersey POC Pure LS Jersey | Pants SQLab ONE10 S | Shoes Specialized 2FO ClipLite

The Canyon Strive CFR on the trail

Riding uphill, the Canyon Strive CFR is one of the top dogs in this test field. Its climbing performance reminds us a little of the MERIDA, and only the stiff Mondraker feels even livelier on technical climbs. Needless to say, the Shapeshifter plays a huge role in this, positioning the rider centrally on top of the bike and significantly reducing pedal bob. Operating the system takes a little getting used to, but the side-by-side lever layout quickly becomes familiar. To activate “uphill” mode, you just have to press the corresponding lever and briefly unweight the rear wheel, while for “Downhill” mode, you hit the other lever and briefly compress the suspension with your weight. In order for the system to work properly, the gas piston needs to be adjusted to the rider’s weight using a shock pump. While Shapeshifter adds complexity to the Strive, it has a clearly noticeable effect on its riding performance.

Shapeshifter enables a central climbing position and firm suspension, making the Canyon one of the best climbers in the entire test field.

The suspension strikes a perfect balance between traction, support and reserves.

Swing your leg over the saddle and feel good’ is the motto of the Canyon Strive. Rowdy shredding sessions have never felt this safe.

As soon as you drop into the valley, the Strive impresses with its comfortable riding position and good-natured handling, which makes it extremely easy to ride. As a result, the Canyon makes you feel at ease from the get-go and allows you to shred back to the car park safely (and fast!) even after an exhausting day in the saddle. The suspension works efficiently and offers a great compromise between support, reserves and traction – although the Yeti generates even more grip. Nevertheless, the Strive impresses with outstanding all-round qualities, handling all sorts of terrain with stoic composure, regardless of how steep the trail is. At the same time, the Canyon is pleasantly nimble, faring equally well both in high-speed sections and with spontaneous line changes. The Strive is a well-rounded package and takes on any trail – and at half the price of some other bikes in this test. However, be very careful when choosing your size!

Tuning tip: Tires with more robust casing front and rear

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The Canyon Strive is the cheapest bike in this test but takes on the competition with a consistent spec. It’s an excellent all-rounder and also one of the best climbers in this test, which is mainly due to the Shapeshifter. Downhill, it impresses with intuitive, predictable handling and excellent suspension. Overall, the Strive can keep up with the best bikes of the season while at the same time allowing you to shred the trails, not your bank account ;). As a result, the Canyon secures the coveted Best Buy Tip in our 2023 enduro group test!


  • Very fair price
  • Excellent allrounder
  • Very short familiarisation time


  • Tires don’t do justice to the potential of the bike
  • Short-travel dropper post restricts freedom of movement

You can find out more about at

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 (Click for review) | Intense Tracer 279 S (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 (Click for review) | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)

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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger

About the author

Simon Kohler

​​Simon loves speed. He has many years of racing experience as a longboard downhill skater, blasting down alpine passes on his board. In the meantime, he’s swapped four wheels for two, charging down trails and bike park lines aboard his mountain bike instead. He’s savoured some of Europe’s finest trails on various road trips through the Alps. Having lived in Austria for some time, he knows the local Austrian bike parks like the back of his hand. He’s a tech nerd through and through, using the skills and know-how from his engineering degree and his attention to detail to put the latest bikes and components through their paces for our reviews. As an early riser and self-declared muesli connoisseur, he lives his life powered by oats and the strength of his legs.