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2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike

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Canyon Spectral 29 CF8, Stealth Black
2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike 2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike 2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike 2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike 2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike
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2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF8 Long-Term Review

Breathing New Life Into Canyon's MTB Line Up

Rating: Vital Review
2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF8 Long-Term Review

Long-term review published March 5, 2021

Is the Canyon Spectral 29 a trail bike? At first glance, the 64.5-degree head angle and 1251mm wheelbase on the size large were definitely on the upper end of what would be considered a trail bike. My first ride on the bike further supported the feeling that the Spectral is capable, but maybe not quite suited for a category that encompasses smoother, flatter trails. Since that first ride, I was able to explore many different bike setup configurations and a variety of terrain to get a better idea of how this German workhorse handles. Before getting into the build quality and ride impressions, let’s talk about the biggest point of contention I had with this bike: sizing.

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The first and arguably most important aspect to consider before buying a bike is determining what size best suits you as a rider. To be fully transparent, I didn’t put much thought into what size Spectral to ride. At 5’11” or 180cm, I have typically been comfortable on large size frames. I took a quick glance at the geometry chart and thought the 485mm reach was long for a trail bike but not particularly abnormal by today’s standards. So, I reflexively opted for the large Spectral. Looking at Canyon's size chart, they recommend rider height for a large is 183-192cm. In the end, I am glad that I made that decision to size up, but maybe not for obvious reasons. Canyon has a "find your size" function on each bike's web page, but not all body-types seem to line up with their parameters. Trying a random size like 175cm (5'9") height with a 73cm (29") inseam delivered the message you can see below. If you really want to use their recommendations, you may need to adjust your body's measurements to better match their configuration system.

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I had the advantage of riding two different Spectrals to help me solidify my sizing decision. Local rider and Canyon Pro, Braydon Bringhurst, was kind enough to let me to get some time on his personal size medium Spectral to compare the two sizes. I found on my first ride review that the large felt big and somewhat unmanageable in certain situations, but comfortable overall. That same day I hopped on Braydon’s bike and found the medium frame had potential to feel the way I wanted a trail bike to feel. After my first ride impressions, I spent a few weeks adjusting the fit on both large and medium bikes to better evaluate their performance and differences.

Suspension tuning aside, I made a few adjustments to the cockpit. Both bikes had handlebars cut to 770mm. I opted to swap the stock 40mm stem for 50mm on the medium to give myself a bit more breathing room for seated climbing. After those adjustments, both bikes felt similar to one another while seated with the medium putting me a slightly more upright position. Overall, there weren’t any huge surprises regarding fit which I address in the Ride Impressions below.

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Seat Tube Length and Dropper Spec

There were plenty of comments on the first ride review (which can be seen below this article) regarding the seat tube length, and I’m not totally sure that I would agree with all of them. Even though I sized up to a large, there was plenty of room between the frame and the seat post collar with Canyon’s Iridium 170mm dropper post. On the medium, I had a huge amount of room to play with. Of course, this is all my own personal assessment based on my own body dimensions. An individual with a longer torso and shorter legs than me may find the frame’s seat tube length limiting. Aside from differing seat tube lengths, the size-specific dropper post spec can also be a point of contention.

Most companies offer different length dropper posts across available frame sizes. The Spectral 29 presents significant differences with two dropper posts in relation to their respective ‘drop’ on each size. The premium CF9 model is equipped with a OneUp dropper post running 150mm drop in size small and 180mm for sizes medium on up to XL. The models spec’d with Canyon’s Iridium dropper post are listed at 150mm drop in sizes small and medium, and just 170mm on the large and XL frames. The OneUp probably has the advantage of a shorter stack height in comparison to the Iridium dropper, providing more room for the rider to adjust the post vertically before the bottom of the dropper contacts the frame. The Iridium post also has less available travel in relation to its stack height. In this case, the models spec’d with the Iridium posts forced the designers to either lower the seat tube or spec a lower-cost post with less travel. They chose the latter.

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It’s worth pointing out that Canyon supplies a saddle height range for each frame size on their website. If you think you may be on the cusp regarding available extension you can measure your current bike and compare it to the measurements provided.

