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Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 Review

A longer travel trail bike with respectable climbing abilities that excels at higher speeds and in aggressive terrain
Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7
Photo: Jason Peters
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Price:  $3,999 List
Pros:  Confident descender, stable at speed, reasonable price, efficient climber for how well it descends
Cons:  Tall seat tube limits dropper length, a lot of bike for mellow terrain, underpowered brakes
Manufacturer:   Canyon
By Jeremy Benson, Joshua Hutchens  ⋅  Jun 16, 2021
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 20
  • Fun Factor - 25% 8.6
  • Downhill Performance - 35% 9.2
  • Climbing Performance - 35% 7.6
  • Ease of Maintenance - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Spectral 29 is the next step in the evolution of Canyon's popular Spectral trail bike. Rolling on 29-inch wheels with 150mm of rear-wheel travel, a 160mm fork, and a progressive modern geometry, it excels on the descents. This bike thrives at speed and can handle any terrain you're willing to point it down. The Spectral 29 also climbs with surprising efficiency, whether you're out for a long trail ride or just heading back up for another lap. It sacrifices a bit of maneuverability due to its overall length, and it's probably too much bike for less aggressive riders and terrain. That said, trail and all-mountain riders pushing their limits of speed and terrain will find a lot to love here. The CF 7 build we tested is mostly dialed and we feel it's a good value.

