Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen

Despite its relatively short history on the race circuit, the Canyon Sender downhill bike has amassed an impressive number of medals and titles. Just one look at the new Canyon Sender CFR and the race pedigree is plain to see. The CFR acronym denotes Canyon Bike’s design and ethos around building and designing that model bike with their top-tier athletes, mechanics and engineers to create a product ready to take on the clock when seconds matter most. Although our crew have recently been swept off our feet by the latest crop of eMTBs, our truest passion lies in these high-performance DH bikes. Nothing rides like a downhill bike and there is nothing better than the feeling of letting a DH bike attack the steepest, fastest, and roughest terrain on the mountain, and the new Canyon Sender CFR does it with ease. Even though it has been a few months since our last bike park visit, this bike still gets us giddy thinking about the lines we pulled and the speeds we reached during last year’s Bike Park Review Tour.

When examining the new Canyon Sender CFR there are a few notable changes that translated to big gains on the trail. First up is the reevaluation of weight distribution, resulting in a lower shock mount, lower center of gravity, less pedal kickback and a stiffer overall frame. Similarly, geometry evolved to match modern expectations as the size large comes with a 485mm reach, with the headset cups in the center position. Riders have the ability to run the +/- 8mm cup to change front end length depending on tracks and their body type. Also adjustable is the chainstay length, which further allows riders to tune the Sender to their terrain or riding preference.

Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review


Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review

Roughly 600 grams lighter, and much of that came from the shock mounting and placement. Old frame required a complex and heavier shock mount support under top tube. 300 grams were taken off the main frame, 200 grams from rear stays and Canyon dropped another 100 grams by refining the MX link, making smaller dropouts and the bridge between seat stays to make it a total loss of nearly 600g.

Now weighs 3,200grams

Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review

Moved the main pivot lower and closer to chainline. The Sender still has a rearward axle path but slightly less than its predecessor.

Slightly more progressive leverage curve so that coil and air can be run. Customers wanted more flexibility to run both shocks and Canyon listened.

Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review

Four-bar system with the MX-Link that is independent and can be tuned. Before different riders had different MX links on the Factory Team to give them slightly different ride traits, and now the two mounting holes give different feels for riders wanting more progression or a more linear feel.

Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review

Yes, it has 27.5 and 29”, but you should not modify your bike. Canyon uses the same link on Small and Medium bikes as their Large and XL bikes. You can use the different holes to change the progression, leverage and yes, travel slightly, but Canyon does not condone or even suggest that you’ll make the bike better by running a 27.5 on the back of your Large or XL bike. Listen to the engineers on this one, we guarantee their costly computer programs and hours of testing are slightly ahead of message board bro theories. 

Canyon offers their Sender DH bike in a few price points, all of which are stellar values. Depending on what your budget is you will be able to get into an alloy Sender 6 for $3,399 but you will not benefit from the new Sender tech until you move up to the CFR FMD model at $4,799. If you’re an aspiring racer or just want to have the best bike possible, spring for the top-of-the-line Sender CFR we tested here for $5,799.

Canyon Sender CFR Hard Charging

We went into the details pretty well in our video review of this bike, so we’ll keep this a bit short so as to not beat the carbon racehorse dead, but this bike is an absolute unit. From the first moment we unboxed it to the last day of the bike park season, the Canyon Sender CFR had us smitten. It is like that time you somehow manage to get that girl or guy that is way out of your league to spend a couple months with you and you randomly look at them and smile in disbelief that they are actually yours. That is how this bike makes us feel.

Since we gushed all over it in the video, we will focus on the couple areas it is not the best at as we are fully aware not every downhill bike consumer just wants to go as fast as possible. This bike is a race-inspired 29-er DH bike (size large and XL), and you probably know what that means. It is long, it has a big rear wheel which means snapping it into tight corners or maneuvering it on slower, flatter trails require a bit more hip effort. Similarly, if you live for freeride flicks, moto-whips, jibs and other park/shuttle rat type situations, this bike will make you work a bit harder to flick and get sideways. The upside is you will get to each of those features way faster! This bike is designed to bring stability, confidence, and speed to your downhill runs, so, if you are looking to not have a stable and planted DH bike, this may not be your ideal rig.

Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

Over the entire summer of riding two of these bikes we only had a few memorable moments where we had too much traction, preventing us from sliding the back tire or flicking it into a different spot, or feeling kind of awkward in the air, due to our own lack of skill for sure, the other 95% of the time aboard this bike was straight fire. We kept going faster and faster and sending gaps further. The composure and reduced pedal kickback meant we could coast faster and focus more clearly on spotting little features that protruded out of the trail. Those bumps became lips and we effortlessly popped off them and sent this bike and our bodies into the beyond and always came out with more speed and bigger smiles.

Both of our Canyon Sender CFR test bikes have held up to a full season of abuse, travel and neglect. We hosed them off, drove around the PNW and Idaho with them, flew them to the East Coast and did not do a single tear down or maintenance beyond chain lube, brake bleeds and washes. We would love to see a better brake spec, something a bit more reliable and long-lasting, but beyond that we do not have too much to complain about. The chain guide has some drag which sprinters may notice but the bike coasts fast and makes up for it. The Rock Shox suspension felt amazing on the bike and held up well. We did damage one rear wheel pretty badly, but we were able to pull it back with a wrench and continued the trip with a tube. Definitely nice if you’re a racer looking to stay on track all weekend long.

Overall, the Canyon Sender CFR is a highlight in my decade of testing bikes. Few bikes have made an impression in the way this bike has. Another one of those bikes is the Trek Session 9.9. RSL, which we reviewed last year. And for those wondering, I would rather have this bike when evaluating both performance and value. Come to think of it, there is not much we would rather have in the garage when it came to a DH bike than the Canyon Sender CFR.

Price: $5,799
Weight: 34.69


Frame: Canyon Sender CFR Carbon, 200mm
Fork: RockShox Boxxer Ultimate RC2, 200mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH

Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, 200mm
Shifter: SRAM X01 DH
Handlebar: Canyon G5
Headset: Acros AZX-227
Stem: Canyon G5
Saddle: Ergon SMD20
Seatpost: Canyon G5

Wheels: DT Swiss FR560
Front tire:MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4” 3C Maxx Grip
Rear tire: MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4” Wide Trail

Bottom Bracket: SRAM BSA DUB
Cassette: SRAM XG-795 DH 10-24 7s
Cranks: SRAM X01 DH 36T
Derailleur: SRAM X01 DH

Canyon Sender CFR Long-Term Review

We Dig

Makes us feel invincible
Speed demon
Suspension tune is dialed
Stiff but not abusive
Would ya just look at it!?

We Don’t

It’s not a play bike
Takes some extra effort to get around flatter, tight terrain at lower speeds
SRAM Code brakes don’t last


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