The Canyon spectral has been a popular trail bike in the German manufacturer's range, and it has just grown up, adding a Spectral 29 option along with the Spectral 27.5" models. Canyon have developed the Spectral 29 to be in addition to their current Spectral range, bridging the gap between the 27.5" wheeled trail bike and the 29" wheeled Strive with ShapeShifter suspension and geometry adjustment. It's light, stiff, versatile, pedals well, but there's a lot going on with this carbon-fiber trail bike, not just a new wheel size. Here's a rundown of what's new - and why.

Wheel size

Ok that is the easy one, the Spectral 29  comes with 29" wheels, instead of 27.5" wheels. Why? Well, Canyon state that the Spectral 29 is a bike that can do it all. So while the Spectral was known for being agile and poppy, they brought that dynamic to a 29" wheeled platform, adding confidence and high-speed stability to the mix. Canyon have mixed wheel size (or mullet) options in their range, but that's not what they're offering on the Spectral. There's a Spectral 29, or there are the Spectral 27.5" options.

An all-new frame

It should be obvious that a new wheel size needs a new frame. Of course, it is an ideal time to update the frame geometry and features, and that's exactly what Canyon have done with the Spectral 29.

Compared to the current Spectral, the Spectrail 29 has a longer reach, lower head tube height, and slacker head angle. The seat angle is also steeper for better weight balance, especially when climbing. The full geometry chart shows how it plays out.

Adjustable geometry - and different fork options

Canyon offer the Spectral with Fox suspension and 160mm travel forks, and RockShox suspension with 150mm travel forks. The RockShox Pike models with 150mm forks will probably suit riders looking for a really versatile trail bike, and with 150mm each end and 29er wheels the performance window will be huge!

The Fox equipped models have Fox 36 forks with 160mm of travel, and Fox DPX2 rear shocks with their external reservoir. Both these items will suit riders who want greater stiffness, and suspension that is ready to work really hard.

With a flip chip in the rear shock mount, you can make the bike a little taller and steeper, or lower and slacker. With the Fox suspension at 160mm and in the slacker setting, that equiates to a 64 degree head angle. Seat angles are between 76 and 77 degrees depending on position and suspension fork travel. The chip changes angles by half a degree and bottom bracket height by 8mm.

Lower weight and greater stiffness

The Spectral 29 isn't just new, but the frame is also lighter, and stiffer. Canyon didn't set out to make a light bike, they just wanted a really good one, so it's stiffer as well, especially in the head tube area, ensuring better handling at speed and in rocky jank. That's no easy feat, and Canyon really optimised where and how they use materials in the frame. The Spectral 29 is claimed to have a frame weight of 2598g! That's lighter than my XC frame! One of the big savings over the 27.5" frame is a carbon rear end - saving weight but also aiding in stiffness and ride quality.

Updated suspension kinematics

Canyon call the suspenson on the Spectral Triple Phase Suspension. On the Spectral 29, the same name applies and it is tasked with delivering 150mm of travel to the rear wheel. The progession rate is really similar to the current 27.5" wheeled bike on the Spectral 29. Canyon did still want an agile, poppy and 'playful' bike - so why mess with success?

As a summary, the three phases are supple, supportive and progressive. So you get a supple initial stroke for traction, good mid-stroke support for aggressive riding and offering pop, and progression deep into the travel so you're not hitting a hard bottom out.

It does pedal a little better as well, with increased antisquat around the sag point - so when you're sitting on the bike and pedalling. But the antisquat reduces deeper into the stroke, so there is less pedal kick back. What's that mean? Well in full-noise rock gardens, you won't have great pedalling efficiency. But you won't have lots of pedal kickback through the chain - which is the goal.

Just carbon frames - that are easy to work on

That's right, the Spectral 29 is only available in carbon fiber for now. But with whole bikes starting at $5149, they're pretty good value! Canyon use a threaded bottom bracket, and almost every bolt has replaceable threads, and can be accessed while the bike is complete, for easy service and maintenance.

Even if your mate reckons his wrist is a good torque wrench - they can only do so much damage.

There is also improved frame protection, to make sure your bike can shrug off the demands of modern trail riding.

Four Spectral 29 models 

In Australia, there will be four Spectrla 29 models:

The Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 - $5149 

This model has 150mm of travel front and rear, with a RockShox Pike fork and SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed group set. You can get the full details on the Canyon website.

 The Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 - $6249

Sporting a Fox Performance Elite GRIP2 36 fork and DPX2 shock, this is a great frame and suspension package for 160/150mm of travel. Add a Shimano XT 12-speed group set and DT Swiss XM1700 wheels - and you're ready to go! It also comes in black for the shy. Full details are on the Canyon website

Canyon Spectral 29 CF 9 - $7849

Another RockShox equipped 150mm travel front and rear model, this one comes with a SRAM XO1 Eagle 12-speed group set and some lovely DT Swiss XMC 1501 30mm carbon wheels. That higher level spec helps keep this one to a claimed weight of 13.42kg! Full details are on the Canyon website

Canyon Spectral 29 CF LTD - $9399

Spoil yourself! Most super bikes cost over $10000 and this one does not, but it still has a full carbon frame, high end DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheels, a Shimano XTR 12-speed group set and Fox Factory GRIP 2 36 and DPX2 rear shock. If you want a lot of trail bike, Canyon have it right here. Full details and spec are on the Canyon website

Our take

For most riders, 29ers are the answer for trail bikes. With a lot of brands shunning the smaller wheels for their new model trail bikes, it's interesting to see that Canyon have kept the 27.5" wheeled Spectral as an option. This is a huge bonus for riders who aren't interested in just buying what bike brands say they should ride. If you want a nimble bike, the 27.5" Spectral still delivers a very capable 150mm travel option.

That said, the Spectral 29 has some great advantages with the updated geometry and full carbon frames. The price point on each model is very hard to beat, and these will likely be a bike well-suited to Australian trails, where we typically have to pedal up to earn our descents.