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Canyon's All-New Spectral Line

Canyon's Spectral line has been a crowd-pleaser for a few years now. When Vital tested the last revision to the Spectral 27.5, we were blown away by the little bike that could. The following year, that same line sported a 10mm longer fork and more aggressive rubber. Just last year, Canyon launched the carbon, Spectral 29 as a do-everything trail bike. Vital put in the miles for a long-term test and gave the Spectral 29 the nod of approval. Meanwhile, the 27.5-inch models kept the old chassis. Today, that changes. Canyon has updated the entire Spectral array of bikes, eight models in all.

Highlights

  • Carbon and alloy frame options
  • 29-inch, 27.5-inch, and 29/27.5-inch mixed options
  • Young Hero kid's bike option
  • 160mm (6.2-inches) front travel // 150mm (5.9-inches) rear travel
  • Canyon Triple Phase suspension design
  • Carbon models use adjustable flip-chip
  • Alloy models have fixed geometry equivalent to "low" geo
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Boost 148 hub spacing with 12mm axle
  • Category 4 (enduro) designation
  • SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger
  • Canyon 600ml bottle and side-load cage included
  • Storage mount on the underside of the top tube
  • Weight - 33.5-pounds (15.19kg) as tested
  • Price - $2,899 - $7,499 ($4,899 as tested)

What's New

Getting to know the new Canyon Spectral line of bikes takes a bit of organizational aptitude. Not every model is offered in every material and wheel-size configuration, but close enough. While there are eight builds, factoring wheel sizes ups it to thirteen. Here is the high-elevation overview.

Aluminum models  - Canyon is offering the Spectral in two alloy builds and each of them is available as either a 29er or 27.5-inch wheel option. 27.5-inch models run in x-small through large sizes and 29-inch models run medium through x-large sizing. There are two color options as well, Raw/Black or Earth Orange. Alloy models do not have a flip-chip as the carbon models do. Geometry on the aluminum Spectral is equivalent to the low setting on carbon models, however, the seat angle is steeper to accommodate for the offset.

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Riders will notice the external, downtube routing of the cables beneath a plastic shield is no more. Cables are now run internally in the front triangle, and externally at the back end of the bike. Canyon noted this change was made to achieve a nicer ride character with alloy tubing as well as create more room inside the triangle for a bottle. It's always a give and take and Canyon made the move to do away with the otherwise well-liked routing of yore.

On the topic of ownership, alloy frames have steel inserts in the frame for the single-sided mounting hardware. Should a rider strip out the threads, the steel inserts are more easily tapped, or if needed, replaced outright. This is a nice touch and a great solution in offering riders a little security in the name of a bike that is easier to work on.

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The Spectral 5 kicks off the line at $2,899. Canyon outfitted the Spectral 5 with a Shimano Deore build kit, one of Vital's favorite groups. Suspension is a FOX 36 Rhythm fork and FOX Float X Performance shock pairing. Wheels are RaceFace AR30 hoops and Shimano hubs. Maxxis Minion DHR 2.4 tires are on the front and back with EXO casing for the front and EXO+ in the back. Canyon uses its own Iridium dropper post with drops adjusting for fame sizes. 125mm for XS, 150mm small/medium, 170mm for large, and 200mm for x-large frames. Canyon G5 branded bar and stem and an Ergon saddle round out the build.

Bumping to the Spectral 6 for $3,499 will have riders moving to a SRAM GX build with Code R brakes. A RockShox Lyrik Select+ fork and Super Deluxe Select+ take care of suspension. Wheels upgrade to DT Swiss MTB LN. All other parts carry over from the Spectral 5.

Canyon Fix 3IN1 Tool - CO2 inflator, tire plug, ratchet
Canyon storage pouch

Additionally, there is the Spectral Young Hero alloy build for $2,299. This bike is targeted at the youth crowd and is sized as such with 27.5-inch wheels. The Young Hero also has reduced travel numbers with a 150mm travel RockShox Recon Silver fork and a Deluxe Select+ rear shock (140mm travel). A SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain (NX shifter) is paired with Guide T brakes. RaceFace AR25 rims are laced to Shimano MT400 hubs. Tires are a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3 and Agressor 2.3 combo. Canyon's 125mm Iridium dropper, G5 bits, and an Ergon saddle round out the rest of the parts.

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Carbon models - With five models for the carbon frame option, there are a few caveats to point out. To start, only three of the models come in either the 29-inch or 27.5-inch wheeled options. Our test bike, the CF8 CLLCTV is only available with mixed wheels, and the CFR is only available as a 29er.

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Canyon's carbon frames use single-sided hardware with replaceable inserts in the event of a mechanical mishap. Cables are routed internally and fully guided with robust ports going in and out of the frame. Geometry is adjustable via a flip-chip located at the lower shock mount. Carrying over from the update we saw last year, there is still a proprietary upper headset cap and spacers.