Personally, I am not a proponent for trying to fit the longest dropper possible. I find that excessive drop can result in instability. However, the 150mm drop found on the medium is a bit shorter than I would prefer. The only way to get my preferred drop on the size medium Spectral would involve either getting a different post or opting for the premium CF9 model at $5,699.

OneUp Dropper found on $5,699 Spectral 29 CF9 model.

The OneUp dropper post is highly regarded, aesthetically pleasing and reasonably priced. And it’s adjustable. The post can be shimmed down by 10-20mm from full extension which gives the bike another dimension of adjustability and refinement. Considering the constraints of the Iridium post, I must conclude that the designers should have opted for a shorter seat tube in exchange for a 170mm dropper post. I had to dig way too deep on the Canyon website to figure out the differences between these models and sizes, but using the Vital MTB product guide compare function, I was able to see them side-by-side for an easy glance at spec.

See the Spectral CF9 and CF8 compared

American vs. International Buyers and Possible Confusion

Potential buyers will be funneled to the respective websites in relation to their country of origin. However, there still may be some differences between the American and European models that can cause confusion.

First, the ‘x-ray’ green build kit I rode for this test is not available here in the U.S. Instead, the Shimano XT build kit shown in this review is limited to the ‘exhaust black’ color in America.

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Second, the European Rockshox spec’d builds (CF9 and CF7) have 150mm Pike forks and inline Deluxe shocks. The website does a pretty good job listing the difference in suspension travel, but the geometry chart has the same values across the board for the two different fork lengths. I would have hoped that the geometry chart would be adjusted to show the difference between the two suspension lengths (150mm and 160mm). I would have also liked the geometry chart to denote the changes of the geometry between both ‘high’ and ‘low’ setting.

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Build Quality and Maintenance

There have been comments floating around stating that the chainstays on the 27.5 model are prone to breaking. I have seen multiple carbon models of that bike fall from the stratosphere and come out unscathed. My personal assessment is that the fear is flawed by a low sample size, but regardless, I was surprised to hear there were some frames that have had issues. The Spectral 29, on the other hand, has significantly larger chain stays than its smaller-wheeled sibling. Not only are the chain stays larger, but they are one-piece construction. That bridge connecting the non-drive and drive side portions provides a stiffer, more robust structure.

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Unfortunately, I was hoping to see size specific chain stays included with this bike but the same size is found on all frame sizes. It may be splitting hairs, but getting the proper fore-aft balance is only going to be achieved if the chain stays grow in conjunction with the front of the bike.

Overall, the frame looks more refined than previous models. Internally tubed routing and smooth lines make the Spectral 29 an attractive bike. And as a mechanic, looking more closely there are a few things that I really love.

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The pivot bearings are double-sealed. Canyon should make a bigger deal out of this as it lowers maintenance costs and increases the reliability of the bike. The addition of the second seal on each pivot should, theoretically, reduce the replacement interval of the pivots. I did not have an entire season on the bike to adequately determine the effectiveness, but it makes complete sense. I would love to see this small addition added to more frames.

Second, there are replaceable threaded inserts on most of the pivots, excluding the main linkage bolts. I haven’t seen many bolts shear, but it has happened. I am especially stoked to see that the shock bolt threads are replaceable as steel shock bolts can cause serious harm to softer materials.

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Third, there is a bolt near the headtube that allows the rider to add a storage strap (sold separately). The strap has a smaller capacity than something like the SWAT storage seen on Specialized bikes, but the ability to add a few things to the frame in lieu of on my back is always welcomed.

Fourth, the frame uses a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH). A customer-direct company like Canyon is wise to use an easily sourced hanger. With hundreds of different standards for derailleur hangers these days, this is a step in the right direction.

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The headtube bearing top cap and spacers continued the very sleek aesthetic of the Spectral frame. However, considering all the effort that Canyon put into the aesthetics I would have expected additional adjustment available such as headtube angle and/or reach adjustment, considering the full 1.5 headtube. While such a feature comes with added complexity and/or risk of creaking, with all that is going on in our sport, there was a missed opportunity to add additional adjustability to the Spectral platform from the outset.

