2018 Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 SL

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Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
First Ride: The All-New 2018 Canyon Spectral
Canyon shows off their redesigned, uniquely kitted 140mm travel trail weapon. See the bike up close and hop aboard as we put it to the test in Madeira, Portugal.
Vital Review
s1600 Canyon Spectral Review 70983

The 140mm trail bike market is a crowded one. Depending on where one looks it could be XC, trail, all-mountain, enduro… you name it. Canyon’s new Spectral doesn’t really seek to check any box in particular – instead, Canyon designed their new trail machine to fulfill the needs of the go anywhere, ride everything mountain biker. No labels, no niche, just get out and have a laugh with your friends and ride whatever comes around.

Part long-legged XC bike and part enduro weapon, the new Spectral has an interesting combination of frame design and component choices that will likely appeal to a wide variety of riders. As a complete package the new Spectral is meant to be playful, nimble, and a blast to ride all day, no doubt a result of Joe Barnes’ desire for a ‘play’ bike when he isn’t out competing in the Enduro World Series. With FOX suspension front and rear, 2.6-inch tires, peculiar bolt holes on the rear chainstay, and a number of creative new features, Canyon has certainly done their homework and produced a unique new bike. All said and done the only thing Canyon seemed to reuse from the original Spectral is the name.

Canyon Spectral Highlights

  • 27.5-inch (650b) wheels
  • 140mm (5.5-inches) rear travel // 150mm (5.9-inch) front travel
  • Three frame material options: Full carbon (CF SLX), carbon front/6066 aluminum rear (CF), full 6066 aluminum (AL)
  • Triple Phase suspension design with Metric shock sizing
  • Ready for FOX Live Valve electronic suspension integration
  • Fully sealed industrial bearings with additional X-ring seals for added protection
  • Impact Protection Unit near headtube
  • Integrated cable management channel and downtube guard
  • Integrated seatpost clamp
  • Press fit bottom bracket
  • 180mm post mount rear brake
  • Boost 148mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Eight models to choose from
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: Starting at 27.3-pounds (12.4kg, claimed)
  • Availability: January 1, 2018

"When developing the new Spectral we took a step back and asked ourselves: What makes a trail bike fun? Taking cues from the unique riding styles of Joe Barnes and the Dudes of Hazzard, we set out to find the right mixture of traction, control, handling and, above all, playfulness." - Canyon Bikes

Improved Suspension Design

Canyon made several modifications to the Horst-link design they utilized on the original Spectral, a bike Vital testers enjoyed thoroughly, all with the goal of improving performance. Suspension cues learned from the Sender DH bike have made their way into the redesign, resulting in shifted pivot placement and a new horizontal shock alignment versus the previous rocker design.

Previous Spectral Design

New Spectral Design

"Not only does it improve the stroke of the shock," Canyon claims, "it has allowed us to increase standover height and use a larger 150mm dropper post for significant gains in rider mobility. Further still, the new linkage significantly decreases stress on the bearings at the pivot points improving longevity."

Canyon used the redesign as an opportunity to increase the bike's anti-squat for improved acceleration, taking care to not go too far and introduce adverse amounts of pedal kickback. Anti-rise was also tweaked, especially at the beginning of the Spectral’s travel, to help keep rear wheel traction under heavy braking.

Canyon calls their design "Triple Phase Suspension," as illustrated by the three shaded portions of the leverage curve shown above. The design isn't unlike many other progressive linkages, providing an active suspension feel up to the sag point during the initial ‘response’ phase to provide traction. The mid-stroke has been labelled as the ‘stability’ phase. The concept there is that the design provides plenty of trail feedback, avoids wallowing, and rewards riders’ efforts while pumping terrain. The ‘ramp’ phase is exactly what you would expect and need from a bike that encourages riders to play: enough progressivity that harsh bottom-outs aren’t a routine occurrence. This final trait in particular can be further adjusted with shock setup.

Small and extra-small bikes get a shorter 210mm shock length (vs 230mm) and specific tune to provide better suspension performance for their lighter weight. The special leverage curve is said to be "even more responsive in the first phase."

A cover on the main pivot and the addition of X-ring seals on the rear pivot bearings help keep things running smoother, longer.

Canyon Creativity

Canyon engineers sought to provide riders with simplicity through creativity. That doesn’t mean that the new Spectral is void of cutting-edge features, rather it means the bike is free of switches or gadgetry.

