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Fab geometry, suspension, ride...it's all good!
After riding five different DH tracks totalling 14 runs, these five aspects really stuck out.
1. Fab geometry
The Sender is available in a huge size-range, so should fit most riders really well. Fabien’s input has yielded a long, low and slack machine; in fact, it’s the longest mainstream DH bike on the market.
The head angle is adjustable from 62-64 degrees and chainstay length can be altered too for different riders or terrain: pick either 430mm or 446mm. The wheelbase of the XL bike set with the longer chainstay and slacker head angle will push beyond the 1300mm milestone.
2. Air-tuned suspension
Air springs are firmer in the beginning third, making them harder to get moving off the top of the stroke; they’re softer in the middle third, resulting in more mid-stroke wallow, yet they ramp up towards the end to prevent bottom-out.
Canyon’s motocross-inspired ‘MX link’ compensates for this. It provides loads of leverage at the start of the stroke to soften up the beginning third. This transitions smoothly into a lower leverage ratio in the middle third to reduce mid-stroke wallow, without making full-travel inaccessible.
The MX link also isolates the shock from lateral flex in the frame, apparently reducing friction and wear.
3. The details
For those of us who prefer to ride DH bikes rather than simply drool over them, the Sender features some clever features to keep it running smoothly. Fully integrated downtube protectors and fork bumpers are present and correct, alongside a neat heel-rub shield on the left chainstay.
The cable routing, while internal, is clearly designed to be rattle-free and easy to install. The chainstays are shaped and shielded to minimise chain-slap too. Industrial oversized pivot-bearings should last for ages, and (joy of joys) the bottom bracket is threaded.
4. The ride
The Sender is uncannily quiet over rough ground. The rubberised stays and E13 LG1+ guide do a great job of silencing chain clatter. All that remains is the silky swoosh of damping oil and the dull thud of rubber on rock.
After two runs on the shorter chainstay, I switched to the longer option. This resulted in a far more balanced feel, with improved stability on random rocky straights and more predictable cornering too. We took the Sender down some really tight and steep switchbacks. Did the long geometry make it a pig to get round the bends? Not really. Although the medium head angle setting was plenty slack enough here, especially with the forks at full extension. The bike felt stiff through the bends and efficient under power, yet there wasn’t so much chain-growth as to produce noticeable pedal-kickback – a good compromise for racing.
5. The price
The range-topping bike we rode leaves almost nothing to be desired in terms of spec, and will retail for a very reasonable €4,799. That’s €200 cheaper than the top-spec YT TUES - not that anyone’s keeping score!
A future world cup winner? It has the potential, that’s for sure. We’ll have to wait until 2017 to see if the perfect storm of man and machine can put it on the top step.