Testing the womens specific Canyon Spectral Women CF 8.0
Photographer: Mike Blewitt Tester: Anna Beck
What the heck is a Spectral? Is it even a thing? The dictionary states that a Spectral is ‘of, or relating to a Spectrum’. How the heck does that relate to a bike? What does a spectrum have to do with cycling? Why did Canyon call it a Spectral?
Ryan Walsch tested a Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 SL about 12 months ago, and since they offer a women’s version of the bike built from the ground up with tweaks in everything from geometry to platform, suspension build and contact points – it was deemed worth looking at. In essence, Canyon have rejected the recent trend of altering the specifications on an existing unisex frame for women, and have built the Spectral WMN from the ground up.
The bike tested, the Spectral Women 8.0, is the second from the top offering in the women’s line, and certainly looks the goods, but how will all this tweaking and speccing ride? Will it live up to the claims of letting me ride any trail like I have known it my whole life, allowing me to tackle the toughest trails with utmost confidence?
Tester: Anna Beck
Riding Experience: Years of racing and riding around Australia and the world when time and funds permit
Generally Rides: Cannonade Scalpel, Yeti SB45, Cannonade CAAD12
Bike Test Track: The gnar of White Rock, the flow of Brisbane central trails and the park-rat of Falls Creek
It’s no doubt that the 27.5”/140mm trail platform is a very popular option; trail bikes are now so light and capable enough to serve you on some of the toughest of descents, while allowing you to pedal up under your own steam without cursing like a pirate as you may have done when riding the trail bikes of 6-7 years ago. If you really want one bike to rule them all (outside of XCO and DH racing), a trail bike with these sorts of specs is where you should be looking.
Unboxing the Spectral generated similar feelings to Christmas morning. Though it’s not mine, there is something very fresh and exciting about unboxing and building a new bike and the excitement of what its potential is.
Pulling the bike from the box, the colour and aesthetics were an immediate stand out. The aquamarine colour is a show-stopper, and features a two-tones teal/aqua colour combo which is sure to turn heads. For those looking for a slightly more subdued colour the bike is offered in the slightly more subtle black/red hue of the Wild Cherry. The lines of the bike are bold but not overbuilt, and toe the line between form and function in an attractive package. The form of the bike really matches the rest of the Canyon range, from the LUX through to the Strive.
The bike is built and packaged in Koblenz, Germany, to be sent, assembled and ridden. There is no rigmarole of trying to build the Spectral from the bottom up, and you need not fear bottom brackets, headset grease or anything else too technical; as long as you are handy with an allen key you should be right. In just a few minutes the dropper was fitted, bars attached, suspension pumped and I was ready to ride. Canyon supply everything that you need to do this at home and there are guides on their website – but if in doubt you can always call your local shop and ask them to do the build. Don't be shy, they would be crazy to turn away a customer who needs help with a bike.
I was surprised at just how well kitted out the bike was, from cable rub-guards to the provided torque wrenches and shock pumps, Canyon really has the direct to consumer plug-and-play model dialled. I appreciated the small touches, like the frame protection which doubled to hide the cables on the downtube, and the screw-in frame protector located on the top tube behind the headset to eliminate the woes of having a shifter destroy your carbon frame in case of an epic flip out. These are all small features which really add up to a quality build and I found them quite impressive, having ridden and reviewed many bikes that aren't so well-thought out.
For $5249, there is a fair amount of bike on offer especially when compared with the more boutique offerings available: the RockShox suspension, Fox Transfer Seatpost and full SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain with high-end alloy DT-Swiss wheels, aboard a carbon mainframe with alloy swing arm.
The Canyon Spectral WMN's entirely new frame geometry caters for the typical physiological differences of women: notably longer legs, shorter torso, differences in pelvic shape and upper body strength/shoulder differences. This is reflected in both the geometry and the kit of the bike; featuring RockShox Pike/Deluxe RT3 suspension tuned for lighter riders (Canyon states that on average women are 15% lighter than men of a similar height), and feature women specific saddles, grips, and bars. Coming from a background of A; not having particularly luxuriously long legs (think wombat/corgi/warthog pins) and B; riding mainly unisex bikes, I was interested to see how the women’s geometry Canyon has chosen translate to ride feel and capability on the trail.