Speaking of creaks, Canyon has also traded the Pressfit bottom bracket found on the 27.5 model for a standard 73mm threaded interface. Nice!

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Overall, there weren’t any surprises regarding build quality. The paint was durable and the bike cleaned up nicely after a solid few weeks of hard riding in wet and dry conditions.

As noted in our first ride review, full-size water bottles just barely squeak into a large frame and won't fit in a medium or small. Each Spectral comes with Canyon's 600ml bottle, however.

Component Specification

The Shimano XT component group does everything that it’s instructed to with ease. I also appreciate the fact that the XT build almost comes with entirely XT components. Sadly, both the SRAM and Shimano builds come with downgraded chains. It’s sneaky, but a downgraded chain is much less annoying than when a bike comes with multiple major components (cassette, shifter, etc.) that are a downgraded variant than what the manufacturer claims.

The XT 4-piston brakes were a standout performer. At first, there were some dreaded ‘wandering bite point’ moments. A ‘wandering bite point’ is where the pads engage the rotor at different lever throw positions from one squeeze to another. After a few bleeds and slightly overfilling the calipers, I was able to get the levers to feel how I prefer without the vague lever point of contact.

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If you're looking at the $3,699 Spectral 29 CF 7, the brakes should be considered as it comes spec’d with SRAM G2 brakes. I am going to harp on this choice for capable trail bikes. There is nothing wrong with their feel or weight, but they are not powerful enough for most trail bikes. I loved them on the Kona Hei Hei I reviewed, but a 150mm 29er trail bike with a 64.5 head angle demands a powerful brake for controlled speed management. The SRAM G2 is not that brake.

The DT Swiss XM1700 wheels were both comfortable and durable during testing. These wheels are not particularly flashy but their reliability and feel were enjoyable.

The Canyon G5 cockpit was comfortable and I really enjoyed their choice of 31.8mm bars instead of 35mm diameter. I have found it fairly difficult to get a 35mm bore bar that has adequate compliance. Additionally, the use of a more standard stem interface is a nice change from their original G5 stem.

Suspension / Kinematics

Canyon is using what they call “triple phase” suspension. The idea behind this layout is to optimize each third of the suspension. They use these three terms: “supple, supportive, and progressive.” So, the leverage ratio (as seen below) starts with a steep negative slope, which offers a supple feel at the top of the shock stroke. Further into the stroke the leverage curve levels off, offering a more linear, supportive feel. Then, at the end of the travel, the curve almost completely levels off. This reduction in progression at the end accounts for an air shock’s inherent progression allowing full travel.

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As you can see from the provided graphs, the model year 2021 Spectral has actually increased progression over the previous generation. Canyon also reduced the digressive curve present at the end of the stroke. This reduction will make it a bit harder to reach full travel, but makes setting up the suspension a bit more predictable. Fortunately, the design was exceptionally well executed. I was happy at 30% sag with the stock volume spacer in the Fox Float DPX2 shock. For casual riders, it may be useful to add a smaller volume reducer for full travel and to keep the bike from feeling too harsh. Personally, I loved the support and progressiveness throughout the stroke. This leverage curve is optimal for an air shock, but Canyon says that a coil shock will work on the Spectral, too.

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Canyon also made a point of reducing pedal kickback deeper in the stroke. I am not particularly sure why they are advertising this, as it is irrelevant in real world situations. Descending at any reasonable speed would eliminate pedal kickback’s influence, unless the rider is locking up the rear wheel through deep compressions. Don’t do that. This reduction of pedal kickback deep in the stroke would only really help if the rider were pedaling at slow speeds and sending the shock deep into its travel. I did notice a bit of pedal kickback at sag during pedaling, but, overall, the sensation of kickback wasn’t pronounced enough for me to care.

Last but not least, the anti-squat has been increased at sag. The lower (climbing) gears have an anti-squat at about 100%. This value is fairly common among trail bikes.

