Increasingly more manufacturers promise to combine the best of both worlds in one bike. Canyon hop on the bandwagon, combining a progressive geometry and little suspension travel with their Spectral 125 CF 9. But how does the concept work on the trail? And can the bike keep up with its bigger brother, the Spectral CFR?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best trail bike of 2022 – 14 models in review

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 | 140/125 mm (f/r) | 13.8 kg in size L | € 5,799 | Manufacturer’s website

With the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9, the German direct-sales rely on a rather unusual concept, combining a downhill-oriented geometry with just 125 mm travel at the rear and 140 mm up front. Not only does Canyon’s progressive 13.8 kg trail bike share the same name with its award-winning sibling, the Spectral CFR, but also relies on a confusingly similar look and detail solutions. For the € 5,799 CF model in this test, Canyon combine several high-end components with some of their own parts, like the cockpit and dropper post.

The spec of the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9

The cables of the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 disappear into the frame at the intersection of the top and downtube and are neatly clamped at the cable ports. A generously sized TPU protector guards the seat and chainstays but doesn’t stretch over the front section of the swingarm, resulting in chainslap and paint chips on our test bike. That being said, you can prevent this from happening by using just a small strip of mastic tape on your bike. There’s also a TPU plate on the down tube, albeit very small. The tool mount on the top tube is compatible with all conventional tool straps as well as Canyon’s own-brand LOAD frame bag, which is the one we have used on our test bike and is optionally available for € 34.95 from their online shop.

A dream for long legged riders
Up to 200 mm travel, which can be reduced by up to 25 mm in 5 mm increments quickly and without using tools. With this data, the Canyon G5 Dropper convinced all our test riders.
Big, but not big enough
The chainstay protector is generously sized but still too short, leaving exposed the front section of the swingarm. On our test bike, the paint has already chipped off.
The 200 mm SRAM HS2 brake rotor is thicker than SRAM’s conventional Centerline rotors and is meant to dissipate heat more effectively.

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9

€ 5,799


Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 140 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X Factory 125 mm
Seatpost Canyon G5 Dropper Post 200 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX AXS Eagle 1x12
Stem Canyon G5 45 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 CF 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss XMC 1501 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR II, 3C, MaxxTerra, EXO/MAXXIS DISSECTOR ,3C, MaxxTerra, EXO 2.4/2.4

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 13.8 kg

Tuning Tip: mastic tape on the front section of the chainstay | mastic tape on the front section of the chainstay

G5 represents Canyon’s highest load rating for components, which should tell us what the Spectral was designed for.
Spelling mistake?
No, the Spectral 125 really does have a Minion DHR II at the front. And yes, it’s quite a common setup. However, we would prefer the softer MaxxGrip rubber compound and a more robust casing.

The Canyon Spectral 125 CF relies on a high-end FOX suspension consisting of a 36 mm Factory GRIP2 fork and matching FLOAT X Factory shock. The superior GRIP2 damper of the former offers countless adjustment options, allowing you to fine tune your fork to your needs and riding style, while the shock features external low-speed rebound and compression adjustments as well as a climb switch. Canyon´s in-house cockpit consists of a 40 mm stem and 780 mm carbon handlebars. Braking is taken care of by SRAM CODE RSC brakes. The high-end RSC variant features tool-free reach and bite point adjustments and SRAM’s SwingLink lever, which was designed to minimise deadband and thus improve modulation. The brakes are paired with SRAM’s new HS2 brake rotors, which are thicker than conventional Centerline rotors and thus dissipate heat much more effectively. However at 200 mm at the front and 180 mm at the rear, they’re still slightly undersized for such a potent trail bike. Shifting is taken care of by a wireless SRAM GX AXS 12-speed drivetrain, which is only marginally heavier than its high-end X01 counterpart and delivers the same excellent shifting performance. We’re big fans of Canyon’s own long travel 200 mm G5 dropper post, which has the most travel in the entire test field and can be inserted all the way into the frame. Moreover, the dropper travel can be reduced by up to 25 mm in 5 mm increments quickly and without using tools, allowing you to adapt the maximum extension of the dropper to your anatomy and make full use of the travel available.

Mountain goat
Especially on steep and technical climbs, the Spectral 125 is a real climbing artist.

DT Swiss supply the XMC 1501 carbon wheelset while MAXXIS take care of the tires, combining a Minion DHR II at the front and the DISSECTOR at the rear, both in EXO casing and hard MaxxTerra rubber compound. At the front, we would prefer a grippier tire with soft MaxxGrip compound for better cornering traction. In addition, we’d like a more robust tire casing, like MAXXIS’ DoubleDown, which helps protect the carbon rims from impacts and allows you to run lower tire pressures for more traction, thus doing more justice to the potential of the bike.

