Whether you want to beat your mates in the Strava rankings, or win a World Cup Enduro E race, you need a competitive advantage. Canyon's new Strive:ON aims to give racers and non-racers the edge.
For a brand so focused on racing (and so proficient at building one of the best e-bikes on the market in the shape of the Spectral:ON), it was only a matter of time before Canyon designed a competition enduro e-bike. What’s more of a surprise is how accomplished the new Strive:ON is without a number zip-tied to the bars.
Looking for the lowdown on the updates and what the full range looks like? Check out our essential guide to the new Canyon Strive:ON.
Need to know
- Race-ready enduro e-bike with 170mm front/160mm rear travel
- Bosch motor with 85Nm and 600W peak power – top model gets the lighter Race motor with 2m overrun feature
- Either 625Wh or 750Wh battery enclosed by carbon chassis – choose your battery to suit the race
- Four frame sizes, all with a mixed wheel set-up
- Three models with prices starting from £5,699
What are the ingredients needed to make a bespoke enduro race e-bike? A Bosch motor for that fast, predictable response and powerful overrun to slingshot you out of tight corners and boost you through technical chess moves on the timed climb stage. An accessible battery compartment for those mandatory power pack changes. A tight, manoeuvrable, compliant chassis that carries speed and conserves energy with the suspension kinematics tuned to provide ample grip rather than ultimate progression when landing big drops and moto jumps. Maybe a little more ground clearance for those mid-stage sprints.
Not just a race bike
If those are the pieces of the puzzle then the finished jigsaw might well end up looking like the new Canyon Strive:ON – a purpose-built competition bike that happens to be rather good when the clock isn’t ticking. Which is a good thing, seeing as the proportion of people who race e-enduro at a top level is minuscule compared to the hordes of riders hacking around their local trails at the weekend just looking to have a blast with their mates. More on how the Strive:ON rides a little further on, but for now let’s take a look at the bike itself, and how it differs from the excellent Canyon Spectral:ON.
Why the Strive:ON doesn’t get the Shapeshifter
Firstly, the Strive:ON looks more like the Spectral:ON than the unassisted Strive. The shock runs inline with the seatstays, anchored to the down tube at the forward eyelet, rather than sitting parallel to the seat tube as it does on the analogue Strive. With far less room to work with between the top of the motor and the underside of the top tube, Canyon couldn’t have replicated the layout of the analogue Strive if it had wanted to. Also missing from the e-bike version is the Shapeshifter travel and geo switch with its on-the-fly adjustment. With 600W and 85Nm of torque on tap from the Bosch motor, pedalling efficiency just isn’t that important on an e-bike, so Canyon could do away with the extra weight and complexity, freeing up space inside the front triangle for a water bottle in the process.
Progressive sizing, but it’s not adjustable
Adjustable sizing – where drop-in cups let you tune the reach – also goes in the bin. Instead the Strive:ON gets four sizes with the reach numbers equivalent to the shortest settings on the analogue bike. That’s not to say it’s cramped; quite the opposite in fact. With 450mm reach on the small, 475mm on the medium, 500mm on the large and 525mm on the XL, it’s generous enough that we chose to downsize compared to the Spectral:ON.
More travel, slacker head angle, steeper seat angle and more ground clearance
As you’d expect, the Strive:ON gets 10mm more travel than the Spectral:ON, with 170mm up front and 160mm at the rear. And it gets a slacker head angle (63.5º vs 65.5º), 5mm longer chainstays to better balance the longer front centre, and a higher BB to compensate for the extra travel and need for more ground clearance when smuggling in pedal strokes. As the Strive:ON has a longer fork, Canyon has shrunk the head tubes by 10mm, while the seat tubes are significantly lower – 20-25mm depending on the frame size. The final significant geometry difference is the seat tube angle, which is around 2º steeper at 78º. This is crucial for those technical climbing stages.
As a no-nonsense race machine, the entire Strive:ON range uses the same CFR carbon frame, weighing a claimed 3.26kg in medium. This is made up from stronger fibres that allow fewer layers to be used, reducing weight in the process.
Removable battery and choice of power pack size
The bulkier Bosch Performance CX housing prevents Canyon from clocking the motor as radically as it does with the Shimano unit on the Spectral:ON, but even so, the engineers have managed to house the battery entirely within the down tube, where it sits snugly against the base of the motor. The continuous down tube profile retains the ultimate structural integrity, which keeps the weight down, and the position of the battery is kept low for a desirable centre of gravity and weight balance. Yet remove the reinforced skid plate and you can extract the battery and slot in a freshy without moving the motor.
