Canyon Strive Race Review

Reviewed by: Essex Herts MTB -
Canyon Strive Race
We review the Canyon Strive Race. How does this purpose built Enduro machine stack up against the competition. We find out.

Canyon Strive Introduction

The 160mm Enduro market is one of the most competitive areas of the mtb industry right now. With a lots of options around wheel size, frame materials and suspension design, its hard to know where to start. We take a look at the aluminium framed, 26 inch Strive Race which is the current Enduro offering from Canyon. Its spec list is incredibly impressive but how does all that kit hang together on the trail.

Canyon Strive Race
"Top line components - SRAM XX1, Fox Racing Shox CTD Kashima, RockShox Reverb Stealth..."

Canyon Strive Race Specs

  • Frame: Canyon Strive AL9.0 Race
  • Rear Shock: Fox Racing Shox Float CTD Kashima Remote
  • Fork: Fox Racing Shox 34 Float CTD Remote
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40 Series
  • Handlebar: Spank Subrosa 747
  • Stem: Spank Spike Race 35mm
  • Brakes: Avid X.0 Trail, 200mm front 180 back
  • Shifters: SRAM XX1
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM XX1
  • Chainguide: e*thirteen TRS+
  • Cranks: SRAM XX1 GPX
  • Sprocket: SRAM XX Chainring & Spider 34t
  • Bottom Bracket: SRAM Pressfit GXP Bottom Bracket
  • Chain: SRAM XX1
  • Cassette: SRAM XX1
  • Rims: Spank Oozy
  • Hubs: DT Swiss 240s
  • Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF, Maxxis Ardent 2.4 EXO
  • Saddle: SDG Duster custom
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Weight: 28 lb 10.6 oz + Pedals
  • Full product details are here.

Canyon Strive Race
"The Canyon Strive Race frame is incredibly stiff and direct"

The Frame

  • The Strive has been around for a few years now and its testament to its original design, that not a lot has changed. From start to finish it’s a sensible set-up for all round knarly trail thrashing. Hitting the sweet spot between being an aggressive set up while also be generally usable on the trail.
  • The head angle is slack but not so much that you get front end wandering on the climbs. 66.5 degrees is just right for a 160mm bike these days.
  • The Strive's seat angle is steepish so that when sitting down your weight is kept over the front end.
  • The BB is low but not so low that pedal strikes are an issue.
  • The black anodised finish is great to look at and has lasted well.
  • There was plenty of stand-over on the medium that I tested. It feels like a low slung bike.
  • Cable routing is sensible although any bike with the CTD lever is going to struggle to keep the front end from appearing like a birds nest. Internal dropper routing is a welcome addition.
  • The Strive is a single pivot design. I have not always been fan of classic single pivots, as in the past they have given me less traction under braking. It wasn’t a noticeable effect on the Strive due to the frames kinematics and its aggressive stance, which allowed me to drop my heels and push through the rear end.
  • The Canyon Strive Race frame is incredibly stiff and direct. Getting it sideways didn't produce any real deflection and allowed direct power transmission.
  • The 142mm rear axle is an excellent enhancement to the old 135 design. It has made one of my least favourite jobs (locating the rear wheel back in) strait forward and easy.
  • The Canyon Strive's head tube is the now default taper 1 1/8 to 1 1/2.
  • The Medium we tried would be spot on for riders 5”8 to 5”11. The sizing chart seemed accurate.
  • There is good mud clearance even with beefy 2.5 DH tyres that we occasionally ran for uplifting.
  • The welds were neat and tidy and there were no issues with alignment.
  • The geo on the Canyon Strive Race does give a nice balance between climbing and hammering downhill. I would however like a slacker setting for when you get into those really alpine environments, for which the Strive is surely designed. A lot of the competition offers some form of adjustable geo.
  • The graphics are sharp but maybe not as striking as some other brands. The current trend of using streaks of colour to pick out the line of the frame is something Canyon could do well to emulate.
  • There weren’t enough guides to neatly run a non-stealth seat post such as a KS lev if so required in the future.

Canyon Strive Race
"The Canyon sagometer for the rear shock is a nice bit of trick kit"

The Suspension

  • The Canyon Strive uses a Fox 34 CTD Kashima Fork & Fox Float CTD Kashima Rear. There Fox’s top end offerings so it’s good to see Canyon including them on a bike of this price.
  • With Fox CTD, and its 3 pre-sets of compression dampening it was easy to stiffen up the Strive's suspension for climbing. The remote makes it so simple that I ended up using this feature even more than dropping the seat post.
  • The Canyon Strive was an efficient climber particularly in technical terrain. The CTD labelling of the shocks is a bit of a misnomer as all they refer to is different levels of compression. In actual fact, for very technical climbing where lots of traction was required the descend setting was sometimes the most efficient. Think chunky boulder climbs or scrabbly root sections.
  • The 160mm 34mm stanchion forks were stiff enough for a 13st rider. Harder / heavier riders may find their limitations when pushing hard.
  • The Canyon sagometer for the rear shock is a nice bit of trick kit, and makes getting your rear shock set up super easy.
  • As we have mentioned in previous reviews the compression tune on both the 2013/14 fox forks and shock is little too light. This is a well-documented issue that has affected all 2013 FOX CTD shocks. You might have to run the front and rear air pressures a little harder than normal to counter this. Modifying the fork with more oil, and the shock with less volume will go a long way to fixing this but remember this is Fox's top of the line offering and modding shouldn’t really be required.

