Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Action

CANYON SPECTRAL 125 CF 8 REVIEW

Review by Nic Hall | Photos by Dusten Ryen

Canyon Bicycles let us hang onto the Spectral 125 for a few extra months following our First Ride Review, to get a bunch more rides and understand exactly what rider this bike is for. The extra test rides we had planned turned into grabbing the mini-Spectral for every trail ride we went on for the past few months. The Canyon Spectral 125 is marketed by Canyon as the shredder’s trail bike and we can’t say they are far off. It is poppy, short, snappy, and responsive in all the right ways. It can’t all be shredding and slapping corners right? For this test we took the bike from our favorite shralpers to repeat loops on our local test tracks to really define where this bike fits in today’s genre-rich market to provide you with a detailed and comprehensive canyon spectral 125 cf 8 review.

QUICK HITS

• 125mm “Triple Phase” Horst Link Suspension
• HTA 64°
• STA 76° (effective)
• REACH 486mm (Large)

Price: $2,899/€2,499 – $6,299/€5,799
Website: Canyon.com

THE LAB

Canyon Bicycles offer the Spectral 125 in either carbon fiber or 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 of travel 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 third of the travel and drops off deeper into the stroke to minimize pedal kickback.

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Profile Shot

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.

Canyon’s Spectral 125 geometry takes a lead from the enduro bike world, with some progressive numbers for its travel class that 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 three carbon builds and two aluminum builds to suit a wide range of budgets from $2,899 to $6,299. We tested the Canyon 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 30.4lbs (13.8kg) and offers about the best bang-for-your-buck build we could imagine at $5,199.

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Action

THE DIRT

The Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 model we received has the carbon fiber frame shod with a very solid parts kit, and for a touch over $5,000, it would be hard to get this kind of performance out of any other kit. We were stoked on the predictability of the Shimano Deore XT brakes and drivetrain, and the ease of setup and problem-free performance of the Fox suspension thus far. The paint is a very nice matte/gloss combo that has unfortunately seen some better days after some abusive UTV shuttles, long pedals in the rain, and pina coladas.

You would not expect a raked out, short chainstay bike to be the best climber in the world, but I have been very impressed at the agility and technical climbing performance of the Spectral 125. The poppy suspension allows the rider to move the bike up very technical terrain with short bursts of power and the rear end is compact enough to snap around the tightest of switchbacks. The front wheel can begin to wander a touch on the steepest of pitches, but if you’re a Spectral 125 rider you’ll probably have solid climbing muscles from all the repeat sessioning this bike begs you to do.

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Action

Climbing on sustained gradient fire roads is the only drawback of the Spectral 125, where the lively suspension has noticeable pedal bob, but that is easily remedied by flipping the platform switch on the shock to calm things down.

The flats and rolling terrain are really where you start to see Canyon’s Spectral 125 CF8 come alive. It pops off even the smallest of roots, turning every undulation into a natural jump. Pumping through trail compressions generates a reward of speed that’ll have you acting out your best Crankworx dual slalom race run on every descent. The short and stout rear end snaps turns with rabid agility, darting side to side on the trail with a quick tilt of the hips, and airing out of tight linked turns is effortless. The Spectral 125 is the kind of bike that challenges the connection of tire bead and rim frequently, as it encourages corners to be attacked like few others. You probably won’t want to take the most efficient line in wandering terrain, but you will definitely be having the most fun out of your buddies.

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Action

On long smooth downhills, the Spectral gives great confidence sending doubles and triples that punch way above the bike’s class. The ultra-progressive rear end feels nearly bottomless even when overshooting a landing, though beyond a certain size of hit your body can begin to take the toll. Thanks to the natural, relaxed position on the bike, it whips and tables with ease and feels like a 29-inch wheeled slopestyle bike on jumps.

During the Canyon Spectral 125 review where we saw the bike start to crack was in its cool demeanor was in rough, square-edged terrain, or repeated hard compressions. At high speeds, the rear shock starts to pack out and has trouble keeping you on line. This is made all the worse by the stable geometry and attacking body position, which can get you into these hairy situations fast. Luckily, you will be able to pop over most of these kind of problems as the bike just asks to be in the air at every opportunity.

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Action

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Canyon Spectral 125 CF8 is everything Canyon has marketed it as and more. It is confidence inspiring and can ride terrain we usually don’t think about taking a 125mm bike in. While it is not the fastest XC bike we have tested and starts to show its weakness in sustained big bike territory, it makes up for in good old, plain fun. If you are looking for a one bike quiver and like to keep the bike in the air as much as on the ground, the Canyon Spectral 125 CF8 is a very solid choice. Similarly, if you already have a burly long travel bike but want a bike that lets you maintain your aggro riding style with less travel that climbs and rolls much faster, this could be your match. Just know that this bike isn’t an XC racer and it’s not an enduro machine either, it is designed to offer the speed and playful demeanor of a shorter travel play bike with the geo and confidence of a bigger bike.

Price:$5,199/€4,499
Weight: 30.4 lbs / 13.8 kg
Website:
Canyon.com

VISIT CANYON TO GET YOURS!

CANYON SPECTRAL 125 CF 8 SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: Carbon Fiber, 125mm

Fork: Fox 36 Performance Elite Grip2, 140mm
Shock: Fox Float X Performance, 210x50mm

DRIVETRAIN
Shifter: Shimano Deore XT | 12spd

Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT | 12spd
Cassette: Shimano Deore XT | 12spd(10-51T)
Cranks: Shimano Deore XT (32T)
Brakes: Shimano Deore XT (203f/180r ICE TECH FREEZA rotors)

WHEELS
Wheelset: DT Swiss XM1700

Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.4” | Maxxterra | EXO
Rear Tire: Maxxis Dissector 29×2.4” | Maxxterra | EXO

COCKPIT
Handlebar: G5 AL | 780W | 30R | 31.8C

Stem: G5 | 40L | 31.8C
Seatpost: G5 Dropper Post (S: 150mm, M: 170mm, L/XL: 200mm0
Saddle: Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp

Canyon Spectral 125 CF 8 Review

We Dig

Poppy, playful geometry
Progressive leverage curve
Just a fun all around bike
Quality, headache free components

We Don’t

Unsettled in big terrain at speed, which it will lure you into!

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