Canyon has absolutely nailed the parts package on the Spectral
Winner of our 2018 Trail Bike of the Year test, the Canyon Spectral proved beyond a shadow of doubt that it really is the compete package.
Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 review
One year on and the Spectral has undergone a growth spurt. By increasing fork travel by 10mm to 160mm, while adding a longer stroke shock to bolster the rear suspension from 140mm to 150mm, the Spectral is moving up a weight division with its eyes set on a new prize.
The travel boost sees Canyon morph the Spectral into a lightweight enduro bike. How light is it? At 13.59kg it’s almost 1kg lighter than the equivalent travel GT Force, and nearly 1.5kg less than the Nukeproof Mega 275c.
Obviously Canyon’s direct to customer approach plays a big part in the reduced weight, it’s leaner business model affording extra budget for lightweight carbon components like the SRAM cranks, Reynolds rims and Canyon G5 handlebars.
With Canyon upping fork travel by 10mm it’s also slackened the head angle on the Spectral by just over 0.5° to make it more capable than before. Too offset the slight upward shift in geometry Canyon has also reduced the tyres size from 2.6in to 2.4in, so its still retains it corner railing 330mm BB height.
CanyonIt hasn’t lost any traction either, as Canyon also fitted softer compound tyres. In fact, it’s the same Maxxis Minion DHR II tyre combo that comes stock on the burlier Canyon Torque.
Another area where Canyon has saved a few extra grams is the fork. By fitting a 160mm RockShox Pike instead of a Lyrik it’s at the upper end of the travel scale so it’s not carrying any excess baggage.
And it’s not just any Pike; it’s the top of the range RCT3. For 2019 RockShox seems to have toned down the more sporty (read firmer) feel to the damping that helped separate the Pike from the Lyrik. As a result, the latest Pike handled the repeated square edge hits at Bikepark Wales better than any fork in this test.
The most apparent change to the suspension on the Spectral though, is the addition of a RockShox Super Deluxe RCT shock. The 5mm extra stroke accounts for the increase in travel, while the extra oil volume and surface area of the piggy back ensures that the Spectral won’t get hot under the collar. The suspension is quite progressive though, so it’s hard to use the full 150mm travel on anything other than drops and jumps. And because the shock has no volume reducers fitted, the progression is not something that you can easily tune out.
It would be easy to take one look at the Reynolds carbon wheels and assume that’s this where all of the weight savings on the Spectral are. But the days of super lightweight carbon rims are over, as they just couldn’t handle the abuse. As such, the front wheel on the Canyon is only 50g lighter than the Mavic wheel on the Nukeproof. And with Canyon running a cheaper SRAM cassette than GT, there’s less than a 20g saving on the rear. It’s safe to say then, that the Canyon frame is relatively light.
With the softer compound tyres the Canyon Spectral has definitely lost some of the pace that made it such a formidable trail bike. It still pedals more efficiently than the GT or Nukeproof though, and sapping the MaxxGrip 3C front tyre for a less sticky Maxx Terra version would instantly inject more pace on flatter trails, while saving your legs on the climbs.
That’s no longer the focus here though. And given how light the Spectral is, it carries it extra suspension muscle well and feels really solid and capable on the descents. The higher front end afforded by the taller fork and long head tube lets you lean back and let the bike do most of hard work. We say most of work because the rear end isn’t as capable as the GT, even if the build is vastly superior.
Canyon has done an amazing job of bridging the gap from trail to enduro, but the Spectral CF 9.0 still feels more like a very capable trail bike than a full-blown enduro rig. As such, it’s tighter and more responsive than the Nukeproof and pedals better too. The flip side is that you can’t let it run to the same degree on the roughest, steepest descents. Still, if you like the idea of having more suspension at your disposal, but still want a bike that’s fast and efficient everywhere, the Canyon Spectral would be our first choice.