2021 Canyon Sender CFR doubles down on descending performance

Changes inspired by Canyon Factory Racing include mullet options, reach adjustment and new suspension kinematics

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike

The brand new 2021 Canyon Sender CFR downhill bike promises to bring tech developed on the World Cup race circuit to the masses, including adjustable reach and chainstay lengths, compatibility with 29in wheels front and back or a mullet set-up, increases in suspension progressivity and a reduction in pedal kickback.

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Its also gets plenty of mechanic-friendly touches, too. These include replaceable and removable thread inserts, double-sealed bearings and easy access pivots, so working on the Sender CFR should be a total doddle, even for the most mechanically-inept.

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
M086 is Canyon’s top-tier carbon fibre.
Alex Evans

Five things you need to know about the 2021 Canyon Sender CFR

  • The small and medium bikes use a mullet or 27.5in rear wheel, 29in front wheel and the large and extra-large sizes uses 29in wheels only
  • The reach figures on each frame size can be adjusted 8mm thanks to offset headset cups
  • Canyon claims it’s shaved 600g off the outgoing Sender thanks to carbon chainstay and seatstays, and moving the shock mount from the top tube to the down tube
  • It’s available in two models: the Sender CFR and Sender CFR FMD
  • Canyon claims to have reduced the bike’s pedal kickback by 60 per cent while making the suspension more progressive

Because the Sender’s been redesigned with input from Canyon’s Factory Racing teams – so that’s Troy Brosnan, Kye A’Hern, Mark Wallace and for 2020 Jack Moir, now also joined by FMD Racing with a roster that includes siblings Tahnée and Kaos Seagrave — the German brand has also re-named the bike to represent its racing pedigree, adding ‘CFR’, which stands for, yep you guessed it, Canyon Factory Racing.

2021 Canyon Sender CFR frame details

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
Sender by name, but is it a sender by nature?
Alex Evans

At the heart of Canyon’s claims that the Sender CFR is the “best race bike possible” is its brand-new all-carbon frame.

Unlike the outgoing model that had alloy chainstay and seat stays, the 2021 Sender CFR’s front and rear triangles are now made entirely from carbon fibre.

Every gram matters

Canyon claims the carbon used in the Sender CFR is its “lightest and best possible carbon construction” shaving just over 600g from the previous bike.

Canyon says it’s managed to make these savings thanks to not only switching the stays to carbon fibre but by moving the front triangle shock mount from the top tube to the down tube.

This meant the bike’s top tube could be slimmed down because it was no longer needed to perform structural duties where the shock mounts, therefore helping reduce weight.

And because the down tube was already beefy, less additional material was needed to increase its strength to support the shock where it now mounts.

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
The German brand has gone from strength to strength and now sponsors a host of riders.
Alex Evans

Canyon’s also reduced weight by studying and modifying every element of the bike, such as its linkages, to shave even more grams. The linkage has also been simplified and now attaches to the down tube.

Although weight saving was an important goal, moving the shock mount to the down tube has also lowered the Sender CFR’s centre of gravity, which should help improve cornering and general handling.

Sizing up the mullet

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
29in race bike or mullet drift machine? You can choose.
Alex Evans

Like the majority of Canyon’s bikes seeing smaller wheel sizes on smaller sized frames, the Sender follows suit. While the large and extra-large bikes use a pure 29in wheel setup front to back, the small and medium Sender CFR have a mullet setup, where the front wheel is 29in and the rear 27.5in.

What is a mullet bike?

A mullet bike uses a smaller 27.5in wheel on the rear and a larger 29in wheel on the front. This setup is claimed to give the stability and speed of a 29in wheeled bike and the agility and cornering ability of a 27.5in wheeled bike.

We tested these claims to find out what’s faster, a 29er or mullet bike?

Although it’s not officially possible to run the large and extra-large bikes with a mullet setup because Canyon thinks the geometry will be too compromised on the pure 29in-wheeled bikes, it could still be done although riders might find their bottom brackets are very low.

There is a recent trend in the downhill scene of mullet and pure 29in wheel setups take hold on a number of production downhill bikes such as Specialized’s Demo and Commencal’s Supreme DH.

Although the chainstays are adjustable on all bike’s sizes (more on the adjustable geometry shortly), the small and medium bikes have shorter chainstays than the larger bikes, which means Canyon doesn’t officially endorse using 29in wheels in the rear ends of the 2021 Sender CFR.

However, I’d be happy to speculate that there should be enough tyre clearance to run a wagon wheel in the longer chainstay setting on the small and medium bikes.

Workshop marvel

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
A small Allen key bolt keeps the captive nut in place and makes replacement easy.
Alex Evans

The 2021 Sender CFR has also been designed to be workshop and privateer friendly. Canyon’s been very careful to design the bike’s pivots so they’re all easily accessible without needing to be a contortionist.

It uses double-sealed bearings and the captive nuts for the shock mounts and pivot bolts are user-replaceable. This means a stripped thread or damage from an overtightened bolt won’t potentially write off the frame. The captive nuts can be replaced and the frame rejuvenated.

