Canyon Strive:ON CFR review

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The new Strive:ON electric enduro bike sits between the Spectral:ON and Torque:ON in Canyon’s electric mountain bike line-up. With Canyon Factory Racing competing in the new UCI E-Enduro World Cup series (E-EDR), the brand has concentrated its efforts on creating a race-orientated bike designed to perform on technical terrain whatever the gradient. So, how does that stack up out on the trails? I rode the £6,699/€6,999 Strive:ON CFR at the launch event in Tuscany. It sits in the middle of the three-model range, beneath the Strive:ON CFR LTD, starting at £8,999/€9,499, and above the Strive:ON CFR Underdog, which starts at £5,499/€5,799. US pricing and availability is to be confirmed, with Canyon expecting bikes to land this summer.

Canyon Strive:ON CFR frame details

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The Canyon Strive:ON CFR features the brand’s top-level carbon fibre layup. I’ve detailed the new Canyon Strive:ON’s tech in my news story. Here, I’ll cover how it rides, but it’s worth recapping on the key details. The Canyon Strive:ON CFR features a full-carbon construction with 160mm of rear-suspension travel. At the centre of the frame is a Bosch Performance Line CX Gen 4 electric bike motor, taking power from a 625Wh or 750Wh Bosch PowerTube battery depending on which size you choose. The battery is hidden neatly in the down tube of the bike. Both can be accessed by removing the bash guard, which features a magnetic bolt holder so you don’t lose the retaining bolts while out on the trail.

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The sump guard extends up the down tube to protect it. Canyon says the guard has been designed to work like a skid plate, enabling the bike to overcome obstacles that are higher than the bottom bracket – similar to the skid plate found on a trials motorbike.

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All models in the Strive:ON range ship with air shocks. The linkage on the Strive:ON is different from that of the non-assisted Canyon Strive. The electric bike features a horizontal shock design, compared to the non-assisted Strive’s vertical layout, and forgoes the Shapeshifter system. The Shapeshifter on the Strive uses a lever on the handlebar to actuate a piston in the upper shock mount, giving the bike two geometry and suspension settings for pedalling and descending.

Canyon says it decided to not include the system on the Strive:ON because it wouldn’t be able to fit both battery size options for all frame sizes. However, it has given the bike the same 78-degree seat tube angle found on the ‘pedal’ setting of the Shapeshifter.

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The bike resembles the Spectral:ON with its horizontally mounted shock. The bike still uses a similar Horst-link layout, with the new design leaving room for the motor and a bottle cage in the front triangle. As such, the Strive:ON has a similar silhouette to the Spectral:ON and the rest of Canyon’s electric mountain bike range. With eyes set on UCI E-EDR success, Canyon says it has designed the new Strive’s geometry to cope with technical riding, both uphill and downhill. The bike features a claimed 63.5-degree head angle and a long 475mm reach measurement for a medium-sized bike. The Strive:ON has a chainstay measurement of 445mm throughout all sizes, which Canyon says gives the bike agility on tight trails.

Canyon Strive:ON CFR specification details

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The Strive:ON CFR is the middle spec level. This mid-range model sits between the CFR Underdog and the range-topping CFR LTD, and features a 170mm Fox 38 Performance Elite fork with a GRIP2 damper and a Fox X2 Performance rear shock.

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Shimano’s XT shifters and derailleur give the bike crisp shifting. Shimano provides the shifting and brakes, with XT used for the most part and only the cassette being subbed out for the more affordable SLX version. The bike uses an e*thirteen e*spec Plus crankset with an FSA 36-tooth chainring.

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Shimano’s XT brakes perform well, stopping what is quite a heavy bike with ease. The Shimano XT brakes are the four-pot trail variant, with 220mm rotors used on the front and 203mm on the rear. The bike uses a mixed wheel-size (aka mullet) setup, with DT Swiss HX1700 wheels specced. The 29in front is wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai 2.5in Maxxgrip tyre with an EXO+ casing, and the 27.5in rear wheel features a Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4in with a DoubleDown casing.

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The bike has integrated cable routing through the headset. The Strive:ON CFR features Canyon’s aluminium G5 finishing kit, including a handlebar, stem and dropper post. The latter supports an Ergon SM10 E ebike-specific saddle. Canyon claims this model tips the scales at 24.3kg when fitted with the 750Wh battery.