The devil is in the detail
Better yet, you can choose to run the 750Wh Bosch unit for maximum range, or the 625Wh option and custom plastic spacer to save 700g and maximise agility. Canyon’s in-house designed mounts also save a worthwhile 300g over the standard-fit Bosch parts. A couple of other smart details found on the Canyon that not many other brands get right is speed magnet mounted to the valve stem – this gets picked up by the sensor in the back of the motor and eliminates the need for wiring along the chainstay. And the Strive:ON comes standard with Bosch’s top tube Controller and wireless Mini Remote. It’s clean and simple, but by connecting to the Bosch Flow app you can still customise settings and dig into performance metrics.
Three bike range
As this is a focused product, only available in carbon, Canyon is offering the Strive:ON in just three different flavours. The range kicks off with the £5,699 Strive:ON CFR Underdog, fitted with a Fox 38 Rhythm fork, Float X Performance shock, Shimano Deore drivetrain and brakes and a DT Swiss H1900 wheelset. Next up is the £6,899 Strive:ON CFR, with four-way adjustable Performance Elite fork and X2 Performance shock. Shimano provides the XT drivetrain and brakes and there’s a DT Swiss HX1700 wheelset. At the top of the tree is the £9,199 Strive:ON CFR LTD. This one is the full-on team replica with weight saving, power boosting Bosch Performance CX Race motor, RockShox Zeb Ultimate fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate shock as well as the new SRAM T-Type AXS drivetrain. All three models come standard with the 625Wh battery, but you can upgrade to the 750Wh unit for an extra £200. While all three bikes are great value for money, my pick of the range has to be the underdog model at £5,699, as you can upgrade the fork damper to Performance Elite spec for £400 and upgrade to the bigger battery for less than £6.5k.
How it rides
With the my medium demo bike set up with 28% sag, bouncing around the car park revealed that it was very easy to bottom out the rear suspension. This is not your typical Canyon, I thought, followed up with a concern that it would be too linear once we’d hit the trails. We would be riding the trails at Scarlino, near Punta Ala, where Fabien Barel won the first ever round of the EWS ten years ago. And seeing as Fabien himself was one of the key development riders involved in the birth of the Strive:ON, and he’d recommended that sag figure, he should know what he’s talking about. Even so, I added a couple of extra strokes with the shock pump, just to be on the safe side.
Digging deeper into the suspension graphs and talking to the engineers involved, the reason for this un-Canyon-like trait became clearer. The Strive:ON has a progression rate that’s 5% lower than the analogue Strive because, in testing, team riders were struggling to use all the travel, effectively rendering it redundant. Remember enduro race tracks don’t generally feature the kind of big hucks and harsh landings found in DH or freeride. So Canyon decided to taper off the progression and make those last few mm of travel more accessible. It’s a shrewd move, and sure enough, my fears of blowing through the travel in the blink of an eye proved unfounded once we hit the trails. Instead there was plenty of mid-stroke support, but less fatigue through really rough, deep canyons and rock gardens. If you want a bit more pop and a bike that can handle bike park jumps and drops, you can have that too – just adding a single volume spacer will make the Strive:ON slightly more progressive than its analogue cousin. For my home trails, which are nothing like as rough as the Finale-style tracks at Punta Ala, this is exactly what I’d do.
More friendly than the Strive, more versatile than the Spectral:ON
If you’re worried this race bike is too focused to be fun, then don’t be. It’s a really rewarding bike to ride, with loads of straight line stability from the low centre of gravity and slack head angle paired with a willingness to change direction and an accuracy when hunting for lines that comes from the low standover, mullet rear wheel and well-balanced chainstay length. In fact I found the assisted Strive had much better balance than the analogue version, as the front and rear centres are less extreme in either direction. Thus weighting the front in flatter corners comes naturally (obviously the battery weight helps as well), but the rear wheel doesn’t feel too tucked up beneath you when you get tired and start backing away from the bike.
It also trades a little agility for versatility compared to the Spectral:ON, with more ground clearance and reduced stack that keeps the bars from feeling too tall. It’s not quite as playful as the Spectral:ON owing to the reduced progression and longer chainstays, but the geometry feels more forgiving and confidence-inspiring on rougher or steeper tracks, and the progression can be added back in if you want to.
That steep seat angle lets you take full advantage of the power and response of the Bosch motor to solve really janky uphill puzzles, so the Strive:ON can winch as well as it can plummet. Once again, here it trumps the Spectral:ON thanks to its extra ground clearance and Bosch’s predictable overrun.
A single day riding is not enough to pass a definitive verdict on a new bike – you need to try it on home turf, back-to-back with the best of the competition to really pass judgement – even if that day included 50km and 2,200m of descending on EWS-level trails. Putting that caveat aside, if I was in the market for an e-bike right now, and my budget was in the £5-6k bracket, the new Strive:ON would be right at the top of my shortlist.