2022 Canyon Strive Review | A radicalised enduro race bike that lives and dies by the clock

The not-so-minor details


2022 Canyon Strive CFR


$9,549 AUD (plus shipping costs)




- Outrageous stability and control at race pace
- Ground-hugging suspension
- Shapeshifter offers clever split personality performance
- Fantastic component package for the money


- Less versatile than its predecessor
- Hard work at slower speeds and on tight trails
- No scaled rear centre sizing

Wil reviews the 2022 Canyon Strive

The all-new 4th generation Canyon Strive has arrived, bringing with it some hefty changes that are designed to turn up the dial on the enduro race track. You might recall that when the last generation Strive arrived back in 2019, it was actually Canyon’s first long travel 29er. As such, it was built to be a bit of an all-rounder and not just a flat-out race bike. Since then however, Canyon has introduced both the Spectral 29 and the Torque 29, and that’s opened the door for the new Strive to let off the brakes and commit to going Full Enduro™. But is that necessarily a good thing? Having spent a load of time on the current Strive, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed its balance handling and versatile suspension performance. So just how different is this new bike then? Read on for our Canyon Strive review.

Watch our video review of the Canyon Strive:

What was known as being one of the most conservative enduro bikes on the market is now one of the most radical.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Canyon Strive is back for 2022 with an all-new frame and a whole new attitude.

An overview of the Canyon Strive

The Canyon Strive is the German brand’s flagship enduro race bike, which is designed to go head-to-head with fellow big rigs like the Trek Slash, Pivot Firebird, Norco Range and Cannondale Jekyll.

As with the old bike, the new Strive is purpose-built around 29in wheels and a carbon frame. But while it shares a similar silhouette and four-bar suspension platform to its predecessor, this bike is almost entirely new from tip-to-tail.

The carbon chassis is considerably beefier, with bigger diameter tubes and optimised profiling that’s said to increase the stiffness of the front triangle by 25%. Eager not to go too stiff for the rear end, the engineers have retained a slender profile for the chainstays and seatstays to maximise compliance on rough terrain.

Whereas the old bike had been available with a 160 or 170mm travel fork, the new Strive is now purpose-built around 170mm travel up front. Rear suspension travel has also lifted from 150mm to 160mm. Canyon states that it has used the extra travel to make the rear suspension more sensitive in the early part of the stroke, with the goal of improving grip. The kinematics have also been tweaked with the chainstay pivot now sitting below the rear axle.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The new Canyon Strive features an increase in rear travel to 160mm, and that’s paired to a 170mm travel fork.

The Shapeshifter

The new Canyon Strive carries over its Shapeshifter system, which allows the rider to adjust both the suspension travel and geometry on-the-fly.

This impressive feat is achieved by a small gas spring that sits behind the upper shock mount. It looks like a tiny shock, but it’s more like a mini two-position dropper post. In the default ‘Shred’ mode, the gas spring is compressed, providing the rider with the full 160mm of rear travel. Flick the handlebar remote into the ‘Pedal’ mode and the gas spring extends, changing the angle of the shock and reducing rear travel to 140mm.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Shapeshifter system uses a small gas spring that offers two positions; Pedal and Shred.

In addition to limiting rear travel, the suspension kinematics are also different between the two settings. In Pedal mode, anti-squat increases and the leverage rate decreases, providing a significantly firmer platform underfoot to improve pedalling response. Furthermore, the Pedal mode also lifts the Strive’s bottom bracket height by 15mm, and steepens the head and seat angles by 1.5°. It’s a bit like having a really big geometry flip chip, albeit one that you can activate with your thumb while riding.

The Shapeshifter unit itself is unchanged from the old Strive, and it’s still manufactured by Fox Racing Shox. The handlebar remote is also unchanged, featuring a dropper post lever at the bottom, with two paddles above it that allow the rider to select between the Pedal and Shred modes.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The lower lever controls the dropper post, while the two paddles above allow you to adjust the suspension and geometry on-the-fly.

Radical geometry updates

Where things really start to heat up with the new Canyon Strive is with its geometry.

Anyone who’s been watching the Enduro World Series over the past two years will have spotted Jack Moir racing aboard a Strive that’s been modified with a longer 180mm travel fork and an extended lower headset cup. This was designed to lift the bike’s ride height and slacken out the head angle for taking on increasingly steep and technical race courses.

