The Spectral is one of Canyon’s most successful mountain bikes and the family grows once again. The new 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 comes with less travel, proven details, gravity-oriented components and award-winning genes. Can it deliver on the trail and follow in its big brother’s footsteps?
German direct to consumer brand Canyon have one of the most diverse mountain bike portfolios on the market and it keeps growing. As a progressive trail bike, the new Spectral 125 slots in between the Neuron touring bike and the proven Spectral with its wide variety of wheel size options. Offering 140 mm travel up front and just 125 mm at the rear, the Spectral 125 still belongs to Canyon’s category 4 bike classification, which includes enduro bikes like the Strive. Therefore, there’s no doubt about the bike’s intentions with its 29” wheels and why it bears its big brother’s name.
The 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 in Detail
The new Canyon Spectral 125 looks confusingly similar to its big brother and shares many of its tried-and-tested details. To keep the bike running nice and quiet on the trail, you get large seat and chainstay protectors as well clamps at the inlet and outlet ports for the internally routed cables. There is space for a 600 ml water bottle inside the front triangle, though, with the in-house Canyon bottle, there is little more than a hair’s breadth of clearance between it and the shock.
There is a tool mount on the underside of the top tube, which can be used in conjunction with the Canyon Load frame bag (available for €34.99) as well as most conventional tool straps. The threaded inserts are replaceable on all the carbon models, which should reduce the risk of damaging the frame. Moreover, the bearings of the carbon models are sealed twice to keep them clean and running smooth.
The components and availability of the new 2022 Canyon Spectral 125
The new Canyon Spectral 125 will initially be available in five configurations. Two of them come with an aluminium frame and three feature a full carbon version. Prices range from €2,499 for the AL 5 to €5,799 for the flagship CF 9 on test. Each model gives you a choice of two colours and Canyon promise that most of the bikes will be available from February 17th, 2022.
The full carbon models don’t come with different carbon layups, as is the case with the long-travel Spectral (CF and CFR). As such, the carbon frames are identical throughout, giving you the same weight and stiffness values. According to Canyon, the aluminium frame weighs about 500 g more (size M).
The spec of the 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 on test
For our review, Canyon sent us the flagship Spectral 125 CF9 model, weighing in at 13.8 kg. It comes equipped with FOX suspension consisting of a FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 fork and a FOX FLOAT X air shock. The high-quality GRIP2 damper in the fork allows you to adjust both the high and low-speed rebound and compression settings. The shock, on the other hand, only lets you adjust the low-speed rebound and compression. It also comes with a two-stage lockout lever for the climbs.
For the drivetrain and brakes, Canyon choose to rely on components from SRAM. Stopping duties are taken care of by the powerful SRAM CODE RSC four-piston brakes – you’ll often see these on enduro bikes, underlining the new short-travel Spectral’s intentions. RSC means that you can adjust the lever reach and throw without tools. In addition, the so-called SwingLink technology uses a kind of leveraging effect to reduce the effort required when braking, improving modulation. The CODE RSC brakes are combined with the SRAM’s new HS2 rotors, which are said to offer increased braking power and heat resistance. With a 200 mm rotor up front and a 180 mm model at the rear, the Spectral 125 is well equipped for the task at hand. However, riders that weigh more than 80 kg and those who like tackling very long descents might benefit from upgrading to larger models.
The electronic SRAM GX AXS 12-speed groupset and 10-52 t cassette provide crisp shifting. The GX AXS is in no way inferior to the flagship wireless X01 model in terms of shifting performance, it just weighs a little more. The wireless shifting keeps the in-house G5 cockpit looking clean. G5 represents the most robust category of Canyon’s in-house components and is usually used on enduro and downhill bikes. The carbon handlebar is 780 mm wide and combined with a 40 mm stem. In addition to the brake lines, there’s a third cable for the G5 dropper post, which is also supplied by Canyon. On the frame size L, it offers an impressive 200 mm travel and can be inserted all the way into the frame – excellent! Furthermore, the travel of the dropper post can be reduced by up to 25 mm without tools and the remote on the handlebar is a pleasure to use.
