It’s a couple of years since we last tested an alloy Canyon Strive – back in 2013, we found the 8.0 version to be a rather more impressive beast on paper than it was on the hill.
Getting your ride from the Deutsch direct-buy giant will always equate to a bargain in terms of spec – but how does this year’s model manage when it comes to taking some hammer?
Frame and equipment: split-personality steed
There have been changes afoot with the Strive. It now incorporates Canyon’s unique Shapeshifter suspension feature, which uses a tiny remote controlled air spring to shunt the top of the shock forwards on a sub linkage, increasing ride height and steepening fork and seat angles for climbing.
This gives sharper steering round uphill corners and more ground clearance. It’s great if you normally find low slung, slack angled bikes a handful on tight switchbacks. (That said, we can’t helping thinking many gravity focused riders might prefer a simpler, cheaper, lighter Strive without it.)
As we noted when trying out the 6.0 Race’s more expensive carbon cousin, the CF 9.0, Canyon’s shaped Ergon grips won’t be to everyone’s taste. But the bike beyond them connects to the trail with a clarity that only a truly rigid frame can convey.
The Race geometry option extends the top tube forwards to allow for a shorter stem, giving more baseline stability but instant steering responsiveness for micro managing traction when you need it too.
Handling is addictively precise
Ride and handling: you'll want two bites of each cherry
Even with relatively narrow SRAM Roam rims making the Maxxis tyres less stable at lower pressures, the Strive’s first corner will shock you with its control. You’ll double check just how much grip and confidence it delivers in the second corner and then you’ll rapidly reset the entry speeds, braking points and lean angles for the rest of your ride.
While the handling precision is the Strive’s most dramatic trait, the suspension is outstanding too. The naturally efficient pedalling performance of the rear end is highlighted by the fact we never missed not having a low speed compression adjuster on the rear shock.
It’s as stiff through the conventional BB and hollow back linkages too, so even with slow rolling Maxxis HighRoller/Minion tyres it accelerates and climbs as well as its low weight would suggest.
Press down on the Shapeshifter remote and the pedals simultaneously and the shock shunts back dropping the bottom bracket and relaxing the head angle, turning it from pert climber to gravity assassin. The control of Pike and Monarch Plus shock and the precise feedback of the immaculately tuned chassis dispatches even the most rowdy descents like a cold calculating killer, straightlining boulder runs we’d always balked at and sending drops we normally roll right from the first run.
It’s so quick and composed we’d suggest you only ride trails you have time to do twice, simply because you’ll be desperate to get straight back up and rip back down even faster the second time. As long as you’re happy waiting a while and receiving your bike in a box the price is an absolute bargain too.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.