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  1. #1
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    Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 quickie review

    I've only been out for two rides so far but I've gotten a good impression of how my new bike rides.

    The Canyon Spectral is a 27.5/650b wheel size 140mm travel trail bike. Canyon market it as an enduro bike, but I'd hesitate to call it that due to the fact that they only spec 32mm stanchion forks. The geometry is new-school trail focused (67° HA, fairly short chainstays, fairly long TT) with all the expected new axle and fastening standards including a 142/12 rear axle, BB92, direct mount derailleur and of course a tapered headtube. In my opinion this is very much a do everything trail-bike and not a descent focused enduro bike.



    If you're not familiar with Canyon, check out canyon.com. They sell their bikes exclusively online and they ship from Germany to lots of countries (but not the US, I'm afraid). They shipped my bike to Denmark on a Thursday and it arrived via UPS on a Monday, the shipping was ridiculously cheap (~$40).

    My size Large Spectral 6.0 arrived in a great big cardboard box that was very well padded. The bike has a couple of scratches on the frame after shipping but I'm not a nit-picker about scratches so I decided not to raise a stink. After attaching the handlebar, inserting the Reverb seatpost, right brake, dropper remote and front wheel (and my pedals) the bike was ready to ride. Wheels were true, dropper and brakes were properly bled, everything in tip top shape. The frame is a real gem, really well finished everywhere and I love the raw alu treatment with simple graphics.

    The 6.0 is the cheapest model Spectral but you wouldn't really think so based on the component spec. The only letdown is the Evolution series Fox 32 Float fork which is either over or under damped, depending on whether you select Trail or Descend mode. But after some rebound and pressure tuning, it's perfectly serviceable in Descend mode. All other components are really just fantastic. Reverb stealth, Mavic Crossride wheels that are a bit heavy but very stiff and agile, Performance series Float CTD shock, Mountain King II 2.4 tires, SLX/XT drivetrain with clutch XT derailleur. The Elixir 5 brakes feel good, but I have a friend with the same model that have been rebuilt twice so I'm a bit wary of them. The cockpit is mostly Canyon branded, with a 740mm handlebar that feels great, Ergon GA1 grips, a 70mm stem and a decent saddle.

    So how does the bike handle?

    First, a bit about my old bike. I am coming from an Ibis Mojo SL which is still a fantastic bike. What I like best about it is how agile and playful it is, it never feels like a handful on the climbs and the rear travel is very progressive but smooth. It has never been the stiffest bike however, with visible fore/aft flex near the head tube and I usually felt the rear end doing its thing on rough descents while I just focused on controlling the front end. This is a fact that I had accepted as a quirk of the bike and didn't bother me too much honestly - it's light, fast and fun. But it was always too small for me! That was my primary motivation in getting a new a bike, finding one that actually fit me and where I wouldn't bang my knees on the handlebar in steep climbs. When I rode a Bronson Carbon (size L) last winter I discovered just how wrong my lovely Mojo SL fit me, the top tube is just ridiculously short for a size L. Looking at the reach and stack numbers on the Bronson vs. the Spectral, the Spectral is a bit taller and longer but not by much. I admit that I ordered the Spectral without even so much as seeing one in real life first, the value is just too good to resist - and the numbers all looked perfect. Early reviews are really positive as well.

    On to the Spectral!

    My regular ~25km XC loop has a few rough sections and some fun features but it's mostly just easygoing singletrack with sharp uphills and easy downhills. The Spectral is about 1.5 kgs (3+ pounds) heavier than my old bike, at 14.4 kg without pedals. I really never felt the increased weight, even on the couple of long climbs that we have. The front end wanders just a tad more than on the Mojo, but it's somehow easier to put weight on the front end while climbing to get it under control. The tires are pretty draggy, which you can feel on the climbs but they feel fantastic at all other times. The rear end is very well behaved when climbing, I leave the shock in Trail mode and after figuring out the best rebound setting the rear end just disappears under me.