Canyon seems to have struck an outstanding balance between efficiency and composure, which meant that regardless of the trail the Spectral could rally along. It is truly ‘all-mountain’ with the added bonus of being truly fun.

Build Kits, Pricing & Availability

Canyon's Product Managers deserve credit for offering frames and builds kits to compliment just about any budget. We rode a high-end Spectral CF 9.0 SL, but more affordable builds still offer great suspension, solid rubber, and thoughtfully selected components rather than a smattering of penny-savers. Internationally, Canyon will offer three distinct build kits for the aluminum AL frame, three for the carbon/aluminum CF hybrid, and two for the full carbon SLX frameset. The Spectral will be available for purchase in North America in January 2018.

Spectral AL 6.0

Spectral CF 8.0

Spectral CF 9.0 PRO

View all AL models & specs | View all CF models & specs | View CF SLX models & specs

US Models & Pricing

  • Spectral AL 6.0 - $2,499 USD
  • Spectral CF 8.0 - $3,499
  • Spectral CF 9.0 PRO - $4,499
  • Spectral CF 9.0 SL - $5,999 (Tested)
  • Spectral CF 9.0 LTD - $6,999

While riding the new Spectral we couldn’t help but wonder how the bike would perform with a more aggressive build. Performance would no doubt improve with more time for setup and tuning, but things would really kick up a notch with a burlier fork and more robust tires.

What’s The Bottom Line?

For us, the Spectral was a great reminder to enjoy every second while riding. With trail bikes becoming ever more capable, the Spectral only adds to the quiver-of-one argument for typically self-propelled riders who might also shuttle or ride a chairlift should the opportunity arise. Some of our most memorable rides are the ones where you literally have no clue what’s around the next corner but have the confidence to hit just about anything – the Spectral allowed us to do exactly that in Madeira. Simply put: the Spectral is a well-rounded, capable, thoughtful, and most importantly fun bike. Canyon has been looking to make a more significant impact in North American markets and the Spectral could be just the ticket.

Visit www.canyon.com for more details.

Vital MTB First Ride Rating

  • Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

  • Descending: 4 stars - Excellent

  • Fun Factor: 5 stars - Spectacular

  • Value: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

  • Overall Impression: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

About The Reviewer

Joel Harwood – Age: 34 // Years Riding MTB: 20+ // Height: 5’10” (1.78m) // Weight: 185-pounds (83.9kg)

Joel’s unique coaching background and willingness to tinker with products bring an objective perspective to testing. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest simply exploring the limitless trail networks surrounding his home of Squamish, BC. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products while exposing any shortcomings.

Photos by Boris Beyer / Canyon Bikes


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Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 SL
Model Year
Riding Type
Enduro / All-Mountain
Sizes and Geometry
Wheel Size
27.5" (650b)
Frame Material
Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details
Full carbon fiber, uni-directional carbon
Rear Travel
Rear Shock
FOX Float DPS Factory EVOL, 230mm length (size M and larger), 210mm length (size S)
FOX 34 Factory
Fork Travel
Head Tube Diameter
Renthal Fatbar Lite 35 Carbon
Renthal Apex, 40mm length
Ergon Lock-On
Brake Levers
SRAM X01 Eagle Trigger, 12-speed
Front Derailleur
Rear Derailleur
SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
SRAM X01 Eagle Carbon
32 tooth
Bottom Bracket
Press Fit
SRAM X01 Eagle
DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline wheels, 30mm width
DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline wheels
DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline wheels
Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5"x2.6 front, Maxxis Rekon+ 27.5"x2.6" rear
Ergon SME30
RockShox Reverb Stealth B1, 150mm travel (size M and larger), 125mm (size S)
Seatpost Diameter
Seatpost Clamp
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
Boost 148x12mm
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts
Canyon Sideloader (size M and larger), Canyon Eject System (size S)
6 years
27 lb 8.9 oz (12,500 g)
Updated linkage adjusts placement of pivot points and sets shock in a horizontal position
Size S bike uses shorter shock
Cable channel for internal routing
Fully-sealed industrial bearings with X-ring seals at the pivots
Impact Protection Unit (IPU) protects top tube from damage from handlebars
Sideloader water bottle cage (size M frames and up)
Eject System carries two 400ml bottles attached to either side of the frame (size S frames)
Optional Frame Case in front triangle for on-frame storage
More Info
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.

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