If you flick through Canyon’s portfolio, the newly released 2021 Canyon Spectral 29 LTD positions itself right between Canyon’s touring and enduro models, the Neuron and Strive. However, our test shows that the Spectral 29 can do a lot more than just fill a gap in a catalogue. On the trail, it doesn’t just smoke the in-house competition but also holds its own against the best bikes of 2021. Is this what a winner looks like?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

Canyon Spectral 29 LTD | 160/150 mm (f/r)
13.28 kg (size L) | € 6,299 | Manufacturer-website

For 2021, the carbon frame of the Spectral 29 has been redeveloped from scratch. Apart from the name and the Horst-link suspension, Canyon’s 29” trail bike has very little in common with its predecessor. The paint job of the € 6,299 Spectral 29 LTD top-of-the-range model is truly striking, with the loud lime-green sections shining in different tones depending on the sunlight – awesome! Just as striking are the pronounced kink in the seat tube and the extra-wide chainstays, which stand in contrast with the otherwise harmonious lines of the frame. A burly chainstay protector and soft rubber strip on the seat stay prevent chain slap and, together with the elaborate internal cable routing, ensure a quiet ride. The front triangle of the Spectral offers enough room for a medium-sized water bottle and features an additional mounting point for Canyon’s optional tool strap (available summer 2021), which allows you to carry an inner tube and/or multi-tool without having to carry a backpack. While the system might not be as ingenious as Specialized’s or Trek’s storage solutions, it’s still very handy – cool! As we all know, shredding calls for maintenance! The people at Canyon are well aware of this and rely on SRAM’s universal derailleur hanger. Moreover, the pivot bolts and flip-chip are easy to access and thread into replaceable aluminium inserts rather than directly into the carbon frame.

Are top components always the most sensible choice? The spec of the Canyon Spectral 29 LTD in detail

For the Spectral 29, Canyon have redeveloped not only the frame but also the G5 cockpit with 780 mm carbon bars, which ensures tidy looks and top ergonomics – not least because of the I-SPEC clamps. Just as impressive is the FOX Factory suspension, with a 36 Factory GRIP2 fork and DPX2 Factory shock controlling 160 and 150 mm of front and rear travel respectively. The burly fork and piggyback shock hint at the fact that the 13.28 kg flagship Spectral 29 LTD wasn’t specced to be as light as possible but to deliver uncompromised trail performance. Well, except for the DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheelset paired with thin-walled MAXXIS Minion tires and flimsy MAXXIS EXO (front) and EXO+ (rear) casings. Particularly on the rear wheel, we recommend using tire inserts or, even better, replacing the standard tires with a more robust model to avoid the unnecessary pain of replacing a broken carbon rim. Shifting is taken care of by a 12-speed XTR drivetrain paired with a lightweight RaceFace Next SL crankset. Shimano also supply the four-piston XTR brakes combined with a 200 mm rotor up front and smaller 180 mm disc at the rear.

Do it yourself
The new G5 cockpit with its sexy stem and carbon handlebars is built in-house by Canyon. In combination with the Shimano I-SPEC components, the cockpit of the Spectral ensures good looks and great ergonomics!
More travel = more shredding!
Depending on the spec, the Spectral comes with either a 150 mm or 160 mm fork. On the top-of-the-range Spectral 29 LTD model, a FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 generates 160 mm of uncompromised downhill performance.
Dangerous combination
Canyon combine a lightweight DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheelset with MAXXIS tires in thin EXO or EXO+ casing. This combination is too weak for the speeds the Spectral is capable of, especially on the rear wheel.

Canyon Spectral 29 LTD

€ 6,299

Specifications

Fork FOX 36 Factory 160 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost OneUp Dropper V2 180 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR M9120 200/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 1x12
Stem Canyon G5 40 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 Carbon Riser 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss XMC 1200 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra/DHRII EXO MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 13.28 kg


We wouldn’t be ENDURO Mag …
… if we hadn’t used the Spectral in the lower geometry setting most of the time. Hover, that’s what we recommend running, because the high setting only makes sense if you need more ground clearance on the uphills.
Working around the kink.
The seat tube of the Spectral is relatively long and the pronounced kink limits the insertion depth of the seat post. However, the compact design of the OneUp V2 dropper makes up for this and allows Canyon to run a post with a generous 180 mm travel (size L).
Great suspension
Generating 150 mm of travel, the suspension and shock of the Spectral are a great compromise for all-round applications. On the climbs, the Spectral is very efficient and always sits composed with no bobbing, while downhill it generates tons of traction and support and always offers sufficient reserves. Excellent!
Well-concealed
All cables are routed through tube-in-tube guides, which prevent them from slapping against the frame and thus ensure a quiet ride. At the transition to the rear end, they’re well protected in the area of the main bearing. However, dirt often collects here.

The geometry of the Canyon Spectral 29 LTD in detail

The Spectral 29 is available in four sizes and features progressive, trail-oriented geometry. With its 485 mm reach (size L) and high front, the frame offers sufficient freedom of movement despite the long 460 mm seat tube. Luckily, the compact design of the OneUp V2 dropper makes up for the short insertion depth of the seat tube and allows Canyon to run a post with a generous 180 mm travel. As a result, the long seat tube only really becomes an issue if you want to size up to a larger frame. The riding position of the Spectral 29 is nicely balanced. The relatively steep seat angle positions the rider centrally on the bike, making it easy to negotiate climbs and steep ramps. Nevertheless, the Spectral is also comfortable on long rides, where it doesn’t give anything away to Canyon’s touring specialist, the Neuron.