    When "just riding along" on the trail, the bike feels nimble and surprisingly fast. Line changes come as fast as you can perform them and it feels like I've been riding this bike for years. I had expected some unwieldy-ness due to the larger wheel size (me and 29ers don't get along due to this) but I honestly felt no difference in agility and responsiveness. High straight line speed comes a bit easier than on 26" wheels and I feel the the bumps just a little bit less, but as a whole the transition to 27.5/650b was pretty much a non-event for me.

    On descents and on rough ground you can really feel the stiffness of the frame. Fore/aft flex in the HT area is pretty much non-existent. I can see the fork flutter just a little bit but this is a pretty well known fact about the Fox 32mm forks and it feels plenty stiff for my purposes, at least as stiff as my old straight steerer RockShox Revelation with a 20mm T/A. The rear end is especially stout and follows the front much better than on my old bike. I like how the rear end resists lifting up when descending, it feels like it has some anti-gravity stuff going on when descending fast. A quirk of the Mojo's short wheelbase and steep headangle was that it liked to buck a little bit when going down steep stuff, I'm glad that this doesn't happen on the Spectral. While the wheelbase is longer and the headangle slacker, the front end is very easy to manipulate at will; wheelies happen very easily which makes me VERY happy since I like riding the front end light and just let the rear bounce over stuff.

    I later took the bike to a short (~5km), fun local trail that has a bunch of small jumps, doubles, and switchbacks along with some good drops and a whole heap of berms. I really love this trail even though it's very short, there's always a fun feature just around the corner. The Spectral really rails in the berms, I soon figured out that I didn't need to brake at all - just get low, tilt the bike and ride the berm - the exit speed is crazy! The jumps and drops are so drama-free that I need to look around town for some more epic stuff to drop off of!

    Overall I am very happy with my purchase. Any Euros reading this that are looking for a good trail bike for the season should take a good, long look at the Spectral. The price is pretty incredible, under $3000/~€2100 for a 140mm bike with a dropper post is just unheard of value here in the old world.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 quickie review-vfi1nonl.jpg  


  2. #2
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    Nice review. Shame, if this was available in the US it would probably be my next bike.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. Yes I suppose there have to be massive logistical issues that prevent Canyon from entering the US market, I'm guessing they'd sell a LOT of them.

    BTW here's the geometry stats on the Spectral if people are interested.
    Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 quickie review-4qvdtya.jpg

  4. #4
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    Great review. i've looked at one of the higher spec ones but unfortunately hey don't ship to mu country either. Those Euro designers have spent many years really refining the 4 bar linkage so it climbs and descends well.

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    Awesome review, thanks for that - I'm looking at buying one as well. What is your size and inseam? Canyon's size calculator says I should get an M, but the review from Bike radar's got me spooked a bit. I'm 1m76 with an inseam of 84cm.

  6. #6
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    I'm 185cm tall and I measured my inseam at 87cm. I just did the Canyon size calculator with some rough measurements and it tells me my size is M...which is just plain wrong. I think you should get a L and just get a shorter stem if it's too long.

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    Nice review helps me a lot. Does large fit you well? i´am around the same high and inseam.
    I think this is going to be my new bike, have been looking at it for a month now.
    Will you recommend it to a rider who has only ridden a hardtail with 100mm fork, who is looking for more fun?

    greetings from Denmark

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaqup View Post
    Nice review helps me a lot. Does large fit you well? i´am around the same high and inseam.
    I think this is going to be my new bike, have been looking at it for a month now.
    Will you recommend it to a rider who has only ridden a hardtail with 100mm fork, who is looking for more fun?
    greetings from Denmark
    Yes the large fits me very well, I wouldn't change a thing about the fit.

    Coming from a "normal" hardtail, this bike will be VERY different! If you are riding an entry level hardtail, I can promise you that you'll have more fun on this bike. It's a very forgiving and easy handling bike so I'd recommend it to anyone. However, it all depends on where you're riding. For most Danish riding for example, I'd say that the tires are a bit too heavy duty, but those are easily changed to something ligter.

