SETUP | The first thing you’ll have to do as a customer, which may not be quite so easy, is decide on the size you wish to purchase. At 6’2” (189cm), I’m far from a “medium” sized person, however the long reach figures that Canyon gave to both their Strive and Strive:ON meant that the medium is the size I opted to test in both bikes, and it provided me with a good fit as expected. This comes down to my proportions, personal preference, and riding style. I’ve got a disproportionately short torso for my height, and so with the extra stability of eBikes, I find I need a shorter reach in order to be able to influence the weight distribution in a quick enough time. I very rarely find myself struggling for composure at speed, so a shorter bike is my preference, within reason. Try to test a couple of eBikes in different sizes sometime if you can, to help you figure out what works best for you.
Once I had figured out the size I required (which was not difficult for me, given the large volume of bikes I get to test) getting the Canyon Strive:ON set up proved to be a very simple affair. Getting the suspension dialed in was a matter of setting air pressure to deliver the desired 30% sag in the rear, and tuning rebound and compression damping settings to my preferences. By now I have a reliable base setup for the Fox 38, but ended up requiring a slightly higher air spring pressure than typical in an aggressive eBike, likely due to how much the Strive:ON begs you to push.
The Bosch Flow app lets you tweak the support levels to your liking with extremely intuitive sliding scales, but I find that the stock settings offer a good balance of grunt and battery life. I ended up dialing the ECO mode up to +2 to give a little more assistance, as in the stock setting I found I was getting left behind by other riders…maybe I’m less fit than I think, or perhaps they had their settings tweaked too.
ELECTRONICS & INTEGRATION | The Bosch Smart System with Mini Remote is my favorite solution for this kind of bike right now, so kudos to Canyon for choosing wisely. When I’m pushing an enduro eBike to the limits, the less distractions and clutter I can have on the front of my bike, the happier I am. And this system is as clean as they come, thanks to the small wireless Mini Remote and minimalistic display in the top tube. If you must know how fast you’re going or your exact battery percentage, you can always add a Kiox display, but for me I’m content relying on the 10% increments of battery life shown by the LEDs, and using the simple to understand colors as the indicator of the mode I’m in. The 750Wh battery offers a great range, helping to offset my heavy weight to ensure I can match lighter riders on slightly smaller batteries. If you’re not likely to go on a very large ride, then you may wish to opt for the lighter 625Wh battery that Canyon offers, saving yourself a chunk of cash and undoubtedly improving the agility of the Strive:ON.
The Bosch Performance Line CX Gen 4 motor is typically my recommendation to riders looking for a reliable and solid performing motor system, and that continues to be the case with the Strive:ON. However, I did encounter some issues with the motor cutting out on this bike. This turned out to be caused by the quick release system on the Bosch Powertube battery, which pivots around plastic tabs and simply fatigued and broke under the g-forces of hard compressions when riding. Canyon is working on a solution, and I was able to receive a replacement latch in under 48 hours and fit in just a few minutes. So, not the end of the world, but very frustrating all the same, and I cannot for the life of me figure out the need for a quick release latch on the battery. Why not use a reliable bolt or two to fasten the battery securely, especially given that you need to use a hex key to remove the plastic motor cover anyway? The replacement latch proved to hold up for the remaining couple of months of testing, but I’d still look to order a spare latch to have in your toolbox at all times, just in case. Motor cutouts are no fun.
CLIMBING | A great combination of a solid motor, sorted geometry and smart kinematics make the Strive:ON an excellent climber in everything but the tightest of uphill switchbacks. The slack head angle can make the front end a little unwieldy and the turning radius quite wide, but the nicely centered seating position and mid-length rear end keep it manageable for the kind of terrain you’ll typically encounter in an E-Enduro race.
The suspension has just enough support built in to keep the chassis stable under power and the cranks clear of the ground, so it’s only in the chunkiest of climbs that pedal clearance can become an issue. The 165mm crank spec is satisfactory, but I’d be keen to go to a 160mm to further improve clearance. The rear end stays nicely active under power because the anti squat is not too excessive, keeping it fairly comfortable when seated and helping to maintain traction. I managed to put the motor skid plate to the test multiple times throughout testing since the downtube protrudes far in front of the motor, but only ever on the way up the hill or on the slowest and tightest portions of descent, so the plastic cover proved to be plenty strong to offer the required protection.
