One year ago, the Canyon Spectral CF won Best in Test in our trail bike group test. Since, Canyon have reworked the bike, giving it more travel among other updates. But is the Spectral still as versatile as before?

For an overview of the test fleet head to The best budget trail bike of 2019 – 11 mountain bikes head to head

Canyon Spectral CF 7.0 | 160 mm/150 mm (f/r) | 13.70 kg | € 2,999

Wow, what a beauty! With its black, semi-matte, semi-gloss finish and futuristic carbon frame, the Spectral looks outrageously good. No bike in the test field makes such a resounding impression! The technical details of the Canyon are just as refined. The German brand has developed its own toolbox which attaches inside the front triangle, they’ve used sealed bearings as well as an extra cover on the pivot to protect the bearings from the elements, and designed its own, neat thru-axle. The bolt-on chainstay protector, the seat post clamp and the Impact Protection Unit on the top tube round off the bike to make a lasting first impression. The bike is cleverly specced and gives hardly any reason for complaint, as you’d expect from Canyon. Our only point of criticism, are the SRAM Guide R brakes, as the lack of power doesn’t do the potential of the bike justice. The suspension consists of a RockShox PIKE RC fork and a Super Deluxe shock, with 160 and 150 mm travel front and rear. Shifting is taken care of by a SRAM GX-Eagle drivetrain with a 32-tooth chainring – a great compromise for all-round use. The cockpit features a 780 mm handlebar and a 50 mm stem. Canyon’s in-house dropper post offers 150mm drop, but it has had a history of developing a lot of play on our test bikes. For the wheels, Canyon rely on a proven DT Swiss M1900 SPLINE wheelset, which is fitted with 2.4″ wide MAXXIS Minion DHR II tires. On the front wheel, they’ve even specced the extra soft MaxxGrip compound – nice! One of the first things you’ll notice is the Spectral’s head tube, which is a good inch longer than the other bikes in the test field.

Let’s get rowdy! The Spectral is made for demanding terrain!

Helmet Giro Montaro MIPS | Glasses Smith Wildcat | Jersey ION Tee LS Traze Amp | Short ION Bikeshorts Traze Amp | Knee pads Sweet Protection Bearsuit Light | Shoes Giro Chamber 2

The Canyon Spectral CF 7.0 in detail

Fork RockShox PIKE RC 160 mm
Shock RockShox SuperDeluxe RCT 150 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide R 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle
Seatpost Canyon Iridium Dropper 150 mm
Stem Canyon G5 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 Riserbar 780 mm
Wheels DT Swiss M1900 27.5″
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4″

Like poetry!
The rear suspension of the Spectral is absolutely spot on! It responds sensitively off the top while offering a lot of mid-stroke support and progression towards the end.
Securely clamped
Dropper posts are sensitive and shouldn’t be clamped too tightly. This is why Canyon rely on a clamp with a large surface area in the seat tube, which reduces the amount of force applied to the seat post. Thumbs up!
Very long
The 147 mm head tube is very long, so most riders will end up removing all spacers under the stem. The tall front end is confidence inspiring on the descents, but it requires a more active riding style on flat trails and climbs.
Ultra Stylish
The understated black carbon frame with its clean lines is beautifully finished. Canyon have also designed a box for stashing your things that is bolted onto the inside of the front triangle.
Size S M L XL
Seat tube 425 mm 440 mm 480 mm 520 mm
Top tube 579 mm 605 mm 633 mm 661 mm
Head tube 92 mm 116 mm 147 mm 170 mm
Head angle 66,0° 66,0° 66,0° 66,0°
Seat angle 74,5° 74,5° 74,5° 74,5°
Chainstays 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
BB Drop 27 mm 27 mm 27 mm 27 mm
Wheelbase 1,141 mm 1,172 mm 1,204 mm 1,235 mm
Reach 419 mm 440 mm 460 mm 482 mm
Stack 588 mm 605 mm 634 mm 655 mm

The Canyon Spectral CF 7.0 in test

The effects of the long head tube, paired with the 160 mm travel fork, are noticeable when riding. The pedalling position on the Canyon Spectral is very upright but comfortable. The rear end is efficient, even with the climb switch open, offering a lot of comfort and traction on technical climbs. Our only critique regarding the climbing performance is that due to the tall front end you’ll have to deliberately shift your weight forward in steep sections to keep the front wheel on the ground.

Tuning tip: bigger rotor on the back | Trickstuff Power or the new SRAM G2 brake pads

Descending, the new Canyon Spectral CF has improved a lot compared to last year’s model. The rear suspension offers a perfect mix of sensitivity off the top, lots of mid-stroke support and sufficient progression towards the end. Combining capable geometry and its 160mm fork, the bike excels on steep, challenging trails, offering enormous reserves and inspiring the rider with confidence. Those who like to let loose on the descents will find the right bike here. Compared to its predecessor and other bikes in the test field, the Spectral demands an active riding style on flat trails to sufficiently weight the front wheel. The bike still has a lot of pop for those who like jumping over obstacles or pumping through rollers and berms.

The 2019 Spectral requires a more active riding style than its predecessor.

Conclusion

The 2019 Canyon Spectral CF 7.0 2019 has upped its downhill performance compared to the previous model. However, this comes at the cost of versatility in less demanding terrain. If you’re looking for a potent trail bike offering efficient and comfortable climbing capabilities which doesn’t shy away from steep, demanding descents, then this is it.

Tops

  • capable and lively rear suspension
  • look and quality of the bike
  • loves demanding terrain
  • value for money

Flops

  • flat trails require an active riding style
  • underpowered brakes

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

Technical Data

Canyon
Spectral CF 7.0

Size: S M L XL
Weight: 13.7 kg
Travel (f/r): 160/150 mm
Wheel Size: 27.5"
Price: € 2,999

Intended Use

XC 8
Trail 9
Enduro 10
Downhill 11

For more info head to: canyon.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to The best budget trail bike of 2019 – 11 mountain bikes head to head

All bikes in test: FOCUS JAM 6.8 NINE | Giant Trance 29 2 | MERIDA ONE FORTY 800 | Propain Tyee AM Performance | RADON SLIDE TRAIL 8.0 | ROSE PIKES PEAK AM1 | SCOTT Genius 950 | Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Alloy 29 | Trek Remedy 8 | YT JEFFSY 27 AL Base

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.