    God fornøjelse med din nye cykel

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    I do come form a entry level HT but i have been riding for some time (3 years), so i got the power and technical abilities sorted. I´am all ways pushing that Cube to the very limit of what it can do
    I just need this bike for fun though, the long distances i.e. 70km+ will be done on a HT.

    Tak skal du have, har været lun på den længe

  10. #10
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    Took the plunge on a Spectral AL 6 also, so far very happy, a couple of changes planned down the line but for the money its outstanding (lighter wheel set, and perhaps fork upgrade when the bank allows)! Only thing I'm struggling with slightly is getting my suspension setup right with the CTD platforms, what sort of weight are you and PSI's are you running?

    Greetings from an englishman in Sweden!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiddles105 View Post
    Took the plunge on a Spectral AL 6 also, so far very happy, a couple of changes planned down the line but for the money its outstanding (lighter wheel set, and perhaps fork upgrade when the bank allows)! Only thing I'm struggling with slightly is getting my suspension setup right with the CTD platforms, what sort of weight are you and PSI's are you running?

    Greetings from an englishman in Sweden!
    I think I've got my setup okay now. I'm around 92kg + gear (maybe 3-4kg of gear). I'm running 70 psi in the fork and 170 psi in the shock. Fork is 4 clicks from slowest rebound, shock is in the middle of the rebound settings. I run the shock at Trail and the fork set to Descend when riding (flick it to Trail when climbing or on asphalt). I set the psi very roughly (no measuring) by trying to get around 30% sag when in Descend on both shock and fork. You might have more luck by being more precise and checking out the Fox guidelines on setting the pressure.

    The damper in the fork isn't fantastic, but it seems to work okay with these settings, for me. I'm in the same boat for upgrades, I'd love to get a Pike and some light and wide rims later on, but these are both nice-to-haves.

  12. #12
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    sounds like we will end up having identical bikes!

    i read in a review that they were having a bit of trouble getting the suspension set up, perhaps something to do with the linkage. i weigh about the same but currently running a little higher PSI, i've found the forks damping ok so far, although pretty flexy lowers, its more the rear shock, seems to be little difference between Climb and trail, went for a ride yesterday in the rain and think I'm getting closer to what i want.

    thanks for the reply!

  13. #13
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    Hello,

    As I am really kind of Canyon Spectral, I plan also to buy this bike!
    The only think that makes me nervous is the size the canyon size suggest me.
    My height is about 1.78 and the inseam about 81cm.

    The canyon size suggest me to take the S but with a seat tube length of 39 cm I suppose this is small for me.

    I have a HT 46cm cube that fits me just fine.
    Also in most of the brands on AM FS bikes I am at size M.

    I can see also that the largest size is the L so I suspect maybe that their sizing is less than other brands.

    Well as you can see I am really confused and would need your help now that you have ridden this bike.

    thank you.

  14. #14
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    First of all, ignore the S size - that is way too small for anyone that is 178cm tall.

    Second, you're in that tricky zone where an M might be just a little too small but an L might be a bit too large. My advice, taking into consideration that BikeRadar said the M size is pretty small - get the L and plan on getting a shorter stem, 50-60mm. Keep in mind that you can go even shorter than that! For my part, the 70mm stem is spot-on but I wouldn't go any shorter.

    I'd recommend that you look at the top tube length and reach and stack numbers for the Spectral and try and match them to the same numbers on your particular Cube. Take into account the stem length that you have on your Cube.

  15. #15
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    Thank you very much for your comments.
    At least I am sure S is not the correct size for me now.

    I will follow the guides you sent me in order to make my final choose.

  16. #16
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    Got a spectral 650b 7.0 - took me a few outings to get used to it, but after a few month riding, I have to say, it is an amazing bike. The only downside is the Elexir 5 brakes which really suck, but apart from that it's incredible to ride!

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