First Impressions and Build

2019 Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 Team - Unboxing!?

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae
Date Jul 23, 2019

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


An interesting looking Ergon SMD20 saddle. It weighs 220g and is aimed at gravity use.


Ergon's GD1 grips are on my list of favourites.


The e*thirteen TRS SL guide makes it clear this is a racing machine.


Rear damping handled by the RockShox Super Deluxe RCT (230 x 60 mm)


Nice lines.


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.

Trending on NSMB


Heinous  - July 23, 2019, 1:33 a.m.

Will be interesting to see how the shock goes. I’m yet to see a Super Deluxe that didn’t improved out of sight with a strip and lube from new. Maybe that’s the new school equivalent of all the lithium grease repacking from your youth.


+1 Ben
Poz  - July 23, 2019, 5:25 a.m.

Ok I’m curious..... 

Does this mean canyon may be making an entry to Canada soon? 

It’s a very interesting looking rig with the shapeshifter having me concerned with longevity. Could be on a short list as I’m a home mechanic but not so sure about no Canadian support with the shapeshifter shock/whateveritis.


IslandLife  - July 23, 2019, 9:41 a.m.

Supposedly they were supposed to launch into Canada at Sea Otter Canada?

And this thread on Reddit seems to say that they've updated that to end of summer / fall of 2019. 

Either way, yes looks like they are coming.


Poz  - July 23, 2019, 2:33 p.m.

Interesting. Thanks!

Awaiting the review


tdmsurfguy  - July 23, 2019, 7:27 a.m.

With all these gadgets and gizmos to improve climbing while maintaining the descending prowess of bikes I’m surprised there hasn’t been a company to license  Brian Berthold’s Missing link suspension ( I know the shock layout looks weird but there is no remote, no weird shapeshifter service etc.

+1 Jerry Willows
Pete Roggeman  - July 23, 2019, 9:43 a.m.

If you look back through the reviews of the Magic Link-equipped Konas designed in part by Brian, you'll have your answer. Circa 2008 or so. The reviews are a bloodbath - or if they aren't, they're not being honest.


tdmsurfguy  - July 23, 2019, 11:41 a.m.

His new missing link vs the old magic link are supposed to be very different in a good way. Supposedly Kona cut corners with his magic link design.


+4 Cr4w JVP mike AJ Barlas Andy Eunson Saša Stojanovic
Vik Banerjee  - July 23, 2019, 11:35 a.m.

It doesn't seem all that hard to buy a bike that climbs well and descends well without throwing levers/switches and relying on gadets/gizmos.


+4 mike Heinous AJ Barlas Andy Eunson
Cr4w  - July 23, 2019, 12:03 p.m.

Totally. And all those gizmos and yet people are still saying that short chainstays climb better. Make the bikes fit right and have the shocks tuned well and none of this extra stuff is necessary.


Brumos73  - July 24, 2019, 2:54 p.m.

Have you ridden a bike with remote lockouts?

While it does create a rats nest of cables, the convenience and functionality far outweigh the cons especially when racing.


mike  - July 23, 2019, 9:48 a.m.

Compared to most other current designs. That seat post angle reminds me of my old Entourage. And didn't Kona do something similar ? Magic Link or something like that .


Jerry Willows  - July 23, 2019, 10:46 a.m.

I suspect that EXO tire in the rear won't last long....


Brumos73  - July 24, 2019, 2:55 p.m.

Cam, please explain how you received this shipment at a Canadian address?


Ac  - July 24, 2019, 9:02 p.m.

I'd be tempted to put a dork disk on my bike if a nice one came my way. Most well ridden wheels seem to end up with gouges from the chain on the drive side spokes somehow or another.


Chris Makin  - July 30, 2019, 10:20 a.m.

Looking forwards to hearing more about this bike - it's on my list for a longer travel shredder.  Other reviews have mentioned it's a lively beast even on the calmer trails.


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