If you follow us at GearLimits you might have noticed a slight preference for riding on rougher, steeper and more technical terrain that is hard to find in our home trails in the Netherlands. That means we have a special love for full-suspension bikes with a nice large travel on the suspension. So a bit of the All-mountain to Enduro categories.
But because I also ride mainly in NL, I also always hope that the fully with large travel I’m riding on will do nicely on my home trails. The Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 SL is just such a bike that has proven extensively that it is not only quite good but very versatile.
We rode the Canyon at Winterberg Bikepark for a day and a half. As you can see in the video review, four “middle-aged men” tried out the Canyon. From very experienced MTB-ers with a lot of bike park experience, to much less experienced, bikepark “first-timers”.
After Winterberg I rode the Spectral on my home rail in Zeist. Circumstances in Winterberg varied, with dry and grippy but also moist and smooth parts. On the XC trail in Zeist, sand and forest turf on the trails.
We're calling it "4 Middle-Aged men at a Bike Park." Never too old to ride. Great first half day at @bikeparkwinterberg with @joest_hoekstra and @jimmyfock. Tomorrow full day with a lot of filming to be done. Reviews coming up and of course our Old Men video. Very happy with the bikes by @iamspecialized @trekbikes @cube.bikes.official @canyon #bikepark #bike #park #downhill #downhillmtb #downhillmountainbiking #bike #bikes #bikestagram #bikepark #riding #livetoride #theoutbound #outdoorlife #outdooradventures #outdoors #trail #trails #roadtrippin #roadtrip #stoked #getoutside #summer #keepitwild #staywild
The Spectral CF 9.0 SL has a full carbon frame, with also a carbon rear triangle. Other parts such as the SRAM X1 Eagle Carbon crank, the Renthal Fat Var Lite Carbon handlebar, and the DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline carbon rims are made of this light, strong, rigid material that at the same time also dampens well. That makes this Spectral a light but also really a comfortable bike that also offers a lot of power on pedaling.
The wheelbase of 1141 mm helps the bike’s stability on long, fast stretches, and you can throw a bike into the high berms with a smile. The berm will happily launch you and your bike with a big boost on exit. Great to feel the g-forces on your bike and yourself in this way. Also on steep descents and at much less high speed, it was easy to keep the bike in balance and steer through tighter turns. Less exciting, but very nice to continue to feel that control on those sections as well.
On the Dutch XC trails the bike also steers quite nicely, not as tight as you can send XC hardtails through a corner, but for an enduro bike, the bike tracks very well.
What I especially noticed in the bike park, to the resounding affirmation of my colleague riders, is how balanced the bike is. In jumps, the bike left the ground very evenly, and in the air, the bike also gave a good feeling of confidence. The Fox Factory Float DPS EVOL rear shock and Fox Factory 34 Float on the front fork, handle landings perfectly.
On an XC trail, you can lock the dampers so that you have a much stiffer rider, which also benefits the pedaling efficiency. There is no noticeable bounce in the rear shock during pedaling.
Reverb Dropper Post
I want to briefly reflect on the dropper post on this bike. I am a big supporter of dropper posts. This mechanism allows you to easily lower or raise your saddle, depending on the terrain demands (climbing = saddle high / descending = saddle low). The Rockshox Reverb Stealth B1 is super smooth, and you can put it at any height you want. It reacts very quickly and it is really crucial in facilitating the optimal cycling posture. Droppers are somewhat heavier than normal seat posts, more expensive and may require maintenance, but they are more than worth it.
Smooth and wide range
The Canyon Spectral has the SRAM X01 Eagle 12s derailleur and trigger shifter that shifts sharply and smoothly. Even without a front derailleur this group offers more than enough range with a range of 10-50 on the SRAM XG-1295 Eagle cassette. We love 1×12 speeds.
At the bike park, you obviously do not shift that much, but more so on an XC trail on the National Park Utrechtste Heuvelrug here in the Netherlands, where you go back and forth and up and down between gears and where sometimes you will also need the top gear.
This is how you brake
“Braking is for people who can not steer.” is something I sometimes say in more unwise and overconfident moments. That applies primarliy to riding on Dutch trails. Some routes here are totally rideable at speed, without needing to brake. The challenge is an interesting one. A bike park is a whole different story. On the flowtrails where we did between 40 and 50 kph you have to keep checking your speed (depending on how proficient you are). On most parts, you will at least be feathering your brakes almost continuously. And on other steeper parts it is crucial that the brakes remain tight, but brake progressively, ie not slamming down on speed in an all or nothing kind of shock, but with feeling. Light where possible, heavier where necessary. The SRAM Guide RSC did that job well. With 200 mm front brake disc and 180 mm rear they had enough stopping power for the conditions we encountered.
Besides the CF 9.0 SL model, the Canyon Spectral is available in various set-ups:
- Spectral CF 9.0 Pro: € 3999
- Spectral CF 9.0: € 3499
- Spectral CF 8.0: €2999
- Spectral AL 7.0: now € 2499
- Spectral AL 6.0: € 2499
- Spectral AL 5.0: now € 1999
Canyon is a “direct to consumer” merk, and bikes can be bought through the Canyon.com website.
The Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 SL is a very high-quality bike for a very good price. Of course € 4999 is a lot of money, (though there are many bikes that are much more expensive than this one) but you get a bike with high-end components, an elegant and innovative design (that is, of course, a taste issue) but above all a bike that performs very well under very many different conditions.
Perhaps the most important thing that struck us, both with the less experienced and more experienced of us, is that it is a bicycle that gives incredible confidence. It responds instantly but calmly, helps you through difficult moments and corrects errors that you did not even know you could make. We absolutely recommend this bike.