Canyon Bicycles Strive AL 9.0  2013 Mountain Bike Review

Canyon Bicycles Strive AL 9.0 2013

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Canyon Bicycles 727,717

At A Glance

Canyon have been making some waves in a saturated bike market over recent years. Their headline pricing structure has garnered a lot of attention, with many riders opting to go the direct to manufacturer route. The Strive AL is the current ride of Fabien Barel who has been dominating the Enduro races of late. Its a 160mm travel all-mountain sled with some slack angles…

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Tech Heads

The frame is hydroformed 6061 aluminium and Canyon use their own “Hydro 14” process for ensuring the maximum stiffness and lowest weight. The suspension platform is a 270° Box combined with a single pivot rear triangle to ensure maximum frame stiffness. This set up also offers an exceedingly low centre of gravity and high quality needle bearings are used at the shocks eye to ensure maximum response.

Suspension is taken care of by the excellent Fox Float CTD Adjust Factory Kashima BV on the rear end and a Fox 34 TALAS CTD Adjust FIT Factory Kashima 160mm on the front end.

In a nod to the high end spec on this bike the wheels are Crankbrothers Iodine 3’s shod with a Maxxis Minion DH Front on the front and a Maxxis Ardent on the rear.

The drivetrain is a SRAM affair with XO Type 2 rear derailleur, XO front derailleur and XO shifters. A SRAM S2210 Carbon crankset with integrated bash ring looks after the 36/22t chainrings at the front while an XT 11-36t 10-speed cassette is fitted at the rear. An e.thirteen Dual Guide Custom keeps things in place, although it is worth noting the Type 2 SRAM X0 derailleur is of the “clutch” variety.

Stopping power is provided by Avid Elixir 7 hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm rotors on the front and rear.

A Crankbrothers Iodine 1 60mm stem keeps the Crankbrothers Cobalt 1 720mm low-rise bars. A SRAM Reverb Stealth with 125mm of travel holds the SDG Duster Custom saddle.

Canyon Strive AL 9.0 Medium

Seat tube 443mm
Effective top tube 592mm
Head tube 125mm
Chain stay 425.2mm
Wheel base 1152mm
BB Drop -9mm
Head angle 66.5°
Seat angle 74°
Reach 415mm

Weight w/o pedals 30.8lbs

On The Trail

Naturally with such an aggressive pricing structure there are plenty of comments about the brand online, both positive and negative. I was eager to swing my leg over the Canyon and make a decision for myself on how it rides. Out of the box you can’t fault the workmanship on the frame and the components obviously speak for themselves. Once it was built up it was time to take it for a spin, it’s not the lightest bike in its category, especially with such high-end componentry but at just under 31lbs it is certainly not heavy.

Set up was simple enough, there is an integrated sag meter on the frame so you can get it just right, we found it worked best with slightly less sag than we would normally ride with as at the extremes of the suspension there was a tendency to blow through. That’s more to do with the shock than the bike, which we have found a little soft in Descend mode. Put a bit more air in and this irons the problem right out.

The 270° Box suspension platform is rather clever, unlike the Horst links on a lot of the Canyon bikes this is a little different and it reminded me, aside from the shock being in front of the seat tube, of some of the older Cube Stereo’s from a couple of years back. It certainly works hard to eliminate a decent amount of pedal bob when climbing. Even when the CTD is in descend mode it offers a reasonably firm ride, and that is made even better setting the shock to Climb. So even though it’s a mid weight brute it is perfectly easy to send up a big hill.

The cockpit felt a little small which took some getting used to, looking at the numbers it shouldn’t have “felt” smaller than some of the other bikes on test this issue, but it did. We’re attributing this to the slack head angle combined with the steepish seat tube angle. Once you have ridden it for 30 minutes though you soon adapt to this, if you are usually on the cusp of a medium/large frame we would recommend going large.

The Canyon has some excellent attributes that combine to make it a very capable sled on the downhills. The chainstays are very short 425.5mm, the bottom bracket is quite low and the bulk of the suspension mechanics is slung really low on the bike. The wheelbase however is quite long for a bike of this style, 1152mm on the medium frame. This makes the bike exceedingly stable on even the roughest of terrain. It’s almost a perfect recipe for what a bike of this category should be like.

In the corners it feels stiff and solid, we didn’t notice any of the flex that some online comments have ensued. The short chainstays help to counteract the longer wheelbase and the back end feels very chuckable in the turns. Plenty of grip was apparent too, the back end really tracking and working with the tyres to keep things tidy.

It would be unfair to finish this review without saying something about the direct to market business model that Canyon offer. It saves you money on the bottom line, which is great. The downside is if something goes wrong you can’t just walk into the LBS and get it fixed. So while you are saving money, be prepared to wait a few days for delivery, if you do have an issue, and that is unlikely with the quality of the build and components, then you’ll have to post the bike back to Canyon. If you are a pretty handy amateur bike mechanic, then it’s a very good option. If however you don’t know an Allen key from a Torx driver and need a shop to align your gears every time they need adjusting it might be better to get a bike from a shop that can help you.


A bike of this type, All Mountain/Enduro should always be measured in its ability to climb the mountain as well as ride down it fast. The Strive AL is efficient and well behaved on the way up, stable, fast and predictable on the way down. Canyon offer incredible value for money that cannot be ignored, The Strive AL is a cracking bike, fun, playful and responsive and one that we’ll keep on riding happily.

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This review was in Issue 24 of IMB.

For more information visit Canyon Bicycles


By Rou Chater
Rou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.

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