Canyon Strive:ON CFR ride impressions

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Last year’s leaves still littered a lot of the trails. I tested the Canyon Strive:ON CFR over two days around the town of Massa Marittima in Italy, alongside a small group of journalists and seasoned ex-pros such as Fabien Barel – who won a few downhill races in his time. The first day’s trails were a mixture of tacky mud and rocky tech, and were the setting for the first EWS tester event in 2013. On the second day, I rode in slightly muddier conditions in a local trail network. We’ll be getting the Canyon Strive:ON back in the UK for a full review but, for now, here are my first impressions from those two days of riding.

Canyon Strive:ON CFR climbing performance

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Steep hills are just as much fun as descents on the Strive:ON. With technical climbing being a key part of electric mountain bike racing, it’s evident Canyon has done its homework refining the Strive:ON’s uphill performance. The steep seat tube angle and long reach have you over the front of the bike, which helps keep it planted up steep technical climbs and, in turn, enables you to risk lifting the front wheel without the fear of looping out.

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The motor responded quickly, allowing me to edge the bike up technical sections. The Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4in rear tyre provides good traction on wet inclines, and the DoubleDown sidewall protection enabled me to run the tyre at around 22psi to eke out all the grip on offer. Canyon’s G5 dropper worked flawlessly over the two days, with the lever being well-shaped and the post enabling me to set my saddle height midway to keep my weight over the bottom bracket on super-steep sections.

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The bike stayed composed on the rough uphill sections. The Strive:ON CFR remained agile while tackling obstacles on technical climbs, enabling me to practise my trials skillset by side-hopping around tight corners. However, the low bottom bracket led to one or two pedal strikes through rocky sections – much to the dismay of Canyon’s videographer, who watched me clear a total of zero uphill sections on my flat pedals.

The Shimano XT drivetrain enabled me to shift gears under relatively high torque, but on occasion, a mistimed change would lead to a disheartening clunk from the rear of the bike. Bosch’s Performance Line CX Gen 4 motor offers 85Nm of torque, complementing the Strive:ON’s climbing performance, with an early power engagement helping me to be precise when controlling the power on steep climbs.

Canyon Strive:ON CFR descending performance

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For a full-fat e-MTB, the bike uses its weight well. The Strive:ON CFR, much like its non-assisted brethren, feels focused on getting to the bottom of the trail in as little time as possible – with the bike forgiving risky line choices and rewarding speed through corners. The weight of the bike is well positioned for downhill riding, with a low centre of gravity keeping the Strive:ON planted through the many rock gullies on the trails.

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The Strive:ON handled the rough terrain well. When traction did break, the bike kept its composure and was easy to bring back under control – often leading to a less-than-stylish two-wheel drift. A mullet bike setup and short 445mm chainstays keep the Strive:ON playful, with the front wheel easy to lift off the ground when manualing features or preparing for drop-offs.

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I felt comfortable taking the Strive:ON airborne. This added to the bike’s ability on jumps, allowing it to be hucked pretty hard. All told, the geometry of the bike feels spot on, with the long 475mm reach giving a confidence-inspiring position when tackling steep, techy corners. The DoubleDown sidewall protection of the rear wheel’s Maxxis Minion DHR II enabled me to thrash the bike through multiple rocky sections without burping the tyre or dinging the rim. Up front, the Fox 38 Performance Elite fork provided a ridged chassis, allowing me to be accurate with line choice through gnarly rock gardens, while also letting me off when clipping rocks hidden by the dappled shadow on the forest floor.

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The quietness of the bike was reassuring through rough terrain. The motor and the battery proved quiet when descending, giving the bike a refined feeling that compelled me to throw it down the trail – I also found the skidplate battery cover useful when having to roll an unexpected drop to avoid a crash in front of me.

Canyon Strive:ON CFR early verdict

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Fabien Barel checking out my line choices. The trails around Massa Marittima proved to be a useful test bed for the new Canyon Strive:ON CFR, with plenty of gnarly descents and technical climbs. While I haven’t ridden the bike on home soil, early impressions suggest the Canyon Strive:ON feels well-rounded, tackling a variety of riding surfaces confidently. It’s a refined ride, with little sound coming from the battery and motor while descending. I like the attention to rider convenience visible in design features such as the magnet bolt holder in the bash guard. We’ll deliver a full verdict once we’ve got the Strive:ON back in the UK for further testing.


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