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Spectral 29 Setup Variations

I flipped the ‘low’ and ‘high’ chip at the shock, and also had the luxury of trying the Spectral with both 150 and 160mm of travel up. The 150mm option speeds up the handling and makes the bike feel snappier and more playful. The flip switch in the ‘high’ position further sharpens things up. Again, these options are personal preference. I would highly suggest exploring the feel of either position to get an idea of what you like, except for one caveat discussed in the next section. Personally, I did not feel like I could drop the fork travel while riding the large. Instead, I felt like I could add travel to pull the weight bias further back to balance it out. While that would only drive the bike’s intention further away from an all-round trail bike, the option is there.

Stack Height in Between Sizes

If you are not on the cusp between sizes, then this section may not apply to you. However, it is something that I think is worth mentioning as bikes continue to evolve. Size is determined by two measurements: reach (x-axis) and stack height (y-axis). The hypotenuse connecting these two axes results in the bike’s ‘effective size.’ As reach becomes longer, the stack height must shorten to retain the bikes effective size.

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I expect my trail bike to be both lively and poppy. The thing is, the medium Spectral I rode was slightly different than stock. I really enjoyed it with 150mm travel in the front, but that was with 30mm of spacers below the stem. Those spacers raise the stack height resulting in an adequate ‘effective size.’ This would be less of an issue at 160mm fork travel because that would put my bars higher. I make this point because there is only 20mm of stem-spacer-height adjustment available with the stock build we received.

If I purchased this bike myself, then I would be limited to riding 160mm in the front. I would be stuck with 160mm, unless I replaced the bar with one that had more rise than stock or bought a new fork or CSU with longer steer tube. Again, this is all based on my own preferences and dimensions, but it is not completely out of left field. Canyon's own enduro superstar Jack Moir has 35mm of spacers below his stem on his Canyon Strive.

I will admit that a tower of spacers looks pretty silly, especially above the stem. But, on the other hand, I don’t like being limited. I love the direction geometry is heading, but I do not want it to confined at the expense of available options because a steer tube is cut short.

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Lack of Information

Doing general bike maintenance requires a certain knowledge base. I know how to work on suspension, but when I went searching for the frame schematics on the Canyon website, I was out of luck. I would have hoped that a direct-to-customer brand would have an easily accessible and intuitive series of demonstrations on how to service their bikes. Instead, I was shocked that there isn’t an exploded diagram of the 2021 Spectral 29 available yet. A diagram should be the bare minimum. As of right now, to replace the bearings I would physically have to disassemble at least half of the frame to get the bearing sizes. In comparison, Santa Cruz, a company that requires distribution through bike shops, has a link to maintenance guides (PDF and video) located neatly on the front page of their website.

The Canyon website excels in many aspects, but I expect a company that relies so little on bike shops to have far more technical and maintenance documents available to their customers.

Ride Impressions, Size Medium and Size Large

Trail bike:

A bike that is enjoyable to ride on the vast majority of trails. Versatile.

“Planning riding trips has become way easier now that I have my trusty trail bike!”

A bike that is not only playful on the descents, but also spunky on climbs.

“Wow, that climb was way more fun than I was expecting it to be thanks to my trail bike!”

This is my working definition of a trail bike. It does not include any specific geometry stats or travel requirements but simply applies to how the bike rides on the trail. At a height of 180cm, I decided that the medium Spectral is how I would like my trail bike to feel. After setting it up, I was pleasantly surprised with how quick and agile the bike felt. The triple-phase suspension pedaled with ease, popped whenever needed and tracked without excessive feedback through chunk. This is one of the most fun bikes I have had the pleasure of riding. There wasn’t a sheltered, protected sensation but rather a feeling of total control. Every input that I administered translated to the trail. That may have been the outcome of sublimely executed suspension, the stiff frame, or a low center of gravity. Regardless, I enjoyed it immensely.

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The large frame Spectral was also a joy to ride. As you might imagine, the experience was quite different than the medium size. On the large, I felt more as if I were a passenger. Steeper terrain was handled with ease but with less finesse required. Pumping the longer bike was also noticeably harder. I raised the stock 30mm rise bars to make it easier to stay back and also aid lifting the front end. Now, I know that a longer bike requires more force to be applied to the front end to balance out the weight distribution. But, the difference should not be a massive shift from a more conservative bike of yesteryear. Still, I found the front end of the larger size to be noticeably ‘heavier’ than I would like. As in, I didn’t have enough leverage to lift the front end quickly with the bars low on the stack. I could have gone with a longer fork (170mm) to further shorten the reach and make the front-end feel ‘lighter.’ It’s not a deal breaker. There was one instance where I shot off line down a slab in St. George that should have led to a spectacular crash. But luckily, this bike just trundled on through like it was no big deal. There is no question - these attributes offer a very planted, fast and stable ride.

