Canyon Spectral CF 9.0
Canyon have clearly worked hard on the frame of the new Spectral. Stiff and precise, with cracking suspension and some well-thought-out design features, it’s one of the best trail bike platforms around.
The rear suspension works well throughout its travel. It’s compliant in the mid stroke, soaking up trail chatter for a composed, controlled ride, but ramps up heavily at the end to cope with bigger hits. This is matched up front by the Fox 34 fork – a second-tier ‘Performance Elite’ model, which feels smoother than the 2017 equivalent. It’s still not the stiffest fork out there, though, especially in this 150mm-travel guise, and heavier or faster riders will find themselves pushing the chassis to its limits relatively easily. If that sounds like you, consider forking out for the Rockshox Pike-equipped Spectral CF 9.0 Pro instead.
As you’d expect from a direct-sale brand, the rest of the component package is highly competitive. The DT Swiss wheels are a decent width, the drivetrain and brakes are Shimano
XT, while the finishing kit includes a Race Face bar/stem combo and Rockshox Reverb dropper. Canyon have chosen to fit 2.6in Maxxis tyres across the Spectral range (other than on one model, which comes with 2.4in Mavics), but we feel that 2.4in or 2.5in rubber would suit the bike better. The capable frame means you can push the bike hard down demanding tracks, where the wider tyres don’t offer quite the same precise stability as Maxxis’s slightly narrower ‘Wide Trail’ options.
While the geometry is generally well-balanced, with average reach and rear centre measurements and a low bottom bracket (BB), the front end is very tall. In fact, it’s the highest on test). This will suit some riders, but others may struggle to get the feel they’re after. It doesn’t help when it comes to weighting the front wheel in flatter corners, but does boost confidence on steep terrain.
This year’s Spectrals weigh more than the equivalent 2017 models, but Canyon say they’ve upped the strength rating of the frame so that it’s now fully enduro-race ready. We don’t feel this weight increase compromises ride quality.
The Spectral’s 140mm of travel is well controlled by the Fox Float DPS shock