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Downhill Bikes

Canyon Sender – The Review

This changes everything

Canyon Sender – the review

During a time when many brands are anxious to revitalise their often well-established suspension platforms, Canyon launch a totally fresh downhill bike into their range – the canyon Sender. But it’s not so disconnected from their existing frame designs to lose the Canyon lineage.

 

The marketing that surrounds the new downhill bike – “Draw the Line” – centres around track line choice and the message that a rider should “never follow” to achieve a perfect run, that the optimum line is about creativity and that the fastest lines don’t always stand out. More than this they say the Canyon Sender CF is the way you can achieve this.

At the press conference in Portugal Canyon focussed on a much more quantitative type of line as the key feature of their new flagship – the bike’s compression ratio. But before that just take a look at these prices…

CANYON SENDER CF 7.0           3.599€  blue or red

CANYON SENDER CF 8.0           4.299€  black or red

CANYON SENDER CF 9.0           4.799€  black or blue

Suspension/Chassis.

During the Portugal briefing on the bike, chief designer and test rider Vincent Thoma and Fabien Barel the double world downhill champion talked in depth about the compression ratio of this new bike and they were eager to show how their way differed from the competition.

At the heart of the bike is Canyon’s MX link inspired by…you guessed…motocross. Canyon say this link enabled them to tune the shock leverage ratio independent of anti-squat, pedal kickback or anti-rise. Still, they see the bike comprising three distinct phases – TPS (triple phase suspension).

The three stage compression curve of the Canyon Sender is pretty basic stuff, a supple beginning, stable mid stroke and progressive ending to the bike’s suspension. Lead engineer Vincent Thoma talked in depth about the philosophy of the leverage curve, the bike’s high leverage beginning, lower leverage middle and a progressive ending that is reached by the progressivity of the air shock. Thoma went onto point out that “the progression balance is the most important aspect of the bike” and emphasised that the Sender was not designed around a coil because there was “not enough progressivity at the end of the travel”. The press pack showed the bike with an Ohlins which was kind of confusing. But let’s be fully clear what Canyon are saying herein terms of Kinematics.

“When developing the Canyon Sender’s four-bar suspension system we set out to create the perfect mix of three interlocking characteristics: anti-squat, pedal kickback and anti-rise.

 High anti-squat enables efficient acceleration but also results in more pedal kickback. We optimised this to strike a balance that actively increases the riders momentum without causing undue leg fatigue over fast repetitive hits.

 Effective anti-rise means the rear end remains active and in contact with the ground under heavy braking for exceptional traction and control when they’re needed the most”

 

Fabien Barel has been a key man behind the development of Canyon bikes recently and won the opening Enduro Wolrd Series in 2013 on a prototype Strive. Let’s say most of us expected this bike to have something different going on. For Barel one of the key features however was the bike’s ability to interact with the terrain “we wanted to get dynamism out of the bike” which in turn generates speed. Fabien also explained how the company wanted to think of details that other company’s didn’t do such as silence, frame protection and the integration of features.

Undoubtedly there’s some lovely frame detailing features and cable routing yet the reality is that there are other company’s that offer a three stage compression ratio, others are very quiet too and that integrated features and frame protection are nothing new. What is new is the fantastic sizing offerings – the XL is now the largest production bike in existence – and the price for a bike fully loaded with quality parts is extraordinarily brilliant value.

 

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At the time of going to press the top end bike was just shy of thirty seven hundred pounds putting it on a gigantic collision course with the Tues from YT Industries. More than this, with their German counterparts this could seriously begin to change the landscape of downhill bikes if the bike delivered in performance terms like the sub 4K Tues from Nuremburg.

Key features of the Canyon Sender

  • Four bar suspension deisgn
  • Six possible head angle and chainstay configurations
  • 62- 64 degree head angle options
  • 430 or 466mm chainstay length
  • Carbon front triangle
  • Aluminium rear
  • Konstruction bearings
  • Protection – Fork bumper, downtube protector, 2C armour, heel protector
  • Bent stays
  • Cable cushion
  • Canyon Sender fender (mudguard)
  • Sag monitor
  • 2 KG (35lbs)

 

Componentry. With three specification bikes in the range we focussed on the top end Fox CF 9.0 bike simply because that’s the bike they had. That said we’d have gone for a Fox 40 bike whatever as we feel that is the best in the business and the Rockshox Boxxer is well overdue an upgrade.

