Canyon Strive CF 8.0 first ride review

Could the new Strive be one of the best all-rounders out there?

GBP £4,099.00 RRP | USD $4,699.00 | EUR €4,499.00 | AUD $6,549.00
Strive CF 8.0 full suspension mountain bike from Canyon
Pros: New Shapeshifter is easy to use and works well; rear suspension feels composed and controlled; dynamic, lively and playful ride
Cons: Wheels could be more forgiving; Fox’s FIT4 fork damper isn’t my favourite
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Canyon’s original Strive was best known for its Shapeshifter technology – a small air-sprung piston and knuckle-link that allowed you to alter its geometry and suspension kinematics on the fly.

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While this system was innovative and great when it worked, it wasn’t always that reliable. Canyon has now called upon suspension giants Fox to bring in its hydraulic know-how, in a bid to make the Shapeshifter 2.0 easier to use and, hopefully, problem free.

The other big update for the Strive is the introduction of 29in wheels.

Canyon Strive CF 8.0 frame

Canyon’s new Shapeshifter runs far lower pressures than the previous version, as well as featuring new seals and bearings, which help to lower friction within the system.

It’s also been better integrated into the rocker link, helping to protect it from the elements that bit better. But the changes don’t stop with the Shapeshifter 2.0’s guts, because its remote has been overhauled too.

Shapeshifter remote for adjusting the Fox Transfer Performance post
The new Shapeshifter 2.0 remote is easier to use while riding.
Russell Burton

As well as being more ergonomic, this now has three functions. The ‘Click’ button activates the bike’s pedalling mode, making the leverage curve more progressive (effectively limiting travel to 135mm rather than 150mm), upping the anti-squat value to resist pedal bob, and effectively steepening the head and seat angles to 67.5 and 75 degrees respectively.

Next to that, the ‘Clack’ button allows you to access the full 150mm of travel and slackens things out by 1.5 degrees. Finally, the lever underneath operates the dropper post.

To house the bigger 29in wheels, Canyon has created a whole new full-carbon frame. In fact, there are two to choose from – the CF, seen here, and the CFR, which Canyon claims is just as stiff but 300g lighter, and correspondingly pricier.

Canyon Strive CF 8.0 kit

The CF 8.0 uses a Fox 36 FIT4 Performance Elite fork up front, with a 160mm stroke (the more enduro-race-focused CFR 9.0 Team gets 170mm of front bounce).

Out back, a Fox DPX2 shock takes care of the 150mm of rear wheel travel. You also get a Fox Transfer post, which is easily operated from the three-button Shapeshifter 2.0 remote.

There’s plenty of carbon fibre in the spec too, including Canyon’s own G5 bar, Truvativ’s Descendant cranks and Reynold’s TR 309 wheels, which are wrapped in Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C tyres.

Canyon Strive CF 8.0 first ride impressions

Cyclist jumping through the woods on a full suspension mountain bike
The controlled back end felt composed in every situation I tried. It tracks the terrain well but offers enough support to keep the ride dynamic.
Russell Burton

Hit the Click button, get out of the saddle and put power through the pedals, and the Strive feels taut and eager to get moving.

Unlike the original Shapeshifter, this revised 2.0 version doesn’t require drastic rider-weight shifts in order to switch between its two modes, which means ride flow isn’t interrupted when you want to alter the bike’s feel.

I was impressed by the controlled back end, which felt composed in every situation I encountered

In the pedal-friendly mode, the suspension feels calm enough that I never had to reach for the shock’s low-speed compression damping lever – and that’s lucky, because it’s right down by the bottom bracket, where it’s not easy to get hold of. The back end remains active though, which I appreciated on rougher climbs.

When it’s time to point the CF 8.0 downhill, all you have to do to actuate its DH mode is hit the Clack button and let the rear wheel batter into the first bump.

This opens up the full 150mm of rear travel and slackens the head angle, albeit to a relatively conservative 66 degrees.

In this mode, I was impressed by the controlled back end, which felt composed in every situation I encountered. It tracks the terrain well but offers enough support to keep the ride dynamic, with sufficient end-stroke control to take really big hits.

Getting the front and rear suspension well balanced isn’t totally straightforward, though. That’s mainly down to the FIT4 damper in the Fox 36 fork.

While decent in most situations, this doesn’t feel as smooth or competent as the latest Fox 36 GRIP2 or RockShox Lyrik RC when the bumps come thick and fast. Finding the best compromise between supple bump absorption and support takes patience and experimentation.

While the carbon wheels are rapid to spin up to speed, giving the Strive a lively feel when mashing the pedals, they can feel fidgety when tackling technical root spreads and deliver a bit more feedback through the bar on rough trails than similar alloy wheels.

The 440mm reach on the medium Strive isn’t exactly radical, but it fitted me reasonably well at 5ft 8in.

Overall, it feels ultra-capable and composed. It’s no mini downhill bike, though – more a super-confident trail bike. I still feel Canyon could make a more extreme downhill mode, which alters its angles further.

Canyon Strive CF 8.0 early verdict

This Strive can cover ground fast and the new Shapeshifter 2.0 boosts its versatility.

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Canyon Strive CF 8.0 geometry

  • Chainstay: 17.13in / 43.5cm
  • Seat tube: 17.32in / 44cm
  • Top tube: 24.69in / 62.7cm
  • Head tube: 3.94in / 10cm
  • Wheelbase: 47.09in / 1,196mm
  • Stack: 24.84in / 63.1cm
  • Reach: 17.32in / 44cm

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $6549.00EUR €4499.00GBP £4099.00USD $4699.00
Weight 14.12kg (M) – without pedals
Brand Canyon

Features

Available sizes S, M, L, XL
Brakes SRAM Code R, 200/180mm rotors
Cassette SRAM XG-1275 Eagle 10-50 12s
Cranks Truvativ Descendant Carbon and e*thirteen chain guide
Fork Fox 36 Float FIT4 Performance Elite, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Frame Carbon fibre, 150mm (5.9in) travel
Grips/Tape Canyon G5
Handlebar Canyon G5 Carbon, 780mm
Rear derailleur SRAM X01 Eagle
Rear shock Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite
Saddle SDG Radar
Seatpost Fox Transfer Performance, 150mm
Shifter SRAM X01 Eagle
Stem Canyon G5, 40mm
Tyres Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 3C MaxxGrip (f) and MaxxTerra (r) 29x2.4in
Wheels Reynolds TR 309