Canyon Strive Race
"The compression tune on both the 2013/14 fox forks and shock is little too light"

The Equipment

  • The Canyon Strive cockpit is decked out in Spanks latest offerings. The Subrosa 747mm bar is a great width, although some may prefer the option of a 760mm which they can cut down. The Spike Race 35mm stem is solid and just like the bars beautifully finished. The gloss black lustre on the bar and stem looked 'box fresh' after 6 months riding.
  • The Cane Creek 40 headset stayed tight and resisted a fair amount of jet-washing. The orange anodising looks expensive and the zero stack meant a low front end and lots of adjustment options.
  • The Strive Race features the latest and greatest gears in SRAM XX1. A lot of good things have been written about SRAMs 1 x 11 group sets and I can’t disagree. I never lost a chain in 6 months. The shifting was accurate and precise. There was no noise from chain slap and the XX1 GPX carbon cranks were as stiff as anything I have used. I can’t wait for the technology to trickle down as it is an expensive option right now. My initial concerns over the strength of the narrow 11 speed chain proved wrong and I didn’t break a link in the time I had it.
  • The Strive Race features Avid X.0 Trail brakes. For the power they produce they are very light even with the 200 /180mm rotors. The levers are carbon and the clamp minimalist. The lever feel isn’t the firmest but does offer good modulation. I went through one pad on the rear after 5 months which was more due to bad set up on my part. The reach and throw adjustment work well and the breaking point is consistent. Overall the Avid X.0 brakes offer a good power to weight ratio for enduro riding.
  • The Spank Oozy rims on DT Swiss 240s hubs were solid throughout. We didn’t have to true them throughout the test. They are also a super light combo and stiff enough to offer good tracking when barrelling through rough terrain. We even tried them with big Dh tyres on uplift days and they were wide enough to work well.
  • The SDG Duster custom saddle was light and comfy. Unless you have a favourite perch there is no need to swap it out.
  • The obligatory dropper seat post came in the form of the Rockshox Reverb stealth. After one initial issue with it sinking the replacement performed well. I swapped the lever from the right to the left.
  • The Canyon Strive comes with a e*thirteen TRS+ chain guide. However I took this off to see if we could get the chain to drop and it didn’t so it never went back on!
  • The Strive came with Maxxis Minion DHF EXO on the front and a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 EXO. The Minion was a 42a compound which is a great setup for Alpine Enduro racing, but in the UK where you have to earn your descents, it just doesn’t roll well. A switch to a 60a compound Minion kept a lot of the grip but it rolled a lot better.
  • Its worth investing in some crank caps for the carbon SRAM XX1 GPX carbon cranks, as they tend to get a bit more gouged than their alloy counterparts.
Canyon Strive Race
"There was no noise from chain slap and the XX1 GPX carbon cranks were as stiff as anything"

Ride Report - Going Up

  • The Canyon Strive has a fairly neutral climbing position. It didn’t require a lot of body movement to get set for a steep climb. Long fire road grinds were also handled with ease.
  • The Fox CTD shocks came into their own when climbing. The climb setting make the bike much tighter and efficient on long steady climbs and the decent setting helped with technical scrambling where traction was at a premium.
  • The sub 30lbs weight and frame and wheel stiffness helped the bikes overall ability to climb.
  • The Strive is never going to be a bike you hammer up the hills but it does the job of allowing you to winch up without burning too much energy. At the same time it is capable climber on technical terrain too.
  • Tight uphill switch backs were handled well. I never got any understeer that you sometimes get with Enduro ready bikes. The 74 degree seat angle put my weight over the front end and helped ensure the bike didn’t wander.
  • The climb setting on the Fox CTD could have had a heavier compression tune. In that mode I really wanted everything to stiffen up a lot more. The change was not as pronounced as I would have liked.

