Finally they have let the cat out of the bag – or better said, the suspension system! More than one year ago we already could see the newly contracted Fabien Barel winning the first-ever Enduro World Series in Punta Ala on a prototype of the new Strive CF with a secretive cover on the rear shock. A bike, that Fab rode last year’s whole season, that was spotted at the EWS in Chile with a swirly camouflage paintwork and obviously in carbon early this year and has now been presented officially in Alsace, France.

Again Canyon is doing something interesting with their shocks.  What lies under this bag, its certainly a Fox but has it got a remote lockout?
The covered rear shock of Ludy May’s Canyon Strive CF prototype at the EWS in Chile. In forums there was a lot of talking and guessing about what lied under this bag. So, what’s it?

The heart of the new Canyon Strive CF is called Shapeshifter, a technology that will change the Strive CF as much as the traditional categorization of bike and their intended use. Later we will dig deeper into that.

Die Präsentation des neuen Canyon Strive CF. Photo: Markus Greber
The presentation of the all-new Canyon Strive CF. Photo: Markus Greber

In the eyes of the German bike brand enduro is a synonym for mountain biking in its purest form. Enduro riders need to be able to handle technically demanding trails. Uphill, downhill, whatever – you’ve just got to ride it. The exact same goes for Enduro bikes, but this is where challenges begin to emerge.

Today’s trail bikes climb like XC bikes and go down like DH bikes from 10 years ago. That’s an impressive development if you have been involved with bikes long enough to feel and ride those bikes back in the days. With the innovative Shapeshifter, Canyon makes one big step forward towards challenging today’s XC and DH bikes. The Shapeshifter system shall allow the rider to change the whole character of the bike to suit the terrain they are riding. Two bikes in one.

Fabien Barel und Canyon-Entwickler Vinzenz Thoma auf der Bühne. Foto: Markus Greber
Fabien Barel and Canyon engineer Vinzenz Thoma presenting the Shapeshifter. Photo: Markus Greber

The fundamental question during the development process was: “How do you produce something that unites the climbing characteristics of a lightweight XC bike with the ability to attack any descent like a big travel downhill rig??“ With the new Shapeshifter, Canyon claims to have found the right balance between variability, usability and performance. Fabien Barel himself presents us in this video the technology and its claimed benefits.

This was the theory, let’s get into detail!

Das Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race CFET mit 160 mm Federweg und 27.5" Laufrädern.
The new Strive CF 9.0 Race CFET with 160 mm of travel and 27.5″ wheels. The deliberately placed color accents in the team’s colors radiates a fast look distracting from the very small details that reveal the bikes very special features.

The frame of the Strive CF is made – except for the rocker link – out of carbon. The extensively tested frame, both in the laboratory and the world’s racing circuits is supposed to be even stronger than most DH frames fabricated in aluminium. Weighing in at 2.400 gram without rear shock is no top-level compared to the competitive field of trail bikes but considering the additional weight of the Shapeshifter (some additional 200 grams), the frame is relatively pretty light.

The Shapeshift Technology:

Die aus Aluminium gefertigte Wippe sagt nur die halbe Wahrheit. Denn das Strive CF bietet mehr als "nur" 160 mm Federweg. Unter der Wippe verdeckt sitzt der Shapeshifter, welcher den Hinterbau per Click auf 130 mm reduziert und gleichzeitig Geometrie, sowie Kennlinie verändert.
The rocker link made out of aluminium tells only half the truth. Why? Because the Strive CF offers more than just a 160 mm of travel configuration. Hidden under the rocker there is a gas spring that will reduce the rear travel to 130 mm, change the geometry and suspension ratio with just the flick of a switch.

Constant changes in terrain place incredibly diverse demands on a bike. Rider weight gets transferred all over the place depending on what you’re taking on. While climbing, the back wheel bears up to 100% of the load, on the flats this drops to around 70%. When riding steep descents all this weight then gets transferred to the front wheel. To cope with these changes, suspension can be adjusted for climbing by reducing sag, travel and having an altogether firmer setup, which in turn results in steeper seat and steering angles. When the trail heads back down, however, the exact opposite is required: more sag, more travel, flatter angles and a lower position on the bike are all ideal. Most Enduro bikes try to strike a balance between these two setups.

