The Canyon Spectral CFR enters the race as the defending champion after securing victory in last year’s “best mountain bike of 2021 “group test, in which it impressed our test team with excellent all-round characteristics and good value for money. But can it assert itself against the competition in our 2022 trail bike group test?

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

Canyon Spectral CFR | 160/150 mm (f/r) | 13.5 kg in size L | € 6,499 | Manufacturer’s website

The Canyon Spectral CFR enters our 2022 trail bike group test as the defending champion. After securing victory in our “best mountain bike of 2021” group test, which is the long-travel equivalent of our trail bike test, it enters the race with one intention: defending its title for a second year running. At Canyon, the CFR acronym (Canyon Factory Racing) is given to the top-end models with special frames that employ more advanced carbon materials and are around 300 g lighter than the standard CF equivalent. Despite its noble heritage, the Spectral CFR retails at € 6,499, which puts it in the mid-price segment in this test field. As far as travel goes, it stands at the top-end of the test field, combining 160 mm travel at the front and 150 mm at the rear, while at 13.5 kg it’s well below average in terms of weight, thus even lighter than its smaller sibling, the Spectral 125 CF 9, which is also included in this test.

The spec of the Canyon Spectral CFR

All cables enter the frame at the intersection of the top and down tube and are neatly clamped at the cable ports. The seat and chainstays are covered with a generously sized rubber protector, but this doesn’t stretch all the way over the front section of the swingarm, resulting in chainslap and paint chips on our test bike. However, a generous portion of mastic tape will prevent this from happening. A small TPU plate protects the down tube from minor scuffs while a small guide prevents the chain from coming off. The frame features a tool mount on the top tube, but this is only compatible with Canyon’s own-brand Load frame bag, which is optionally available for € 34.95.

Expensive combination
Tires with thin EXO+ casing and light carbon rims can become expensive quickly. We recommend an upgrade.
Function follows Form
The one-piece carbon stem/bar unit might look cool but doesn’t allow for fine-tuning, except for the stem height.
On the short side
Unfortunately, the chainstay protector doesn’t extend over the front section of the chainstays, resulting in paint chips on our test bike.

Canyon Spectral CFR

€ 6,499


Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 160 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X Factory 150 mm
Seatpost Canyon G5 Dropper Post 170 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 200/200 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 DHR II, 3C, MaxxTerra, EXO/MAXXIS DHR II, 3C, MaxxTerra, EXO 2,4/2,4

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 13,5 kg

Specific Features


Tuning Tip: both tires with more robust casing, softer rubber compound at the front | mastic tape on the front section of the chainstay

Racing DNA
The CFR acronym stands for Canyon Factory Racing and is reserved to Canyon’s top-end bikes with special frames that employ a more advanced carbon layup.
The DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheelset is the lightest in the entire test field.

Canyon rely on a high-end FOX Factory suspension, combining a 36 mm GRIP2 fork and FLOAT X rear shock. The superior GRIP2 damper offers countless adjustment options and allows you to fine-tune the fork to your needs and riding style. The FLOAT X works just as smoothly and features external low-speed rebound and compression adjustments as well as a climb switch. For the cockpit, the Germans rely on their own-brand and one-piece 780 mm G5 bar/stem system, which looks extremely sleek but doesn’t allow for fine-tuning, except for the stem height.

Touring pro
With its comfortable pedalling position, the Spectral CFR is perfectly suitable for long days in the saddle.

Shimano XTR four-piston brakes with 200 mm rotors front and rear do stopping duties. Shimano also supply the XTR drivetrain, which is paired with a Race Face Next SL crankset. The 180 mm OneUp V2 dropper post can be inserted all the way into the frame while its remote ensures excellent ergonomics and good haptic feedback. For the wheels, Canyon rely on a superlight DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheelset and MAXXIS tires, combining a Minion DHF at the front and a Minion DHR II at the rear, both in the harder MaxxTerra rubber compound, paper-thin EXO casing in the front and EXO+ in the back. As usual, we recommend upgrading to tires with a more robust casing, for example MAXXIS’ DoubleDown, which helps protect the expensive carbon rims and allows you to run lower pressures for more grip and support. For good measure, we’d add the softer MaxxGrip compound for even better traction, at least at the front.

Both the frame details and spec of the Spectral CFR seem a little outdated.

The geometry of the Canyon Spectral CFR

The Canyon Spectral CFR is available in four sizes, S to XL. A flip chip in the shock mount allows you to change the head and seat tube angle by 0.5° and the bottom bracket height by 8 mm. The 485 mm reach is paired with a very long 460 mm seat tube, which restricts freedom of movement and choice of sizes.

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
Top tube 95 mm 105 mm 115 mm 125 mm
Head angle 64° 64° 64° 64°
Seat angle 76° 76° 76° 76°
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 POC Tectal | Glasses POC Devour | Jacket POC Mantle Thermal Hoodie | Shorts Levi’s 751 Custom Cut | Shoes Giro Chamber II | Socks FINGERSCROSSED Hell Yeah 2.0 | Gloves 100% Celium

The Canyon Spectral CFR on the trail

On level ground, the pedalling position is comfortable, making the Canyon Spectral CFR suitable for long tours. Riding uphill, the rear suspension is drive-neutral and yet sensitive enough to generate sufficient traction on technical climbs.
As you’d expect from last year’s winner, the Spectral also shows excellent all-round qualities downhill. With its intuitive handling, it makes you feel at ease from the get-go, despite being a tad more sluggish than other bikes in this test, like, for example, its little brother, the Spectral 125.

The Canyon Spectral CFR is a capable all-rounder and inspires huge amounts of confidence downhill.

Speed is your friend
With its comfortable pedalling position, the Spectral CFR is perfectly suitable for long days in the saddle.

The rider is nicely integrated into the bike and safely tucked away between the wheels. While this inspires huge amounts of confidence, the Spectral CFR is far from being a hovercraft that just floats over obstacles without passing on feedback to its rider: instead, it always lets you know what’s going on under the tires, although never passing on impacts completely unfiltered. The rear suspension offers good support, making it easy to build up speed when pumping through rollers, but still offers enough reserves to protect your ankles from harsh impacts.

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










The Canyon Spectral CFR relies on a proven platform and many well-thought-out features. Unfortunately, with its long seat tube, proprietary tool mount and weak tires, it’s also a little bit outdated in this test field. Once again, the Spectral CFR felt just right from the get-go, reaffirming its strong all-rounder qualities. That being said, it’s pretty good at everything but doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. Although it didn’t manage to secure victory in this year’s test, it’s still a bike we’d recommend you to try.


  • excellent all-round qualities
  • pedal-neutral suspension ensures good climbing qualities
  • inspires confidence


  • long seat tube restricts freedom of movement
  • inconsistent and outdated spec

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.