I wouldn’t tell someone to write off the concept of ‘sizing up.’ If your local trails are incredibly steep and chunky and you are on the cusp between sizes, then the larger frame will provide more confidence. I actually found the seated position to be super comfortable in the larger size and the suspension was supportive enough that I never felt like I couldn’t get around a tight corner or make a quick line change.

I had no reservations with this bike on descents. The only thing keeping myself from going faster were my skill limitations. The Spectral 29 exudes precision and cajoles the rider to dance. That lively nature is both fun and what keeps this bike firmly planted in the ‘trail bike category.’

Climbing the bike on both mellow and steep, technical terrain was very enjoyable. In fact, it was on the climbs that this bike distinguishes itself as more of an all-round trail bike. I didn’t necessarily want to hammer, but it was comfortable enough for multi-hour excursions. In the best way possible, I just forgot about the Spectral on the climbs. The 29er just rolled along efficiently and provided ample support. The bike hid its travel well and accelerated with confidence.

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What's the Bottom Line?

The Canyon Spectral was intended to deliver as a trail bike. The component choices and frame engineering provide a great ride in forested mountains, sandy foothills and rocky desert gorges. Whether you are an experienced rider or just getting started, this bike will carry you on your adventures with control and ease. The price is a highlight, especially if you're not weary of working with an online retailer. I was definitely sad to give this one back at the end of my testing!

If you have additional questions, just leave them in the comments below.


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CANYON SPECTRAL 29 First Ride

Published on December 1, 2020

Vital MTBers, look at what Santa Claus dropped off 25 days ahead of schedule. This is Canyon’s new Spectral 29 trail bike. Our $4,699 CF 8 model literally showed up 3 days ago! If you’re a mountain biker who pays attention to new bike releases, you’re probably thinking of how it compares to the new Stumpjumper EVO since the color scheme and general intention are pretty darn similar. Well, you’re not alone, we did the same thing! Regardless, we’re going to break down the Spectral 29’s geometry and spec, as well as how it differs from the Spectral of old. We also get a first-ride impression from our tester, Greg Montgomery, who, like many of us, wonders if a 150/160mm travel 29er with 64-degree head angle should be considered a “trail bike”.

Video Contents

  • 0:00 - Intro
  • 1:27 - Direct-to-Consumer Bike Buying
  • 2:19 - Buying a bike online from Canyon
  • 2:43 - 2018 Canyon Spectral AL 27.5 and Strive
  • 3:22 - Spectral 29 Bike Highlights
  • 4:19 - Spectral 29 Bike Models
  • 5:46 - Spectral 29 Weights and Details
  • 6:10 - Spectral 29 Geometry
  • 7:10 - Spectral Frame Features
  • 7:35 - Potential Water Bottle Issues
  • 8:17 - Canyon G5 Stem, Headset Spacers and Headtube
  • 9:22 - Fork, Shock, Seatpost, Chainring
  • 9:56 - Suspension Graphs
  • 10:17 - RIDE REPORT
  • 14:21 - Outro

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Canyon Spectral 29 CF Highlights

  • New, full-carbon frame
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 150mm rear travel, 160mm front on all U.S. models (European markets have 150mm front travel build options)
  • Adjustable geometry with 64-degree head angle in lo setting
  • S, M, L, XL sizes
  • Increased reach lengths across the board (485mm on size L tested)
  • Guided internal cable routing
  • Replaceable threaded frame inserts
  • 165mm crank length on Small, 170mm length on M-XL
  • Medium frame claimed weight, 2598g
  • Complete Bike Weight - 31 pounds, 14 ounces (Size L CF8 model tested w/o pedals)
  • Price - $4,699

