A great riding machine at an incredible price
The carbon Spectral CF walked away with our Trail Bike of the Year award. Does the more affordable Canyon Spectral AL offer the same level of performance?
10-month longtermer review by Jason Hardy.
Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 review
Did you change anything straightaway?
No, it came with such a great package that I’ve kept it 100 per cent stock. Even the Maxxis Minion DHF/Rekon tyres were a great combo, so I didn’t have to swap.
One minor irritation on larger-sized bikes I’ve previously tested is that they normally come with a 125mm dropper post, so I was glad to see that the Spectral came with a 150mm-travel Kind Shock Lev Si dropper post as standard. In fact, Canyon fits 1560mm droppers across the range apart from the the size XS, which gets a 125mm post.
Was the bike easy to set up?
Super-easy, with the fork and shock both straightforward to get good ballpark settings. I dropped the stem to eek out a little more reach and set the cockpit controls to how I like them and I was good to go. Out of the box (which is how you’ll receive your bike), you should be ripping it up on the trails within 30 minutes.
How did it ride?
Great. I’d not ridden the previous iteration of this bike with the vertically mounted shock, but it was criticised for blowing through its travel and not being particularly supportive. The relocated horizontal shock position on the redesigned model provides a much more supportive platform and progressive feel. And although the BB is 10mm lower than the old model, I had no problems with pedal strikes, which is probably down to the increased support in the 140mm rear suspension.
Did anything break or wear out?
Yes and no. Although nothing broke on my test bike, Canyon did recall an early batch of Spectrals due to a manufacturing fault with a weld on the chainstay. Sadly my bike was one of those recalled and, annoyingly, I was without the bike for two months of what turned out to be one of the most gloriously dry and hot summers on record.
Whilst it’s great that Canyon were proactive in identifying and sorting a safety critical issue, it was just a bummer to be sidelined for so long. But better to be sidelined in good health than to be sidelined for two months with your arm in a sling from a parts failure.
If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?
Probably an improved brake package. Yes, I’ve been harsh about the SRAM Guide Rs, they’re not a bad brake at all, it’s just that I’m a heavy guy, and with a trail pack full of water I’m easily (sadly) over a 100kg, and that’s a lot of mass to be hauling around. So some more powerful brakes would be top of my shopping list.
Without a doubt I’d recommend buying this bike. Since its redesign it’s now a great riding machine at an incredible price. You have to be prepared for a different purchasing experience with Canyon’s online-only sales model, though. Any issues or a recall means you have to box the bike up and send it back, which is a faff, but on the other hand that’s what gives you the incredible price point, so you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.