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Pros Confident descender, stable at speed, reasonable price, efficient climber for how well it descendsHighly adjustable geometry, adaptable for terrain or riding style, SWAT storage, plush suspension, very stable and confident descenderSuper competitive pricing, awesome build for the price, dialed modern geometry, confident descenderAffordable, versatile, good build for the price, lively and playful, DW-Link suspensionAffordable, quality suspension, excellent tires, solid all-around performance
Cons Tall seat tube limits dropper length, a lot of bike for mellow terrain, underpowered brakesOverkill for tame trails, Fox 36 Rhythm fork, moderate weightActive rear suspension-more reliant on climb switch, Fezzari name may lack "coolness factor", annoying brake pad rattleHeavier weight, shorter travel-requires skilled rider in super aggressive terrainHeavy, may be overkill for some riders and locations
Bottom Line A longer travel trail bike with respectable climbing abilities that excels at higher speeds and in aggressive terrainA heavy-hitting longer travel trail bike with an innovative, highly adjustable geometryA beautifully well-rounded mid-travel trail bike at a very competitive priceJust as versatile, fun, and playful as the carbon version in a more affordable but slightly heavier aluminum-framed packageThe aluminum framed Ibis Ripmo AF is an aggressive trail bike with a reasonable price tag
Rating Categories Canyon Spectral 29... Stumpjumper EVO Comp Fezzari Delano Peak... Ibis Ripley AF Deore Ibis Ripmo AF NX Eagle
Fun Factor (25%)
8.6
9.3
8.7
8.2
8.0
Downhill Performance (35%)
9.2
9.4
8.9
8.0
9.0
Climbing Performance (35%)
7.6
8.0
8.5
7.9
6.8
Ease Of Maintenance (5%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Canyon Spectral 29... Stumpjumper EVO Comp Fezzari Delano Peak... Ibis Ripley AF Deore Ibis Ripmo AF NX Eagle
Wheel size 29" 29" 29" 29" 29"
Suspension & Travel Triple Phase Suspension - 150mm FSR - 150mm TetraLink - 135mm DW-Link - 120mm DW-Link - 147mm
Measured Weight (w/o pedals) 32 lbs 5 oz (Large) 31 lbs 14 oz (Large) 30 lbs 5 oz (Large) 33 lbs 3 oz (Large) 34 lbs (Large)
Fork RockShox Lyrik Select RC 160mm Fox 36 Rhythm - 160mm Fox 36 Performance Elite, 150mm Fox 34 Performance - 130mm DVO Diamond D1 160mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ Fox Float DPX2 Performance Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite Fox Float DPS Performane EVOL DVO Topaz T3 Air
Frame Material Carbon Fiber FACT 11m Carbon Fiber CleanCast Carbon Fiber Aluminum Aluminum
Frame Size Large S4 (Large equivalent) Large Large Large
Frame Settings Flip Chip Flip Chip and Headtube angle Flip Chip N/A N/A
Available Sizes S-XL S1-S6 S-XL S-XL S-XL
Wheelset Race Face AR30 rims with Shimano MT400 hubs Roval 29 alloy rims with Shimano Centerlock hubs, 30mm id Stan's Flow S1 rims with Stan's Neo hubs Ibis S35 Aluminum rims with Ibis hubs, 35mm ID Ibis S35 Aluminum rims with Ibis hubs, 35mm ID
Front Tire Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.5" Specialized Butcher GRID TRAIL T9, 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 29 x 2.5" Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.6" Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5"
Rear Tire Maxxis Dissector 2.4" Specialized Eliminator GRID TRAIL T7, 2.3" Maxxis Aggressor EXO 29 x 2.5" Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.6" Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 2.5"
Shifters SRAM NX Eagle Shimano SLX 12-speed Shimano SLX Shimano Deore 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle
Rear Derailleur SRAM NX Eagle Shimano SLX 12-speed Shimano XT 12-speed Shimano Deore 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle
Crankset Descendant 6K DUB 170mm, 32T Shimano SLX 170mm Shimano XT M8100 32T Shimano Deore M6100 30T SRAM NX Eagle DUB 32T
Saddle Ergon SM 10 Enduro Comp Specialized Bridge Comp Ergon SM Stealth WTB Silverado 142mm WTB Silverado Pro
Seatpost Iridium Dropper X-Fusion Manic 170mm (S4/S5), 34.9 diameter X-Fusion Manic KS Rage-i 150mm(Large) KS Rage-i 150mm(Large)
Handlebar Canyon G5 Riser, 780mm Specialized 6061 alloy, 30mm rise, 800mm width Fezzaru FRD Charger 35, 800mm Ibis 780mm Alloy Ibis 780mm Alloy
Stem Canyon G5, 40mm Specialized Alloy Trail stem, 35mm bore Fezzaru FRD Charger 35 Ibis 31.8mm 50mm Ibis 31.8mm 50mm
Brakes SRAM G2 R Shimano SLX 4-piston Shimano XT 4-piston Shimano Deore M6120 4-piston SRAM Guide T 4 piston
Measured Effective Top Tube (mm) 636 625 613 630 631
Measured Reach (mm) 485 475 480 475 473
Measured Head Tube Angle 65-degrees H/64.5-degrees L 63-65.5 (adjustable) 65.4-degrees H/65-degrees L 65.5-degrees 64.9-degrees
Measured Seat Tube Angle 77-degrees H76.5-degrees L 76.9-degrees 77.9-degrees H/77.5-degrees L 76-desgrees 76-degrees
Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm) 344 H/336 L 340 (adjustable with flip chips) 345 335 340
Measured Wheelbase (mm) 1251 1247 1234 1217 1239
Measured Chain Stay Length (mm) 437 438 (S1-S4) 434 432 435
Warranty Six years Lifetime Lifetime Seven Years Seven Years

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Spectral 29 CF 7 is a reasonably priced long-legged trail bike...
The Spectral 29 CF 7 is a reasonably priced long-legged trail bike with the geometry to really get after it on the descents.
Photo: Jason Peters

Should I Buy This Bike?


Canyon's new Spectral 29 is an aggressive longer travel trail bike that combines excellent downhill shredding capabilities with a very respectable climbing performance. This 150mm travel 29er comes with a 160mm fork and a modern geometry that borders on enduro bike territory. In fact, the Spectral 29 is both slacker and longer than Canyon's current Strive enduro bike. This bike feels like a captive wild stallion set loose, it just wants to stretch its legs and run. Point this bike downhill and it picks up speed in a hurry with impressive stability at speed and angles that inspire the confidence to push it hard and point it down steep and chunky descents. At the same time, its handling feels crisp and responsive, and it's easy to place this bike where you want it in corners, hold your line, and look further down the trail. Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design works impressively well, with a supple feel off the top, mid-stroke support to provide a little pep, and solid big hit performance with enough progression to keep you from finding the end of the travel. Given its descending prowess, the Spectral 29 is an impressive climber. The pedaling platform is remarkably calm and supportive, and the geometry is dialed for grinding up steep trails and roads. Due to this bike's overall length and slack front end, however, both uphill and downhill handling can feel a little sluggish and awkward at lower speeds and in tighter terrain. We feel like it might be a little too much bike for mellower riders and tame terrain. This carbon-framed beauty has nice lines and a solid build kit that isn't perfect, but mostly dialed for the price. Plus, it gets delivered straight to your door with minimal assembly required. If you're an aggressive rider seeking a longer travel trail bike that climbs efficiently and shreds downhill with authority, we think the Spectral 29 is a great option to consider.

