Canyon’s carbon Sender downhill bike has enjoyed World Cup success and impressed us in testing. This new alloy version promises similar geometry and suspension at an even more affordable price, so we were keen to test its metal mettle.
Canyon Sender AL 7.0 specifications
Frame: Aluminium alloy, 200mm (7.9in) travel
Fork: RockShox BoXXer Team, 200mm (7.9in) travel
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RC
Drivetrain: SRAM GX DH (1×7)
Wheelset: DT Swiss FR 2020 wheels
Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxGrip EXO TR (f) and 3C MaxxTerra EXO TR (r) 27.5×2.4in
Brakes: SRAM Code R, 200mm/180mm rotors
Bar: Race Face Chester, 780mm (measured)
Stem: Race Face Chester, 50mm
Seatpost: SDG I-Beam Micro
Saddle: SDG I-Fly
Weight: 17.7kg (39lb), XL size without pedals
Price excluding shipping: £2,699 / AU$4,299
Canyon Sender AL 7.0 frame
Aside from its price, it’s the Sender AL’s geometry that stands out. The reach is longer than on most downhill bikes (which tend to sport shorter reach numbers than modern trail bikes) and the four-size range means even tall riders should get a reasonable fit, with the reach on my XL test bike measuring in at 480mm.
Chainstay length is adjustable from 430mm to 446mm, to help balance the long front end on the bigger sizes and/or suit different riding styles.
This complete bike costs less than some DH frames but offers a great ride Steve Behr / Immediate Media
A four-bar Horst link suspension design delivers 200mm of progressive travel. Unlike the carbon Sender, the alloy bike doesn’t have an ‘MX Link’ to manipulate the leverage curve, with the shock instead being driven directly by the rocker link. This doesn’t seem to hold it back out on track though.
Canyon Sender AL 7.0 kit
While the components are hardly lightweight or flashy, there isn’t a single part that lets the side down.
The coil-sprung RockShox fork and shock are superb once you find the correct spring rate, as are the SRAM Code R brakes and GX DH drivetrain.
DT Swiss’s FR 2020 wheels aren’t light and I dented a rim, but the hubs should be reliable. Quality tyres set up tubeless are a bonus too.
My only complaint is that the ‘800mm’ Race Face bar measured up at 780mm and I’d have preferred it to be wider.
Coil-sprung suspension is heavier and harder to adjust but super-plush Steve Behr / Immediate Media
Canyon Sender AL 7.0 ride impressions
Riding this machine makes me wonder why you’d pay more for a DH bike. Air suspension may be easier to adjust, but the Sender’s BoXXer Team fork and Super Deluxe Coil shock offer sensitivity, consistency and mid-stroke support that few air-sprung equivalents can match.
Both dampers also offer a usable range of low-speed compression adjustment to help you fine-tune the support on offer.
The rear suspension is nicely balanced, allowing a little more trail feedback through than Specialized’s Demo, for example, but delivering more support, which holds you up in corners and helps you accelerate out of them. Through choppy terrain, it works very well indeed.
The rear suspension works very well through choppy terrain Steve Behr / Immediate Media
While the geometry is nice and roomy compared to most DH bikes, offering a comfy and confident position, I think the XL could be even bigger. It was a good size for tester Ed, at 6ft, but I’m 6ft 3in and wished for even more reach.
Setting the chainstays in their longer setting gave us more grip up front and greater stability in the rough. Shorter riders, or those who prefer a more playful feel, will appreciate the shorter option. I felt the bottom bracket could have done with being a touch lower on really steep tracks, but the Sender corners well.
There are certainly lighter DH bikes out there, but that’s not always a good thing when racing against the clock, in terms of both stability and durability. I’d happily race this bike without upgrading anything.
Canyon Sender AL 7.0 early verdict
A race rocket straight out of the box, making me wonder why you’d pay more.