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First Ride Review: Canyon Strive 2019 – large 29″ wheels and a new Shapeshifter

There you have it: the brand new, Canyon Strive 2019. It was only a matter of time before the direct-to-consumer brand released a 29″ enduro bike. With a revised Shapeshifter, improved suspension and updated geometry, the bike is reaching for the enduro crown.

Brand new: the 2019 Canyon Strive with 29″ wheels. Shown here with the € 5,499 Team spec.

The heritage of the Canyon Strive 2019 is unmistakable. The silhouette of the new bike is very similar to that of its predecessor – albeit more modern. Canyon has thoroughly revised the design as well as the technology on the bike, however. The new Strive will come exclusively with large 29″ wheels and a carbon frame – no aluminium option. Canyon will be offering two variants, however, CF and CFR. Regarding stiffness, geometry and solidity, they’re identical, but the higher-end, more expensive CFR version will be about 300 g lighter. The cables are routed internally through foam sleeves, for weight saving reasons. While light and effective in keeping things quiet, the mere thought of replacing the cables through those sleeves is giving us a headache. The Strive also features Canyon’s proprietary thru axles with an integrated quick release. For the bottom bracket, Canyon is relying on good old threaded BSA BB’s – good going!

The frame of the all-new Canyon Strive 2019 will only be available in carbon, coming in two different fibre grades, and for 29ers only
Like its predecessor, the new Strive features Canyon’s Shapeshifter, …
… which has been integrated a lot more tidily and promises to be noticeably more durable
Unlike the Torque and the Spectral, the Strive has internally routed cables. The reason: weight savings.
There is space in the front triangle to accommodate bottles with a capacity of up to 650 ml (size S will max out at 500 ml)

All models offer 150 mm of rear-end travel. As with their other bikes, Canyon has implemented the philosophy of their tried and tested three-phase kinematics: sensitivity at the top, a lot of mid-stroke support, ramping up progressively towards the end. The CF models come specced with 160 mm travel forks, whereas the CFR models will be offering a 170 mm of front travel. As with the predecessor, Canyon has positioned the Strive between the 180 mm travel Torque and its little brother, the Spectral, offering 150 mm of rear travel – both on 27.5″ wheels. The bike should convince professional racers as well as ambitious weekend warriors.

The two CFR models have 170 mm of front travel, the CF models offer only 160 mm
The chainstay protector is bolted on

The Canyon Strive 2019 – Shapeshifter 2.0

What is the Shapeshifter? The Shapeshifter mechanism works on a gas piston that shifts the position of the shock mount on the rocker link, thus changing the geometry and kinematics of the bike at the touch of a button. The bike, therefore, has two riding modes. In climbing or XC mode, the travel of the Strive 29 is reduced to 135 mm, the head and seat tube angles are steepened by 1.5° and the bottom bracket is raised. Besides a change in geometry, the anti-squat increases by 10% to approximately 118%. The reduced anti-squat in downhill mode reduces pedal kickback, making for more active suspension.

Nicely displayed here, the Shapeshifter changes the geometry and kinematics of the Strive at the touch of a button.
Depending on the selected mode, the kinematics and the anti-squat values vary for the optimum riding performance

Granted, the first version of the Shapeshifter from 2015 had some reliability issues, to begin with. The gas piston had a few teething issues. Over the years, however, Canyon has come to grips with the system and learned from past mistakes. The new Shapeshifter has been developed in collaboration with the suspension experts from FOX, promising to be a lot more reliable than its predecessor. To improve reliability, the pressure in the chamber been reduced and the seals, as well as the overall design, have been optimised. The new Shapeshifter has also gotten a two-way valve, making it a lot easier to operate.

The new Shapeshifter was developed in cooperation with FOX and promises to be a lot more durable. Should it ever become necessary, both Canyon and FOX will be able to take care of the service.

The previous Shapeshifter requires you to coordinate shifting your weight to change the mode of the bike. The new Shapeshifter now has two levers – one for each mode. If you press the lever, the bike automatically changes its mode at the next possible opportunity. Once you’ve pressed the XC lever, for example, momentarily unweighting saddle is enough to change the mode, if you switch to downhill mode, the first hard hit will shift the mount. Thanks to a non-return valve, changing from one mode to another can happen over several smaller shifts.

The old Shapeshifter uses a single lever and requires very deliberate weight shifting and accurate timing
With the new lever, you can simply activate the desired mode – the bike does the rest.
Canyon has positioned the dropper seat post lever under the levers for the Shapeshifter. The direct-to-consumer brand has also developed its own lever for mechanical dropper seat posts.
In downhill mode, the gas piston gets retracted. If you activate climbing mode, the piston pushes the shock mount forward.

The geometry of the 2019 Canyon Strive

The Shapeshifter does a lot more than increase climbing efficiency, it allowed the Canyon team to design the geometry to be more downhill specific. The huge 36 mm BB drop in descend mode is particularly striking. The Germans have also spent a lot of time refining the bike’s steering geometry: they’ve given it a head angle of “only” 66 ° or 65.5 ° on the team model, and they’ve specced forks with a short 44mm offset to increase the trail. A slacker head angle would have moved the front wheel further away from the handlebars, which would have made it harder to keep weighted when going through corners.

Canyon specs short 40 mm stems paired with 780 mm wide handlebars on all of the available models. Handlebar rise varies depending on the frame size.

The rest of the geometry is anything but extreme. To make space for the larger wheels and to improve the overall balance, the chainstays have grown by 8 mm to a total of 435 mm. The reach in size L is 470 mm, the stack is 640 mm. Canyon will be making four frame sizes (S-XL), catering to riders from 1.58 to 2.0 meters tall.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 400 mm 440 mm 455 mm 500 mm
Top tube 600 mm 627 mm 660 mm 695 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 110 mm 130 mm
Head tube 66°/67.5° 66°/67.5° 66°/67.5° 66°/67.5°
Seat angle 73.5°/75° 73.5°/75° 73.5°/75° 73.5°/75°
Chainstay 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Height 336 mm 336 mm 336 mm 336 mm
Wheelbase 1169 mm 1196 mm 1230 mm 1268 mm
Reach 415 mm 440 mm 470 mm 500 mm
Stack 626 mm 631 mm 640 mm 658 mm