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
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.
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.
Canyon Strive CFR
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
Size S M L XL
Weight 15.7 kg
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.
|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|
|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|
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.
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
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 canyon.com
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)
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger