(c) Tim Bardsley-Smith

[R]eviewed: Canyon Sender CF 9.0

Canyon operate on a direct-to-consumer distribution model, powered by the consumer purchasing a bike directly through the Canyon website and it then being sent directly to the consumers front door. Unlike most other major brands which distribute their bikes through a network of traditional bricks and mortar bike shops. Whilst it is easy to argue there are drawbacks for the consumer with the direct-to-consumer approach, this model does allow Canyon to reduce their margins which ultimately results in their bikes representing appealing value for money. To clarify, Canyon does have an office, workshop and staff based here in Australia who handle customer care, enquires, warranties etc. Canyon’s bike inventory and warehousing is based in Germany at the company’s headquarters. Because their bikes aren’t sent to bike shops and assembled by a mechanic out in the workshop, as is the case when you buy a bike the traditional way, Canyon has had to develop a way of delivering the consumer a bike in a box that could be assembled at home themselves, that still meets a similar standard as if they were to collect it from a bike store already built.

So how does Canyon achieve this? It simply wouldn’t be realistic to place a fully built mountain bike in a box (can you imagine how big the box would be?!). So instead, the company have created a massive assembly line at their factory where each bike is built and then fully rider turned by a professional bike mechanic. They then test ride the bike around a (super clean) indoor circuit to ensure everything is fitted correctly. Because they can’t then totally disassemble the bike (assuming that the average consumer probably won’t be able to put it back together again), Canyon have developed their own custom cardboard bike boxes that allow them to fit each bike with only the front wheel and handlebars and pedals removed. Everything else remains in place. The bike is then shipped around the globe to the customer. Our test bike arrived at our office with a torque wrench and high-pressure shock pump included in the box, which meant we were able to pull it out and put it together and set-up the suspension with ease.

In recent years on the world racing circuit, Canyon have created quite the name and image for themselves. A large part of that story comes down to the brand’s close partnership with Fabien Barel. Fab’s is one of the most winningest gravity riders the world has ever seen. But not only is he a god on a bike but the man has a great mind and above average understanding of what makes a downhill bike fast.  Canyon and Fabien originally began working on the ‘DH bike project’ back in 2014. After a solid 2 years R&D the Sender, as it sits here, was ready to unveil to the world. And what a bike it is! DH bikes aren’t popular these days as they once were, and similarly there isn’t as much hype and conversation about DH bikes these days either. However the Sender is a bike that has broken that mold and everyone has been talking about this German stunner. Ever since I spotted a spy shot of a prototype version of this bike online, I was praying that it would one day hit production and hopefully we would be able to score a test ride. Well, that day came and I have since spent several weeks aboard this fine machine.

“Straight away I felt comfortable and confident, but most importantly I felt fast, as soon as I hopped on the Sender.”

Riding the Sender has been a dream. Having to write about it however has not been so easy. You see, when I construct a bike review, I like to begin by sitting down and compiling somewhat of a pros and cons list. Having ridden a bike for a couple of months I will have gotten to know it inside and out and there’s always going to be list of things that I’m not a total fan of. Never before have I been stumped to find faults, either in its spec or how it rides. Never until now! The Canyon Sender CF 9.0 has got me stumped, it’s just so damn good…

The bikes geometry is very race orientated and I think anyone with half a clue about downhill will love this thing. It is long and low and I felt no need to lengthen or slacken the bike on the trails I rode but the geometry can be configured into six different positions via head set cups and a secondary rear axle position.

The build is spot on with the main features being SRAM XO DH 7 Speed assisted by Race Face Atlas cranks, SRAM Guide RSC brakes and Fox Suspension at both ends. Some things that caught my eye straight away were the carbon Renthal FatBar and Renthal Integra stem. I feel like bar and stem is something that is frequently swapped out when purchasing a bike but that will not be the case on the sender. It’s these simple things that the buyer will only benefit from.

The Sender’s four-bar linkage design incorporates Canyon’s proprietary ‘MX Link’. This link works hand in hand with the new highly adjustable air shocks. It allows the suspension system to be broken down into three phases; the beginning being super sensitive, the middle being stable and the end being quite progressive.

Straight away I felt comfortable and confident, but most importantly I felt fast, as soon as I hopped on the Sender. I felt that while the bike is incredibly smooth through its three rear travel phases that you could notice a difference between the sensitive beginning and the stable secondary phase. This became apparent with the bikes ability to generate and maintain speed easily. It handled aggressive sections of trail very impressively and I found that the bike was able to pump through the simpler sections with ease and not bogging down. The progressive phase is noticeable but I think I would still add one or two spacers in the shock to help it ramp up a little more when sending big stuff.

Canyon’s attention to detail has gone a little beyond that of other brands. From the ‘Sender Fender’ to keep roost off the shock and link to the foam internal cable routing to help keep cable chatter to an absolute minimum, frame protection in all the right places including heel protection on the chain stays and integrated fork bumpers in the frame. Canyon seem to have thought through every last detail of this bike. The colour schemes they have gone for look great and include a stealth black option that is always a fan favourite.

The only thing I wasn’t in love with was the I-beam seat. It seems no matter what I did, the seat would still have play. On what appears to be a seamless bike, this seat was the only thing I could pull up. I know, pretty good right?

The Sender is available in three different complete spec levels (starting at $5599.00), our test machine is the highest of the spec levels and tips the scales at 16.2kg out of the box. Its price tag of $7399 won’t break the bank, especially considering the frame quality and all of the high-end components that it comes built with. The lower models are also very well spec’d for their price point. I certainly would not be surprised to see a whole lot of these bikes getting around at the local DH trails and being raced this summer across Oz.

Canyon Sender CF 9.0

Price complete // $7399.00
Frame and shock price // $4199.00
Weight // 16.2kg
Browse // www.canyon.com/en-au/
Reviewer // Dylan Prohm
Photos // TBS


Frame: Full ‘high impact resistant’ carbon fibre main frame coupled with a 6066 T6 Alloy rear triangle, adjustable head angle and chainstay length, sound-proofed internal cable routing throughout, integrated rubber molded frame protection in key areas.
Available sizes: S-XL
Fork: FOX 40 Float Factory FIT4 HSC/LSC Kaskima
Rear Shock: FOX Factory Float X2 Elite Evol
Stem: Renthal Integra
Bar: Renthal Fatbar carbon
Grips: DHX Grips
Saddle: SDG I-FLY Custom
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
Rotors: SRAM 8”
Shifter: SRAM X01 DH, 7 speed
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X01 DH, 7 speed
Crank: Race Face Atlas
Cassette: SRAM X01 DH, 7 speed
Wheel Set: DT Swiss FR 1950
Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II