Being the lightest bike in class, the Spectral AL 6.0 EX simply rockets up climbs.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 EX (2017)

Product:

Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 EX (2017) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,346.98
best full suspension mountain bike

Trail Bike of the Year in association with Alpinestars

If you’ve already researched the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 EX online, and you are wondering why the price listed here doesn’t match up with the one on Canyon’s website, it’s because we’ve included the extra £32.99 for postage, and £14.99 for the Bikeguard box that it ships in.

>>> Trail Bike of the Year 2017

Canyon’s direct-sales model means there’s simply no other way to buy this bike, so this is the real price and Canyon is very transparent about the additional costs. Even with the extras, it’s still the cheapest bike in the 27.5in category. Not that you could tell, given the jaw-dropping specification.

Buying a bike sight unseen won’t be for everyone, but by cutting out the middleman your hard eared really goes a long way. DT Swiss M1700 Spline II wheels, RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, Maxxis tyres and Race Face finishing kit all belie the Spectral’s price tag. Not even Commençal can compete with that.

Canyon is more than just a brand built on good value though. It’s also innovative. The sizing on the Spectral is progressive, even though it’s now one of the older designs in the Canyon stable. And, with five sizes to choose from, getting one that fits certainly won’t be an issue. In fact, the only real sign that the Spectral is getting long in the tooth, is that its is the only bike in this category not to have Boost dropout spacing.

Suspension

Canyon’s four-bar suspension design delivers 140mm travel, and just like the longer travel Canyon Strive it pedals like stink and retains a playful poppy ride quality. It’s noticeably less effective at ironing out square edge hits than the Commençal though, and it’s almost as if the bike would benefit from a lighter touch to the damping on the Monarch RT shock.

There’s simply no faulting the 150mm travel RockShox Pike RC suspension fork though, where the Charger damper’s ability to silence trail chatter makes it a superior product to the RockShox Yari RC fond on the Whyte. The extra travel also helps slacken out the head angle, to the point where the Spectral it almost a full degree slacker than the Strive we tested last year.

Components

Tyres can make or break a ride, and Canyon’s choice of rubber manages to do both. Stick to armoured trails and the combination of the grippy Maxxis High Roller II C3 and fast rolling Minion SS are unbeatable. Ride a natural trail after a deluge however, and you’ll struggle for drive and traction while cursing the day the semi-slick rear tyre was born. Drive could also be an issue for more powerful riders as the 30t chain ring will find you way down the cassette if you like going down hill fast. Still, even if you run out of gears there’ll be now issues getting stopped with SRAM Guide disc brakes and massive 200mm rotor up front.

Performance

Being the lightest bike in the 27.5in category, the Spectral AL 6.0 EX simply rockets up climbs. And not just because its carrying less ballast. The DT Swiss hubs spin effortlessly, the semi-slick rear tyre reduces drag and the suspension is steadfast under power. It helps too that the seat angle is steep enough to keep the rider’s weight forward and stop the front wheel from having a mind of its own. It’s the best climbing bike here, providing of course, the simi-slick rear tyre can find traction.

Swapping the Minion SS for our High Roller II control tyre instantly solved that issue, but it also meant that we could be 100 percent sure that the lack of rubber wasn’t the reason the Canyon felt harsher than the Commencal. The riding position isn’t as commanding either, and its largely the result of the 10mm higher BB and steeper head angle on the Canyon.

Given the BB height, it’s strange that Canyon fits shorter 170mm cranks for increased ground clearance. Still, it’s turns out to be a hidden bonus as it means you can fit offset shock hardware to lower and slacken the bike without worrying about clipping pedals. What concerned us more however, was the annoying creak the Canyon developed after a particularly wet, muddy ride. Maybe £14 for that cardboard box was money well spent after all?