SRAM Guide RSC brakes, X0DH transmission are ahead of the game at this point in time whilst Canyon have chosen to go with an aluminium wheel set with the impressive DT Swiss FR1950 and Maxxis Minion 2 DHR rubber. Renthal bar and stem, Race face Atlas crank and bottom bracket, E13 LG1+ Taco chaindevice, SDG seat and seatpost complete the impressive parts list.

Feeling. The pace of the Sender is immediately apparent and this alone puts it into the higher end of our downhill bike ratings. And the geometry is simply sparkling. But its when you add in a crazy lightweight (about 35lbs) and almost silent ride characteristic you quickly begin to realise that Canyon have not only built a very good bike but one which sends an upper cut to nearly all production downhill bikes. Initial thoughts are that the bike is certainly top five material.

In terms of set up the Fox 40 was fuss free as normal but the Fox X2 rear damper certainly needed care in set up. Using the frame mounted sag marker the air pressure was indeed within the range as recommended by Canyon base settings however to prevent the bike from bottoming out the sag had to be closer to twenty five percent with eight spacers in the damper. We’ve become quite used to ramming the X2 out with spacers recently and it appears to be inherently a touch weak but maybe that’s simply a coincidence with the bikes we’ve ridden. Our very first thoughts on the trail was the quite lively ride on the rear, the speed and silence.

After the presentation part of me was thinking the middle sector of the bike’s travel would be quite stable, almost platform like in its nature but the reality was a bike that was very, very smooth through the travel range. The bike certainly didn’t settle in its travel as I’d anticipated and it wasn’t easy to separate out or indeed find the Phase 2, the “stable platform to reduce momentum loss (enabling) the rider to actively pump for more track speed.” What I did encounter something more on-edge in its nature, but you could also describe it as liveliness and speed. A bike with momentum.

There was an almost nervy midstroke, quite what effect not using the correct sag had on this we don’t know for sure but having adapted to this believe it could well be over longer descents where the nature of the bike plays a positive part and in racing that’s all that matters. What bothers me is that Canyon include a drawing of the bike with a coil Ohlins damper which is contrary to the briefing and makes me wonder how it would perform with a coil damper.

As mentioned many of us also didn’t get the Phase 3 (end progression) until we’d rammed the Fox air can full of spacers. Some from Fox say eight is the maximum, others seven. We had 8 and it was still close to the edge of bottoming even with 25% sag rather than 30-35%.

Limitations. The bike rides in a slightly different position due to us running higher pressures, this also raises the bottom bracket slightly which affects weight distribution a touch as well. The sag monitor in that respect needs looking at again maybe depending on rider weight and ride ability also. Other than at 180cm Fabien Barel is on an XL bike and there could be room for one more size even though this bike has the biggest size range of any production bikes. so that says more about the competition than the Sender.

Initial Impressions

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. In some ways indeed it is different like the marketing speaks of, but the reality is that it has covered nearly all the basics rather than some of them which a few brands fall down on.

Whilst the Sender didn’t behave completely as expected it was fast nevertheless and many were fully compelled with its ride characteristic even on unfamiliar loose terrain. With this in mind I’m no less than totally excited to ride it on more recognisable ground conditions. Having increased and decreased rebound, and added spacers we got a reasonable ride on the Fox X2 but believe we have a fair bit of riding to get done to get a more precise set-up.

 

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The Sender is top five material for definite in terms of our downhill bike rankings but it could be anywhere in that mix, even at the top. We look forward to putting it head to head with the Demo, V10, Session, Glory, Tues.

Will it survive amidst the citadels of world cup downhill racing? Absolutely.They deservedly should be racing for full World Cup downhill honours this season with this bike. It’s nothing short of travesty that they are not.

Sender CF 9.0 €4699 with three lower price models

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