The geometry of the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9

The Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 is available in 4 sizes, S to XL, offering a suitable option for all riders between 163 cm and 203 cm tall. Except for the hardtail contestant in this group test, the Canyon is the bike with the least travel in the entire group test and also the one with the slackest head angle at 64.1°. A flip chip in the shock mount allows you to alter the head and seat tube angles by 0.5°, and the bottom bracket height by 8 mm. Our size L test bike combines 486 mm reach and a very short 435 mm seat tube, which ensures excellent freedom of movement in combination with the long travel dropper post that can be inserted all the way into the frame.

size S M L XL
Seat tube 395 mm 420 mm 435 mm 460 mm
Top tube 587 mm 615 mm 642 mm 669mm
Head tube 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm
Head angle 64° 64° 64° 64°
Seat angle 76° 76° 76° 76°
Chainstays 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB Drop 35 mm 35 mm 35 mm 35 mm
Wheelbase 1.200 mm 1.230 mm 1.259 mm 1.288 mm
Reach 435 mm 460 mm 486 mm 511 mm
Stack 613 mm 622 mm 632 mm 641 mm
Jersey Patagonia Fitz Roy Horizon | Shorts POC Essential Enduro | Helmet Giro Tyrant Spherical MIPS | Glasses Melon Optics Alleycat | Kneepad Chromag Rift | Shoes Ride Concepts Hellion Clip | Socks Stance | watch Garmin Forerunner 945

The Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 on the trail

On level ground, the pedalling position is comfortable and upright, albeit slightly stretched and front-heavy. The suspension is pleasantly stiff and bobs only slightly when pedalling – we never had to reach for the climb switch when making our way to the trailhead. Uphill, the front wheel remains planted on the ground and keeps tracking even on steep technical climbing sections.

The Spectral 125 passes on vibrations and hits directly onto the rider, which makes it less forgiving of riding mistakes and requires an experienced rider.

Despite having little suspension travel, the Spectral 125 conveys a lot of confidence and does not shy away from nasty rock gardens.

When you point its nose downhill, the Canyon integrates you between its 29” wheels and inspires huge amounts of confidence. Handling is direct and, as a result, the Spectral 125 CF 9 responds to steering input at the bat of an eyelid, which can be a little demanding in the long run but suits the character of a potent trail bike perfectly. Overall, the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 strikes an excellent balance between agility and composure.

The firm suspension offers bags of pop and support, making it the perfect toy for riders who want to convert every trail into a playground and the smallest obstacle into airtime love. At the same time, the suspension offers sufficient reserves for rowdy maneuvers and to bail you out with botched landings. However, steep technical trails with nasty rock gardens and root carpets expose the dark side of its character, where the rear suspension of the Spectral 125 lacks traction. Compared to its bigger sibling, the Spectral 125 CF 9 is clearly more agile but also less composed, thus requiring more physical effort.

The rear suspension of the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 is stiff but makes you feel as if you were riding a bike with more travel.

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










Canyon’s concept works a treat and the Spectral 125 CF 9 really has what it takes to be a potent trail bike: the geometry, handling and suspension do justice to its character but the rotors and tires don’t. The Canyon is an excellent climber, especially on steep uphills and makes you feel as if you’re sitting on a bike with more travel when riding downhill, thus inspiring huge amounts of confidence. However, the direct handling borders on harsh, requiring good riding skills.


  • feels as if it had more travel and thus inspires confidence
  • direct handling and firm suspension
  • pedal-neutral rear suspension uphill


  • tires don’t do justice to the potential of the bike
  • requires an experienced rider

You can find out more about at

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best trail bike of 2022 – 14 models in review

All bikes in test: Atherton AM.150 (Click for review) | Bold Linkin 135 Ultimate (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral CFR (Click for review) | FOCUS JAM 8.9 (Click for review) | Mondraker Raze RR SL (Click for review) | Propain Hugene (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 (Click for review) | ROSE BONERO 3 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Bronson CC X01 AXS (Click for review) | SCOR 4060 ST GX (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO S-Works (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | YT JEFFSY UNCAGED 6 (Click for review)

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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger

About the author

Simon Kohler

​​Simon loves speed. He has many years of racing experience as a longboard downhill skater, blasting down alpine passes on his board. In the meantime, he’s swapped four wheels for two, charging down trails and bike park lines aboard his mountain bike instead. He’s savoured some of Europe’s finest trails on various road trips through the Alps. Having lived in Austria for some time, he knows the local Austrian bike parks like the back of his hand. He’s a tech nerd through and through, using the skills and know-how from his engineering degree and his attention to detail to put the latest bikes and components through their paces for our reviews. As an early riser and self-declared muesli connoisseur, he lives his life powered by oats and the strength of his legs.