Canyon Strive ESX 9.0 LTD Bike Review | Hammered

Mountain Biking Magazine



Canyon Strive ESX 9.0 LTD Bike Review | Hammered

There has been considerable attention paid to 29er bikes recently, and for very good reason, they simply command the terrain faster and with more grip than many trail bikes up to 140mm. Past this figure however things might take longer to develop, and as far as 160mm goes then 26” is still king…

From Dirt Issue 120 – February 2012

Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones.

Within this travel range there are many good, yet very different, natured bikes. The Orange Alpine, Trek Slash, Intense Slope Style and Specialized Enduro all have, in their own way, authority of the hill, differing largely in their ability to tackle climbs, the latter two possibly being the most efficient at this. Great bikes, they all come with a relatively high price bracket, but some, like the standard Enduro, are not even available over here this year.

The Canyon Strive has been on my list for sometime, it appeared to be a bike with great angles, good specification and above all a reasonable price. A bike built for enduro racing, shredding homemade downhills, a versatile bike for hard riding. In short, the kind of bike many riders living within sight of good terrain would enjoy.>>

Size Wheelbase Head angle Bottom bracket Chainstay Front Centre Standover Bar Stem Weight
M 45.35” 66.5º 13.6” 16.73” 28.62” 32.48” 710mm 60mm 29.2lb

Subtle hydroforming and a compact chassis are central to the Strive’s nature offering a simplicity that is very refreshing. Obviously there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Needle bearings in the damper for example and the sculpted link driving this. I particularly like the low lying carbon seat stay and well protected aluminium chain stay at which the farthest point houses a clever vertically bolted detachable derailleur hanger and bolt through axle.

In terms of size it’s slightly small for some mediums and buying direct it might be a touch more difficult to get the sizing right, but I believe anyone over five ten should be looking at a large. Aesthetically smooth, well finished and carefully engineered.


The Strive is incredibly neat for a bike that does and doesn’t include internal cable routing depending on which form of routing you care to utilize on this bike. Given that it tries to provide front and rear gears, adjustable seat post and braking, the cockpit is clean given the tasks in hand, the cables well routed and, thank goodness, straight.

It’s in the detail of the Strive however that makes it fully unbeatable. The DT carbon EXC 1550 wheels are pure class. Having failed miserably to inflict any serious damage to them in a seven day enduro across France I’d have no worries having these to rely on as the way ahead. XTR Shadow gearing is faultless as is the Race Face Six C crankset. Not totally sold on the bar and stem set–up, nor the Schwalbe Fat Albert’s. I’m also not convinced on either the pad clearance or action of the brake system – some people call this modulation – I feel there needs to be greater refinement in the lever to pad connectivity. But hey on the subject of hydraulics a RockShox Reverb is the full works.


Kashima coating is said to have reduced the breakaway torque on Fox’s range of suspension products and with this featured on the Strive’s front and rear units we’re eager to witness the reality. We already know the FIT damper to be a winner but are still slightly wary of any possible infringement of the Talas system to the fork workings. The Float is a favourite and don’t really see a whole load of people using travel adjust that often. Out the rear the RP23 is a proven unit, the chassis providing excellent stiffness through the shock driven by way of the ‘270 BOX’ system.


One of the overwhelming characteristics of the Strive is the seamless transition throughout the suspension travel both front and rear. This provides the rider with consistency in terms of wheel weighting resulting in more efficient grip finding. Add to this the fact that the bike fully uses the travel available to it without any hooking in the suspension system kinematic, some well–thought out geometry, an outstanding component specification, and you have a very, very versatile, easy to ride piece of equipment.


Initially I had the Strive down as faultless, but having lived with it slightly longer cannot give it that label even if it overwhelmingly feels that way. The detail lies in the bar and stem area, minor I know, which need repositioning to make the most of the Strive’s steering ability. An Easton Havoc DH carbon bar with matching 50mm stem would see the job done. Secondly the Formula brakes are still a few steps away from the smooth progression of Shimano and the pads still rub on the calipers. And finally the size finder on the Canyon website (don’t forget that you are buying direct here, Canyon have no shops) had me down as a medium when I punched my vitals in but I’d certainly opt to go large.

Overall however, both in terms of performance and price, it’s one of the best 160mm bikes I’ve ridden. Low down weight, a strong but not wooden chassis provides some superbly supple damping by way of the impeccable Fox units, certainly one of the best front and rear damper combo’s I have ridden this season. The Strive is an undoubted performer and add to that the fact that it offers the very finest in mountainbike components for a fraction of the cost of many brands, puts it some way ahead of the competition. And I just love its blackness.

Price: €4999 (£4130 roughly)

Frame Canyon Strive ESX 9.0 Ltd.
Rear Shock Fox Float RP23 Boost valve
Fork Fox Float FIT Talas
Headset Cane Creek
Rear Derailleur Shimano XTR Shadow
Front Derailleur Shimano XTR
Chain Guide Pure
Shifters Shimano XTR
Brakes Formula Oval
Wheels DT Swiss EXC 1550
Cassette Shimano XTR 11-36 10 speed
Tyres Schwalbe Fat Albert 2.4
Cranks Race Face Six C
Chain rings 36/22
Bottom Bracket Race Face
Stem Syncros
Bar Syncros AM Carbon 710mm
Grips Canyon
Saddle SDG Fly Ti rail


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