Review - Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team

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Online-only bike brand Canyon have unleashed their new enduro bike the Strive, rolling on 29er wheels. Have they hit the ball out of the park? Or are they just dribbling around the mini-putt course?

A little bit of both! What we have is the same design as the previous 27.5 model with a revised Shapeshifter 2.0, this time running 29” wheels and a full carbon frame (available in two different layups).

Shapeshifter? Get your head out of the sand and pay attention. It’s a fancy piston that moves one end of the shock back and forth between two settings at the flick of a switch, somewhat like having two mounting holes for your shock. ‘Click’, and you get a 135mm travel, 67.5 degree trail bike with a modest 75 degree seat angle. ‘Clack’, and it transforms into a slacker 150mm, 66 degree enduro weapon. Simple. With trail mode you get a higher bottom bracket and a firmer ride, and of course the opposite when you ‘clack’ the switch.

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Reach has been modernised, with a healthy 470mm for the large, and seat tube length is at 18” (457mm), which means a 5’9” (175cm) rider with a short stack 170mm dropper can easily run this large with a decent length to it.

This Strive is a pleasure to ride. While the reach is generous, the untrendy 66 degree head angle gives it trail bike manners sharpened up a bit with the short offset Lyrik crown. The frame has a lively feel and dances down the trail with just the right amount of flex for my 80kg rack. This is definitely no bulldozer—if you’re a smasher or have a KFC fetish then you might want to look elsewhere—but if you want one bike to rule the mall then the Strive will tick all your boxes 99% of the time.

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Problems? Not as such, but with a jump into the trendy long-legged 29er race bike market, I would’ve liked to see a steeper seat tube and a slightly slacker ‘clack’ mode. On long hill climbs I felt a little too far behind the bottom bracket, and even in climbing mode this meant unwanted pedal bob. I wanted to flick the shock lockout switch, but with its upside down position, said switch is down near the bottom bracket, and with my hand wedged behind the chainring and next to the rear tyre, not to mention my pearly whites gnawing on the stem, I decided it was too dangerous to try while riding. I’m sure the shock will fit the other way round but I didn’t have time (the shock eyelet pin needs to be pressed out in the bike) to try this to make sure.

Also, with the Shapeshifter switches taking up the dropper paddle’s real estate, this model’s Reverb remote is a third button to worry about and it’s almost out of reach. I had a few scares as I reduced and steepened the bike going into drops instead of dropping my saddle. The other model Strives run cable dropper posts with Canyon’s own paddle which sits much closer. I would even consider running an old school lever (KS or Specialized style) on the face of the handlebar so it’s a clear difference, but I’m sure I would get used to an under-bar after a while.

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What I’m absolutely in love with though is Shapeshifter 2.0—it’s like having two bikes. You don’t look at it like a climbing feature. I did most of my riding in short travel; it’s more playful, poppy, responsive and faster. When the trail points down then ‘clack’ into DH mode and let it rip.

All in, it’s a fantastic bike for sitting on the fence. A great trail bike that will still cut it with the long lazy crowd that’s so hot right now.

The good: The price, Shapeshifter 2.0, generous reach, a lively ride with awesome suppleness in high speed bumps, Shapeshifter 2.0, great suspension kinematics, and Shapeshifter 2.0. (And did I mention Shapeshifter 2.0?)

The bad: seat angle could be steeper, dropper remote too far away.

The ugly: getting your hand ripped off when trying to flick the rear shock lockout switch.