Canyon Sender CF 9.0
Words by Drew Rohde // Photos by Michael Darter & Drew Rohde
If Batman was a German downhiller, there’s no doubt the Canyon Sender CF would be slaying Gothamberg’s most sinister tracks. Canyon is among the latest consumer-direct bikes storming the US bike world. Straight out of the box the Sender is ready to rip with a bad ass spec and insane geometry. Once I wiped the drool off the top tube I slapped her on the ass and held on.
A sleek front triangle attaches to an aluminum rear triangle via Canyon’s MX Link driven four-bar suspension design. Polymer bearings in the MX Link to offer some float within the main link help reduce the energy transferred latterly into the shock while improving durability. The main pivots are oversized industrial bearings that are easily accessed with a cassette/freehub tool. A very useful and sleek fender helps keep the rear of your bike clean. Cable cushions inside the frame help your bike ride as stealthily as it looks. Spec on our top of the line model was impressive with full Fox Factory suspension and a SRAM X01 7-speed DH drivetrain. Our only complaint was the SRAM Guide brakes as they didn’t quite offer the power or consistency we’d like when hauling ass down extended descents where heavy braking is required.
One of the best features, yet one we hardly used was the ability to significantly adjust the geometry. The bike comes with cups to take the head tube angle from 62- to 64 degrees and the chainstay length can be tweaked from 16.93- to 17.56 inches. Canyon has the suspension game dialed and we absolutely loved how comfortable the bike was out of the box. Tall riders are in luck as their XL is the largest production DH bike available. The reach on our large frame was 18.11 inches and the stretch limo XL is 18.89 inches long!
The Sender’s four-bar suspension design differs from some others available thanks to Canyon’s MX Link and their TPS (Triple Phase Suspension) philosophy. Sensitivity, Stability and Progressivity are the three stages Canyon designed into the kinematics of the Sender. Canyon’s engineers claim that the MX Link allows them to tune the shock’s leverage ratio independently of anti-squat, pedal kickback or anti-rise values that can be inherent with most four-bar designs or air sprung bikes.
I assembled the Sender and headed north to Whistler Bike Park for a week of testing and riding. Right out of the box the bike felt insanely comfortable, super confident and stiff! The 35-pound weight made it a treat on the jump lines and in the tight twisty woods of the lower mountain. One thing that didn’t feel great right out of the box was the Fox Float X2 shock. The shock felt fine on big hits and landing jumps or drops in the park but was lacking a bit of sensitivity on slower, flatter trails where small to medium sized roots crossed the trail. After some tweaking, adding a volume spacer and adjusting air pressure and compression accordingly I was able to improve the bike’s feel a bit more. While I’m confident a coil would have improved the sensitivity even more, Canyon engineers assert that the bike is designed to perform best around the progressivity of an air can.
The Sender is an incredibly adaptable frame and the changes available to the rider are quite drastic. Even with the great range of adjustability, I felt most comfortable with the bike in the stock position. Canyon nailed the geometry on the Sender and I believe it’s one of the most comfortable, balanced and best handling DH bikes I’ve ridden. It is a bike that likes to be pushed and pulled and responds well to active rider input. If you’re looking for a bike that takes direction well, this is it.