Canyon Strive CF 7.0Check Out the Full Specs and Review
Any time you read the word ‘we’ in The Bible of Bike Tests, it means that at least three testers agreed on whatever follows. But occasionally, our testers just don’t agree. Occasionally, some aspect of a bike divides us, and it’s up to you to pick a side. One such impasse arose when discussing the Canyon Strive.
Canyon’s take on the Swiss-Army bike, the Strive introduces a tiny pressurized device to the suspension linkage that shifts the geometry from high-and-tight to low-and-slack, while also drastically augmenting the travel and leverage curve. The full-body approach sets it apart from Cannondale’s Gemini, which simply adds a heap of ramp-up to the air spring. Or, there’s Scott’s Nude, which adds ramp and calms down the damping. Both use a proprietary shock. The Strive does not, which is a bonus. Plus, when you shift the Strive into its firmer mode, the shock maintains a spring and damping behavior that isn’t just uncompromised, it’s optimized. Its small-bump sensitivity is not significantly reduced, but its travel is. You get a more supportive feel out of the shock that is buffed by the steepened angles.
The clever three-button panel that controls the dropper and the shock is compact and easy to reach, but not so compact that you’re ever hitting the wrong button. Less ideal is the body weight shift involved with getting the bike into its steep setting. With the correct lever depressed, it takes an awkward motion to unweight the shock and extend the Shapeshifter, one made more awkward and yet more crucial as a climb gets steeper. Shifting back when it’s time to descend is more intuitive, but the hassle got our testers wondering if it was all worth it.
Today’s linkages are getting more efficient, leverage curves are getting more supportive and most importantly, seat tube angles are getting steeper. There are now similar-travel bikes that climb as well in their single mode than this bike does in its steepest. That mode yields a 75-degree seat tube angle on the Strive. On a Hightower or an SB150, whose STAs approach 77 degrees, we felt no more encumbered on long seated climbs. And in its slack mode, the Strive’s 73.5-degree seat angle reminded us why we don’t see 73.5-degree seat angles anymore.
But here is where we diverged. The Strive has a particularly supple, ground-huggy feel to its suspension. One that made it work well in terrain where its relatively conservative head angle and wheelbase might otherwise seem under-gunned. It is nimble and well-mannered yet insatiably bump-hungry. While one tester wanted a longer, slacker chassis to match that hunger, another thought it made perfect sense as-is. If you want easy access to the trails that long-travel 29ers were made for, but you don’t want a ‘73 Cadillac Fleetwood, the Strive fits the bill. It’s easy to pick it up and put it where you want without any compromise to its ability to float through the rough stuff.
And that was why one tester was on board with the Shapeshifter concept. In its slack mode, it opts for softness over support. It is good at what it does, but it is not good at climbing unless it has help. Instead of bringing a not-universally-welcomed poppy feel to the suspension and combining it with an ultra-modern and (to some) foreign-feeling 77-degree seat tube angle, the Strive keeps it classic. And its approach to climbing is similarly classic. Bikes like the Ibis Ripmo climb extremely well, but they don’t encourage you to hammer like a good mid-travel bike will. In its steeper mode, the Strive becomes a mid-travel bike. The tester rushing to Shapeshifter’s defense fancies himself to be a charger on the climbs, and the Strive serves such chargers well.
For anyone already deeply skeptical of the very premise behind remote-controlled shocks, Shapeshifter’s benefits may not be significant enough to justify the extra clutter and hassle. But if you’re not a skeptic, Canyon’s approach offers something unique when everyone else is trying not to rock the boat.
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