Canyon has listened to the calls from riders who seek an aggressive short travel bike, that can ride any trail with ease and still pedal back to the top, with the launch of the new Spectral 125. Canyon delivers some of its most progressive geometry in a stout frame coupled with poppy handling in the Spectral 125. We got it out on our local test track for a few laps and we have to say, we are impressed.
The Spectral 125 is being offered in both carbon fiber and aluminum options that match the category 4 “enduro” strength rating of its bigger brother. Both materials are designed to offer the same ride feel, with a 500g weight penalty for the cheaper aluminum frame. The 125mm out back are provided by the classic Canyon Triple Phase Horst Link platform, but they’ve tweaked the kinematics to better handle the rigors of hardcore riding on the short travel platform. The leverage curve ramps quickly to give support in the mid stroke and generate play-friendly levels of pop, whilst avoiding harshness at the bottom of the travel. Anti-squat has been increased to increase pedal-friendliness in the first ⅓rd of the travel, and drops off deeper into the stroke to minimize pedal kickback.
Frame details include double sealed bearings, replaceable pivot hardware, internally housed cable management, down tube and chainstay protectors, and a stunning matte/gloss paint job. A small frame mounted bag and water bottle with cage are included in every build, which makes this bike ready to go out of the box.
The geometry takes a leaf from the enduro bike world, with some progressive numbers for its travel class that should support the “ripper” attitude on the trail. The carbon fiber frame benefits from a flip chip to modify ride height by 8mm and alter the angles by half a degree. The aluminum frame loses the flip chip and blends the low mode’s slacker head angle and lower BB with the steeper seat angle. The large size sports a stretched 486mm reach with 25mm gaps between each size in the range. The head angle is 64.1 degrees in the low mode, with a 35mm bb drop and 76-degree seat angle. The stack is 632mm, and the 437mm chainstay produces a wheelbase of 1259mm – certainly not a short bike for its minimal travel.
The Spectral 125 is being offered in 3 carbon builds and 2 aluminum to suit a wide range of budgets from $2,899 to $6,299. We tested the Spectral 125 CF 8, the second-from-top tier build that is what we’d consider the most “shredder” spec on the carbon fiber frame. Build highlights include a Shimano XT 12spd drivetrain and 4-pot brakes, paired with Fox performance suspension in the form of a 140mm travel 36 up front and Float X out back. The balance of value and performance is maintained by the use of several Canyon in-house G5 components, including the stem, bars, and dropper. Ergon touch-points give a touch of class with their SM10 Enduro Comp saddle and grips. Rounded out with a DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset and Maxxis rubber, the CF8 weighs in at 13.8kg and offers about the best bang-for-your-buck build we could imagine at $5,199.
Most of our test tracks start with a solid 30 minute climb with punchy, technical sections which showed us that the aggressive, short travel Spectral 125 has the traction and pedaling performance to hang with dedicated aggressive XC bikes we have been testing this year. Power transfer is surprisingly responsive even with the shock in the fully open mode. Flip the switch and the Spectral 125 will reward your pedaling effort with quick spin up and nearly zero pedal bob. The geometry feels quite balanced generally, with the limited rear-end sag keeping enough weight on that slack front end to keep the handling in check. The weight is of course higher than the more XC-oriented crowd, but still quite reasonable at 13.8kg for a bike that encourages you to take a beating like it does.
On the way down, we were very impressed at the Spectral 125’s ability to pop off even the smallest of features compared with the typical longer legged bikes that sport this kind of geometry. It really rewards the rider who is looking for maximum fun out of any trail, but manages to do so in a calm and stable manner thanks to the slack angles and relatively long wheelbase. The aggressive geometry will still support steep shoots and high speed sections with ease, but although the rear end does well for its 125mm travel, you can begin to exceed its capabilities before you hit the limits of the geometry. While I did hit the bottom of the travel several times, it was never harsh and the bike kept asking for more. The moderate rear end length prevents the overall agility from suffering too much, still allowing for some snappy turns and wheelie popping.
The Wolf’s First Impression
After getting the Spectral 125 out of a few laps on our muddy test track, we can’t be more impressed with Canyon’s latest release. With a solid component build and geometry to support some serious shredding, the Spectral 125 is gunning for trail bike of the year out the gates. Overall it blends a load of good elements into one short travel package, and we’re stoked to keep pushing the limits to figure out where Canyon’s new Spectral 125 lets up.
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