The Spectral 29 CF 7 is very similar to the new Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Carbon Comp we recently tested. Both bikes roll on 29-inch wheels with 150mm of Horst-Link travel paired with 160mm travel forks. Their geometries are also quite similar, although the EVO has a 10mm shorter reach and the ability to be configured in six distinct ways with unique adjustments. The EVO's head angle can be changed in 1-degree increments from 63.5-65.5-degrees, while flip-chips in the chainstay pivots allow you to independently raise and lower the bottom bracket height. All that adjustability allows the rider to quickly, easily, and dramatically alter the bike's character for different terrain or preferences. The design and details of the new EVO are also well sorted, including enhanced SWAT storage in the downtube. Both bikes eat up aggressive terrain on the descents and climb better than you'd expect, and we feel aggressive trail riders will likely be satisfied either way. That said, if you value versatility or like to tinker with your geometry, the EVO's adjustability make it the obvious choice. There's also price to consider, and the Specialized goes for about $300 more than the Canyon with a Shimano SLX drivetrain and brakes, SWAT integration, and an otherwise comparable build.

The Spectral 29 frame has super clean lines, progressive geometry...
The Spectral 29 frame has super clean lines, progressive geometry for a trail bike, and flip-chips to adjust the geometry slightly. The "X-Ray" green color is eye-catching to say the least.
Photo: Jason Peters

Frame Design


The Spectral 29 has a full carbon frame with 150mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 160mm fork. The frame uses Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design which is a four-bar or Horst-Link system. This design has the main pivot situated just above the bottom bracket with pivots on the chainstays just in front of the rear axle and a rocker link attached about halfway up the seat tube. Canyon's claims this suspension platform has three phases, sensitive off the top, stable in the midstroke, and progressive at the end of the travel. The frame features molded downtube and chainstay protection, guided internal cable routing, and room for a small water bottle in the front triangle. Our biggest gripe with the frame design is the length of the seat tube, which may be a limiting factor for riders on the cusp of a frame size or wishing to maximize their dropper length.

Our size large test bike tipped the scales at 32 lbs and 5 oz set up tubeless and without pedals. In the low setting, it has a 64.5-degree head tube angle and 76.5-degree seat tube angle. The effective top tube measured 636mm with a 485mm reach and a 1,251mm wheelbase. The chainstays measured 437mm with a 336mm bottom bracket height. All frame sizes have the same rear center/chainstay length, but reach increases in 25mm increments between sizes. The frame also features flip chips in the lower shock mount which can be used to increase the head and seat tube angles by 0.5-degrees and raise the bottom bracket height by 8mm in the high setting. The Spectral 29 comes in 4 frame sizes, S-XL.

Flip Chips in the lower shock mount adjust the head and seat tube...
Flip Chips in the lower shock mount adjust the head and seat tube angles by 0.5-degrees and raise/lower the bottom by 8mm.
Photo: Jason Peters

Design Highlights

  • Carbon frames only
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 150mm of Triple Phase rear suspension
  • Designed around a 160mm fork
  • Flip Chip adjustable geometry
  • Replaceable shock mount hardware
  • Internal cable routing with hassle-free cable guides
  • Integrated chainstay and downtube protection
  • Complete builds range in price from $3,999 (tested) to $5,999

The Spectral 29 definitely has a preference for the descents. Its...
The Spectral 29 definitely has a preference for the descents. Its super stable at speed and inspires the confidence to tackle aggressive terrain.
Photo: Jason Peters

Downhill Performance


The Spectral 29 really comes to life when you point it downhill. This bike feels incredibly stable and composed with a head of steam and it inspires the confidence to drop into steep, chunky, and aggressive terrain. It responds well to rider input and feels precise when you need to change direction or attack your chosen line. The suspension eats up high-frequency chop and big hits alike, with enough mid-stroke support to keep it feeling lively. The CF 7 build is mostly dialed and backs up its trail slaying capabilities with a couple of notable low points.

Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design performs well over...
Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design performs well over high-frequency chop and chunder, with enough progression to handle bigger hits well.
Photo: Jason Peters

The Spectral 29 has a geometry that only a few short years ago would have been longer and slacker than most downhill bikes. Times have changed, and while it's certainly not as extreme as some other new "trail" bikes on the market, it definitely qualifies as being pretty long and pretty slack. It's a major departure from the Spectral 27.5's more conservative geometry, although we expect that bike to updated in the near future too. That said, Canyon bills the Spectral 29 as "fast and controlled" and the 27.5 version as "nimble and rowdy", and they really didn't pull any punches when they designed this bike. The 1,251mm wheelbase (size large) and 64.5-degree head tube angle (low setting) give it very impressive stability at speed and a behind-the-front-wheel feeling that inspires confidence when you're on the throttle or rolling into something steep and nasty. The relatively long 485mm reach (size large) gives the rider plenty of room in the cockpit to move about. While it is ultra-stable, it doesn't feel completely stuck to the ground either, and its easy enough to get off the ground or creative with your line. Of course, all that length does make the Spectral 29 feel a little bland at lower speeds and slightly bulky in tight, technical terrain. Keep your speed up and bodyweight centered, however, and this bike slays flow trails and shreds through berms with the best of 'em. While testing, we also flipped the chips to the high setting which we found to offer marginally sharper handling and a higher bottom bracket height that we preferred for bigger, pedal-heavy trail rides.

It's a bit bland on mellow trails or at lower speeds but is a blast...
It's a bit bland on mellow trails or at lower speeds but is a blast on flowy trails with a head of steam.
Photo: Jason Peters

For how long and stable the Spectral 29 is on the descents, it remains quite responsive to rider input. It's easy to put this bike where you want it, and it holds a line well through high-speed turns and chunky rock gardens alike. Sure the sturdy handlebar and stem have something to with it, but the frame itself feels torsionally rigid and it tracks very nicely. Additionally, Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design is among the best Horst-Link systems we've tested. Small bump compliance is great, and it feels calm over high-frequency chop and chatter. It doesn't blow through its travel too easily, and the mid-stroke has enough support to push off of when pumping the trail, popping a lip, or hammering on the pedals out of a corner. Bigger hits are handled well too, and its easy enough to get full travel when you need it without bottoming out, plus it seems to recover well too.

The Lyrik Select fork is a little underwhelming, but ours felt plush...
The Lyrik Select fork is a little underwhelming, but ours felt plush and plenty sturdy for the front end of the Spectral 29.
Photo: Jason Peters

For the price, the Spectral 29 CF 7 is pretty nicely equipped and ready to handle the high speeds and aggressive descents this bike was designed for. There are some high and low points to the build, but the overall package comes together pretty nicely. The RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock takes care of the rear suspension duties and works quite well. The RockShox Lyrik Select RC fork controls the 160mm of front travel and is a little less impressive. Our fork felt plush and plenty sturdy, although it has limited tuneability compared to higher-end options. The Race Face AR30 rims are fine, and the quality Maxxis DHF and Dissector combo is a tester favorite. The cockpit consists of Canyon's own handlebar and stem combo and provides a responsive front end with a 780mm alloy riser bar and a short, stiff 40mm stem. The 170mm Iridium dropper on our size large ensures that you can quickly and easily get your saddle down low and out of the way. The SRAM G2 R 4-piston brakes are the least impressive aspect of the build, in our opinion. The 200mm front rotor helps, but these brakes feel a bit underpowered for the speeds this bike likes to carry.