The Canyon team has taken Moir’s feedback on board with the new Strive, which sees its head angle slackened out by three whole degrees to an eyebrow-raising 63°. The seat angle does exactly the opposite, steepening by three degrees to 76.5°.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Strive now shares the same 63° head angle as the Sender downhill bike. That is crazy slack!

The reach has grown significantly too. The medium frame size now features a whopping 480mm reach, which isn’t just 40mm longer than before, it’s also longer than the previous large. Wowsers!

For fine-tuning the cockpit, Canyon has integrated the same reach-adjusting headset from the Sender downhill bike. Complete bikes will come set in the neutral position, though by fitting offset upper and lower headset cups, riders can shorten or lengthen the reach by 5mm each way.

Otherwise the rest of the Strive’s proportions are pretty similar to the old bike. The stack height is much the same, while the 36mm BB drop and 435mm rear centre are identical. Unfortunately Canyon hasn’t developed size specific rear centre lengths for the Strive though, so it’s the same chainstay length on all sizes.

2022 canyon strive size chart geometry
2022 Canyon Strive Size Chart

Canyon Strive price & specs

There will be just two Canyon Strive models available at the time of launch, though we expect there to be more options added to the range at some point in the future.

Prices start at $7,599 AUD for the Canyon Strive CFR Underdog, which features a Shimano XT groupset and a Fox 38 Performance Elite fork. As always, you’ll need to factor in the cost of shipping into the final price of the bike.

The bike we’ve been testing is the top-end model, which is simply called the Canyon Strive CFR. It upgrades to Fox Factory Series suspension, a Shimano XTR groupset and DT Swiss 350 hubs. Once shipping costs have been added in, this bike will see for $9,778 AUD.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Canyon Strive CFR is the top-end model, featuring Fox Factory Series suspension, a custom DT Swiss wheelset and a Shimano XTR groupset.

2022 Canyon Strive CFR

2022 canyon strive cfr underdog
The Canyon Strive CFR Underdog offers greater value for money thanks to its Shimano XT groupset and Performance Elite Fox 36 fork.

2022 Canyon Strive CFR Underdog

Combined with the raked-out geometry, the Strive hugs the ground like superglue, refusing to be knocked off-line.

2022 canyon strive cfr
Our medium sized Canyon Strive features a whopping 480mm reach, which is the equivalent of a large for many other brands.

Canyon Strive size & fit

At 175cm tall I’ve been riding a medium size in the new Canyon Strive. However, it feels much bigger than any other medium-sized Canyon I’ve tested prior. To put its enormous 480mm reach into perspective, that’s the same length as a Norco Range – in a size large. And that’s a bike that isn’t exactly known for being petite.

It isn’t as if the handlebars are miles away though. In fact, the new Strive’s effective top tube length is actually the same as the old bike. This is due to the steeper seat angle, which brings the rider forward into a more centralised pedalling position within the cockpit.

While it is comfortable, I’d be very curious to try out the small with its still-quite-long 455mm reach. According to the Canyon Strive size chart, there’s quite a wide range of overlap between the four frame sizes, in part thanks to the adoption of shorter seat tubes and the travel-adjustable G5 dropper post. In my case, I’m just on the border between the small and medium, giving me the option to choose.

Choice is good, but this will surely result in some head-scratching for potential customers, especially those who have owned the previous Strive. What was known as being one of the most conservative enduro bikes on the market is now one of the most radical, and that means riders are more likely going to want to size down rather than up.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The rear suspension is wonderfully active and neutral in its full-travel 160mm Shred mode. However, the kinematics and behaviour change significantly in the shorter 140mm Pedal mode.

Suspension setup

The rear suspension on the Canyon Strive is designed to work optimally around 30% shock sag. For my 68kg riding weight, I needed 150psi in the Fox Float X2 to hit that figure. It’s recommended to inflate the Shapeshifter’s gas spring to the same pressure.

With remote access to the firmer Pedal mode, it’s possible to tune the rear shock with descending performance in mind. To suit the raw and natural terrain of my local test trails, I set the compression adjusters wide-open for maximum sensitivity and traction, while running the high and low-speed rebound adjusters a few clicks faster than halfway.

I set up the GRIP2 damper in the Fox 38 fork in a similar fashion. However, the uber-slack head angle meant I was initially struggling to engage the fork travel while riding along undulating singletrack. I ran less air pressure than recommended to provide a better balance with the rear shock, though this would change if I was heading into the high country for some lift-assisted gravity riding.

2022 canyon strive cfr
Coming in close to 16kg, the Canyon Strive is significantly heavier than its predecessor, mirroring the direction that top-end enduro race bikes are heading.

