Fast bikes: Canyon Spectral - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine


Trail and Enduro Bikes

Fast bikes: Canyon Spectral

A total overhaul on the popular trail bike

Photos: Boris Beyer

The first of a great selection of new look Canyon bikes, the Spectral is the 140mm stable-mate of the Strive and Sender. With a totally revised design to the previous bike, this really is not just a lick of paint, a tweak of geo and an excuse to pack a load of journalists off to Madeira for some glowing reviews.

The engineers at Canyon have brought the (now World Cup winning) Sender’s influence into the entire range. The clean lines and solid feel of this bike mean business.

With the liked of Joe Barnes spending extensive time aboard this bike in his local stomping ground (sloppy Scotland) it’s been through its paces and will have no bother holding up to the very worst the British weather can throw at it – I wish I’d had it this weekend!

I was sent to Madeira for a press camp first ride and in monsoon conditions, here are my thoughts.

Suspension and chassis

With a totally revised setup for 2018, Canyon have ditched the four bar linkage setup for a new design inspired by the Sender. This gives a super reliable, supple start, and a stable mid that leads to a progressive end stroke. This keeps the suspension feeling planted while giving you the ability to go hard into a section while still keeping shape and feel.

With Fox providing the damping in the form of a 34 Factory fork upfront and a DPS damper at the rear, things are kept simple. No point being overgunned on a 140mm travel trail bike.


There are three different frame options here starting from a full aluminium version that will be available in the smaller two size. The second is a carbon front triangle and aluminium rear stay. And the top model that has a full carbon construction. These then come in separate build kits with the cheapest bike coming in at €2,199, or a sniff under two grand for those of us in the UK. The one that will be looked at in more detail here is the all bells and whistles top model.

With the suspension dealt will by Fox what else is on offer? SRAM have been called in for the groupset with the Gold XX1 Eagle drivetrain and carbon crank. More SRAM equipment is on show with the Guide Ultimate stoppers that have been one of my personal favourites and a previous Dirt 100 choice.

The wheelset has come from the likes of ENVE with the M60 rim set. This give the Spectral some clout among the Santa Cruz and Intense customer base when offering such a high end build and all for the smasher price of €6,999 (£6,175).

Shape and fit

With sizes ranging from extra small all the way to extra large it seems like all bases are covered here (the extra small and small only come in the aluminium frame construction with a lower bottom bracket height for the more vertically challenged). With the XL bike selected for this trip it’s most definitely a sizeable beast. With reach numbers of 490mm and a nice low stand over it’s always nice to be able to select these larger more stable sizes. The Spectral is now a 10mm longer than last year’s model and big enough to put daylight between itself and any of the obvious competition. Following in the mould of the Sender, Canyon are clearly believing big is best.


It didn’t take long to see how capable this machine really was. With the 140mm suspension worked in tandem with the well-cushioned 2.6 Maxxis tyres for a bottomless feeling. The XL sizing had some serious purpose to the shape and feel making for a stable ride when things got tough. Even with the steepish headangle at 66 degrees and the Fox 34 fork it never felt like the bike was lacking. These proved to be great numbers for a good aggressive trail bike.

The Spectral gave a confident ride even with the lack of grip provided from both an unsuitable tyre (Maxxis Recon on the rear) and the freak rainfall. the chassis came out fighting and helped keep the bike rubber side up – this is partly down to the way in which the suspension works but also due the fantastic balance between stiffness and flex


If I’m being picky the handlebar from Renthal was a little on the narrow side for an XL bike. The 760mm with needed some extra love. Something more around the 800mm side of things would have fit in the with sizing.

The knock block system this bike uses also failed after the first few hours. I don’t feel that the rubber that it was constructed from was up to the job.


A fully kitted out Enve wheeled sub 12.5kg trail bike that is man enough to hit anything you send it towards? And all this for under 7k? You really do have to pinch yourself to understand the gravity of this bike. This could very well be the bike that can divide the loyalty of big brand customer base.


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