Canyon Strive:ON CFR – First Ride Review

by 2

Canyon has launched a new addition to its electric line up: the Strive:ON. This ditches the Shapeshifter of the non-electric version, and sets its eye firmly on E-Enduro racing. Developed with input from Fabien Barel and the race team, it’s a bike that’s as much about the ups as it is the downs. Hannah was out at the launch and brings us this first ride review.

Canyon Strive:ON

Canyon Strive:ON Key Specifications

  • 160/170 rear/front travel
  • Mullet wheelsize only
  • Bosch Cx Performance motor (Bosch Cx Performance Race on LTD edition)
  • Bosch Powertube 625Wh and 750Wh batteries (removable for charging)
  • Sizes available: S, M, L, XL
  • Max tyre width 2.5in
  • Claimed weight 24.3kg (Strive:ON CFR, Size M)
  • Three models: CFR Underdog, CFR, CFR LTD.

Canyon Strive:ON Pricing

  • With 750 Wh batteries:
    • Strive:ON Underdog: € 5,999, / £5,699
    • Strive:ON CFR: € 7,199 / £6,899
    • Strive:ON CFR LTD: € 9,699 / £9,199
  • With 625 Wh batteries:
    • Strive:ON Underdog: € 5,799 / £5,499
    • Strive:ON CFR: € 6,999 / £6,699
    • Strive:ON CFR LTD: € 9,499 / £8,999

The Strive:ON is tested to Category 4E standards – a notch lower than the Rampage ready Torque:ON. Canyon says that makes the Strive:ON suitable for anything short of downhill world cup courses, big bike park hits, and freeride cliffs. But
tough enduro stages are what it’s all about. I can see some riders opting for the Torque:ON because they want that big hit confidence and strength. For how I ride, I think the agility of the Strive:ON on the ups as well as the downs is more valuable.

Canyon Strive:ON
Horizontal shock creates room for other useful stuff

The Strive:ON comes in mullet only set up, with Canyon saying that the mullet gives the agility needed to counteract the stability you get through the extra weight of the Strive:ON over the Strive. Shapeshifter has been dropped in favour of a horizontal shock and the space this creates for the motor and a water bottle.

Both battery options are available in all bike sizes, and the CFR LTD is race focussed with the Bosch Performance Line CX Race Edition motor. I spent a day out on the mid-range Strive:ON CFR, so how was it?

Canyon Strive:ON CFR First Ride Review

Whenever I have previously ridden an ebike, there has always been an element of ‘it’s fun, but…’. The ‘but’ is then a series of scenarios where I wouldn’t want the bike – usually super technical and slippery tracks, where I feel like the weight of an ebike would have me as a passenger clinging on, rather than a rider in control. The Strive:ON has changed that. It’s a bike I could pedal all day and anywhere. Put me on a mountain and let me do laps.

Unsurprisingly for a bike designed to take on the E-EWS, the Strive:ON is a bike designed to take on the technical climbs as well as the descents. Under the direction of Fabien Barel, we slid our saddles forward (Benji would approve), and then sat right on the nose of the saddle, chests on the bars, and took on a series of slippery and steep climbing challenges. I don’t think anyone other than ‘Uphill Ninja’ Braydon Bringhurst completed any of them, but given they were tricky just to walk up, it’s no reflection on the bike. Indeed, it’s a reflection of how capable it is that we found ourselves thinking it might be possible for us mortals.

Never before have I found myself panting quite so much on an ebike. Heartrate up, chasing up hill, through the woods, and back down. And down and down and down. Descents up to nearly 5km long, then back up for another lap, with barely a pause in between. Up fire roads, singletrack trails, contouring round (and back up, and down, and back up) off camber trails, then plummeting back down another long descent. Steep turns, snaking turns, drifting loamy turns… dropper up, dropper down, dropper up and catch your breath, dropper down, drop in, sprint. Fast straights, technical rock sections, gulleys, spiky rocks, grippy rocks… the world threw trail feature after trail feature at me as I tried to keep focussed a couple of features ahead. A high speed game of chess where taking a moment to think ‘this is fun’ would surely use up an important brain cell needed to pick the right line between here and there. Screw it up, take a chunky line, wriggle your way back to balance thanks to a whole pile of forgiving and agile bike, then back up to speed. Rock drop into sandy turn, hop off a root and over the rut, switch sides, take the left bank, then the right and then haul into a track stand as you choose which way to drop off the rocky island you suddenly find yourself teetering on. The Strive:ON had me feeling in control enough to push the limits of my abilities and tickle the edges of my comfort zone. After six weeks off the bike with injury, it was an incredible feeling to find myself dropping straight into blind race mode, brain checking off the features and shutting out the wider world.

If that sounds good, it’s because it was. But let’s try and focus on the details before we get to the fist bumps and high fives.

In the Strive:ON CFR guise I tested, this bike seemed to me to be a near perfect set up. Shifting is crisp, and I found myself getting the knack of using both gears and the Bosch assist levels to give just the right punch of power or easing off of torque as needed. The Shimano brakes never faded, and worked whether I was modulating the speed to stay in control, or tapping the brakes to avert disaster. I’d expect these to need a little regular TLC to keep them that way, but this is a first ride review and as such the bike hasn’t been subjected to any durability testing.

