Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen

Since coming to North America just a few years ago after developing a die-hard following in Europe, it seems the German bike brand is quickly spreading their roots as we see more and more Canyon bikes out on the trails. This consumer-direct brand is known for having beautifully crafted bikes with a unique aesthetic, delivering a great spec value for the price, and having a wide offering of bikes for just about any discipline of riding. We received our Canyon Spectral CF for review many months ago and really wanted to put it through a lengthy review process before reporting back. Let us check out some of the features and specs before we give too much away.

Canyon’s new Spectral 29 features an updated Triple Phase Suspension design, which has increased anti-squat at full sag but is tuned at full travel to limit chain drive forces. The progressivity curve has been ramped up to maximize every bit of usable travel out of the 150mm rear end. In our experience, some of Canyon’s shorter travel bikes can be a bit stiffer or firm off the top when tackling chop at speed but open up nicely and perform great into the deeper parts of the travel. Some tuning can help greatly, and we also notice that riders over about 180lbs do not have as much of this feedback as lighter riders do. A rather minor note for some however we did not notice very much feedback on this 150mm Spectral 29.


Canyon integrates a flip chip into the rear shock mount to give both a high and low setting, which gives a head tube angle and seat tube angle adjustment of 0.5 degrees either way and brings the bottom bracket up in high mode, for those looking to climb more technical terrain. Due to availability issues Canyon only had an XL Spectral CF29, which is bigger than we would like but gave us a good opportunity to test what a really long bike would feel like for our 5’11” – 6’1” testers. In the low mode the XL Spectral 29 has a reach of 510mm, 76.5-degree seat tube, 64.5-degree head tube angle and a chainstay length of 437mm and a stack height of 638mm. We had some fun on the long bike and see how some riders could enjoy the stability and confident feel but would much rather have a large as it would be a lot more playful and fun on tighter trails.


Our Canyon Spectral 29 CF8 build features a 160mm Fox 36 Elite Grip 2 fork and a Fox DPX2 Performance Elite rear shock. The drivetrain is a full Shimano XT 12-speed kit with 170mm cranks. Braking duties are handled by 203/180mm Shimano XT 4-piston Trail brakes. Canyon specs of DT Swiss wheels in the form of XM1700 rims wrapped in Maxxis rubber; a Minion DHR2 2.4 rear and DHF 2.5 front. The cockpit is all in-house canyon components, which are some of the nicer-looking OEM parts we have seen. The G5 stem is 40mm long and the G5 bar has a 30mm rise and is 780mm wide. The dropper post length has been matched to each frame size, our XL and L both come with 170mm travel, which is great.

Canyon has longevity in mind when looking at the fine details on the Spectral frame. All threaded mounting points have been made replaceable with this iteration of the bike. A threaded bottom bracket keeps creaking to a minimum and a standard dropper clamp is a nice change from their previous frame. Cable management is very user friendly with internally routed tubing for easy install. The rear thru-axle has a tool-less folding handle that makes it both easy to remove and install and minimizes contact points for branches and rocks on the trail. The integrated chain and downtube protection are both expertly molded to the frame and replaceable. As we have grown to expect from Canyon Mountain bikes, the finished appearance and industrial design are top notch.


Pedaling the Canyon Spectral CF 29 without the platform switch engaged delivers great traction but the bike bobs a bit when trying to put the power down. Flipping the switch makes it firm and fast and we found ourselves using the switch often during longer climbs aboard the Spectral 29. Despite the long reach of the XL, the climbing position is very comfortable and easy to deliver power from.

Our testers were quite surprised that for length of this extra-large bike, we still were able to get it airborne and maneuver it around. The suspension is lively and springy, things we really like in a bike. It is easy to preload the bike and get it to float over obstacles in the trail. It is stable at speed whether it be in air or on ground and it had us pushing our limits of speed and encouraged us to stay tucked in that aero-attack position just a little bit longer.

Our only real criticism of the bike comes from the fact that it is not the right size for us. We love a 475mm reach, it is our dream number, so to have something so much longer did take some getting used to. While we did like a few of the traits a longer bike provides, the compromise on tighter terrain, and playfulness on small features is not worth it. That being said, the rear end loves to break free with the slightest actuation of the hips or a tap of the brake. It makes Scandi-flicks, and other aspects of riding very fun and only made us wish we had a size large even more. No matter how fast we were riding the Canyon Spectral 29, it never felt like we were at the limit of the bike.


The Wolf’s Last Word

As we have grown to expect from Canyon, the Spectral CF 29 is a competent bike that will be a great option for riders who are looking for speed, confidence, and fun on the trails. If you are a jibber, or want an absolute play bike, then you probably know a 150/160mm 29er is not the best tool for the job. That is not to take away from the well-rounded feel this bike delivers, it is just not a 27.5 play bike. If you want a speed machine that will cover miles, jump well, instill confidence and let you ride faster and harder, then this thing is certainly a solid choice. When a bike rides as well as this, comes with a very competent spec and retails for just under five grand, it is hard to find much to complain about.

Price: $4,999
Weight: 31lbs 11oz


Frame: Lightweight Carbon | 150mm
Fork: FOX 36 Performance Elite Grip 2 | 160mm
Shock: FOX DPX2 Performance Elite

Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston
Shifter: Shimano Deore XT, 12-speed
Handlebar: Canyon G5 Riser | 780mm – 30mm rise
Stem: Canyon G5 | 40mm
Saddle: Fizik Terra Alpaca X5
Seatpost: Iridium Dropper Post

Wheels: DT Swiss XM1700 29″
Front tire: Maxxis Minion DHF, 2.5″
Rear tire: MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4”

Bottom Bracket: Shimano MT800, Threaded
Cassette: Shimano XT 10-51 | | 12-speed
Cranks: Shimano XT, 32T
Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT | 12-speed


We Dig

Playful and lively suspension
Goes downhill fast!
Canyon aesthetic
Fun to ride hard

We Don’t

Scarce Availability


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