Canyon Strive CFR weight

Confirmed weight for our Canyon Strive CFR is 15.84kg, which is exactly as claimed – how very German!

While it’s on the money for a modern enduro bike, it is 1.5kg heavier than the old bike. Part of this is down to the frame, which has actually gotten heavier by 300g. Shock! Horror! It’s not exactly a boat anchor though — Canyon claims the Strive CFR frame weighs 2.7kg with the Shapeshifter (no shock). That is totally reasonable, especially given how much longer, slacker and beefier the new frame is.

The component choice has also contributed to the weight gain. Canyon is now spec’ing a Fox 38, rather than the lighter 36 or RockShox Lyrik that was fitted previously. The stock wheels weigh a substantial 2,110g, though they do feature tough alloy rims, which tend to be preferable over carbon amongst professional enduro racers.

There’s a decent amount of mass in the tyres too, with both coming in at just over 1.2kg each. These feature Maxxis’ EXO+ casing, and I set pressures at 23psi up front and 26psi at the rear.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Canyon Strive offers seemingly endless amounts of stability and traction on the descents, allowing you to charge with confidence on the gnarliest sections of trail.

What does it do well?

Admittedly, it took me a few rides to get to grips with the Canyon Strive and its newly enlarged front end. This is one big bicycle, with the front hub sticking out way further ahead than almost any other mountain bike I’ve ridden. No surprises then that it demands a very assertive pilot with a forward-biased riding style.

Once you assume the position, the Strive is stonkingly quick on the descents. It’s insanely calm and stable at speed, with a composed ride quality that will give advanced riders new limits to push. In my case, I’ve simply been able to ride at similar speeds without coming anywhere near those limits. And even on the rowdiest of trails, the Strive oozes confidence and security, giving your brain more time to think and process your next move.

There’s a tonne of traction and damping on offer from the high-tech Fox suspension and sticky Maxxis tyres, with the chassis delivering notable compliance through the chunder. The rear suspension isn’t as supple as a Trek Slash or Specialized Enduro, but it is active and impressively well supported, especially when you’re pushing the bike hard. There’s no unwanted feedback through the pedals, and the consistent progression resulted in few surprises and zero bottom-out events through testing. Combined with the raked-out geometry, the Strive hugs the ground like superglue, refusing to be knocked off-line.

2022 canyon strive cfr
Everything about the Canyon Strive, the plush suspension, slack geometry and burly build kit, is designed to deliver maximum control at speed.

Despite having so much bike underneath you, the Strive doesn’t necessarily feel like a B-double. In fact, its handling at speed is impressive. The 435mm rear centre length is very short for a 160mm travel 29er, allowing you to square off corners as needed — an important trait when racing blind enduro stages. The compact rear end is also welcome on super steep descents when you’re trying to push your weight as far back as possible.

It is prone to understeering through sharp corners if you’re not heavily weighting the front end, and that’s especially the case at cruising speeds and on flatter trails. Whenever I was feeling fatigued, I found I was more likely to be locked into the Strive’s predetermined line choice. When you’re ripping at full gas however, which this bike is very much designed for, it’s possible to initiate turns and change direction with surprising quickness.

Shapeshifting performance

The Shapeshifter continues to be a defining feature of the Canyon Strive, and it really does work wonders on varied terrain.

Coming off the Scott Spark with its TwinLoc remote, it took me no time at all to get used to the three-lever remote on the Strive. The ergonomics are excellent, with sufficient adjustability thanks to the MatchMaker clamp. While the dropper lever sits a little lower than usual, it’s still easy to activate. I like the textured paddles, though I do wish they were labelled with ‘Pedal/Shred’ rather than the ambiguous ‘Click/Clack’.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Shapeshifter remote is easy to engage on the trail, and the dropper post lever is far enough away to avoid confusion for your left thumb.

As with Scott’s TwinLoc system, the short travel Pedal mode is a boon on the climbs. Pedal efficiency improves markedly, with the claimed anti-squat level jumping up to around 120-142%, depending on which gear you’re in. This results in less bobbing from the shock, and more power going to the rear wheel.

It’s really the change in geometry that I found more beneficial though. The extra 15mm of BB clearance is noticeable, and so too is the 78.5° seat angle, which puts you in a powerful pedalling position. And because the suspension is firmer in this mode, the dynamic seat angle remains steeper for longer.

