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Downhill Bikes

Canyon Sender CF 9.0

Fronting up to the rest of the big boys, Canyon are finally on the greatest stage of all. The Canyon Factory Downhill Team will take the German brand into unknown waters and the Sender is the bike that the brand have rested their hopes on.

They will no doubt be hoping it’s as successful a transition as their enduro team was back in 2013. A never-before-seen Canyon Strive took its designer, Fabien Barel, to a win at the first ever EWS. The story is similar here, with Fab’s input shaping the design, however it will likely be Brosnan charging for the top spot this time around.

Barel’s analytic approach can be seen in this bike though. The press launch we went to was full of graphs, diagrams and quantative information. All of it pivoted around the Sender’s MX link inspired (unsurprisingly) by motocross bikes to give three separate phases of suspension – sensitive to stable to progressive.

The unique link is designed around an air shock, although if the World Cup team can run it with a coil then it can’t be too imperative. Thankfully, it’s fitted with the DHX2 which offers the best air performance in our mind.

“Brosnan will likely be charging for the top spot on the Sender”

The shock drives one of the largest downhill bikes in production (second only to the Nicolai G.19) but is still a good 50mm smaller than a Strive, maybe a hint that downhill bike geometry still has some catching up to do.

SRAM Guide RSC brakes, X01 DH transmission are ahead of the game at this point in time. Canyon have chosen to spec an aluminium wheel set with the impressive DT Swiss FR 1950 and Maxxis Minion 2 DHR rubber. Renthal bar and stem, Race Face SIXC crank, E13 LG1+ Taco chaindevice, SDG seat and seatpost complete the impressive parts list. Of course, there’s one trump card Canyon has always been able to pull – this level of kit comes a LOT cheaper than many other brands. The whole thing comes together for under £4,500. Scarily good value.

Of course, cheapness doesn’t translate to value unless it’s backed up with performance, and here the Sender capably excels. From the first run we did we had a sneaking suspicion this would be top-five material and in the end it finished second in our list of favourite downhill bikes last year.

“Scarily good value”

We’ve found that ramming the X2 full of spacers is the best way to find the bike’s sweet spot (it actually comes with six already installed). The three phase system that was extolled to us was not quite as distinct on the trail with each stage gliding seamlessly into the other. It’s a light bike too, which gives the ride a certain liveliness you wouldn’t find on others. Finally, it’s a quiet bike – while this isn’t something that directly affects performance, we’ve found it to be a fairly simple gauge of the quality of a bike.

Canyon Sender CF 9.0

The detailing, the sizing, the geometry, the silence, the price. Canyon have really pulled out a class bike here that sets it apart from nearly all the competition. While the Sender didn’t behave completely as expected it was fast nevertheless and many were fully compelled with its ride characteristic.

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Selected for Dirt 100 2017

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