Verdict

When Canyon launched the Spectral it was a truly cutting edge bike. It also underscored Canyon’s transition from a value focused sales-direct brand to one that delivers hi-tech bikes with equally impressive build kits. Father time has caught up the Spectral however. Hub standards have changed, geometry has progressed and even though it’s still a good bike, Giant, Commencal and Whyte all have the edge in terms of frame shape. You can’t ride a frame down the trail on its own however, and out the box the specification on the Canyon means it still gives the Giant a run for its money.

Details

Frame:Spectral aluminium, 140mm travel
Shock:RockShox Monarch RT
Fork:RockShox Pike RC, 150mm travel
Wheels:DT Swiss M1700 Spline II wheels, Maxxis High Roller II C3/Minion SS 27.5x2.3in tyres
Drivetrain:Race Face Turbine DM 30t chainset, SRAM GX r mech and shifter
Brakes:SRAM Guide R 200/180mm
Components:Race Face Aeffect 760mm bar and 60mm stem, RockShox Reverb Stealth 125mm, SDG Circuit saddle
Sizes:XS, S, M, L, XL
Size tested:L
Weight:13.14kg (28.97lb)
Head angle:66.1°
Seat angle:71°
BB height:340mm
Chainstay:432mm
Front centre:761mm
Wheelbase:1,193mm
Down tube:706mm
Top tube:610mm
Reach:455mm
Contact:canyon.com
  • Jonathan Leishman

    I’ve added the large volume spacer and after a few months riding i can say its no issue this is the best bike ive ever ridden and ive tried loads trust me buy one now before they all sell out.

  • DOM

    Great reviews! Just a question about the Canyon- does the review suggest that changing the volume spacer on the Fox shock will amend the suspension issue? I’m a small size at 65kg- will the shock issue affect me in the first place at this weight?

  • Daniel Jassé

    Is there a better bike for the money at the mo? I blew far too much money on bikes a couple of years ago, looking for a bargain…

  • David Christe

    Did anyone try the carbon version of the 27.5 spectral with a pike and a cranecreek DBinline (Spectral CF 9.0 for ex)? Is the problem of the rear suspension still present on this model?

  • Shaun

    Hi Danny – thanks very much for the reply.

  • Danny Milner

    As a beginner, you’ll probably be absolutely fine on the Spectral. As you progress and your skills improve, improving the rear suspension is a relatively easy fix for a suspension specialist or good quality shop. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • Kanter Pulock

    Hello,
    I’m looking for an mtb bike under £2000, and I was thinking about Canyon Spectral AL 6.0, but I’m worried about those rear suspension issues that you mentioned in the article. Do you think that it’s still a good choice for a beginner?

  • Danny Milner

    About 5’11”

  • LUX

    Hello
    What is the rider size ?
    Thank you

  • Danny Milner

    Hi Shaun,
    We reckon the largest volume spacer in the shock would probably sort it out. See the ‘performance’ section of the review.

  • Shaun

    Was the problem concerning the “enough support in the rear suspension, and the Spectral feels unbalanced” an inherent problem with the frame design or was the shock not up to the job? I’ve been doing my research before buying one and haven’t heard of this problem in any other reviews…

  • NilsBrun

    Just got a Spectral AL 8.0 – I set the sag with the CTD switch in Descend mode, as the instructions for the shock tell you, and no problems with bottoming out travel or soft ride. The shock comes with custom tune and low friction bushings already fitted. Perfect sizing on the frame, great fit and no problem with the rear end for me. Riding tight technical rocky trails with fast down hill sections in Norway. I’ve been riding MTB for 15 yrs, this is the first bike i owned that isn’t from a big US brand, and loving it. The Canyon guys know what they are doing imho.

  • Jessica

    I just got mine last week and I’ve broke it in over some Welsh trails in Brechfa. I love it, I got a medium size and it’s perfect fit.
    I agree with the comment about weight displacement though, however it wasn’t a big deal for me. I haven’t yet noticed anything I would change, but I need a few more sessions on it.