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