Ridden and Reviewed
Riding the 2021 Canyon Sender CFR
In case you missed it I covered the release of the new Canyon Sender CFR here. Since receiving the Sender CFR, I've spent more time than I'm proud of drooling over it... but I've also ridden it a tonne. With Canyon's recent news that they're now distributing in Canada, it's time to provide my ride impressions.
Geometry and Fit
First impressions; I really liked the geometry of the Canyon Sender. I've long been jabbering on about bikes needing to be longer. At only 6' tall I don't think I should be on the largest size bike in anyone's range. Until the Sender CFR I've always opted for the largest size available. This time around I chose the size Large, leaving the larger XL size for folks that are properly tall. The size Large allows for the wheelbase to be as short as 1,297 mm and as long as 1,323 mm. I tried out all the geometry settings, but spent the vast majority of time in the longest front and rear center settings. It is a great experience to have a bike where you can alter both the front and rear center lengths to tailor the bike fit to your taste, or the area you're riding. I found changing the rear center seemed to have a more pronounced impact in the feel of the bike than changing the front center. The shorter 445 mm chain stay setting felt good on the tighter Shore trails, where as the longer 455 mm rear center gave fantastic stability and weight balance at the higher speeds in places like the Whistler Bike Park. As a privateer race bike I can see it being advantageous to adapt the Sender CFR to be shorter on a tight / technical track vs. longer on a more open / faster track. It's also worth mentioning that all of the geometry changes were easy and fast.
As for the remainder of the geometry, the Sender CFR is spot-on for a 29er DH bike. The saddle position, bottom bracket height and head angle are fairly standard, and that's a good thing. The whole package comes together to create a wonderfully balanced downhill bike, that always felt easy to ride. I also like the route Canyon took with the mullet wheel size for the Small and Medium, using a shorter rear center than the sizes large and XL. This should allow riders of all size frames to have a well balanced bike.
In this paint scheme, Canyon Sender CFR is gorgeous. It may have attracted more attention than other bike I've reviewed. But does the Sender live up to it's flashy aesthetic? In a word, yes. Very much yes. The ride characteristics are an exercise in balance. The Sender CFR isn't a bump-eating monster like high single pivots downhill bikes, and it may not be as sporty as some other bikes. The Sender comes together as a very centered package that wasn't master of any one characteristic, but felt adept everywhere. The Sender CFR marries good bump compliance with a light and lively feel on the trail. As a result the Sender CFR doesn't need to be going warp one thousand to be fun on your local trails, despite feeling stable and composed on even the gnarliest race tracks. The longer wheelbase made short work of steep technical sections and while the roomy cockpit worked well for me, I didn't feel like I had to shift my weight significantly forward to properly weight the front tire in corners, and didn't have to shift my weight back for jumps. Talking of corners, the Sender CFR felt easy to initiate into corners, generated gobs of traction through the mid radius, and exploded out with eye watering speed.
Braking performance wise, the linkage design meant the rear brake felt well isolated, even when the going got fast and rough the Sender proved neutral under braking, with no unexpected behaviour.
I didn't get to ride the Sender CFR with a coil shock, so I'm not sure how the linkage progression compared with some other DH Bikes. However, with an additional volume spacer in the Rock Shox Super Deluxe, I really liked the combination. The suspension feel at sag was supportive, and produced great traction but the rear end has enough progression that big compressions rarely resulted in a severe bottom out. The Super Deluxe air provided decent adjustability, allowing me to dial in a damper setting that worked well.
With proper tires, the Sender CFR hits the scales at a hair under 35 lbs (confirmed my size Large 29er is 35 lbs). You may notice I don't mention weight often in reviews, because I don't find it a huge driver in how bikes feel on the trail. This is probably even less important for a downhill bike. But at this weight, with the mass centred low in the chassis, the Sender feels effortless to throw around. Given the asking price, long wheelbase, durable components, and geometry adjustments, I think the weight is impressive and worth mentioning.