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Canyon's carbon Spectral models start with the CF7 for $4,299. In a move we don't see often, Canyon uses Shimano's SLX group to outfit the CF7. A FOX 36 Rhythm fork and FOX Float X Performance are on suspension duties. DT Swiss XM1900 wheels are equipped with the same Maxxis Minion DHR 2.4 WT rubber as the alloy models. Also carrying over from the alloy builds are the Canyon G5 parts and Ergon saddle. While the carbon builds do still use an Iridium dropper, it is the adjustable model, giving riders the ability to incrementally reduce travel by 25mm.

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Moving up the line to the CF8 for $5,199, riders will get a full Shimano XT 12-speed build kit. Suspension upgrades to a FOX Performance Elite fork and a FOX Float X Performance Elite rear shock. Wheels upgrade to DT Swiss XM1700. All other parts carry over from the CF7.

Canyon's Spectral CF9 is the top end of the standard line and will retail for $6,299. At this tier, robots start to show up in the form of SRAM GX AXS 12-speed with a SRAM carbon cranks. SRAM Code RSC brakes will stop the DT Swiss XMC 1501 wheels. Suspension is a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork and RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock. Canyon G5 and Iridium parts finish off the bike.

Canyon Spectral CFR

Canyon is announcing its CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) build with this latest launch of the Spectral. At $7,499, it is described as a no-holds-barred build that even shaves 300g off the frame, it is the top of the pecking order in the Spectral family. There aren't any robots here though, it's all cables for the CFR. A Shimano XTR drivetrain (XT cassette) and RaceFace Next SL crankset take care of the drivetrain and brakes. Suspension is FOX Factory for the 36 fork and Float X rear shock. DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheels "round" out the build.

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Lastly is our Spectral CF8 CLLCTV build for $4,899. This is the only Spectral Canyon is offering in a mixed-wheel (mullet) configuration. This was achieved by combining the front triangle of the 29er frame and the rear triangle of the 27.5-inch frames. The CLLCTV is also the only model to feature a coil-sprung rear shock, FOX's new DHX Performance Elite. The bike will ship with three coils, optimized around average rider weights in a given size frame. The other springs will be a step softer and a step stiffer should riders want to do some tuning. A FOX 36 Performance Elite fork finishes off suspension. The drivetrain is a combination of Shimano XT (brakes, shifter, derailleur) and SLX (cassette, cranks). DT Swiss EX511 rims add a bit of beef and are wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai 2.5 / DHR 2.4 tire combination.

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Suspension Charts and Such

During Vital's long-term testing of the Spectral alloy and Spectral CF 29er, we were fans of Canyon's Triple Phase four-bar design. The Spectral is an efficient climber. Getting it into the fun parts makes for a bike that is plenty stable through rough terrain without getting bogged down. For our testers, the Spectral's suspension design delivers a fantastic balance of favorable suspension performance with little, if any downside.

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Geometry

Whether riders select a 27.5-inch or 29-inch model or the unique CLLCTV build, the geometry will all be the same. Carbon Spectral models have a flip chip that will raise the bottom bracket by 8mm and steepen the angles by 0.5-degrees. Canyon is focusing on the lower setting and that is where the Spectral is optimized. To this end, that is why the alloy models (without the flip chip) reflect the low geometry setting.

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First Ride

New bike day is typically met with resounding joy and the discovery that this indeed is the greatest bike ever made. At least, that's how it typically works for mountain bikers. As product testers, new bike day is met with press kits and media embargos. It also happens several times a month. Stack on top of that, that this is not our bike and should be met with discretion, mild abuse, and the understanding that it has to go home after testing is complete. With only two rides aboard the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV we have to say, as reserved as we can be, that we cannot wait to ride this bike more.

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We've made very fast friends with this bike. There are many, many more miles to log in a larger variety of terrain and we are giddy at the prospect. Right out fo the gate, the star component of the Spectral CLLCTV is the FOX DHX rear shock. The Spectral retains all of the delightful pep we loved in the prior model but has an even bolder attitude when hitting bumps. FOX's climb switch makes the DHX incredibly stiff, making the Spectral rocket along with near-hardtail efficiency.

We will call out our complaints right away. First, and this is perhaps more reflective of getting an otherwise well-specced carbon bike for under $5k but the engagement on the DT Swiss 370 rear hub is darn late. Right away, we noticed just how much free motion there is prior to the hub engaging. Our other gripe is larger than Canyon, but we'll keep calling it out. Mountain bikes these days have very low seat tubes. The idea here is to accommodate longer dropper posts to let riders move about the bike. Canyon outfitted our medium test bike with a 150mm dropper when there is ample room for a 170mm post. We'll really lean into this one since the Iridium post on carbon models can be reduced. This means that a riders could get a 170mm and reduce it to 150mm if desired. Case in point - the small and x-small Spectral carbon frames currently come with a 150mm post that can be reduced to 125mm.

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In the fun department, our Spectral seems to have checked "all of the above." Fast, easy to drive, and inspiring over-confidence; the Spectral CLLCTV had us channeling our inner Troy/Jack/Tahnee all the way down the hill. We know it's very early in the testing period but it has been some time since we were this excited to ride a bike. Check back with us closer to spring to see if we've changed our tune.

Until then, get to Canyon.com to learn more about the new Spectral line and grab one while you can.

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View key specs, compare bikes, and rate the Canyon Spectral in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

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