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Canyon Strive CFR review

Does Canyon’s dedicated enduro race bike perform outside the tapes?

GBP £5,999.00 RRP | USD $7,299.00 | EUR €6,299.00 | AUD $9,549.00
exc. shipping
The Strive CFR can corner with the best of them if you can adopt an aggressive riding positon.

Our review

The Strive CFR has a high ceiling for speed, but you need to ride aggressively to make it come alive
Pros: Potential performance is wild; low bottom bracket and stable chassis provide plenty of grip; comes alive at high speeds
Cons: Suspension and frame can feel harsh at low speeds and when cruising
Skip to view product specifications

Until recently, Canyon had to use its Strive enduro machine to please the long-travel 29in wheel crowd, even for those more interested in trail riding than racing.

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Now, Canyon has its new Spectral and Torque range, the German brand has managed to go back to the Strive’s pedigree and produced an unapologetic race bike designed to stand on the top step of any enduro podium.

Canyon Strive CFR frame and suspension details

Travel is increased to 160mm on the new Canyon Strive CFR.
Boris Beyer

The new frame’s travel is increased to 160mm. While the visual aesthetics are very similar to the old frame, it has received an extensive overhaul. Canyon has increased stiffness by 25 per cent by changing the tubing profiles, carbon lay-up and pivot locations.

Being an uncompromising race bike, the frame is available only in Canyon’s higher-spec CFR carbon fibre to help reach its stiffness-to-weight goals.

One thing that stays the same is the 29in wheels, which Canyon claims are the fastest options for the varying trails found in enduro racing.

Changeable headset cups enable you to adjust the reach plus and minus 5mm from the standard setting. Here, it’s in the -5mm setting.
Boris Beyer

The new bike still uses Canyon’s Shapeshifter technology, which enables you to change its geometry and suspension kinematics while riding. It has two modes, ‘pedal’ and ‘shred’.

For this model, Canyon has introduced changeable headset cups that give you 10mm of reach and front-centre adjustment.

There are boss mounts for on-frame tool storage, and medium-size and bigger frames will fit a large 750ml water bottle. There’s plenty of chainstay protection and a down-tube guard. There’s also rear tyre clearance for 29×2.5in tyres, Boost hub spacing and a threaded bottom bracket.

A boss mount under the top tube enables you to attach spares and tools to the frame.
Boris Beyer

Canyon Strive CFR geometry details

I tested the size-medium frame. This has a reach of 480mm, which can be shortened or lengthened to 475mm or 485mm with the changeable headset cups.

There’s a slack 63-degree head tube angle in the Strive’s ‘shred’ mode and a low 36mm bottom bracket drop. Canyon has made this bike long, low and slack. It has kept the rear stays short, though, at 435mm for every size.

Canyon’s Shapeshifter changes the Strive’s geometry and suspension kinematics.
Boris Beyer

In the ‘pedal’ mode, the effective seat tube angle is a steep 78 degrees and the bottom bracket is lifted by 15mm to help you pedal in technical terrain. The head tube angle steepens by 1.5 degrees.

Standover heights and seat tube lengths have been lowered. The medium frame has a 420mm seat tube.

Canyon Strive CFR (pedal position)
SizeSmall MediumLarge Extra-large
Seat tube length (mm)400420435460
Top tube length (mm)601627654683
Head tube length (mm)105110120140
Chainstay length (mm)435435435435
Bottom bracket offset (mm)36363636
Wheelbase (mm)1,2431,2701,3001,334
Head angle (degrees)64.564.564.564.5
Seat tube angle (degrees) 78787878
Stack (mm)627632641658
Reach (mm)455480505530
Canyon Strive CFR (shred position)
SizeSmall MediumLarge Extra-large
Seat tube length (mm)400420435460
Top tube length (mm)601627654683
Head tube length (mm)105110120140
Chainstay length (mm)435435435435
Bottom bracket offset (mm)36363636
Wheelbase (mm)1,2431,2701,3001,334
Head angle (degrees)63636363
Seat tube angle (degrees) 76.576.576.576.5
Stack (mm)627632641658
Reach (mm)455480505530

Canyon Strive CFR specifications

The kit on the top-spec Strive CFR is a very high spec, as you’d expect. It comes with Fox 38 Factory GRIP2 forks and Fox Float X2 Factory shock. Shimano’s top-level XTR range takes care of the gear shifting and brakes, and the cranks are RaceFace’s carbon Next Rs.

A mixture of Shimano Deore XT and XTR, plus RaceFace Next R cranks, make up the drivetrain.
Boris Beyer

DT Swiss EX511s are dependable rims built onto DT Swiss 350 hubs. A Maxxis Assegai front tyre and Minion DHR II rear tyre are a favourite combination in their 3C EXO+ form.

The rest of the bike is from Canyon’s in-house brand G5, including the cockpit and dropper post. The complete bike comes in at a claimed 15.84kg.

Fox Factory suspension keeps the build kit premium.
Boris Beyer

Canyon Strive CFR ride impressions

I had a day and a half riding the new Strive around the famous trails of Finale Ligure. There was a mix of fast, flowing trails with more technical rocky tracks and a few EWS stages thrown in for good measure.

I set the bike up with the recommended 30 per cent sag on the rear. I turned all the compression damping to open on the shock and ran the rebound at my preferred speed.

I tested the size-medium bike and started with the cups in the middle reach position (480mm), but changed to the shorter 475mm setting.