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Strengths

  • Price
  • Geometry updates
  • Stability at speed
  • Climbing efficiency
  • Adjustable geometry

Weaknesses

  • Water bottle limits
  • Frame-specific headset details

Direct-to-Consumer Bike Buying

Before we jump in, Canyon is a direct-to-consumer bike brand. That means you go to canyon.com, buy the bike you want, and they ship it to your door, with no local bike shop involved. The bike will arrive in a box, mostly assembled. They include the tools you’ll need to finish the build and setup at home so you can get on the trail. A benefit of this model is that bike prices are lower than with a brand like Specialized or Trek or Santa Cruz that has a bike shop network. Potential downsides are that you’re on your own with assembly and maintenance (probably not a huge deal for anyone actually considering the Spectral 29) and that if there are warranty or parts issues, you deal directly with Canyon instead of a local shop. That could mean delays or shipping issues if your bike goes down.

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Let it be clear that since Vital MTB is not a customer of Canyon, we’re not going to speak about the customer service experience of buying directly Canyon. Canyon has their system and policies in place, and their success is dependent on the happiness of a customer. You can cruise the internet to see how others have fared when buying a bike from Canyon and decide if the savings on price are worth it in the long run.

Canyon Trail Bike History

Three years ago, we fell in love with the $2,399 Spectral AL. The value and performance of the 27.5 machine was tops. The geometry, spec and on-trail experience hit all the marks. The carbon versions promised the same value and performance, too. With 2021 on the horizon, the Spectral remained unchanged. Longer bikes, slacker bikes and “modern” geometry has taken over, and on paper, the Spectral felt dated. Combine that with lack-luster internet-commenter approval of the 29er Canyon Strive with its 66-degree head angle (we thought it was a great bike, BTW), and Canyon’s trail bike line had an air of less-than-progressive offerings.

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Fast-Forward to a couple days ago and we learned that the new Spectral 29 takes care of the interneters with modern angles and layout. Travel remains at 150mm out back and uses their Triple Phase suspension design, a Horst layout they claim is supple through chattery sections, supportive mid-stroke, and progressive toward the end for big hits. Sadly, 27.5 does not get updates we see on this 29er, and alloy options are nowhere to be found. The existing Spectral will remain available in 27.5, however. We all know some of you will try, but Canyon says this new Spectral is NOT a mullet-ready bike, citing they’re not anti-mullet because their new Sender DH bike can run mixed wheel size. You can run a coil shock if you dare, but it’s optimized for progressive air shocks.

Canyon rider, Braydon Bringhurst, on his custom-setup Spectral 29.

Canyon Spectral 29 Models

The United States will get 3 carbon options of the Spectral 29, all using 160mm forks and having a different spec than some of the European offerings. The CF 7 at just $3,699 uses a 160mm-travel RockShox Lyrik fork, Super Deluxe shock and SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain (Euro models get 150mm Pike fork and Select + shock). The Spectral CF 8 29 we testd bumps up a grand at $4,699, and has a 160mm travel FOX 36 fork and DPX2 shock, runs Shimano XT kit and only comes in black for the U.S. (even though Canyon sent us the X-Ray green option). Things between Europe and the U.S continue to differ as the US version of the Spectral 9 for $5,699 has SRAM X01 Eagle goods with the FOX suspension package and 160mm fork. The Euro version of the CF 9 has the RockShox suspension kit with 150mm fork, but, only Europe gets the addition of a Spectral 9 LTD model with FOX goods and Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes for 5,999 EU.

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Spectral 29 Frame Details and Geometry

The frame is completely new with carbon front and rear ends, and Canyon claims this 29-inch frame is lighter and stiffer than the than the 27.5, with a medium at 2598 grams (5.72 pounds). Not bad considering it’s a longer, bigger bike overall. Our Spectral CF 8 test bike weighs 31 pounds, 14 ounces w/o pedals.