Ride Report - Going Along

  • On the flat or rolling terrain the stiff chassis of the Canyon Strive does allow you pump and manoeuvre the bike to get good forward momentum.
  • The 35mm stem longish reach and good stand over make for a cockpit that is easy to move around in. It’s easy to relax pump and move the bike round allowing speed to be carried along the trail .
  • Flat corners are fun as you can crank the bike over and get the Maxxis tyres hooking up accurately. The chassis gave me precise feedback on when the bike is likely to break free allowing you the opportunity to correct in time.
  • The 66.5 degree head angle and 74 degree seat angle are a great combination for all round riding. Slack for the down and steep for the climbs.
  • The Maxxis Minion front tyre is super grippy but also slow, making traversing terrain a bit of a drag.

Canyon Strive Race
"The sub 30lbs weight and frame and wheel stiffness helped the bikes overall ability to climb."

Ride Report - Going Down & Getting Air Time

  • The Canyon Strive's aggressive stance really pays dividends when you let the bike flow downhill. It has poise and balance. It’s predictability gave me the confidence to barrel into a situation and know that it’s not going to buck me, deflect or break loose. It’s the blend of the geo and stiff durable components that made this work.
  • The bike has a quick pick up mainly due to the stiffness and light weight. This makes it a lot of fun on the exit of corners as when you get in a couple of pedal strokes in, you rocket out of the turn.
  • The rear end tracks well under braking for a single pivot. There isn’t too much skipping or dancing from the rear end when you lock up.
  • The low bottom bracket (9mm offset) helps in the corners and allows you to swing into berms with a lot of stability. The bike its feels very capable and gave me the confidence to drop my heels and power through sections knowing that id find some grip.
  • In the air the Canyon Strive displays the same balance as on the descents. It was very neutral and I never got out of shape even when giving the face of a jump a big old PUMP.
  • Big and small landings were soaked up with ease. Despite the issues with the mid stroke, the bottom out on both front and rear was progressive and dependable.
  • When it gets really steep, and you have to drop into a rutted switchback you do need good mid stroke support on your fork. As mentioned that is something that the Fox 34 2013's don't do well.
Canyon Strive Race Canyon Strive Race
"It has poise and balance. It’s the blend of the geo & stiff durable components that made this work."

Living with the Canyon Strive Race

  • The Canyon Strive's bearings are good quality. We cycled the rear end by hand after 6 months, and the bike showed no issues with wear or dirt getting in. If required the bearings looked easy to service.
  • The anodised finish has proved to be incredibly durable. No real scrapes or scratches despite the test bike being given a reasonably hard life.
  • The bearings on the bb, wheels and headset stayed grit free and running as well as the day we got the bike, at the end of the test.
  • The Canyon Strive frame came already equipped with cable rub patches and hose protection. Chain slap prevention is good with a tidy double guard pre fitted. We didn’t fit any other protection in the test and had no noticeable cable run or slap appear at the end. The down tube vinyl guard runs the full length of the tube and really helps protect the frame from debris that can get kicked up.
  • The area behind the bottom bracket on the Strive always seemed to collect a bit of mud and often needed a good blast with the hose to get it clean.
  • The downtube protector always proved a little hard to clean after a very muddy ride. A wipe with a cloth or brush sorted it out.
  • The Fox CTD shifter can in a crash can hit the top tube. Some heli-tape or strategically placed Sugro would help reduce the chance of the frame getting dinged.

Test Info

  • Size tested – Medium.
  • Tested – For 6 Months from Autumn 2013 to Spring 2014.
  • Riding – Full on DH days, winch and plummet days in the hills, trail centres and quick local rides
  • Where – 7 Stanes, Afan, Cannock, Lake District, Bike Park Wales, Stainburn, Keilder, Whinlatter, Surrey Hills, Danbury, Epping
  • Care level - Goodish. Washed and chain lubed after each muddy ride. 2 strip downs during the test.
  • Tester height & weight - 173cm 75kg.
  • Tester riding style - Fairly aggressive on the trail. Always looking for the fun lines.
  • Similar bikes used and abused: Nicolai Helius FR, Specialized Enduro, Santa Cruz Nomad.

Canyon Strive Race - Final Thoughts

A few years ago you would never have thought that for around £3000 you could get a sub 30lb machine that can climb and yet hammer downhill as well as the Strive does. However the Strive is not alone and the 150-160mm segment of enduro bikes is very competitive at the moment. Despite the competition, the Strive is a strong choice. The frame is the right mix of numbers which lends it to being a solid climber and fast and robust on the downs. The components are some of the best you can get and it’s a bike that you really aren’t going to need to upgrade. The highlight is the SRAM XX1 group-set as that really is a game changer. As an overall package its really everything you need to go Enduro racing, but it’s also well suited to having fun on your local trails.

The Fox suspension has its limitations so maybe budget to get it tweaked. Even with that in mind, the Strive is still coming in over £1000 less than other similarly equipped bikes.

The Canyon Strive Race is a great bike at a great price. Find out more about the Canyon Strive Race here .