Canyon put forward a factory DH World Cup team for the first time this year, and this is the machine they’re competing on. With race season soon coming to an end, and the bike and squad performing well, we also wanted to swing a leg over one and find out how it handles for ourselves.
Canyon Sender CF 8.0 spec overview
Frame: Carbon fibre front triangle, aluminium rear end, 200mm (7.9in) travel
Fork: RockShox BoXXer Team, 200mm (7.9in) travel
Shock: RockShox Vivid Air R2C
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 DH with e*thirteen LG1+ cranks and chain guide (1×7)
Wheelset: e*thirteen LG1+ wheels
Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C Maxx Grip 27.5×2.4
Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
Bar: Renthal Fatbar Carbon
Stem: Renthal Integra
Seatpost: SDG I-Beam Micro SP
Saddle: SDG I-Fly
Weight: 16.79kg (37.02lb), large size without pedals
With sleek lines and a two-tone gloss colour/matt carbon finish, the Sender frame is nothing short of beautiful. Every detail has been carefully considered, from fork bump stops that are integrated with the internal cable routing, through to the flip chip system that adjusts the chainstay length, and rubber protection on the down tube and chainstays.
But this bike is more than just a pretty face — the geometry is bang on the money too, as you’d expect, considering it’s been designed with input from two-time world champ Fabien Barel.
A RockShox Vivid Air R2C shock controls the 200mm of Horst Link rear suspension Jacob Gibbins / Immediate Media
The CF 8.0 is the mid-range complete bike and I tested the large size, which has a 460mm reach and a 616mm stack height. You can run the chainstays at either 430 or 446mm, and an angled headset gives you a degree to play with on either side of the stated 63-degree head angle.
A four-bar Horst Link suspension design provides 200mm of rear travel, controlled by a RockShox Vivid Air R2C shock. The leverage curve has been designed specifically around air shocks and Canyon says that the ‘triple phase’ design gives good small-bump sensitivity, a supportive mid stroke and a bottomless feel deep in the travel.
The lightweight carbon frame is combined with a fairly high-end parts spec to create a full package with an impressively light weight and equally impressive price (for a race-ready downhill bike).
Out front, there’s a RockShox BoXXer Team fork fitted with a medium coil spring. The Charger Damper performed well, but I’d have welcomed the extra tuning capability of the air-sprung World Cup model.
The e*thirteen wheels are light and have a good amount of stiffness. They’re shod with Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres, front and rear, which is a great choice for all-round conditions.
Performance of the SRAM Guide brakes and X01 DH drivetrain was as slick as always. The Renthal bar/stem combo gives a good feel to the cockpit.
This bike is more than just a pretty face — the geometry is bang on the money too Jacob Gibbins / Immediate Media
Gone are the days of feeling unsettled when riding downhill on an air shock. Even on some of the most savage offerings at BikePark Wales, the Sender’s back end tracked well and my feet always felt planted on the (flat) pedals.
At the same time, though, it didn’t feel like a ‘plough’ bike. There was a welcome amount of feedback from the suspension that let me understand how the bike was working and helped with line choice. This lively feel, combined with the Sender’s light weight, meant that getting airborne took minimal effort.
Manoeuvring it around in the tech was easy too, even on flatter tracks where thoroughbred race bikes can feel sluggish. In the corners the bike performed well, but I reckon that a slightly bigger bottom bracket drop than 6mm would make it even better, giving it an unbeatably planted feel.
On my test bike, I recorded the head angle as 63.5 degrees, which is perfect for UK riding, but on the steeper, higher-speed tracks of the Alps you’ll be glad of the extra slackness offered by the adjustable headset cups.
These minor niggles aren’t enough to detract from what’s a seriously impressive bike though. It looks good, rides well and offers some great kit for the money. What more do you want?
Light and nimble but with confidence-inspiring capability, this is how a downhill bike should feel.