Der Remote-Hebel des Shapeshifters am Lenker.
The remote lever of the Shapeshifter on the handlebar.
Dieses zusätzliche Ventil oberhalb des Dämpfers ist der optische Hinweis auf den Shapeshifter.
An additional valve above the rear shock snitches that there is something hidden under the rocker. Further there is an indicator on the rocker that shows mechanically in which “shape” (position) the system is. Black stands for DH Mode, green for XC mode.
Darunter verbirgt sich eine Gasfeder (Aktuator) welcher mittels einer von Canyon patentierten Dämpferanlenkung die gesamte Radcharakteristik verändert. Der Hub beträgt circa 1.5 cm.
Under the cover there is the gas spring that changes the whole characteristics of the bike through a patented rear shock linkage. The stroke is about 1.5 cm.
Die Gasfeder federt in keinster Weise und übernimmt keine Fahrwerksfunktion, sie dient lediglich dazu den Dämpfer von der XC-Position in die DH-Position zu bringen.
The gas spring does not take up any function in terms of damping or suspension, it’s just a mechanical actuator to bring the rear shock from XC Mode to DH mode and the other way round.
Links : Die Gasfeder im DH-Mode, Rechts: Die Gasfeder im XC-Mode.
Left: the gas spring in DH mode, right: the gas spring in XC Mode.
Im XC-Mode steht der kleine Umlenkhebel, über den der Dämpfer mit der Wippe verbunden ist in einer Linie mit dem Dämpfer. Das Resultat: Eine straffere Kennlinie, eine Federwegsreduzierung auf 130 mm und eine Geometrieveränderung.
In the XC Mode the small linkage that connects the rocker link with the shock forms one line resulting in a firm suspension rate, reduction of travel down to 130 mm and a change of the bikes whole geometry.
Im DH-Mode ist die Umlenkung angewinkelt, was für eine softere Kennlinie und eine flachere Geometrie sorgen soll. Zudem bietet der Hinterbau in diesem Modus 160 mm Federweg.
In DH Mode the linkage is bent providing a slacker geometry and full 160 mm of travel, that is more active.

The special benefit of this system is that you get two fundamentally different geometries, suspension rates, and travel settings to choose from, all without the need of a specially designed rear shock.

Das mechanische Kabel für den Shapeshifter wird im Sattelrohr in den Rahmen geführt.
The cable of the Shapeshifter leaves the frame in the seat tube.
Die Geometrieveränderung von DH- zu XC-Mode beträgt 1.5° bei Sitz- und Lenkwinkel, sowie 20 mm Tretlagerhöhendifferenz.
The geometry changes between DH Mode and XC Mode are: 1,5° in head angle, 1,5° in seat angle and 20 mm in bottom bracked height.

In XC mode, the bottom bracket is higher (365 mm) to allow more clearance over roots and rocks. The steeper head angle (67.5°) means quicker handling on technical climbs, while a more upright seat position (seat angle 75°) results in better power transfer and more load on the front wheel for improved balance uphill.

In DH Mode the rider’s centre of gravity is lowered thanks to a lower bottom bracket (345 mm) and a slacker seat (73.5°) and
head angle (66°). Load is spread more evenly across the bike for more stability and control at speed and giving a much surer feel when taking on steep descents.

The geometry difference is achieved through combining the action of the Shapeshifter with the corresponding effect on sag due to the change in suspension leverage ratio.

Die zwei Kennlinien von XC- und DH-Mode.
The two damping curves in XC and DH Mode.

Canyon recommends a sag of approx. 25-30% in DH Mode at 160 mm of travel. Switching to XC Mode that means that you’ll have about 15 % of sag due to the change in suspension leverage ratio. Additionally the weight shift due to the change of the geometry makes that you move forward discharging the rear (suspension) resulting in an even more efficient position. Additionally you’ll have the choice to make use of the compression adjustments of the suspension elements. But according to Canyon you won’t need them.

Details of the frame:

Die Formsprache des Strive ist dem Spectral sehr ähnlich und besticht durch gerade Linien und "technische" Kanten im Stealth Look.
The design language of the Strive CF finds its base in the Spectral model. Clean, straight and exciting.
ZU dem cleanen Look tragen zweifelsohne die innenverlegten Züge bei. Ungenutzte Öffnungen werden per Gummiabdeckung verschlossen.
Internal cable routing.
Die innenverlegten Züge verlassen im Tretlagerbereich den Rahmen.
The cables leave the frame in the bottom bracket area.
Unterrohrschutz für das Carbon.
Downtube protector.
Der Kettenstrebenschutz im Detail.
Chainstay protector.
"World Series" - aufgrund von Namens-rechtlichen Problemen verzichtet Canyon auf den Zusatz "Enduro". Auch im Bild: Die Canyon Through Axle mit 12 mm Steckachse.
“World Series” – due to patents pending Canyon forgoes putting “Enduro” on the frame. Also in the picture: The Canyon Through Axle with a diameter of 12 mm.