The dropper post was a bit of a let down – rather literally. I found myself using it a lot as I followed the contouring trails, and often dropped the saddle by a third or so (under instruction from Fabien) to tackle the steeper climbs. This meant that if I failed to complete a move, my saddle would be at least partially compressed when I put a foot down and pushed on to a point in the trail where I could get back on. Hauling the bike around inevitably resulted in me pulling on the saddle, at which point it sucked its way upwards – and went squishy. Deploying my trailside hack for fixing this worked well and I was able to continue on my way, but it’s something to watch for if your bike comes with the G5 dropper.

The grips are once again the rather thin and hard Canyon grips that I think I have complained about every time I’ve reviewed a Canyon. If you ride gloveless, that thin and hard grip is made even more uncomfortable by the rough stippling pattern on the grips, which gets quite painful on the hands. And, they’re rather prone to being ripped if you scrape a bike on the wall or drop it onto the ground. I’m not a fan – it’s a small point, but I’ll keep moaning about these grips until Canyon deploys better ones.

My only other gripe is the Bosch controller on the bars – it’s just a little light and lacks the positive feel and ergonomics of the Shimano controller. However, it did sit nicely with the brakes/grips/dropper/gears, meaning I could get the cockpit set up with everything in easy reach of my thumbs.

The bike comes with shorter than usual 165mm cranks – ebike climbing technique involves keeping pedalling, while dragging the rear brake while pedalling if you need to modulate the speed. Shorter cranks help keep things turning on the rockiest of climbs, avoiding the need for a half crank or pause. I still clipped the pedals on occasion, but that’s probably testament to the terrain I was riding on rather than the bike’s geometry. If I were keeping this bike, I’d likely chop the bars down a bit, to give myself a bit more power over the front when popping off lips and jumps. The underside of the bike is inspired by motocross, designed to slide over obstacles and protect the chainring. A front mudguard on the fork keeps the worst of the mud from your face.

I rode until I could ride no more, jellied arms delivering me to the end of the trail, barely able to lift an emergency full fat coke to my lips. After more than four hours out on the hill doing some of the longest laps of my life, I was happily cooked. The Strive:ON had delivered me to the top of the trails time and time again, fresh enough to put in another descent. Without it I’d have been well on the way to par boiled by the time I’d got to the end of the first climb, and I’d likely never of had the energy for a second lap – plus, I’d have been pushing or sweating up the endless short climb sections on the trails around the hill.

But it’s not enough to get to the top – any ebike can do that. The Strive:ON can get you up the natural wriggly stuff that you’d ride on your normal bike, and then get you up those steep bits you don’t have the legs for too. It also matters how it gets you back down again, and here the Strive:ON is excellent. There’s nothing distracting about the ride to keep you from enjoying the descent to the full, no matter how technical or slithery it gets. It’s not light, but it acts like it is. It had me looking at obstacles and telling myself ‘I know I can ride that, let’s do it’, without factoring ‘oh, but it’s an ebike’ into the equation. If you like your time in the air, or are more of a red to black rider, I strongly suggest you check out the Strive:ON. Between the Bosch motor and the all round capability, I think it’s potentially worth leapfrogging the Spectral:ON and aiming for the Strive:ON.

If you like to ride your bike, give it some inputs, and challenge yourself on the climbs, I’d also suggest you check out the Canyon Strive:ON. The Torque:ON on doesn’t seem to me to have the same agility and finesse that you want on technical climbs – and I confess I am biased towards the looks of the Strive:ON, and the Bosch motor. The Torque:ON is more of a bike park/laps bike, whereas the Strive:ON is an anywhere and everywhere, over the hills and far away – as well as laps – option. It just takes a bit more riding than the Torque:ON – something you won’t notice if you’re used to progressive geometry, but that might feel a bit hot to handle if you tend to hang off the back instead of getting over the front and bossing the bike. Curiously, the Torque:ON is the same weight if not slightly lighter than the Strive:ON, yet to ride I’d have put them the other way around. Either way, you’ll think twice before climbing any gates or stiles.

Overall

The Canyon Strive:ON might just have ruined mountain biking for me. I have a horrible feeling that the genie is out of the bottle and the toothpaste isn’t going back in the tube. I might have to have some sort of hypnotherapy: ‘you don’t need a motor, one lap is enough, love your legs when they hurt…’. That sort of thing. Despite having an amazing time and feeling the ride mojo return, I’m not sure I’m looking forward to my next ride. How can anything hold a candle to lap after lap of long and technical descents? The Strive:ON has crossed the divide. Can I go back? I guess I’m going to have to. I’ll be at the back, trying not to complain. If you get yourself a Strive:ON, I’m pretty sure you’ll be off the front, grinning ear to ear. 

More Reviews

Abus AirDrop MIPS helmet review

The Abus AirDrop MIPS is a well made and designed helmet that offers great levels of…

Book Review: Potholes and Pavements

Some years ago I met Laura Laker and she seemed to me to be an essentially…

Orbea Laufey H-LTD review

It's just as well the Orbea Laufey H-LTD handles so well because if we turn our…

Schwalbe Tacky Chan review

The Schwalbe Tacky Chan has a surprise up its sleeve: it's less draggy and tiring on…


Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • Canyon Strive:ON CFR – First Ride Review
  • honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    Lot to like here… apart from headset cable touting

    AlexSimon
    Full Member

    @honourablegeorge Definitely too much touting of that

Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.