Fast, fun, gives you the confidence to attack every trail

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 10

Canyon Spectral CF 8.0

Product:

Canyon Spectral CF 8.0 (2018) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,699.00
best full suspension mountain bike

Trail Bike of the Year in association with Alpinestars

Canyon website.

Make no mistake, the new Canyon Spectral CF 8.0 isn’t just a facelift with a nip here and a tuck there to extend the shelf life of an existing platform.

>>> 29in Trail Bike of the Year 2018:  Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX £2,699

Canyon’s redesign of the Spectral is so comprehensive only the model name, 140mm travel and Canyon’s competitive pricing remain unchanged. Pricing that affords a lightweight carbon front end and a parts package that wouldn’t look out of place on the £4k Plus bikes in this test.

canyon spectral cf 8.0

Canyon Spectral CF 8.0

Design wise, the new Spectral marks a major shift in styling for Canyon’s longstanding trail bike, where a slightly longer and much lower top tube combine with an extend seat mast to make the fit of the Spectral less boxy than before.

A cursory glance at the Canyon Sender DH bike reveals the inspiration for the new look, but the Spectral has some cool features of its own. Like the additional weather sealing on all the pivots, thanks to feedback from Scottish based team riders Joe Barnes and the Dudes of Hazzard.

canyon spectral cf 8.0

Steering lock stops cockpit colliding with the top tube

Then there’s the down tube mounted cable cover that doubles as a frame protector, no more threading cables through the frame then. The Spectral also has a steering lock to stop the handlebar controls hitting the top tube and it offers a tighter turning circle than Trek’s Knock Block design found on the Trek Fuel EX 29er.

Suspension

Our main criticism with the old Spectral was that while its 140mm rear suspension was very supple it lacked the support needed to ride the bike hard. Basically it wasn’t very stable, causing the bike pitch or wallow under hard loading. Well, Canyon has addressed this and once again the inspiration comes from the Sender DH bike. Specifically its three-stage progression rate that is supple of the top for traction, offers good mid-stoke support for control, then the final rap up prevents harsh bottoming. And it does what it says on the tin.

canyon spectral cf 8.0

Internal cable routing cover doubles as down tube protector

Up front, the Spectral gets more suspension firepower with the 150mm RockShox Pike RC. And while RockShox it keen to emphasise that the RockShox Revelation is essentially a Pike chassis with a less expensive damper, it’s the Charger damper that really makes all the difference so the Pike on the Canyon is a big step up in terms of performance.

Components

There are lots of good dropper posts to choose from, but the RockShox Reverb is still one of the very best. The new under-bar 1x remote is a joy to use and with 150mm of drop you can instantly select the perfect saddle height for every occasion. The integrate seat clamp on the Spectral frame means you need to get the correct torque setting though. Too tight and the clamp restricts the movement of the post. Too loose and the set post spins in the frame when you lean on nose of the saddle when cornering. Thankfully Canyon supplies a torque wrench with the bike to take the guesswork out of it.

canyon spectral cf 8.0

Quick-release lever retracts into axle body

Performance

From the get go the Canyon Spectral impressed. And we’re not taking about all of its neat design features. Ride quality is what testing is all about and Canyon has delivered a trail bike with good sizing and poised handling. The 10mm lower BB height and dropped top tube make the bike almost disappear beneath you and the extra length in the front end combined with the softer compound Maxxis 2.6in tyres gives you the confidence to dive headlong into any decent. So much so that we had our feet bounce of our flat pedals a couple of times. Perhaps it was the progressive nature of the rear suspension kicking in? Equally, it could just be the geometry and tyres allowing us to take the Spectral that bit closet to its limit.

And it’s not just on the downs that the Spectral displays a sense of urgency. This bike rips up hill too, thanks to the relatively steep seat angle, snappy pedalling response and low overall weight. It’s the ultimate all rounder.

canyon spectral cf 8.0

Verdict

With the new Spectral Canyon has built on the strength of it market leading specification while addressed the bike’s underlying weaknesses, namely geometry and suspension. As such, the Spectral CF 8.0 is now the 27.5in trail bike with no equal in this test. It’s light, fast and efficient, and the modern geometry and sizing let you push this 140mm trail bike right to the very limits of its 2.6in tyres. It’s everything a modern trail bike should be, so it should come as no surprise that’s it’s mbr’s pick for Trail Bike of the Year 2018.

Details

Frame:Spectral CF/aluminium 140mm travel
Shock:RockShox Deluxe RT
Fork:RockShox Pike RC, 150mm travel
Wheels:DT Swiss M1700 Spline wheels, Maxxis Minion DHF/Rekon 3C Maxx Terra 27.5x2.6in tyres
Drivetrain:Truvativ Decendant 32t chainset, SRAM GX Eagle r mech and shifter
Brakes:SRAM Guide R 200/180mm
Components:Race Face Aeffect 760mm bar and 50mm stem, RockShox Reverb Stealth 150mm dropper, SDG Fly Mtn saddle
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:13.23kg (29.12lb)
Contact:canyon.com
Size tested:L
Head angle:66.1°
Seat angle:70.9°
BB height:330mm
Chainstay:430mm
Front centre:775mm
Wheelbase:1,205mm
Down tube:721mm
Top tube:622mm
Reach:460mm