First Impressions and Build
2019 Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team - Unboxing!?
My very first job in a bike shop, when I was 17 years old, was building bikes. Back then cables needed to be routed and attached and brakes and derailleurs needed to be set up, but the big job at Boulevard Bikes on Vancouver's west side, was repacking the bearings. Both hubs, the bottom bracket and the headset had to be taken apart and packed with lithium grease. It was a long process but excellent training for a wanna-be bike mechanic. And the standard was high; no play at all and absolutely no drag.
Usually I cringe when I have to open a bike box because there are so many layers of packing tape.
Canyon however uses boxes that stay closed so they require only two small strips of tape! Nice attention to detail.
This isn't just a bike...
Inside the box you'll find lots of extras to help you with the build - and the usual useless stuff that is required by regulators.
Today, bikes shipped to your local shop usually come mostly built, but there is the occasional boutique brand that ships a big box of individual parts that need to be bolted on and set up. On the other end of the spectrum we occasionally get a bike in a huge box that has been "media prepared" with everything done aside from the bars attached to the stem. Even the front wheel is sometimes installed.
All the tools you need for the job - including a usable torque wrench.
Most companies use packing tape and styrofoam to keep everything well-protected during transport. Canyon uses velcro strips and reusable foam pads. These will come in handy for shipping bikes back or transporting too many rigs on the back of trucks etc.
Overall there was much less waste than other bikes we've received, and vastly less plastic.
But then I opened this box... All that was inside was some extra mounting bolts for the chainguide.
The brave new world of consumer direct has changed the reality of bike building. The expectation is that you are sending a cardboard carton to someone who has never built a bike out of a box before. Maybe even someone who has never held an Allen wrench before. As you can imagine this is fraught with pitfalls. You've likely seen photos of department store bikes with forks on backwards and poorly installed quick releases have been the source of expensive lawsuits. This must keep consumer-direct companies' lawyers up at night - and it explains all the literature and warnings.
Once out of the box all that was left to do was remove the bars from the protective box and install. And that should be easy...
This was weird. I imagine this is a nylon sac you can keep your tools in? I can only guess the paper 'for you' label is the result of consumers thinking this is trash and throwing it away?
Well isn't that special! The barcode links to canyon.com/derailleur Unfortunately on my phone it took me to a page in German referring to cookies (I think) and there was no way out of it I could find. On my laptop I found useful info on both SRAM Type 2 and Shimano Shadow Plus derailleurs.
Most riders who are picking up a top of the line machine, like this Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team, have some mechanical experience, but Canyon sells a complete line of road, mountain, urban, fitness and e-bikes. They ship to a very broad spectrum of humanity so detail is important. It seems, as you'll see in the photos and accompanying captions, they do a pretty good job.
Most stems require four bolts to remove the face plate. A few have only two bolts and a hinge, or two pinch bolts - but that wouldn't do on a consumer direct bike because you'd have to remove your grip and controls from one side. This stem however requires you to remove six bolts and the entire top of the stem.
That's right - for some reason Canyon has not only chosen to spec a two piece stem, they are responsible for the design of this 'Canyon G5' component as well.
The top and bottom pieces are clamped to the steerer individually so the bottom piece remains in place while you install the bar. That way, if the stem was assembled properly at the factory it's guaranteed to be straight once the stem is back together. Installing the bar is easier than stems with faceplates because gravity holds everything together while you reinstall all six bolts to the appropriate torque reading using the supplied tools. So there is some utility to the design.
Apparently the opposite of OK is NOK? And I was just never informed? Google says this acronym is used frequently in IT and Science.
There was a sticker on these SRAM cranks (that may have said something about pedal washers?) that failed to come off in one piece despite my very careful attempt. Detail fail.
Instead of cable porn you get cable salad on the Strive CFR 9.0 Team. A bike of this level, and with this many cables and lines, should have tidier runs but these are far too long. TBF the post release was wound around whatever cable it sits next to incorrectly (foreground) by yours truly, making it look even worse than it is.
Who wants to hear more about French racers winning races and leading a gravity series? Well how about Florian Nicolai leading the EWS on his Canyon Strive 29 despite winning only one race this season. Unlike some of the other fast Frenchies, Florian was well overdue for his first win, which he laid down in Tasmania on March 31st, 2019. Florian's very first big EWS result was in the very first EWS race. Ever. But then, after finishing 2nd in the inaugural event in Punta Ala Italy in 2013, Flo waited 6 years for a win.
Here's a static image of what's inside the housing. This little piston works in binary fashion. It moves in and out, changing the pitch of the shock as you'll see below. When it moves the geo, travel, shock rate, and kinematics are all said to change. Even the anti-squat is apparently affected, to improve pedalling dynamics in the lower travel position.
Here's what the ShapeShifter looks like installed. It's entirely concealed but, despite the plastic cover, it somehow manages not to look like Civic with a whale tail. And it certainly looks better with the cover than it would without.
The image above shows you how the little piston works. The lever at the bar compresses and releases the piston, locking it into each position. You can also see how the geometry changes. When the piston is extended the rear wheel moves down, increasing the BB height and making the seat angle steeper for an improved pedalling position. As you can imagine, this extended position is also the lower travel setting.
This is what Canyon tells us happens to the leverage curve, sag and travel in the two positions.
Canyon describes the reach as long, but at 464 it's the shortest of any large we've tested recently.
An EWS win may not prove the Strive is the bike for you, and the jury is out on whether the best riders can win on sub-par bikes, with lot of evidence on both sides of that argument, but it is certainly likely to improve sales. And we can be absolutely certain, based on past evidence and Flo's results, that the bike is at the very least a solid contender.
This isn't pretty. What is it with German and Swiss brands that makes them want to fill up your bars, or stuff your brake lines into small places? If you are racing and this gives you an edge, it's likely worth the extra complexity.
The drivetrain is standard SRAM XO1 Eagle fare. Yep. Works great. Lasts long. Lots of range.
I was particularly impressed with the Mavic wheels. These Deemax Pro models are not listed on the Mavic site currently, but they weigh 1810 grams with aluminum rims and fancy 'Zircal' straight pull spokes. These look better than any carbon Mavics I've seen.
I think the yellow hubs work well with the monochromatic canvas, but I'm sure many riders will disagree. Rims are 28mm internal front and 25mm rear.
Multi colour branding on a spoke! While I'm sure these spokes work great, are easy to lace and replace, I wouldn't want to try and find one on a race weekend. As more and more wheels are spec'd with easy to find j-bend spokes in standard lengths, proprietary systems like this will become increasingly unattractive to un-sponsored hardcore riders. If a trio of spokes came in the box... now we'd be talking.
A nice set of rubber you won't need to upgrade out of the gate.
Another downside of Zircal spokes is that they need to be protected from the chain and you'll be looking like a Joey with this plastic disc on board.
An interesting looking Ergon SMD20 saddle. It weighs 220g and is aimed at gravity use.
This bike will give us a lot to talk about.
Stay tuned for a full review of this machine after a summer of mashing in bike parks and uncivilized trails ridden by #scofflaws.
Click the boldness for more on the shape-shifting Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team.