Cable routing on the Sender CFR is excellent. There was no cable rattle during the test period. The chain slap protection also worked well. The combination meant the Sender CFR was nice and quiet on the trail, and I love quiet bikes.
I could only find one flaw with the Sender CFR; the rear tire may contact the stays during hard cornering. There are telltale signs the rear tire is rubbing the stays, and in my bike stand there is 12 mm of clearance from the the tire to the stays. The clearance between the chainstay and the chain guide is also a bit tight, with a witness rub mark there as well, but this hasn't negatively affected either part. There was also an occasional strange feeling like the bike was vibrating in the air after scrubbing a jump. It was if I had stored some bending energy in the frame, and then the Sender would twang off the lip, and oscillate like an arrow leaving a bow while airborne. I'm not saying the Sender CFR is a noodle, and this likely won't be an issue for the vast majority of riders. But for the heavier/stronger folks out there, the backend of the Sender CFR isn't the stiffest around. In terms of ride feel, I'd say I liked the compliant nature of the Sender CFR. The bike seems to make fantastic traction, and remains easy to ride.
The second thing worth mentioning is the rear shock is quite exposed. I had the Rock Shox Super Deluxe air shock on the bike, and while the shaft was quite vulnerable to debris from the rear wheel, I don't see any damage to the surface finish. So this wasn't an issue in my case. But should you worry about it, there are holes in the seat stays to allow for a rear fender.
One of the main complaints I heard about the first generation Canyon Sender was the bushings in the linkage lasted about as long as an anti-masker in the local Canadian Tire. This meant frequent replacement, allowing the pivot hardware and frame threads to also wear out. Canyon made a big deal about the Sender CFR's large pivot hardware, ditching the bushings for bearings and replaceable inserts. Now I understand why. The size of the hardware might be an over reaction to the original Sender's biggest flaw, but the pivots have been perfect for the review period. I've ridden the Sender CFR through some days best described as wetter than an otter's pocket. Mud, cold, wet, snow, dust, dry; this Sender CFR has seen all conditions. I can confirm that over the test period, all the pivots stayed tight, frictionless, and without play. The previous Sender was Canyon's first attempt at a DH bike, and it's great to see them address all the short-comings with great results.
Parts Spec. Impressions
The build spec on the Sender CFR ticks all the boxes. I didn't need to replace a single part to make the bike work for me. I didn't have a single issue with a component on this test and whoever built this bike did so with incredible care and attention. There was even a small piece of grip tape on the shifter. Every component was perfectly greased and not a single part came loose. Even the rear wheel seemed to magically hold tension during the test period.
Longest reach setting
Longest chain stay setting
Fork - Rock Shox Boxxer:
Air Spring - 150 psig with 2 tokens.
Compression - 10 clicks out Low Speed, 3 clicks out High Speed.
Rebound - 8 clicks out.
Shock - Rock Shox Super Deluxe:
Air Spring - 200 psig with 1 additional token
Compression - 6 clicks out.
Rebound - 5 clicks out.
Tires - Maxxis DHR2 Downhill MaxxGrip
No Inserts. 23 psig front. 28 psig rear.
After months of abuse in the Whistler Bike Park, I can say I've thoroughly tested the new Canyon Sender CFR. It does what it says on the tin. This bike absolutely sends. The list of things I didn't like about the bike is rather short. The shock looks a bit exposed, and the rear end could be a touch stiffer for some... maybe? The Sender CFR proved to be an absolute joy to ride, I don't think I got off this bike without a humungous smile across my face and in this colour it's bite the back of your hand gorgeous, which just makes me want to ride it more. The fit and finish of the frame is fantastic. I love the geometry, and the geometry adjustment features worked brilliantly. The pivots are as tight as the day I got the bike. It's silent to ride, and seems to float over the trail. It weights in at a surprisingly light 35 lbs, all for a surprisingly reasonable $7,849 CDN. All the parts on the bike were flawless, and I think the part spec is on point. As you can tell, I'm finding it hard to find any major faults with this bike. The new Canyon Sender CFR is a properly good downhill bike, and at a very reasonable price.