Canyon Strive:ON CFR

Canyon Strive:ON CFR review

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Canyon joined the e-bike scene about five years ago when it launched the pedal-assisted version of the Spectral. This bike kicked off a couple of things. Firstly, it was one of the very first e-bikes (or indeed any sort of bike) to launch as a mullet. Mixed wheel: 29in front, 27.5in rear. That bike also began Canyon’s e-bike naming methodology. Namely sticking ‘:ON’ at the end of existing bike model names.

  • Brand: Canyon
  • Product: Strive:ON CFR
  • From: canyon.com
  • Price: £6,699
  • Tested: by Benji for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 150
Canyon Strive:ON CFR

That bike was the 150mm travel trail e-bike Canyon Spectral:ON. The bike we have here is the 160mm travel enduro race e-bike Canyon Strive:ON. Ostensibly, the Strive:ON and the Spectral:ON look very similar to each other. Canyons very definitely have ‘an aesthetic’ to them. It’s a clean and modern look. Almost surgical. The aesthetic is no doubt a big part of what makes Canyon bikes appealing to a whole swathe of people.

The Bike

The Canyon Strive:ON CFR is a very modern e-bike. You can tell this by its downtube alone. It is flipping massive. And has an eye-catching bulging belly to it that sits in front of the chainset. Why is it like this? To accommodate a modern, high-capacity battery inside the downtube. The Strive:ON can fit a 750Wh battery (or a smaller, cheaper 625Wh battery).

This forward-pitched downtube design gives the illusion that the back end of the bike is really long. But it really isn’t. The chainstays are a surprisingly short 445mm. ‘Surprisingly’ in two ways: they look longer, and this bike is supposed to be an ‘enduro race e-bike’.

E-bike enduros have timed stages on hideous technically demanding climbs. Usually, hill climbs are best attacked on long chainstays. The Strive:ON has at least one eye on non-racers just wanting a 160/170mm travel e-bike for weekend thrashings. Talking about techno ascending, the Strive:ON has a big ol’ motocross-inspired skid plate on its underside that’s designed to have a hard life down there.

Talking about ascending of all types, the seat angle is well worthy of discussion. The claimed effective seat angle is a pretty steep 78° but the actual seat angle is a decidedly not-steep 73° (on this Large). Suffice to say, once the saddle is up at pedalling height, you’re sitting quite far behind the bottom bracket for a modern mountain bike.

Without getting too bogged down in geometry numbers, two standout figures are the impressively short seat tube length and the healthy reach. This Large test bike has a dinky 435mm seat tube for impressive standover and maximum dropper post-age. The reach is 500mm, which is not a total outlier for a Large but is definitely at the upper end of what is typical.

One thing that isn’t on the Canyon Strive:ON CFR is Canyon’s proprietary Shapeshifter on-the-fly geometry adjusting linkage doohicky thing. We imagine it’ll be removed from the regular Strive when that gets rejigged. In terms of finishing kit, it’s all really, really good. Nothing could do with swapping out. I tell a lie. The grips. The harsh AF grips need removing immediately. And setting fire to. Hideous.

The motor stuff: Bosch Performance Line CX gives out 85Nm of torque and is controlled by a dinky Bluetooth remote next to the left-hand grip, with the top tube panel showing you battery level, what setting you’re in, and also hosting the on/off button.

The Ride

Getting straight to the point because why not? The Bosch Performance Line CX is the best e-bike motor currently available. Sure, it can feel a bit ‘grabby’ or ‘over enthusiastic’ to total newcomers to e-bikes but once you’ve done a handful of miles on it, you learn how and why this keenness is actually a really good thing. Other systems feel weaker and sort of unhelpfully reluctant after Bosch-ing about for a while.

The Bosch gives you power quicker and gives you more power. It also doesn’t fall away when you’re attacking a steep pitched climb crest, or sprinting back up to speed after a tight corner. The motor also has an ample degree of overrun (where the motor keeps keeping on for a metre or two even after you’ve stopped pedalling), which again feels odd to newbies but quickly becomes a useful feature you can exploit.

The Bosch also has an impressive MPG for a system that is so power-happy. The battery level lights don’t drop down as quickly as you fear they might even though you’re turbo-ing your tassels off everywhere. And if you drop down a level to the e-MTB, the range is seriously impressive while the auto-adjusting power proffered is still very generous.

While I was happy with the battery level info display, I must confess to missing having some sort of screen to check other stats. I like knowing what my cadence is and also just keeping an eye on what time it is! 

