Canyon decided to provide us with the workhorse used by multiple world champion Fabien Barel, Joe Barnes, and Ines Thoma. The Canyon Spectral AL is one of few bikes on test with an aluminum frame. With 140mm at the rear, it also has the least travel.
This is where the similarity with the standard bike ends, however. The uncompromisingly race-optimized bike that we tested has little in common with the one available to buy on the Canyon website. As we have already mentioned, this was completely legitimate for this comparison test. The main difference was in the suspension. Here Canyon swapped the 140mm travel Fox 32 for a Fox 34 with 160mm travel and RAD internals.
The Fox Float CTD shock was also replaced with a more downhill-oriented Float X with a piggyback reservoir, but more about this later. The rest of the spec is also designed without compromise for racing, convincingly so! SRAM’s XX1 shifting is currently state of the art and just as essentialas the powerful bite provided by the AVID X0 Trail brakes with big 200mm rotors.
The 780mm wide Renthal cockpit holds shifters, brake levers, and the remote adjuster for the RockShox Reverb seatpost and the new slimmed down FOX CTD remote, allowing you to adjust the entire suspension quickly and effectively for the uphill sections.
Initially the raised front end caused by the replacement fork takes some getting used to. This soon changes a few meters down the trail though. Contrary to our fears, the front wheel always has enough downward pressure on it in any riding situation. Indeed, the rider can take advantage of the extra control due to this and the wide bars, especially in steep and rocky sections.
As we have already said, as far as the suspension is concerned a lot has changed. The RAD Fox 34 supplied not only responds well, but also remains high in its travel and does not dive when braking, all thanks to the revised suspension curve. We like it! The Fox Float X shock completely transforms the rear of the bike when compared to the standard shock. It is considerably more progressive, smooth as butter, and stable in the middle of the travel. You feel like you have much more than the stated 140mm of travel at your disposal.
As for the handling, there are no surprises. The bike is firm and well balanced with very precise steering. Hitting the right line is child’s play with the Spectral.
Compared to the competition it is certainly no lightweight, but it accelerates very well and can be ridden fast through berms.
The Canyon Spectral AL 9.0 SL is available for 3.499 EUR.
Conclusion: The Canyon Spectral Factory Team Edition was the fastest bike on our test track. All the testers achieved their best times with it. This success is down to the balanced geometry, the top class suspension, and the well chosen components. A true winners’ bike!
Read more about the comparison here: Grouptest: Enduro World Series Bikes
More Information can be found on the Canyon Website.
Text & Pictures: Christoph Bayer
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.