The best long-legged trail bike we’ve tested by a mile
Available in both carbon and alloy versions, the Strive’s lightweight frame construction, great sizing and innovative Shapeshifter technology — that lets you change the attitude and travel of the bike at the push of a button — promises to make the Canyon every bit as fast uphill as down.
So, you can imagine our surprise when we straddled the Strive AL 6.0 Race for the first time and noticed that the head angle felt more akin to a modern trail bike than a fully-formed enduro race machine.
Canyon lists the head angle as 66° in the slack setting, but we measure it a full degree steeper. The geometry chart also states the Strive has +1.5° manufacturing tolerance, so we counted ourselves lucky that it wasn’t any steeper.
Not only is this incredibly frustrating, but it renders the Shapeshifter completely redundant, as we certainly didn’t need the even steeper geometry setting on the Strive.
The 160mm RockShox Pike RC doesn’t take the edge off the bumps as smoothly as the RCT3 version, but you still get the stout 35mm chassis and adjustable spring volume.
Two Bottomless Tokens came supplied with the Strive and we fitted them while assembling the bike to get more mid-stroke support and help prop the front end up on steep descents. Something that’s even more critical considering the head angle.
Being the entry-level Race model, the Strive AL 6.0 doesn’t get the additional adjustability of the Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock found on the higher specced bikes.
The basic Monarch Plus R is still a great performer though, and with 163mm of travel and a super supple action, the rear end on the Strive makes light work of even the roughest trails.
Just like with the YT, it’s hard to find fault with the build kit on the Strive.
Sure, the SRAM GX chainset isn’t as solid as the Race Face unit on the YT, but the Strive gets lighter DT Swiss 1700 wheels and a better tyre spec, that sees a super-fast-rolling Minion SS on the rear and grippy 3C High Roller II up front.
With too much back-sweep, the Race Face Respond handlebar has a slightly goofy profile, but combined with the angled ends of the Ergon grips, the overall width is approaching 800mm.
From the very first pedal stroke it was apparent that the Strive 6.0 Race didn’t possess the ruthless power delivery of the higher specced CF9.0 that won our Enduro bike test 12 months ago. The reason for this is twofold.
Firstly, it’s got less anti-squat due to the bigger 34t chainring. All of the higher-specced models come with 32t rings. The inner workings of the Monarch Plus R shock are also different to the RC3 units fitted to the more expensive models.
Pedalling efficiency isn’t everything though, and the more open action of the rear shock meant that the 6.0 actually faired better than the 9.0 on rougher terrain.
Its true calling, however, is fast, flowing singletrack. Yes we know the Strive is billed as a race-ready enduro bike, but the geometry on our test bike placed it squarely in trail bike territory, even if the amount of travel suggested otherwise.
As such, the Strive is lightning fast out of the blocks, and it’s super-easy to manoeuvre, thanks to the progressive rear suspension and low-slung top tube.
The sizing and proportions are also excellent, and because you feel perfectly centred between the contact patches of the tyres, flat corners can be hit so hard that you can almost peel the side-knobs clean off the tyres. It’s a seriously good trail bike.
Venture into more challenging terrain, however, and it’s easy to upset the balance of the Canyon, as your weight shifts forward and the effect of the steeper head angle becomes more pronounced.
Video above: YT Industries Capra vs Canyon Strive
Need to know
- No need for a front mech with SRAM’s wide-range GX 1×11 drivetrain
- Canyon’s Shapeshifter changes rear travel from 163mm to 139mm while steepening up the geometry by 0.5° for climbing
- Rubberised protection on the underside of the down tube protects the alloy Strive frame from rock strikes
- Mix-and-match tyres: 3C High Roller II up front for confident cornering, Minion SS (semi-slick) out back for reduced rolling resistance
Clever as Canyon’s Shapeshifter geometry and travel-adjust feature is, we never felt the need to use it other than to check that it actually worked. That’s because, even in the slack setting, the 67° head angle is already at the steeper end of acceptable for an enduro bike. It’s absolutely on the money for trail riding though, and with Canyon’s recent price adjustment, to reflect changes in the exchange rate, the Strive AL 6.0 Race is the best long-legged trail bike we’ve tested by a mile. Or 1.6km.