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Aside from wheel size, the geometry is the obvious, visual big deal with this update. Reach figures grow substantially across the board. The new medium is 460mm compared to 440mm, and our large reach is 485mm compared to 460mm on the 27.5. In the lo setting with a 160mm fork, head angle is 64 degrees compared to 66. Put in hi with a 150mm fork there's 65-degree head angle. Seat tube lengths get chopped a bit offering shorter riders an option to go longer without a seat up their butt, and seat angles are now between 76 and 77 degrees depending on flip chip setting and fork travel. Chainstays are a semi-playful 437mm. On paper, the geo looks solid and should keep most interneters at bay for now.

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Features of the frame that are intriguing but easily missed have to do with its refinement. World Cup mechanics had input with maintenance features. All frame bolts are accessible when the frame is extended and every bolt is tightened from the non-drive side. Replaceable thread inserts on important frame interfaces avoid permanent frame damage in the event of a cross-thread or ham-fisting incident.

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The bottom bracket is 73mm threaded and there’s an integrated upper chain guide. An after-market ISCG mount is available if for riders really need ing that level of protection. Max rear tire width is 2.5-inch. Interestingly enough, crank length is 165mm on size small only going to 170mm on Medium thru XL. Canyon says this will keep cadence up on steeper climbs and obviously reduces pedal strikes.

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The included 600ml water bottle fits fine, but a "normal" water bottle was just barely touching our FOX DPX2 shock on our size large. It seems unlikely the bottle would fit in a medium or small frame.

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The stem is the right length at 40mm, but it’s always one of the odd-ball things we find on Canyons. Their G5, house-brand stem is definitely “different”. This new one is a little more straight-forward, easier to use than the previous version, but retains that "unique" look. It clamps to a Canyon G5 cockpit with 780mm bars. They did away with their knock-block-type thing which is a thumbs up from us, but the upper headset seal is frame-specific and when the bars are turned, the seal hangs off a bit. This has to do with the non-tapered head tube. When we asked an industry insider why Canyon wouldn't use a tapered head tube, they indicated it could be a nod to internally routed cables through handlebars and stems in the future - all speculation, of course. The funky upper headset seal cap isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but we wonder if it could invite contaminants in harsher riding climates or slice a knee if going OTB with the bars turned. Cable routing is now fully internal and guided, doing away with their clean and clever "semi internal" system on the 27.5 Spectral.

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Fork offsets are 44mm across the board and shock size is 230 x 60. 30.9mm diameter dropper posts vary across models from a Canyon Iridium on the CF 7 and 8 to a ONEUP V2 on the CF 9 models. Small and medium bikes get 150mm drop while Large and XL get 170mm drops. 32t chainrings come stock and are recommended, but 30t or 34t rings can work for spinners and mashers.

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Canyon Spectral 29 Suspension

Canyon describes the updated suspension design on the Spectral 29 as having a bit more progression than before with increased anti-squat near sag and initial travel. This should mean hits at speed are handled well while pedaling efficiency is increased. Anti-squat numbers drop as the suspension cycles deeper with the goal of reducing pedal kickback through big hits.

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On the Trail - A Frozen First Ride Review

How do Canyon’s geometry layouts and kinematic tweaks transfer to the trail? With this tight deadline, we’re not saying anything definitive just yet. Our tester, Greg Montgomery, did spend a couple frosty hours aboard the Spectral on a fast, rough moto trail that he’s very familiar with to give us some initial reporting. He was joined by Canyon rider, Braydon Bringhurst, who is riding a medium Spectral 29 with his own custom build. Aside from a quick setting of sag and cockpit controls, Greg's bike setup was minimal with the brand-new bike. Despite the crude introduction, the Spectral 29 accepted the challenge.

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Exceptional climbing was delivered as promised with the anti-squat characteristics providing efficient power transfer to the pedals. The climbs up to Trail 4 are steep, and even with snow making them more challenging, the Spectral 29 made due. The descents to follow are high-speed and full of moto-whoops that can swallow a mountain bike whole. The long, slack layout proved stable through snow-covered ruts and big hits, and Greg says the bike "loves straight-line speed" remaining composed while holding line choices. Often a rowdy, sketchy ride, the trail was turned into a "casual stroll" on the Spectral. Words like "safer" were tossed around about the bike after the ride.