DESCENDING | As with any enduro race bike, downhill performance is essential, and the Strive:ON is an extremely competent bike going down the hill. Weight balance is great, even with the 750Wh battery fitted, leading to a natural feeling handling, and the geometry is nicely balanced in the medium size to lead to limited need to consciously load either of the wheels. Because Canyon expects smaller riders to be on the size medium, the resulting dropper post length leaves a little to be desired, but I managed to get on with the 170mm unit fitted without too much complaint.
The suspension platform offers a healthy amount of sensitivity and good bottom out support, but doesn’t offer the most in the way of mid-stroke support. The result is a bike that loves to stick to the ground and truck its way through rough terrain, but can feel a little on the heavier and less playful side unless you’ve moving fast. I’d say this makes sense as an E-Enduro race bike, where keeping the rider comfortable and reducing energy expenditure is preferable to being able to work every tiny bit of speed out of the trail – those races are pretty damn physical. Get the Strive:ON up to speed and it’s a very confident machine which constantly pushes you to stay off the brakes until the last second and charge down rough and rowdy terrain.
The combination of the alloy DT Swiss wheelset and the mid-stiffness rear end produces a healthy amount of traction-seeking compliance without quite hitting the vague and washy feelings that limit confidence when riding on the edge, and I think Canyon has really nailed the blend between comfort and control. The balanced geometry, adequately stiff overall chassis and low center of gravity make the Strive:ON a formidable cornering machine, whether it be a supportive hero dirt turn or a blown out and rough flat corner.
Moving up to the large and XL sizes, you’ll end up with a bike that aligns more with Fabien Barel’s geometry philosophy, with a long front-center and shorter rear end. That may be to your liking, and tends to produce a fun machine for the way down the hill, but I’d personally prefer to see some size-specific rear ends here to maintain a more consistent weight distribution between the wheels, if I was to choose. Of course, this sort of move tends to add expense and complexity somewhere, which would detract from the value proposition which we’ll discuss below.
FINISH AND VALUE | I was surprised to see the Strive:ON CFR equipped with non-Kashima coated suspension and “only” XT level brakes and drivetrain, but the reality is that these are components that deliver wholly race-ready performance, just without being flashy. The resulting price tag is fairly reasonable given the level of performance on offer and the sub-2.5kg frame weight. The Strive:ON has all of the details well covered and has stood up to months of sheer abuse without any issues, aside from the aforementioned battery latch failure and a rear tire that now needs to run an inner tube. There’s really nothing I’d change in terms of the spec, aside from a longer dropper post to fit my long legs a bit better – everything simply works well and has been chosen very sensibly.
Canyon has really pushed the finish quality of their bikes over the last few years, and now you’re provided with a smooth running and quiet machine with all of the details well covered. Headset cable routing won’t be for everyone, but produced no issues throughout testing and does improve the cleanliness and reduce rattling in the cockpit, so it’s not all bad. The frame hardwear all stayed tight throughout the test and the bearings have stood up to the abuse across a wide range of conditions, including a large volume of Scottish slop, without getting rough or developing play.
How Does the Strive:On Stack Up?
We’ll be including the Canyon Strive:ON in our 2024 eMTB shootout, where we put it head-to-head with the best eBikes on the market. But in the meantime, I’d like to compare it with my current pick of the eeb litter, the Orbea Wild.
These two machines use the same Bosch drive system; are comparable in their travel, and there’s not much to separate the two in terms of geometry if you compare the Large Wild to the Medium Strive:ON. The Strive:ON has the smaller 27.5” rear wheel whereas the Wild uses a pair of 29” wheels, but the effects of this are not as profound for me as clearance with the 29er is rarely an issue with my longer legs.
Where the two bikes differ is in their suspension and chassis feelings. The Orbea is a more supportive and direct feeling bike than the Canyon, which packs a little more cushion and comfort. Both are formidable E-Enduro machines, but I’d wager that the Orbea would be the fastest bike for a single downhill stage, whereas the Canyon may reduce rider fatigue over a day’s racing and thus be the faster bike for a full enduro race.
It’ll be very interesting to put these two killer machines against each other later this year to see what one turns out to be our pick, as they’re undoubtedly two of the best out there right now.
THE WOLF’S LAST WORD
From Alpine bike parks to enduro trails across Scotland, the Strive:ON has been an absolute pleasure to test, and is certainly one of the best performing options on the market. The battery latch issues are a slight concern and absolutely something I’d look to protect yourself against by getting a spare latch to go in your toolbox, but otherwise this is a top quality, race-ready and pleasurable daily driving enduro eBike machine at a reasonable price.
Price: £6,699 / €6,999