You should think about upgrading the tires. Canyon rely on a 2.4” MAXXIS Minion DHR2 up front and a 2.4” MAXXIS DISSECTOR at the rear, both featuring the harder MaxxTerra rubber compound and the puncture-prone EXO casing. We would have preferred the softer MaxxGrip compound, particularly at the front. It would also have made sense to fit tires with a thicker casing to do justice to the bike’s potential and its gravity aspirations. MAXXIS’ latest EXO+ casing looks to be a good alternative. Very aggressive or heavy riders might want to upgrade to the even thicker Doubledown variant. Along with improved puncture protection, thicker casings would allow you to run lower tire pressures, giving you more grip and damping. Additionally, thicker tires would help protect the carbon DT Swiss XMC1501 wheels.
Canyon Spectral 125 CF9 2022
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 1x12
Stem Canyon G5 45 mm
Handlebar Canyon G5 CF 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss XMC1501 29"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHRII MaxxTerra EXO/Dissector MaxxTerra EXO 2,4"
Size S M L XL
The geometry of the 2022 Canyon Spectral 125
Canyon will be offering the new Spectral 125 in four frame sizes from S to XL. By doing so, they’re catering to riders from 163 to 203 cm tall. The size L on test has a reach of 486 mm and a stack height of 632 mm. The seat tube is just 435 mm long, offering all the freedom of movement you need on the descents, especially when combined with the long and fully insertable dropper post. Thanks to a flip chip on the shock mount of the carbon frames, the geometry can be adjusted. The bike gets shipped in the low setting and by flipping the chip to the high position, you can steepen the 64° head angle and 76° seat tube angle by 0.5°. You’ll also decrease the 35 mm bottom bracket drop by 8 mm. The 437 mm chainstay length remains the same for all frame sizes.
The new 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF9 on the trail
At 189 cm tall, our test rider chose to go with the size L of the new Spectral 125. On flat terrain, the riding position is somewhat stretched out and hand-heavy, which limits long-distance comfort but turns out to offer a clear advantage on the climbs, especially on steep inclines. The front wheel of the 125 sticks to the ground no matter how steep things get, allowing you to always stay in control. With the shock open, the firm rear end hardly bobs while pedalling, generating sufficient traction on technical ascents. We never felt the need to reach for the lockout lever on the FOX shock.
The Spectral 125 also keeps your weight forward on the descents, which means you’ll always have plenty of grip on the front wheel. That said, you never feel like you might go over the bars. The short seat tube and long, fully inserted dropper post allow you to throw your weight around unhindered on steep descents. However, it takes a certain amount of effort to get the bike onto the rear wheel. On flatter, flowing trails, the CF9 convinced us with its agile and playful character, never failing to make us smile. The progressive rear suspension is poppy enough to allow you to preload the jumps while offering sufficient reserves to cope with overshot landings and riding errors.
Which bike should you get: the 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF9 or the 2022 Canyon Spectral CFR 29″?
If you enjoy riding shorter laps and tackling steep, technical climbs, you should take a closer look at the new 125. Playful riders who enjoy seizing every airtime opportunity and experienced pilots on the hunt for seconds on the clock will also find it a good companion.
If you prefer long rides and want the bike to instil you with confidence while offering additional reserves, then the long-travel Spectral CFR is the better choice. It can also cope with the occasional visit to the bikepark and demanding trails, such as those found in Finale Ligure, for example. Moreover, you have several wheel size options to choose from.
Conclusion on the new 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF9
The new 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF9 is sure to make its long-travel brother proud, convincing us with proven details and a tidy look. The generous freedom of movement, firm rear suspension and playful character are a lot of fun, resulting in a good time on the trail. If you’re the kind of rider who sticks to flowing trails or singletrack and occasionally enjoys a technical challenge will get a great bike that’s both well-specced and fairly priced.
- clean look and proven details
- freedom of movement on the descents
- firm rear suspension, offering lots of pop and reserves
- tires don't do justice to the bike's potential
For more information on the new Canyon Spectral 125, visit canyon.com
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Words & Photos: Peter Walker