Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX Review – Trail Bike Group Test

In this group test we set out to find what is the ultimate all round trail shredding machine, something that climbs efficiently yet descends masterfully. The testing ground for these select 8 was the challenging terrain of Provence in France which would help set the bikes apart, to find out the results head over to issue #16 to see the full group-test

Update May 2016: We’ve tested a newer version of the bike, don’t miss our Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX 2016 review

A genuine classic that’s simultaneously a heavy metal gig – this is the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX. At first glance, it’s calm, dutiful, and timeless, but once on the trail, it’s wild, brutal, and fast.

Klare Linien: Das Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX im Stand.
Aesthetically the Canyon looks stunning!

Questions of taste can result in vocal arguments, but the Canyon Spectral CF caused quite a stir by doing the opposite and uniting us: the bike looks damn good. Subtle and stealthy, the matte black paint and distinctive frame design are the key to its success. Plus, the spec suits the frame in more ways than one.

Der Trend von flachen Fronten, bei denen man versucht, durch Flatbars und negativ gedrehte Vorbauten den Lenker so tief wie möglich zu montieren, ist vorbei. Canyon beweist, dass genau das Gegenteil extrem gut funktioniert – wir sind begeistert!
The Renthal bars and stem cockpit were a perfect addition to the bike.

Everything makes sense on the Spectral. The parts are robust, top quality, and one can easily imagine them on a genuine enduro‐specific race bike. Specced with a RockShox Pike fork, Cane Creek DBInline shock, and a wide Renthal cockpit, there’s no denying that the Canyon is packed with praise‐worthy components. Even the Maxxis tyre combination kept us all excited.

Die vielen Einstellungsmöglichkeiten des Cane Creek DBinline-Dämpfers ermöglichen es dem Fahrer, den Hinterbau ganz nach seinen persönlichen Vorlieben abzustimmen. Der Base-Tune-Finder auf der Cane Creek-Webseite erleichtert die Suche nach dem perfekten Setup. Dennoch muss man sich intensiv mit der Materie auseinandersetzen.
Coming equipped with a Canecreek DBInLine, it was hard to fault the spec!

After first encountering the Spectral CF 9.0 EX as the embodiment of harmony, just wait for it to transform into a veritable punk rock moshpit. Faster than an Angus Young guitar solo, the Canyon is begging to be thrashed through the woods. The combination of the long headtube, riser bars with a short stem, and this year’s
comparatively longer reach (now 450mm size large) mean the Spectral delivers inherent stability, especially on fast and steep sections. Not surprising then that our test riders braved some of Provence’s big jumps after just a short time riding this confidence‐inspiring whip. Stable in the air, the Canyon is also delightfully forgiving in the case of the odd bad landing! The balanced 140mm of travel definitely feels like more on this bike.

 Die Kettenführung am Spectral CF 9.0 EX unterstreicht den extrem potenten Eindruck, den das Bike bei den Testern hinterließ. Mit diesem Rad ist auch die Teilnahme an einem Endurorennen kein Problem – go racing!
The added security of a chainguide meant that dropping a chain was never going to be a problem.
Die von Canyon entwickelte Impact Protection Unit schützt das Oberrohr im Falle eines Sturzes vor Beschädigungen durch den Schalthebel. Ein sehr schönes Detail!
A closer look at that impact protection system.

Specification: Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX

  • Fork: Rock Shox PIKE RCT3
  • Shock: Cane Creek DB Inline
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X01
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
  • Seatpost: Rock Shox Reverb Stealth
  • Stem Renthal Apex 50 mm
  • Handlebars: Renthal Fatbar Carbon 780 mm
  • Tyres: Maxxis Ardent 2.4/Maxxis High Roller 2 2.3
  • Wheelset: Mavic Crossmax XL
  • Weight: 12,15 kg
  • Price: 3.999 €


Conclusion: After dominating the group test, the Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX is far and away the most potent bike we tested. Too steep? Too far? Too intense? None of these excuses fly once you’re aboard the Spectral. If you’re after an uncompromisingly downhill‐orientated bike with a super setup at a decent price, this is the right one. Oh, and it’s a mean climber too, almost weightless at just 12.15kg. Best buy!


  • Potent Trailbike
  • Balanced Handling
  • Top Spec
  • Cool Design


  • Lacks comfort for longer rides
  • 32‐tooth chain ring too big for long climbs
Das Canyon Spectral eignet sich auch für etwas gewagtere Aktionen.
The Canyon was inspiring to ride both up and downhill!

Other bikes in test: Cannondale Trigger Carbon 2 | CUBE Stereo 140 Super HPC RACE 27.5 | Giant Trance Advanced 1 | ROSE ROOT MILLER 3 | ROTWILD R.Q1 FS 27.5 | SCOTT Genius 710 | Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon 29

Update May 2016: We’ve tested a newer version of the bike, don’t miss our Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX 2016 review

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer

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