On to the bike itself… the Canyon Strive:ON CFR is undoubtedly a really good e-bike. But it did take me quite a while to get it set up to handle to my liking. To cut a long, shock-pumping story short, the front suspension and the rear suspension felt very different to each other for quite a while. I kept letting air out of the fork. And putting more in the shock.

In the end I ended up running sub-25% sag at the back and running less PSI in the fork than Fox recommends for my weight. This is not a complaint or criticism as such. It’s more something to bear in mind if you’re setting up a Strive:ON for yourself.

Once running not-very-much sag at the back the Strive:ON suddenly came alive. It stopped feeling like a wrestling match uphill. It stopped understeering on descents. It stopped feeling stuck-to-the-ground dead on undulating traverses. With the BB height being less sinking-feeling, and generally riding much more dynamically higher, the Canyon Strive:ON CFR proved adept at scrabbling up all sorts of stoopid slopes.

Although the chainstays are on the short side, the general wheelbase of the bike is pretty long (1,304mm on this Large) so it felt good to have that paired with a lofty BB to prevent feeling ‘lost’ in the bike and to add a dollop of dynamism.

ut yeah, an enduro e-bike is going to live or die by its descending chops isn’t it? And the Strive:ON has an awful lot of descending chops thankyouverymuch. The rear travel is still fully accessible, even with minimal sag and a lightish rider.

The fork can take anything you throw at it. The 4-pot Shimano brakes with 220/203mm are amazing. The proper Maxxis tyres are great. The rangey reach works nicely with the 63.5° head angle. The bars and stem are appropriate. And the immense standover – and full 200mm drop post (on this Large) – is most welcome and really helps offset any potential worries you can have when piloting heavy e-bikes down (or indeed UP) mad terrain.

Overall

Truth be told, the first few rides out on the Canyon Strive:ON were a tad disappointing. From what people had told me about this e-bike, I had rather high expectations. Thankfully, those expectations were met. Eventually. The rear suspension on the Strive:ON is not like any other I’ve encountered on a modern mountain bike (E or otherwise) in this travel bracket. It feels very linear. Which is fine. It’s just unexpected.

It’s actually more than ‘fine’. I can see an argument for minimal sag suspension on e-bikes. The suspension works so well on e-bikes due to sprung/unsprung mass ratio (the wheels are ‘light’, the chassis is ‘heavy’) that you just don’t need loads of sag. Keeping the ride height higher when ride velocity is lower makes sense too, whether that’s for cleaning techy climbs or adding some propulsion to flatter tracks.

Once suitably set up, the Strive:ON was a delight. Loads of power, loads of range, loads of engaging handling, loads of fun. I’d say that it’s not just an out-and-out e-enduro race bike. It’s way more friendly and versatile than that. 

Canyon Strive:ON CFR specification

  • Frame Carbon, 160mm
  • Fork Fox Float 38 Performance Elite Grip2, 170mm
  • Shock Fox Float X2 Performance
  • Wheels DT Swiss HX1700
  • Front tyre Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip 29×2.5in
  • Rear tyre Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxTerra 27.5×2.4in
  • Chainset e*thirteen E-Spec Plus BOSCH, 165mm, 36T
  • Drivetrain Shimano Deore XT, 10-51T
  • Brakes Shimano Deore XT M8120, 220/203mm
  • Stem Canyon G5 Stem, 40mm, 31.8mm
  • Bars Canyon G5 Riser Bar, 780 x 30mm, 31.8mm
  • Grips Canyon G5 Grips
  • Seatpost G5 Adjustable Dropper Post, 30.9mm, 200mm
  • Saddle Ergon SM10 EMTB
  • Bottom Bracket Bosch
  • Motor Bosch Performance Line CX, 85Nm
  • Battery Bosch PowerTube 625Wh
  • Size tested L
  • Sizes available S, M, L, XL
  • Weight 25kg
  • Head angle 63.5°
  • Effective seat angle 78°
  • Seat tube length 435mm
  • Head tube length 130mm
  • Effective top tube 637mm
  • BB height 25mm BB drop
  • Reach 500mm
  • Chainstay 445mm
  • Wheelbase 1,304mm

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Review Info

Brand: Canyon
Product: Strive:ON CFR
From: canyon.com
Price: £6,699
Tested: by Benji for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 150

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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  • Canyon Strive:ON CFR review
  • honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    Does this bike really have an aesthetic appeal? I reckon it’s one of the ugliest of all the ebikes I’ve seen, which is a shame, as there’s lots to like otherwise.

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