The range of applications for the Canyon Spectral 29 LTD is huge! Whether it’s a challenging alpine crossing, a fun bike park session or everything in between, the Canyon masters it with flying colours!

On the whole, the Spectral is the better climber: the active rear-end smoothes out edges and steps, generates good traction on loose terrain and always remains composed without bobbing. Nevertheless, the Spectral is also comfortable on long rides, where it doesn’t give anything away to Canyon’s touring specialist, the Neuron. On the whole, the Spectral is the better climber: the active rear-end smoothes out edges and steps, generates good traction on loose terrain and always remains composed without bobbing.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 395 mm 430 mm 460 mm 490 mm
Top tube 582 mm 609 mm 636 mm 663 mm
Head tube 95 mm 105 mm 115 mm 125 mm
Head angle 64.5° 64.5° 64.5° 64.5°
Seat angle 76.5° 76.5° 76.5° 76.5°
Chainstays 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB Drop 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm 36 mm
Wheelbase 1,193 mm 1,222 mm 1,251 mm 1,281 mm
Reach 435 mm 460 mm 485 mm 510 mm
Stack 611 mm 620 mm 629 mm 638 mm
Helmet Giro Manifest Spherical | Glasses 100% S3 | Hippack USWE Zulo 2
Shirt Sweet Protection Hunter Merino Fusion | Kneepads Sweet Protection Bearsuit Light
Shoes Ride Concepts Men`s Transition

The faster, the better – The Canyon Spectral 29 LTD on the trail

“If you want a comfortable bike that also climbs well, you’ll have to accept substantial compromises downhill.” Quite clearly, the Canyon Spectral 29 doesn’t care about cliches, outshining its already impressive climbing qualities with even more magnificent downhill capabilities. As if driven by an incessant desire for speed, the Spectral begs you to keep your fingers off the brakes just a bit longer – on any trail and in every situation. The high front end and well-integrated riding position make this possible. Whether you’re a fast and active rider or a newbie, the Spectral conveys huge amounts of confidence and offers tons of reserves, taking the fear out of steep, techy singletrack and nasty rock gardens. In fast berms, the Canyon loves to be thrown around mercilessly, flying past the competition with a celebrative “braap”. Only in flat open corners do you have to work harder to keep the front wheel tracking.

Why would you still buy a Neuron? The Spectral climbs better, is more comfortable and an entirely different beast downhill.

Tuning-tips: tires with more robust casing(e.g. MAXXIS DoubleDown) | bargain hunters should take a closer look at the Spectral 29 CF 8, which offers comparable trail performance but comes with an alloy wheelset and, most importantly, costs € 2,000 less than the top-of-the-range model.

In all other situations, the Spectral is just as predictable as it is fun, regardless of your riding style. At the same time, the suspension offers sufficient reserves and composure to bail out on dodgy lines and messy landings. With 150 mm travel at the rear, the Canyon generates plenty of traction but still provides enough support to pump through the trail and pull off ledges, while the suspension never bottoms out abruptly, even with hard landings and big obstacles. Downhill, the Spectral is a strong all-rounder that refuses to stick to just one discipline. Provided you upgrade the puncture-prone rear tire, it can take on almost any trail, from natural singletracks to jump lines and flowing bike park tracks, or even full-on enduro stages.

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

The Canyon Spectral 29 LTD is the ultimate do-it-all weapon and a perfect all-rounder for (almost) any type of rider! On climbs and long rides, it annihilates its sibling for long rides, the Neuron, while downhill it turns a day out in the mountains into a savage shred party. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned trail veteran, the composed character of the Spectral allows you to ride fast and tackle all sorts of trails and have plenty of fun in the process, provided you’re running a more robust set of tires – the standard ones are easily overwhelmed on challenging terrain! The spec and build quality of the Canyon are just as awesome as its price! As the bike with the broadest application range in the entire test field, the Spectral 29 LTD secures the coveted Best in Test in this group test.

Tops

  • intuitive and confidence-inspiring handling
  • very capable yet comfortable on long rides
  • excellent value for money
  • high-quality build & finish

Flops

  • tires are too weak and puncture-prone for costly carbon rims
  • long seat tube limits the choice of size

Find more information here: canyon.com

The testfield

Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best mountainbike of 2021 – 22 models in review

All Bikes in this group test: Canyon Neuron CF SLX 9 (Click for review) | Canyon Spectral 29 LTD | Canyon Stoic 4 (Click for review) | FOCUS THRON 6.9 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K (Click for review) | MERIDA NINETY-SIX 8000 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Reactor 290C (Click for review) | Orbea Rise M-Team (Click for review) | Propain Hugene (Click for review) | RAAW Jibb XTR Build (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Instinct C70 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz 5010 X01 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Tallboy CC X01 (Click for review) | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned AXS (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo SL (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 GX (Click for review) | Trek Top Fuel 9.9 X01 (Click for review) | Yeti SB115 TURQ3 (Click for review) | YT IZZO BLAZE 29 (Click for review)

Words: Felix Stix Photos: diverse

About the author

Felix Stix

Felix is chief of testing and undoubtedly one of the best test riders in the world. With a degree in sports engineering, excellent mountain bike skills, his love of technology and as a certified bike guide, Felix has everything it takes to make comprehensive and fair assessments of bikes. His legendary group tests are internationally known and feared, though they tend to be a bit longer due to his love of detail and technical deep dives. Every year, he reviews around 100 bikes, specialising in the subject of tires, motors and suspension, before putting on his skis come winter! His know-how is incorporated into each of our reviews, ensuring the quality of our work stays high!