German brand Canyon's flagship gravity bike, the Sender, was unleashed on the market in 2016 and the 2017 season finally sees the bike take to the World Cup downhill stage. Piloted by the all-new Canyon Factory Downhill Team riders Troy Brosnan, Mark Wallace and Ruaridh Cunningham, the Sender is set to make its mark on downhill racing.
Watch Canyon's head mechanic Nigel Reeve talk through some of the detail on the Sender in the video above and read below for the story of the bike and about the process of getting the world's fastest racers up to speed on it.
Several years in development under the guidance of two-time downhill world champ Fabien Barel, the Sender's long, low chassis blends a carbon front end with aluminium rear. Its adjustable geometry allows for the wheelbase and head angle to be set to rider preference.
While the team uses a reasonably stock frame and components, there are of course some differences to an out-of-the-box Sender, namely the coil shock that adorns a bike designed around and sold with an air shock.
Canyon head mechanic Nigel Reeve explains, "Fabien Barel worked really hard with Canyon's R&D department to develop the Sender, and starting with such a good platform was a big draw for many of the people now on the team to come onboard.
"One of the big differences with the team bike compared to the stock build we started with is the coil rear shock. When we started testing as a team we tried absolutely everything – in the process narrowing down what we liked and didn't like. We ended up with a coil shock, but not with a stock linkage – it's a custom link that Canyon made for us."
"With an air shock, for the average person who buys a bike, if they want to make it a bit harder they simply pump a bit of air in, which is really practical as a consumer. We found we could get a bit more sensitivity and grip with a coil shock, but it required a lot of work with the link and tuning of the shock to get exactly what our guys wanted.
"The thing for a team rider is that, when we go to a new track, if they want something slightly different from the coil shock – a different spring rate or tune – we can provide that. The demands of racing at this level are pretty far removed from the average person who wants to buy a bike and just smash downhill runs."
"Canyon have been really reactive and really supportive through our testing. It took around five or six weeks for each generation of linkage to come through. Mark's on the second-generation linkage, which is the silver one, and Troy is running the first generation, which is black. They have different amounts of ramp up and different support in the mid-stroke."
"Troy probably has the most distinctive riding style. You see him hop around a lot and ride really light, and for him to do that on this bike he really needs a lot of support in the mid-stroke of the shock to have something to push off and be able to hop. Mark smashes into stuff a bit more, and he needs something that's a little more progressive and has more resistance to bottom-out, so that's why he's on the silver linkage."
"How often do we have test sessions? Well you have to remember that racers don't really enjoy testing. Testing is about doing 10 laps per day at 95 percent, and someone who's good at that is probably not going to be very good at racing. So we try to minimise the amount of testing so as not to waste people's time; we try to be very efficient with test sessions. To get to where we are now, we've probably done six full weeks of testing with these guys."
"29ers are obviously the next big thing. Realistically the effect of that change is not much different to the move from 26" to 27.5" wheels. Everyone knows a bigger wheel rolls faster, and everyone knows that when you put bigger wheels on a bike you have a whole lot of other problems that you need to deal with, be it frame flex or more unsprung weight.
"It's one of those things where as soon as one team does it, everyone has to follow suit to keep up. So I'm pretty sure this time next year the majority of the field will be on bigger wheels."
For more bike checks from the 2017 World Cup season, click on any of the links below:
- Luca Shaw's Santa Cruz 29er V10
- Danny Hart's Mondraker Summum 29er
- Myriam Nicole's Commencal Supreme 29er
- Tahnée Seagrave's Transistion TR500
- 2017 New Season Downhill Bikes
- Nino Schurter's Scott Spark RC 900
- Kate Courtney's Specialized S-Works Era
- Pauline Ferrand-Prévot's Canyon Exceed
- 2017 New Season Cross-Country Bikes