Luxury Bikes

Key Test Sessions – Canyon Strive CFR Underdog – Mountain Bike Feature

TThe Strive is the second bike in our test to have an EWS title under 2021 EWS overall winner Jack Moir. The Strive has been in the Canyons range since 2010 and has undergone several facelifts since then. Now in its 4th edition, the Strive is bigger than ever and was the largest bike in our test in terms of wheelbase and reach.

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  • 29 inch wheels
  • 160 mm (6.3 inches) rear travel // 170 mm (6.7 inches) fork travel
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • 64 degree head tube angle
  • 78 degree seat tube angle
  • 525, 530 and 535 mm adjustable reach (size XL)
  • 435mm chainstay length in all sizes
  • Horst-Link suspension with shapeshifter for adjustable travel and geometry on the fly
  • Internal cable routing
  • Water bottle and accessory holders
  • Down tube and chainstay protection made from 3D molded rubber
  • Clear frame protection in heavily stressed areas
  • 12 x 148mm Boost rear hub spacing
  • SRAM UDH and T-Type compatibility
  • 73mm bottom bracket with BSA thread and ISCG05 tabs
  • Price: $4,999 as tested (CFR Underdog)



  • Stability at high speed
  • Shapeshifter is very useful for improving pedaling efficiency or generating speed on smoother tracks
  • Surprisingly agile for its size
  • Durability concerns as rear axle and main pivot pin come loose during testing
  • XL sizes are more comparable to XXL sizes; Consider downsizing



The Strive has 160 mm of travel at the rear wheel, which drops to 140 mm with a shapeshifter and a 170 mm fork at the front. The CFR underdog-level Strive uses a Fox 38 Performance Elite fork, a Fox Float X2 Performance Elite shock, and rolls on DT Swiss EX511 rims with 370 star ratchet hubs. Shifting is via a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain with 4-piston XT brakes paired with 200mm front and rear discs to reduce speed. The handlebars and stem are made from Canyon’s in-house G5 components, as is the adjustable 200mm seat post. And all for $4,999, the Strive easily wins best value in the category.



Our XL size had very spacious reach options of 525, 530 or 535mm depending on the position of the headset cup. We decided to test in 525 mm. The head tube angle is 63 degrees or 64.5 degrees with shapeshifter, and the 76.5 degree seat tube angle steepens up to 78 degrees with shapeshifter engaged to achieve an upright peeling position. The whopping 1,325mm wheelbase has a short chainstay length of 435mm, which undoubtedly raised some questions among our testers. The 140mm head tube length was a welcome specification, providing sufficient stack height for our entire test team with the stock 35mm rise bars.


Long travel mode (160mm)
Short stroke mode (140 mm)

The range number alone was concerning for someone who normally lands in the XL size range. The XL Strive is more in line with most XXL bikes. Even with the headset cup in the shortest position, the reach was still 20mm longer and the wheelbase was about 35mm longer than my personal XL size bike.


On the path

The Strive is surprisingly fun going downhill given its dimensions. The bike hugs the ground as expected, but can easily lift off almost anything. The short chainstays help navigate difficult sections of trail, timing manuals, and changing direction on steeper terrain. Such a short rear center with such a long reach would normally result in less front wheel traction than desired. What balances the Strive is the slack head tube angle, which helps keep the front wheel on the ground. We found that front wheel traction was only an issue on steep, off-camber sections and that we had to lean forward with confidence to fix the problem.


The suspension feel on the rear wheel is phenomenal and it was one of the easiest bikes in the test. The exception is penetration support. Bottom-outs are pretty harsh, but that could be solved by using volume spacers or closing high-speed compression on the trail. While this happened a few times during testing, it is not necessarily a detriment to the use of the bike. Considering that enduro races are long and demanding, a slightly smaller ramp at the rear may be an advantage when racing over longer ones Time passes, and is also one of the reasons why the bike route is ridden so well by chattering. We feel the rear is unsettled by larger impacts on the square edge when leaning forward, and believe this would be less of an issue at a smaller size where the weight distribution would be more balanced.


The climb we used for testing consisted of a long section of fire road that turned into singletrack and became progressively steeper. I spent the first half of the climb knowing that the shapeshifter would come in handy when things got tougher, but I wanted to get a feel for how the bike pedaled without locking up. Of the few minutes spent pedaling in the long travel setting, a fair amount of energy was lost in the pedal movement alone. Pressing the “Click” button on the Shapeshifter lever placed the bike in a more upright pedaling position, reducing rear wheel travel to a much firmer pedaling platform, as if by magic. From then on it rode as well as any other trail bike I’ve ridden, handling the increasingly steep climbs with ease. Pushing the mounted bar back to “Clack” the Strive reverted to the little bump eating machine I had gotten used to before the climb.


What is the end result?

The Strive was the largest bike in our enduro test session comparison and was one of the top-ranking bikes among our testers. I chose this bike as the one I would buy if it was in my budget, but I would prefer the Large size in hopes of a more maneuverable bike. The Strive is undoubtedly one of the best offerings on the market, costing just $4,999 for a trim that would have most bikes $2-3,000 more expensive. Price aside, the Strive has a proven track record on the world enduro stage, and it’s clear why after spending some time with it.

We stayed right at the base of the mountain, courtesy of Visit Big Bear, and we couldn’t have imagined a more convenient way to spend the week testing bikes. Since our condo was less than a minute from Snow Summit Village, we were able to easily return to our unit between laps to swap bikes and had plenty of room to work on our bikes. Off the bike, we were grateful to have enough space for our entire test crew, as well as a pool and hot tub within walking distance to relax after each day of testing. Big Bear has a wide variety of dining options and a great downtown area that we explored when we wanted to mix up our dinner plans or just grab some ice cream afterward. If you’d like to explore Snow Summit or Big Bear, California for yourself, come visit us or for more information…

Thank you to everyone who sponsored this test and made our trip possible!

Click here to watch the whole thing Enduro Bike Test Sessions 2023 feature.

Learn more about the Intense Canyon Strive at

View key specs, compare and rate bikes Canyon struts in the Vital MTB product manual.

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