At 5'11", Greg felt that the large Spectral 29 is long. He spent a little time on Braydon's medium, finding it descend well, but too cramped on the climb. The large is where he believes he should be, but there's some fine-tuning of setup and ride positioning to be done as he felt too over the front of the bike on this first ride. And while straight-line speed is great, not every trail is a Mach 10 smash fest. Some time on tighter, more technical trails is necessary to reveal how diverse the new Spectral 29 is given its length and head tube angle.

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What's the Bottom Line?

While it's too early to provide a star rating just yet, on paper and on the wallet, the new Canyon Spectral 29 looks like a very solid, modern offering from a major direct-to-consumer cycling brand. Geometry stacks up against any modern bike and even though it may feel long and aggressive as a "trail bike", it climbs well and remains maneuverable. We can turn a blind eye to the stem and its spacers and feel less-than-stoked about the water bottle situation. The initial ride reports are promising, however, and USA buyers should keep an eye on that CF 7 with Lyrik and Super Deluxe for just $3,699. We’ll spend some time putting our CF 8 through the wringer and will report back with our findings.

The Spectral 29 can be purchased directly at canyon.com.

2021 Stumpjumper EVO Expert compared with 2021 Canyon Spectral 29 CF8

Specifications

Product Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 Bike
Model Year 2021
Riding Type Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 582 609 636 663
Head Tube Angle 64° Lo, 64.5° Hi 64° Lo, 64.5° Hi 64° Lo, 64.5° Hi 64° Lo, 64.5° Hi
Head Tube Length 95 105 115 125
Seat Tube Angle 76° Lo, 76.5° Hi 76° Lo, 76.5° Hi 76° Lo, 76.5° Hi 76° Lo, 76.5° Hi
Seat Tube Length 395 430 460 490
Bottom Bracket Height 28 Lo, 36 Hi offset 28 Lo, 36 Hi offset 28 Lo, 36 Hi offset 28 Lo, 36 Hi offset
Chainstay Length 437 437 437 437
Wheelbase 1195 1224 1253 1283
Standover
Reach 435 460 485 510
Stack 610 619 628 637
* Additional Info Measurements are in mm unless otherwise noted
Lo and Hi adjustable geometry positions via a flip-chip on the rear suspension linkage
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details Canyon CF-grade carbon, replaceable threaded inserts, guided internal cable routing
Rear Travel 150mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPX2 Performance Elite, 230x60mm, 3-position adjustment
Fork FOX FLOAT 36 Performance Elite, GRIP2 damper, 15x110mm, 44mm offset
Fork Travel 160mm
Head Tube Diameter Straight
Headset
Handlebar Canyon G5, 760mm width (size S), 780mm width (sizes M-XL), 30mm rise
Stem Canyon G5, 40mm length
Grips Canyon G5, lock-on
Brakes Shimano Deore XT M8120, 4-piston, with 203mm front / 180mm rear Shimano RT86 rotors
Brake Levers Shimano Deore XT M8120
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters Shimano Deore XT, 12-speed
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT M8100, 12-speed
ISCG Tabs ISCG 05 (removable)
Chainguide Canyon integrated upper guide
Cranks Shimano XT, 165mm length (size S), 170mm length (size M-XL)
Chainrings 32 tooth
Bottom Bracket Shimano MT800, HOLLOWTECH II threaded
Pedals N/A
Chain Shimano XT M8100
Cassette Shimano Deore XTR, 10-51 tooth
Rims DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset, 30mm width
Hubs DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset, Ratchet-drive
Spokes DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5"
Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4"
Saddle Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp
Seatpost Canyon Iridium dropper, S/M 150mm travel - L/XL 170mm travel
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Standard single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12x148mm Boost, Canyon Quixle tool-less through axle
Max. Tire Size 29"x2.5"
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors USA: Stealth Black only
Europe: Stealth Black or X-Ray Green
Warranty 6-year limited
Weight 31 lb 13.4 oz (14,440 g)
Miscellaneous
  • Replaceable thread inserts eliminate the risk of over-tightening bolts and damaging your frame
  • Adjustable geometry via a flip-chip on the rear suspension linkage
  • Triple Phase Suspension design
  • SRAM UDH derailleur hanger
  • Price $4,699
    More Info

    www.canyon.com

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