Spectral is a mullet trail bike, a 29er through and through, or even a diddy 27.5in front and rear jib machine

Canyon has a new Spectral out, and it comes with this season’s must have wheel-size setup, the mullet. That’s 29in up front for pure speed, and 27.5in at the back so you can turn like a Catherine wheel and send it like a rocket. (Hey, it’s nearly bonfire night, ok)

But the new Spectral also comes with 29in wheels both front and rear, if efficiency and speed are your thing and you want what’s arguably the best wheel-size for a trail bike.

And amazing though it sounds in 2021, the Spectral also comes with 27.5in front and rear, for riders who want the fun and flickability of smaller wheels and are prepared to sacrifice that little bit of speed to get it. It was our best trail bike in 2018; will these revisions be enough for the Spectral to reclaim its crown? Our latest Trail Bike of the Year test is coming very soon, when all will be revealed.

Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is firmly tilted towards descending, it comes as a mullet only bike and with a coil shock

Need to know

  • Spectral comes in all wheel sizes – 29in front and rear, mullet, or 27.5in 
  • New alloy frame option to complement carbon, independently-designed to celebrate the material
  • No alloy frame flip chip, instead it’s fixed in low setting with a steeper seat tube
  • Eight models, all with 150mm travel and 160mm fork (baring a new kids’ bike)
  • Prices start from £2,449 for the Spectral 5, up to £6,499 for new CFR bike 
  • Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV comes mullet only, with Fox DHX coil shock

Yes, the take home message is that the Spectral now has all the wheels. That’s eight different models in total, almost all with 150mm travel and a 160mm fork, the exception being a cool new kid’s bike with slightly less travel.

Spectral Young Hero kid’s bike comes with 27.5in wheels and 140mm travel

Why the wheel-size smorgasbord though? The direct-sales brand has taken a zen-like approach to it all. Canyon says no one setup is superior to another, there are riders out there who want different things from their bikes – traction, speed, jibbability (new word there), agility, confidence, and so on – and by golly they’re going to give it to them.

Canyon has designed the Spectral to be modular, so if you go for the mullet bike, the brand simply takes a 29in front triangle and marries it to a 27.5in rear. Those modular sections aren’t available aftermarket though – you can’t currently buy a 27.5in rear triangle for your 29in bike. 

New alloy frame, here in the shape of the Spectral 5 and sporting 27.5in wheels… looking good for £2,500

Not just carbon

Last year Canyon launched the Spectral 29 CF, it brought with it some desperately needed geometry changes, a flip chip, and 29in wheels to keep it relevant. Coming in carbon-fibre only though, it priced some riders out of the game. 

Now for 2021 the Spectral is available in aluminium too, and of course it’s friendlier on the wallet for that. What’s most interesting though is what Canyon has not done – the engineers have not made a replica of the carbon bike, mimicking the frame’s twists and turns. Instead, the frame silhouette actually looks very different.

Alloy frame gets internal cable routing through the front triangle, while the carbon frame gets full internal routing. There’s even a proper raw finish on some alloy bikes

The aluminium bikes get bespoke tube profiles, with less-tight radii than the carbon-fibre bikes, Canyon says. Those tube sections are also straighter and less swoopy than the carbon Spectrals.

The idea is to make the alloy bike that celebrates the material it’s made out of, rather than hides it with embarrassment, and one that is as cost-effective as possible. And you can’t just do this by making a metal knock-off. The new alloy bike is actually a cool new bike in its own right – it was even designed by a different engineer to the carbon bike.

Perhaps we’re seeing a new dawn in aluminium technology – last month Trek revealed that its carbon frames produced nearly three times as much CO2e as its alloy ones, while Specialized brought out a new Stumpjumper Evo alloy with all the geometry adjustments of the carbon bike and in-frame storage.

No flip-chip on the alloy bike, instead geometry is fixed in the low BB and slack head angle setting from the CF bikes, albeit with a steeper seat tube

Flip out

The carbon Spectral models all feature geometry adjustments via a flip chip, but the alloy bike doesn’t. Canyon says this is to simplify things – or make them cheaper, it really means. Instead, the geo has been fixed into the best of both worlds – the same 64° head angle and ground hugging BB of the low position (8mm lower than in high), but with the steeper 76.5° seat angle from the high position.

Carbon too

So Canyon already reworked the carbon Spectral last year, so there’s not too much more to tell other than its vital statistics – 2,600g frame, double sealed frame bearings, replacement thread inserts at pivot points, and fully guarded internal routing. All pretty cool and geeky.

CFR frame is 300g lighter than the CF version… it’s a bike designer’s dream, with no expense spared

There is a new bike that sits on top of the range though, higher even than the CF models, and it’s called the CFR, or Canyon Factory Facing. Made from a higher grade of carbon, it’s apparently 300g lighter than the regular carbon frame without any drop-off in stiffness or strength. That makes the CFR frame around 2,300g all told, in size medium in 29in setup.

Kids bike

The Spectral Young hero will fit groms from 145-160cm tall, or somewhere around 11-15 years old. It’s got less suspension (150mm front, 140mm rear) and the kinematics have been designed especially for lighter riders – so higher leverage rates that work better with the lower pressures younger riders typically run.

Sizing and geometry

Model rundown and pricing


  • Spectral Young Hero (27.5 only)
  • Spectral 5 (27.5 and 29er options) £2,449
  • Spectral 6 (27.5 and 29er options) £2,999


  • Spectral CF 7 (27.5 and 29er options) £3,399
  • Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV (Mullet only) £3,999
  • Spectral CF 8 (27.5 and 29er options) £4,399
  • Spectral CF 9 (27.5 and 29er options) £5,499


  • Spectral CFR (29er only) £6,499

Look out for a full review on the new Spectral CF7 very soon in our Trail Bike of the Year test (in the December issue) and a first ride review of the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV next week.