Canyon Sender CF 9.0 Review – When it’s time to go big, grab the right tool!
Enduro bikes are the kings of versatility, just as happy cruising home trails as smashing bike park laps. However, to take a 160 mm bike to Champery, Val di Sole, or Verbier would be suicidal – sometimes you need more! It’s time to send it!
Nine laps in, only halfway down the track and barely able to hold on to the handlebars, we were in full-bore DH terrain, and the new Canyon Sender was screaming with joy. The Sender is Canyon’s latest addition to their MTB lineup, a 200mm downhill bike that looks like it’s ready for business. The frame is a true masterpiece… its design makes one stare for a while and promises something about how it will ride. It’s defined, it’s accurate, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. Canyon offers the Sender in four sizes, and for this test we got a large Sender CF 9.0.
Some numbers first
Our test rider weighs in at 70 kilograms and measures 182 cm; the large-sized Sender should fit well. Going through the geometry table and theorizing about the geo-adjustments makes us wonder what setup will work best. 460mm in reach, a 63 degree head angle, and either 430 or 446 on the chainstays. This bike is long: 460mm reach on a downhill bike is a lot. Reach is measured with the wheels on even ground, but the reality is that once you point the front wheel down a steep DH track, the reach grows and is dynamic.
We decide to start with 430mm chainstays, thinking it would make the bike manoeuvrable, while stability would come from the long reach. The head angle can be changed with different headset cups (+/- 1 degree), but 63 degrees feels like a good start.
Canyon Sender CF 9.0 Geometry
Kronplatz, Verbier, Dorenaz, and Bex were our destinations to test the Sender. If you’ve never heard of the last two and you’re up for some action, go check them out. The Kronplatz trails are flowy, fast, and probably deliver the best berms around. Verbier is high alpine, high voltage. The yellow track could do very well as a downhill World Cup track; it’s rough, including G-outs, big jumps, and very technical sections. The Sender’s bashguard had a hard time and barely survived what’s probably one of the roughest tracks in Switzerland.
First impression of the Sender? Wow, it’s stable – and not just compared to an enduro bike, but also compared to other downhill bikes. It doesn’t pop easily… it sticks to the ground and it’s quiet. A bike that’s quiet out of the box is a rare thing, and Canyon have nailed it. The protection on the chainstays and seatstays does its job well.
After a couple of laps we started to get a feel for the bike, but couldn’t shake the feeling that something was weird. It was hard to keep pressure on the front wheel. We decided to change the chainstays from 430 to 446. One bolt, two rubber pieces, and adjusting the rear brake made it a two minute job. Long chainstays made the bike feel really big on the parking lot, but once on the track, up to speed, it felt dialed. The long reach simply screams for balance, in this case with the longer chainstays. The whole bike felt more predictable. Chainstay length has a lot to do with riding style, but also with the size of the bike. A small or medium-sized Sender would probably feel great with the 430mm chainstays, but 446mm seems almost obligatory on the large and extra-large.
Smooth as butter
The Sender’s suspension is a four-bar linkage with two extra links that drive the shock. The suspension starts with a high leverage ratio that makes it feel very sensitive. Through the complete travel it’s progressive; the rear end feels very predictable, and combined with the air shock it’s hard to bottom out. The suspension doesn’t feel like you’re sinking deep into the travel – instead it gives a sense of support. The support means that the travel is used very efficiently; it uses only the travel needed, but not more. There is no feeling of smashing down the hill on a cushy couch, but the Sender handles both small and big impacts very well.
In Germany, you get the Sender CF 9.0 for a very competitive 4,799 €, and it comes with a dream build. The Fox 40 with the new negative air chamber is smooth as butter and works very well with the X2 in the back. We would recommend swapping the 180 mm disc in the back for a 203 mm. Tire choice is always very personal; for us the Maxxis Minion DHR 2 did lack a bit of cornering grip, especially in front.
Riding enduro bikes most of the time we would not want to live without, but the days of going to real rough downhill tracks where you need five laps to get a feel for the track and know your lines, those days are golden and make us appreciate the Sender even more. It’s a bike for high speeds on the hardest tracks in the world, a bike to send it!
Canyon Sender CF 9.0 specifications
Fork: FOX Factory 40 Float Fit4 Kashima
Rear shock: FOX Factory Float X2 Evol Kashima
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
Drivetrain: Sram X01 DH
Seatpost: SDG Micro I-Beam
Stem: Renthal Integra
Bars: Renthal Fat Bar
Wheels: DT Swiss FR 1950
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHR II
Weight: 15.83 kg (tubeless)
Price: € 4,799
The Canyon Sender CF 9.0 in detail
The Sender convinced; it’s a weapon for the world’s toughest DH tracks that wouldn’t make a bad figure under the feet of a World Cup racer. Will we see the carbon machine in the World Cup circuit next year? Is it capable of winning races? What we know right now is that the Sender is a highly capable, precise, and well-finished bike that comes at a very affordable price tag.
- Outstanding design
- Great suspension performance
- Balanced handling
- Smart and well-finished details
- Not a bike for easy riding
- Stock front tire lacks grip
For more information head to canyon.com
In 2017 the Sender CF will be piloted by the riders of the freshly founded Canyon Factory Downhill Team.