Canyon Strive CFR climbing performance

The Strive really does feel like two bikes in one, and there’s no reason that, with a flick of your thumb, you wouldn’t switch to the ‘pedal’ mode. It turns the Strive into a 140mm-travel machine, reduces the sag and steepens the effective seat tube angle to 78 degrees.

All these adjustments make the Strive a good climber. The steep seat tube angle put me in a good position over the bottom bracket for comfortable pedalling. I never felt there wasn’t enough traction on the rear tyre for steeper climbs.

The suspension changes enable you to put down the power without a significant loss of forward momentum. It doesn’t bob heavily or sink into the travel when you’re seated, and there’s still some movement to help the rear tyre remain in contact with the ground over technical sections.

This is still an enduro bike, with its weight and chunky tyres, but it’s a proficient climber and feels more like a trail bike in this mode.

Canyon Strive CFR descending performance

The Strive CFR comes alive when you up the speed.
Boris Beyer

Flicking the Shapeshifter to switch the Strive into ‘shred’ mode, the bike is ready to be ridden hard, and feels very taught.

The frame stiffness and shock tune aren’t for gentle meandering rides, however. It’s like being in a high-performance car with low-profile tyres and stiff suspension. I spent the first few runs winding off the shock’s compression damping and speeding up the rebound to breathe some life into the bike, and when I got a good setting, it really shifted.

It handled slow technical sections well, but you can sense an eagerness to press the throttle and once you get the bike up to speed it comes alive.

It performed admirably with plenty of grip in slick sections of trail. With its initial suppleness, the suspension also helps with traction. If we are being picky, it could be even more sensitive at the start of its travel.

The rear suspension performs better when it needs to work hard, and it soaks up the fast middle and big hits well, especially at high speed.

Thanks to the low bottom bracket and short chainstays, the Strive can change direction quickly.
Boris Beyer

The bottom bracket is very low, which I really like, but you must be careful where you place the bike. The bash guard on the chain guide was very welcome when picking my way through some of Finale’s famous awkward rocks.

This low centre of gravity helps make it easy to lean from side to side, which is useful in successive turns and quick changes in direction.

The slack head tube angle and 29in front wheel never left me feeling that I would be pitched over the front on short, steep rocky drops and rolls.

Throwing the bike down some high-speed, rocky trails, it’s stable and direct. It will hold a line and doesn’t easily get bounced around.  No matter how hard I pushed the Strive, it always felt as if it wanted more.

The Strive CFR feels happiest when charging over rough terrain.
Borris Beyer

The short chainstays and hunkered-down bottom bracket make direction changes easy through the turns. Still, you need to commit to the front wheel for the most accurate handling. Get your weight balance right, and the levels of grip at speed are impressive.

I preferred the shorter 475mm reach on the medium bike I tested because I felt I could be more accurate with my front wheel.

The Strive CFR can corner with the best of them, if you can adopt an aggressive riding position.
Boris Beyer

Not all trails are full-on downhill descents though, and having the ‘pedal’ mode at the flick of a switch is excellent for undulating trails where you don’t need such an aggressive bike. I was a fan of the Shapeshifter on the old Strive, and now Canyon has improved the geometry it’s more useful out on the trail.

How does the Canyon Strive CFR compare to the 2022 Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV?

While the shilouette of the new Megatower looks remarkably similiar, Santa Cruz has refined the bike in many ways.
Max Schumann

Announced in the same week, these are two of the biggest enduro-bike releases of 2022.

Canyon has been more streamlined in the quest for a race bike, and it shows on the trail. Long, low and direct, the Strive needs to be pushed hard to get the best from it, and it has tons to give, too, with a very high ceiling for top speed.

The 2022 Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 AXS RSV is more playful and forgiving, but its slack head tube angle and low bottom bracket mean business when you open the throttle.

As an all-round bike, the Megatower is easier to live with in terms of frame stiffness and comfort. However, it doesn’t have the versatility of the Strive and Shapeshifter for maximising performance on undulating trails.

Both bikes rail corners and provide plenty of traction. The rear suspension on the Santa Cruz is plusher, but that doesn’t always mean faster.

Canyon Strive CFR bottom line

Canyon clearly means business with the Strive CFR. If you’re after a bike that you want to ride at maximum speed every time, it’s a good choice.

It’s capable, versatile and tons of fun, but it needs to be let off the leash to get the best from it. More sedate riders will find it too stiff and uncomfortable.

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Canyon aimed for a race bike with the Strive CFR, and it got one.

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $9549.00EUR €6299.00GBP £5999.00USD $7299.00
Weight 15.84kg (M) – claimed weight
Brand Canyon

Features

Available sizes S, M, L, XL
Rear derailleur Shimano XTR (1x12)
Tyres Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip EXO+ TR 29x2.5in WT (f), Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO+ TR 29x2.4in WT (r)
Stem Canyon G5, 40mm
Shifter Shimano XTR (1x12)
Seatpost Canyon G5 (dropper)
Saddle Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp
Rear Shocks Fox Float X2 Factory
Headset Canyon reach adjustable
Bottom bracket Race Face
Handlebar Canyon G5 Alloy, 780mm
Frame Carbon fibre, 160/140mm (6.3/5.5in) travel
Fork Fox 38 Factory GRIP2, 170mm (6.7in) travel
Cranks Race Face Next R, 32t
Chain Shimano Deore XT
Cassette Shimano Deore XT,10-51t
Brakes Shimano XTR, 203mm rotors
Wheels DT Swiss EX511 rims on DT Swiss 350 hubs