On the fly geometry adjustment getting increasingly practical
Canyon have updated their Shapeshifter system on the Canyon Strive 2019 enduro bike. It uses a gas spring to move the rear shock, simultaneously changing seat and head angles, bottom bracket height and suspension characteristics.
Although we don’t generally cover developments in mountain bikes, this shows what’s possible for bikes in general. Geometry adjustment could make a responsive and fun bike become super stable when needed. Bikes that are fun to ride but also safe and practical are exactly what we’re about at Better Bicycles. Even better, a practical city bike that can also handle a blast around a mountain bike trail when the mood takes you.
Shapeshifter is intended to shift an enduro bike between two modes: cross country (XC) and downhill.
With its Shapeshifter technology, the Strive successfully combines the climbing performance of an XC bike with the descending abilities of a downhill bike.
Despite the claim that Shapeshifter can perform like an XC bike or a downhill bike, the actual adjustments are more modest. When you move from the XC setting to the downhill setting, the bike changes in the following ways:
- Suspension travel increases from 135 mm to 150 mm
- The suspension softens
- The steering angle relaxes from 67.5 to 66 degrees
- The seat angle also drops back from 75 to 73.5 degrees
- The bottom bracket lowers slightly, the amount isn’t given
Compare this with the differences between an actual full suspension XC bike and a downhill bike:
- Suspension travel increases from around 100 mm to 200 mm
- Steering angle of approximately 70 vs 63 degrees
- Seat angles don’t actually change much
- Bottom bracket height may also be similar
Clearly, Shapeshifter doesn’t achieve anything like the same geometry changes. Similar systems are available, for example, Scott’s Twin-Loc. We’d be much more interested in seeing a true variable steering angle, something not yet available in a production bike.