In this Superhero battle, the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX is certainly the Hulk, showing it could run with the bulls when it won an EWS podium. Muscled up, the Spectral CF 9.0 EX is now longer, lower and meaner than ever before, but does it have a sensitive side?
The Spectral CF 9.0 EX is Canyon’s definition of an aggressive trail bike, the smaller brother of the Strive; it offers such kick-ass performance that many ‘big rig’ riders are downsizing. The CF 9.0 EX model certainly looks ready to rumble with a full carbon frame, aggressive geometry, 150 mm Rockshox Pike RCT3 Solo Air fork and Cane Creek DBInline shock. The SRAM X01 drivetrain keeps shifting precise, and the powerful SRAM Guide RSC brakes work well (if a bit noisy). Canyon’s own stem and carbon fibre bar feel wide and aggressive, supercharging your confidence on hard trails. Wheel choice can make or break a bike, and although the Mavic Crossmax Enduro LTD wheelset offers precise steering, they are a little narrow by today’s standards. However, the Mavic Charge and Quest 2.3 tires were well up for hard charging duties.
Jumping onto the Spectral feels instantly comfortable: the long 627 mm top tube and steep 74.5 degree seat angle puts the rider very centrally inside the bike; efficient for climbing with lots of room for dynamic movement when getting wild! On the climbs, the Spectral punches forward effectively, and while it cannot rival the best in this test uphill, it makes easy work of long days in the saddle. It’s when the trail pitches downwards that the Spectral delivers its mighty Hulk like punch. The stiff frame and supportive suspension offer sublime big hit control, and the lengthy and powerful Rockshox Pike RCT3 fork allows you to charge into direct lines that would frighten many bigger bikes. #Lovesbackwheel is an Instagram favourite and the Canyon defines that quality; the short 425 mm chainstays and agile handling make it effortless to cut and slide through turns with a poise and balance that makes even the most humble of riders feel like they have the skills of Joe Barnes.
Specifications of the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX
Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3 SoloAir
Rear Shock: Cane Creek DB Inline
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
Drivetrain: SRAM X01
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem: Canyon V12
Handlebar: Canyon H23 Rise CF 760 mm
Wheelset: Mavic Crossmax ChargeXL/Quest XL 27,5″
Tires: Mavic Crossmax Enduro LTD
Weight: 12.87 kg
Price: € 4,199
For € 4,199 the Canyon CF 9.0EX is an incredible bargain, and there was very little we would change. The Cane Creek DBinline is a tuners favourite but is easy to setup incorrectly, knowledge is power so be wary of moving too far from the base settings. During the testing the Mavic wheels also needed some re-truing, but when dialled the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX is the king of descents.
If you measure your riding fun by the amount of descent shredded, the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX will make you feel like a superhero. It eats up technical terrain with ease and encourages playful fun at every bump, jump or berm, equally as happy being ridden on day-long epics as it is scaring enduro bikes in the woods.
+ Impeccable aggressive geometry
+ Astonishing value
– DBInline complex for beginners
For further information head to the Canyon website[/emaillocker]
For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: Battle of the super powers: 9 of the best trail bikes in comparison
Looking for a more affordable spec of the bike? Check out our Canyon Spectral AL 7.0 EX Review
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.
Words & Photos: