160mm of adjustable magic, the Canyon Strive CF 8.0 Race does it all
It seems not that long ago the brand Canyon didn’t really feature on the downhill and enduro scene, but you could argue that enduro itself didn’t really feature much either.
When the Enduro World Series kicked off on the balmy coast of northern Italy a few years ago at Punta Ala they had double world downhill champion Fabien Barel fronting the action. He delivered in monumental fashion, the German brand and the French madman in full command. Win number one.
“the Strive has played no uncertain part in this transformation to one of the world’s leading bike companies”
Up until that point in time Canyon had excellent bikes, great value bike,s but none that captured the imagination. Now they have winning bikes, inspired bikes, but most of all attractive and superbly well-presented mountain hardware. And the Strive has played no uncertain part in this transformation to one of the worlds leading bike companies. And that’s how it seems from where we are sat – a major player.
Back in that race-winning event, a first ever for the new Strive, Barel had the core of the bike under wraps. When it was finally unveiled later that year what was on offer was adjustable geometry by way of ‘Shapeshifter’ a hydraulically activated part that enabled the bike to utilise either steep/short travel or slack/long travel configurations. In practice the mechanics of this works well either at the bottom or top of a climb but we found that within stages it became quite messy to work gears/seat and now bike geometry almost simultaneously. But it still had the basics of good geometry, component specification and price well covered.
The Strive is available in both carbon and aluminium versions. From the carbon framed CF9.0 SL at £4299 to the CF 8.0 at £2999 (or frame only £2449) and the aluminium framed AL 7.0 Race £2699 to AL 6.0 at £1999 (£1599 frame only) there is a bike in there for every one of its nine options.
In terms of configuration of frame sizes it’s a little complex. Both carbon and aluminium bikes feature either conventional S/M/L/XL geometry or ‘Race’ versions which have a narrower selection in S/M/L. However, the ‘Race’ size bikes are longer in reach. But you can still buy the most expensive and least expensive Strive bikes in XL which means you can actually get a longer wheelbase and similar ‘reach’ bike in non-race geometry. We feel the head angle to be too slightly too steep on both versions.
What about ‘Shapeshifter’? Well, having ridden the bike uphill in both settings it appears that speed is quicker and heart rate lower in the ‘low’ setting on certain style climbs – maybe it suits a different grade climb better. We’d also suggest considering the AL 7.0 Race over the top of the range carbon bike simply because its so damn close to call and certainly not £1300 or so different in performance. Whichever Strive you choose its one of our favourite ever trail/enduro bikes and certainly one of the quickest across the ground – fantastic price, great specification.
YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS BUT…
Daniel Oster, Product Manager/Brand Manager MTB. Canyon
When we came up with the form of the Spectral it marked a clean break from all previous Canyon designs. The Spectral is the pioneer of our current design approach. Achieving a coherent flow between the front and rear halves of the frame as well as a clear visual connection between every tube were central in giving the design its character. Even integrating the form and colour of the rocker to coincide with the rest of the frame has a great impact on how the bike looks, this was something we identified few other manufacturers had done before, but that’s all changing now.
The Strive adopts the same visual cues and silhouette as the Spectral and applies them to a 160 mm setup. One of the key differences between the two bikes is obviously the Shapeshifter on-the-fly geometry adjustment system, which makes the Strive one of the most advanced bikes in its category. One thing we are particularly proud of is the fact that the Strive doesn’t wear all its technology on its sleeve. The entire Shapeshifter system is hidden away inside the rocker so that at first glance, you don’t even notice that it’s there, and that’s exactly the effect we were gunning for. Technology shouldn’t get in the way of the riding experience, it should enhance it.
In the Spectral and Strive we have two bikes that although similar in appearance have different characters in setup to suit different riders and riding styles. We often get asked why someone like Joe Barnes chooses the Spectral over the Strive for some EWS races. Joe’s one of the best tech riders out there, so the agility that the Spectral’s more compact build offers him is obviously a bonus, especially on his home terrain up in Scotland or for the less physical EWS rounds. For the big alpine races though he opts for the Strive as those 160 mm out back are what you need to keep your speed and energy up on the massive descents they have to deal with out there.
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