The internal cable routing has full-length guides so changing gear cables or brake hoses should be as easy as a bike with externally-routed cables.

2021 Canyon Sender CFR suspension details

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
The shock bolts are easy to access and the captive nuts are replaceable.
Alex Evans

The 2021 Sender CFR has 200mm of rear-wheel travel across its sizes and uses a metric 250 x 75mm shock, a change from the old bike.

Along with the Sender’s rear shock moving downwards, Canyon has also tweaked its suspension kinematics.

The changes result in “an exact replica of what the team races”, where the suspension is more progressive compared to the old Sender and increased progressivity should help improve bottom-out control. Canyon hasn’t stopped there, though.

The 2021 Sender CFR’s pedal kickback – how much the cranks rotate backwards as the suspension compresses – has been reduced by 60 per cent compared to the old bike. Canyon says this is to help decrease rider fatigue and improve suspension action over bumps because the suspension is freer to move.

Canyon claims it’s managed to do this with careful main pivot placement without the need for an idler pulley.

2021 Canyon Sender CFR geometry details

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
At €5,799 it’s more affordable than a lot of other downhill bikes.
Alex Evans

Following Canyon’s smaller wheels on smaller size bikes ethos, the Sender CFR has shorter chainstay lengths on the small and medium sized bikes. The chainstays have two positions; a shorter 435mm setting and a longer 445mm setting.

On the large 29in-wheeled bike, the chainstays’ two positions start at 445mm and extend to 455mm.

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
The wheelbase and chainstay figures are adjusted using flip chips at the rear axle.
Alex Evans

The chainstays aren’t the only adjustable part of the bike.

The reach figure – thanks to offset headset cups — can be altered by 8mm either side of the quoted stock figure. This means, Canyon says, that riders who were traditionally between sizes now have the chance to customise the fit of the Sender to suit their needs.

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
The reach is adjustable thanks to offset headset cups.
Alex Evans

Elsewhere, the head angle sits at 63 degrees across frame and wheel sizes, while the bottom bracket height with stock tyres is 352mm.

Reach figures start at 427mm for the size small with a -8mm cup and extend up to 518mm for the size large with a +8mm cup.

Canyon also says it’s steepened the seat-tube angle slightly to accommodate the larger back wheel and it now sits at 60 degrees for the small and medium bikes and 60.5 degrees for the large and extra-large models.

Canyon Sender CFR downhill mountain bike
The adjustable headset cups aren’t pressed into the frame so removal and installation is much easier.
Alex Evans
Seat tube length (mm)400400420440
Top tube length (mm)597625650672
Head tube length (mm)95100110115
Head tube angle (degrees)63636363
Seat tube angle (degrees)606060.560.5
Chain stay length (mm)435 / 440435 / 440440 / 450440 / 450
Wheelbase (mm)1239 / 12491266 / 12761305 / 13151333 / 1343
Stack height (mm)617622631635
Reach (mm)435 (+/-8)460 (+/-8)485 (+/-8)510 (+/-8)
Bottom bracket height (mm)352352352352

2021 Canyon Sender CFR models

Available in two build kits, the 2021 Sender CFR models are replicas of the bike used by Canyon’s World Cup race teams.

The Sender CFR FMD is equipped with Fox suspension, Schwalbe tyres and Shimano brakes and drivetrain, and replicates the bikes ridden by The Canyon Collective FMD – formerly FMD racing. So that’ll be Tahnée and Kaos Seagrave.

Canyon Factory Racing’s Troy Brosnan, Mark Wallace, Kye A’Hern and Jack Moir ride the Sender CFR build that features RockShox suspension, Maxxis tyres and SRAM brakes and drivetrain.

Canyon is still going to offer the aluminium Sender that’s based on the original Sender design as a more affordable option.

2021 Canyon Sender CFR prices

The 2021 Canyon Sender CFR FMD retails for €4,699, while the 2021 Canyon Sender CFR retails for €5,799.

2021 Canyon Sender CFR FMD

  • Frame: M086 carbon fibre, 200mm travel
  • Fork: Fox 40 Performance Elite
  • Shock: Fox DHX2 Performance Elite
  • Groupset: Shimano Saint, 10-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano Saint, 203mm rotors
  • Wheels: DT Swiss 350 hubs on FR2020 rims
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.35in Super Gravity
  • Handlebars/stem: Canyon G5 Al / Canyon G5
  • Saddle/seatpost: Ergon SMD20 / Canyon G5
  • Sizes: Small, medium, large, extra-large
  • Price: €4,699
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2021 Canyon Sender CFR

  • Frame: M086 carbon fibre, 200mm travel
  • Fork: RockShox Boxxer Ultimate
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate
  • Groupset: SRAM X0 DH, 7-speed
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, 200mm rotors
  • Wheels: DT Swiss 240 hubs on FR560 rims
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHRII 2.4in Wide Trail, DH casing
  • Handlebars/stem: Canyon G5 CF / Canyon G5
  • Saddle/seatpost: Ergon SMD20 / Canyon G5
  • Sizes: Small, medium, large, extra-large
  • Price: €5,799