It isn’t so firm as to be ineffective though. It’s possible to ride smoother descents in the short travel Pedal mode, where you might want a stronger platform for your feet to push off of when pumping through flowier sections. But when things start to get choppy and technical , a quick push of the lever puts you straight back into that full travel Shred mode, allowing you to make the most of the plush suspension and slack head angle.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The short travel Pedal mode gives you a significant lift in the Strive’s ride height, which is most welcome on steep and technical climbs.

It’s this split personality performance that really sets the Strive apart from its competitors. Unlike bikes that feature traditional flip chips, you’re not forced to choose between the low/slack or high/steep settings. Instead, the Shapeshifter system puts both of those settings right at your fingertips.

What does it struggle with?

While the Shapeshifter is brilliant, it won’t be a flawless solution for everyone. The higher anti-squat level in the Pedal mode does result in more feedback on really rocky and technical climbs, where the suspension can lack sensitivity on square edges. Occasionally I found myself wishing for the plush suspension performance of the Shred mode, but with the taller geometry of the Pedal mode.

This is unlikely to be a concern for serious enduro racers however, as those kinds of technical climbs rarely feature in timed stages. Likewise, I don’t see those same folks losing any sleep over the Strive’s lack of a fork or shock lockout. If you desperately want a lockout on your bike, you may want look at the Spectral instead.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Strive is comfortable to ride on long climbs, but you will notice the extra weight and the draggy tyres.

You may also want to look at the Spectral if you’re concerned by weight too, as at nearly 16kg, the Strive is no featherweight. It’s 1.5kg heavier than the old Strive CFR Team that Mick tested back in 2019, and it’s noticeable on the climbs. Rolling speed isn’t helped by the draggy Assegai front tyre with its gooey 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound.

As well as being heavier, the bigger Strive has lost some of the all-round versatility we loved about the old bike. It’s harder to whip around tight corners, and it’s less manoeuvrable on average gradients. It also takes a lot of effort to lift up the front wheel. Unless you have speed on your side and you’re really working the suspension, the Strive much prefers staying stuck to the ground.

That’s the nature of its enormous wheelbase and DH-level suspension damping though, and it’s the necessary tradeoff for the Strive’s outright descending stability. Indeed if you’re not concerned by chasing the clock and bombing gravity-fuelled descents at warp speed, then the Strive likely won’t be for you.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The suspension on the Canyon Strive is outstanding. However, the frame is also coil compatible should you wish to go there.

Component highs & lows

There are no doubts that the Canyon Strive CFR delivers a fabulously high-end package for the money, and it looks superb too.

The custom DT Swiss wheels are tough and easy to live with, and the Maxxis EXO+ tyres offer excellent traction and support with a more lively and energetic feel on the trail compared to the heavier DoubleDown casing. Despite using an insert, I still managed to put a nasty pinch-flat in the rear tyre due to some overenthusiastic riding. For those who are hard on their gear, I’d recommend fitting DoubleDown tyres (or equivalent) for race day.

While the Shimano XTR groupset has been impeccable, I did find the Race Face Next R cranks to be very wide. These feature a 55.5mm chainline and chunky carbon arms, which results in a substantial Q-Factor of 183mm, which is wider than most e-MTBs. In speaking with Canyon, it turns out the Strive frame will actually accept a 52mm chainline, so riders with sensitive knees would be able to fit a narrower crankset if needed.

There were no other durability issues with our Strive test bike, though the Shapeshifter did become a little inconsistent in switching between modes after the first couple of rides. This turned out to be a simple cable tension issue, which was easy enough to rectify. Accessing the pinch bolt is somewhat trickier than the old bike however, since you’ll need to de-pressurise the shock and compress the suspension in order to remove the Shapeshifter’s plastic cover. This neat integration does mean the cover is unlikely to pop off on its own, which was a problem we encountered with the previous Strive.

Speaking of the Shapeshifter, the gas spring itself is another component that will require servicing. Canyon recommends having it serviced at the same interval as a Fox Transfer, so every 125 hours of ride time or annually.

Unlike Scott’s TwinLoc system, it’s worth noting that the Shapeshifter doesn’t employ a proprietary shock. The Fox Float X2 is a standard item, and the frame is compatible with a coil shock should you wish to go there.

Also nice to see is the use of tool-free axles front and rear, optional top tube storage, and clearance for a 750ml bottle on all frame sizes except the small. That practical approach extends to the replaceable ISCG tabs and threaded BB, as well as the generous armouring used underneath the downtube and along the chainstay. Along with the simple foam-lined internal cable routing, the Strive has proven to be an impressively smooth and quiet bike on the trail.