Considering its descending prowess, the Spectral 29 is a...
Considering its descending prowess, the Spectral 29 is a surprisingly effective climber.
Photo: Jason Peters

Climbing Performance


Despite its moderate 32 lb 5 oz weight and downhill shredding capabilities, the Spectral 29 CF 7 is an efficient and comfortable climber. It's fast-rolling with a steep seat tube, roomy cockpit, and calm suspension platform. Its only real limitations are due to its overall length and slack front end, and it can certainly feel like a handful in tight, technical terrain compared to shorter and steeper bikes.

The Spectral's seated pedaling position is comfortable, and the...
The Spectral's seated pedaling position is comfortable, and the suspension platform feels calm and supportive.
Photo: Jason Peters

Climbing aboard the Spectral 29 is a generally straightforward and comfortable affair. The 76.5-degree seat tube angle positions the rider nicely up above the bottom bracket, and power transfer feels direct and efficient. Our size large test bike has a roomy 485mm reach measurement, but thanks to the relatively steep seat tube angle, it doesn't feel quite that long, and the seated position is comfortable and relatively upright. The 1,251mm wheelbase is quite long, and the Spectral 29 feels most at home moving in straighter lines on the climbs. Powering up steep pitches and over obstacles in the trail feels good as long as you can keep a little momentum and power down into the cranks. Due to the bike's overall length and the slack, 64.5-degree head tube angle, tight uphill switchbacks and complex technical rock gardens aren't this bike's strongest suit and require a skilled pilot and good line choice. We also found the front end to wander a bit on super steep pitches. Likewise, the Spectral's lower bottom bracket height demands a bit of attention when pedaling up through chunky sections of trail. Of course, you can switch the flip chip to the high setting to raise the bottom bracket by 8mm and steepen the head and seat tube angles by 0.5-degrees, which makes a little more sense for pedal heavy trail rides.

The Spectral 29 is an efficient climber though its length and slack...
The Spectral 29 is an efficient climber though its length and slack head tube come into play when things get tight and technical.
Photo: Jason Peters

Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design works well on the climbs. It provides an impressively calm and stable pedaling platform, yet the initial part of the stroke is just sensitive enough to take the edge off small bumps in the trail while providing excellent climbing traction. Out of the saddle, the suspension is noticeably more active but certainly doesn't feel excessive, and we opted to leave the suspension in its open setting anytime we were climbing on trail. The RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock also has a firm compression setting, which we only used during long road climbs.

While the CF 7 build we tested generally works just fine, there are a couple of notable low points. Yes, the SRAM NX 12-speed drivetrain functions as it should and offers a huge range, but it feels a little clunkier compared to SRAM's higher-end groups. Another complaint we have is that the NX cassette is heavy, and it uses the older Shimano HG freehub body. So, if you wanted to upgrade your cassette or drivetrain, you'll need to get a new freehub body or a completely new hub to make it happen. Additionally, the engagement of the freehub is slow, giving the bike a clunky and clangy feel, especially when compared to faster-engaging hubs. The Maxxis Dissector rear tire is a fast-rolling and versatile option that works well on the back of this bike. The Dissector doesn't have the best braking traction, but it has limited rolling resistance and good climbing traction in all but the loosest conditions. The Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp saddle is generally quite comfortable with a pressure relief channel and a crowd-pleasing shape.

Photo Tour


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Value


We feel the Spectral 29 CF 7 is a good value. This carbon-framed bike comes with a solid build at a reasonable price thanks to Canyon's direct-to-consumer sales model. There are a couple of weak points of the build, but most of the important aspects are well-sorted and nothing needs to replaced or upgraded to get out and ride this bike like it was intended.

Conclusion


Canyon's new Spectral 29 is a ripping longer travel trail bike for the rider who prioritizes downhill performance. This bike absolutely shreds on the descents with excellent stability at speed and composure in steep, rough terrain. At the same time, it climbs with impressive efficiency when you're headed back up for more. It's not the best option for lower speeds or mellower trails, but if you like high speeds and aggressive, rowdy trails, the Spectral 29 is definitely worthy of consideration.

The Spectral 29 CF 7 is a solid choice for the rider seeking a...
The Spectral 29 CF 7 is a solid choice for the rider seeking a longer travel trail bike that shreds hard on the descents.
Photo: Jason Peters

Jeremy Benson, Joshua Hutchens