The spec of the Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race:

With a price of 4.299 Euros the Strive CF 9.0 Race offers an extremely good package with a spec list that will make every rider’s heart beat faster! The claimed weight is 12.6 kg.

Des Racers Liebling: Die Fox PIKE RCT3 ist am Strive CF 9.0 Race verbaut - mit schicken, passenden Decals.
Racer’s favourite: The RockShox PIKE RCT3 with customized decals.
Am Heck befindet sich der der Rock Shox Monarch Plus RC3 Debon Air.
In the rear there is the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir.
Am hochwertigen Renthal-Lenker finden Ergons GE1 Griffe Platz, die den begehrten Design & Innovation Award 2014 gewonnen haben.
Mounted on the Renthal handlebar there are Ergon’s GE1 grips that have won the exclusive Design & Innovation Award 2014.
Das SRAM X01 1x11-Setup kommt mit E.13-Kettenführung.
SRAM X01 1×11 drivetrain setup with E.13 XCX+ chain guide.
Hochwertige Anbauteile wohin das Auge reicht. Im Bild: RockShox Reverb und Ergon SME3 Pro Enduro-Sattel.
Top-notch parts wherever you look. In the picture: The RockShox Reverb and Ergon SME3 Pro saddle. In contrast to the picture the Strive CF 9.0 will be available with a SDG Circuit saddle.
Renthal Apex Vorbau.
Renthal Duo stem.
SRAM Guide Bremsen werden an allen Race-Modellen verbaut.
SRAM Guide brakes are mounted on all race models of the Strive CF.
Bewährte Maxxis Highroller II TR MaxxPro 2.4  in der Front.
Maxxis Highroller II TR MaxxPro 2.4 on the front.
Am Heck kommt ein Maxxis DHR II TR MaxxPro 2.4 auf SRAM Rail 50 Laufrädern zum Einsatz.
At the rear there is a Maxxis DHR II TR MaxxPro 2.4 mounted on SRAM Rail 50 wheels.

The 2 different geometries of the Strive :

Ein Bike, zwei Modi, 7 Größen! Bei Canyon hat man keinen Aufwand gescheut!
One bike, 2 modes, 7 different sizes! Canyon takes it seriously and offers 4 normal sizes and 3 special sizes for racing.

Canyon’s statement on their decision to offer 2 different kinds of geometries, called “Regular” and “Race”: The demands of Enduro riding are hugely diverse. From tackling the most extreme terrain around, to bombing down race tracks, to messing around on the local trails and in bike parks. To cover all these bases with just one geometry is not possible. That’s why we came up with a new concept to go alongside a Regular Geometry. Together with Fabien Barel, we developed our Race Geometry so that every Enduro rider can achieve the setup that suits them best. Race Geometry has a proportionally longer reach in relation to stack, the result being a longer front center and the rider’s weight positioned more centrally. This makes the bike more stable when taking on descents at speed. What’s more, a shorter stem keeps the handling direct and agile. Those after a versatile all-rounder will find the perfect match in our Regular Geometry, as found on the Spectral series. With a relatively shorter reach and front center in comparison to the Race Geometry, the result is responsive handling so you can maintain the flow down the trail.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-06-11 um 20.44.00
Wie schlägt sich die Shapeshifter-Technologie in der Praxis? Ist das Strive CF ein reinrassiges Racebike oder kann es mehr? Stay tuned!
How does the Shapeshifter technology work on the trail? Is the Strive CF a pure racing bike or is it that magic new bike that rides uphill like a XC bike and down like a DH bike from today? Stay tuned! Photo: Jérémy Reullier.

So far the specs and technical details on the all-new Strive CF. How does the bike perform on the trail? Can the Strive CF fullfill what it claims to be? Read the review of the 9.0 Race model in the next days here! Stay tuned! Info about the complete model range (Strive CF 9.0 Team, Strive CF 9.0 SL, Strive CF 9.0 Race, Strive CF 8.0, Strive CF 8.0 Race), which ranks price-wise between 3.699 € and 4.999 € as well as full spec lists can be found at

Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt

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About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.