Canyon Strive vs Torque vs Spectral

For those riders who are on the lookout for a new long travel mountain bike, you might be wondering how the Canyon Strive compares to the Torque and the Spectral. Indeed there is considerable overlap within the Canyon full suspension lineup, which means many riders will likely be trying to decide between more than one option.

2022 canyon torque
The Canyon Torque offers a little more travel over the Strive, though it misses out on the Shapeshifter system.

Canyon Torque

The Canyon Torque is the German brand’s biggest and baddest bike with a single crown fork. Featuring 170-180mm of travel, the Torque is designed for gravity-based riding, be it on the enduro race track or at the bike park. You can get it with an alloy or carbon frame, and it’s also available with 27.5in or 29in wheels, and there’s even a mullet option too.

While the Torque does have a bit more travel than the Strive, the geometry is pretty similar between the two bikes. Aside from the different rear shock position, the most obvious difference is that the Torque doesn’t come with the Shapeshifter system so there’s no ability to adjust the suspension or geometry on-the-fly. This may be preferable to some riders, particularly those who like a cleaner cockpit and are less serious about enduro racing to begin with.

Overall the Torque is a simpler bike that will also be easier to maintain, with less moving parts as well as replaceable thread inserts for the suspension’s pivot bolts. It’s also available at a much cheaper price point, starting at $4,349 AUD for the entry-level model.

2022 canyon spectral ltd axs flight attendant
For maximum fun on the trail, the Canyon Spectral is poppier and more agile than the Strive.

Canyon Spectral

On the other side of the Strive is the Canyon Spectral – a brilliant long-travel trail bike that we’ve had a load of experience with. It’s available in a huge array of options, with both 27.5in and 29in wheelsize platforms, plus carbon and alloy frames. It’s even available with a dedicated mullet setup, and there’s also now a shorter travel Spectral 125.

The standard Spectral features a 160mm travel fork and 150mm of rear travel, so it has 10mm less at both ends compared to the Strive. Again the big difference between the two platforms is the Shapeshifter system, with the Spectral utilising a simpler suspension layout and a flip chip at the lower shock mount for tweaking the geometry.

On the trail the Spectral is a noticeably poppier and more playful bike than the Strive. It’s still mighty capable, and for many folks it’ll be totally worthy of fronting up to an enduro race. In fact, it may actually be the better choice for Aussie riders taking on less extreme terrain thanks to its more nimble handling. It pedals efficiently and climbs well, though without the Shapeshifter, it can’t match the Strive’s taller ride height and steeper seat angle. Whether the complexity and cost of the Shapeshifter is worth it to you will largely boil down to your racing intentions.

2022 canyon strive cfr
The Canyon Strive is a seriously impressive bike, though its narrowed focus means it’s less of the all-rounder that its predecessor was.

Flow’s Verdict

While the new Canyon Strive may look similar to its predecessor, key changes to its suspension and geometry have resulted in a very different bike that is now 100% focused on enduro racing.

The Shapeshifter system still offers usable adaptability for riding on technical undulating terrain, with the short travel Pedal mode providing a fantastic climbing position with masses of ground clearance. In the long travel Shred mode, the Strive is basically a full-blown downhill bike thanks to its seriously long and raked-out front end.

The huge wheelbase and plush suspension gives the Strive an insane amount of control on the descents, which allows you to push harder and faster when racing against the clock. Indeed it performs best at high speeds, where it delivers maximum traction to keep you stuck to the ground.

All of that stability has come at the expense of the old bike’s all-round appeal however, with the new Strive being noticeably less playful. If you’re riding purely for fun, then you’ll want to consider either the Spectral or Torque instead. You would be giving up the clever Shapeshifter system, which we’ve come to appreciate for its ability to adjust the bike’s geometry and suspension on-the-fly. For that reason, I’d be curious to see whether Canyon will ever bring the Shapeshifter into a shorter travel platform.

For now it remains unique to the Strive, and it’s a key reason why Canyon was able to push the geometry and suspension so far on this new 4th generation model. Certainly if your primary focus is on racing your bike as fast as humanly possible, then you’ll likely appreciate the approach of this newly radicalised Strive.

2022 canyon strive cfr
We’re big fans of the Shapeshifter system on the Strive. It offers an efficient pedalling mode with useful ground clearance, while still having access to the plush suspension and slack geometry of the full travel Shred mode.
2022 canyon strive cfr
No more modifying required – the new Canyon Strive is a fire-breathing enduro race bike right off the bat.

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