MBA Bike Test: Canyon Strive

Canyon Strive

Category: Enduro
Suspension front/rear: 170mm / 135-150mm
Tire Size: 29″

By now you’re probably well aware of the German, direct-to-consumer brand known as Canyon—unless, of course, you’ve been living under a rock. Canyon is a premier cycling brand with a different attitude towards the consumer experience. You won’t find these bikes in your local shop; instead, they must be ordered online. Canyon is made up of a group of diehard riders and racers, which shows in the bikes they develop.

The Strive, an all-out enduro sled with the ability to shape shift into a friendly trail bike, is a perfect example of that. The wrecking crew has spent quite a bit of time aboard the new version of the Strive—from days in the bike park to all-day rides. Here are our thoughts on Canyon’s long-travel 29er.

FRAME

The Strive is the weapon of choice for Canyon’s Factory team racers with a frame built to be as tough as nails. The bike features race-ready, 29-inch wheels, along with a full-carbon frame. In fact, Only Carbon models are offered in the Strive lineup. The bike has been made lighter since its last iteration and received an ultra-long, slack and low geometry; however, thanks to a hidden trick up the Strive’s sleeve, this downhill-ready bike can transform its geometry to more closely reflect the numbers of a trail bike.

The Strive received the full treatment you’d expect for a modern race bike, including internal cable routing, Boost hub spacing, metric shock sizing, and the list goes on and on. Pricing ranges from $4000—$6000, and sizes vary from small to extra large.

COMPONENTS

Our testers got their hands on the team-edition model, which features a SRAM XO1 build kit along with RockShox suspen and a pair of Mavic aluminum wheels. SRAM Code brakes were keep this wild horse in check, and Maxxis rubber helps provide a strong bite when diving in and out of the corners. Canyon then spec’d its G5 component lineup and added some comfort parts from Ergo.

SUSPENSION

The Strive is built around a Triple Phase Suspension system similar to all of Canyon’s newer models. Triple Phase offers sensitivity at the beginning of the stroke and then adds stability in the middle before becoming progressive near the end. With a metric-sized shock and 150mm of travel, the Strive is ready to take on big hits.

The hidden trick we mentioned earlier is that the Strive has what Canyon calls Shapeshifter 2.0. This system uses a small gas shock developed with the help of Fox to push the main shock into two different positions. The small gas shock is hidden away inside the upper link, making it hard to see unless you give the bike a closer look. The first position runs the shock in the best orientation for descending and offers full travel, while the second position changes the bike’s suspension characteristics and limits travel to 135mm. With just the push of the remote lever, the bike’s geometry is drastically changed. The head tube angle is steepened by 1.5 degrees. The bottom bracket is raised slightly, and the seat tube angle moves forward by 1.5 degrees, all in an effort to improve climbing performance.

DOWN AND DIRTY

The goal behind the Strive was not only to make this bike ready to tackle the toughest enduro races but also to be a quiver killer in your garage. The ability to change the bike’s geometry mid-ride is one of its most unique features. Keep in mind a standard Flip Chip adjusts geometry by about a 1/2 degree. The Strive nearly triples that.

All this, however, comes at the price of a fairly cluttered cockpit. Our testers confused the dropper post remote and the Shapeshifter controls more than once out on the trails.

CLIMBING

The two Shapeshifter settings can be best described as climbing mode and downhill mode. The Strive can still climb in either setting, but the bike is better optimized to ride up the trail when the climbing mode is activated. In that setting, the bike has a comfortable upright fit similar to most modern trail bikes. The Strive is quite long, so most of our test riders needed to slide the saddle forward. With that said, the Strive delivers power to the ground well in the climb mode and with the shock set wide open. When we tried climbing in the downhill setting, we needed to reach down and flip the compression lever on our shock for a more supported feel. In this lower setting, we found pedal strikes to be a more common experience. Overall, the Strive powers up climbs with relative ease considering its suspension category.

THE FLOW

Once the Strive is pointed down the trail, it quickly becomes apparent what this machine was designed for. The Strive is an all-out race weapon with its sights set on the finish line. It barrels down the trail with precision and speed, enticing its rider to release the brakes and let its suspension system chew up the trails. The 170mm-travel fork combined with 29-inch wheels plows over obstacles without a second thought. On bigger hits and larger drops, the suspension stayed stiff near the end of the stroke, preventing harsh bottom-outs—a feeling we expected from this bike during park laps.

On trails with tight switchbacks, we opted for climbing model to give the bike a snappier feel; however, switching back and forth on the trail seemed to take our attention off shredding and focus it towards mid-ride tuning. We ultimately left the bike in the downhill setting during descents unless a long, flat section was presented to us along the trail.

MODS AND UPGRADES

It’s hard to pick apart the component spec of the Strive, but we definitely recommend focusing on cable management. The combination of brake hoses, shift hosing, dropper-post routing and the Shapeshifter system brings a lot of cables to the table. It’s quite easy for the cables to clutter up the front end of the bike if you let them fly free.

Canyon does a nice job of making sure riders have everything they need to get their bike rolling right out of the box. Short of a pair of pedals, this bike is truly ready to rip. Inside our box, we found a torque wrench, a bit set and a shock pump. These are accessories every rider should have if he owns a high-end mountain bike.

BOTTOM LINE

The Strive is probably too much bike for the average trail rider. Canyon built this bike for enduro racers looking to blast down the trail at freaky-fast speeds. Although the Strive can shape-shift into a trail bike with little to no drawbacks, it’s the Strive’s downhill capability that truly makes it shine. If you’re a heavy hitter looking for an enduro sled or a part-time park bike that can still be fun on your local trails, then this is the bike for you. www.canyon.com

Check Out MBA’s First Ride Action on The Canyon Strive Here👇


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