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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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