Canyon Spectral WMN CF 7.0 Review
Cons: Only available in 3 sizes, may feel small for some
Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy This Bike?
The Spectral WMN CF 7.0 is a versatile all-around trail bike with a decisively nimble and playful attitude and the travel and angles to get aggressive on the descents. This bike has a bit of a split personality. On the one hand, it has the travel and geometry to charge hard downhill and won't hold you back when it gets rowdy. On the other, it has 27.5" wheels and a shorter wheelbase and reach that help to keep it sporty, highly maneuverable, and encouraging of playful trailside jibs and shenanigans. Canyon's Triple Phase suspension design works impressively well with great small bump compliance and the ability to handle big hits and drops. The suspension platform is also effective on the climbs, and the Spectral is a faithful companion on long trail rides or when pedaling back up for another lap. Thanks to Canyon's consumer-direct sales model, the Spectral is also a great value and boasts a very impressive component specification for the price earning it our Best Buy Award. Canyon offers two builds of the Spectral for those looking to go a little higher-end or save some serious cash with the budget-friendly aluminum-framed version.
The Spectral CF 7.0 features a full carbon fiber front triangle paired with an aluminum rear triangle. Canyon has employed their Triple Phase platform to handle the rear suspension duties. This is a four-bar design that has the main pivot just above the bottom bracket, pivots at the junction of the chain and seat stays just above the rear axle, and a rocker link attached roughly mid-way up the seat tube. Triple Phase stands for the three phases of the suspension in its travel, sensitive at the beginning of the stroke, supportive in the middle, and progressive at the end. Canyon has designed an integrated downtube protector that doubles as internal cable routing which helps make maintenance tasks easier. There is also a knock-block in the headset, as well as an integrated seat clamp at the top of the seat tube. Another notable feature is the Quixle, an innovative rear thru-axle with a handle that slides in and out of the axle for tool-free removal of the wheel.
We measured our size small Spectral WMN and found that it has a 568mm effective top tube length and a 404mm reach. The head tube angle is 66.25-degrees with a 74.4-degree seat tube angle. The bottom bracket height is a relatively low 328mm with a short 1130mm wheelbase and 433mm chainstays. The Spectral weighed in at a respectable 29 lbs set up tubeless without pedals. The women's Spectral is available in three sizes, XS, S, and M.
- Available in Carbon and Aluminum frame
- 27.5" wheels only
- 140mm of rear-wheel travel
- Triple Phase suspension platform
- Designed around a 150mm travel fork
- Suspension tuned for lighter riders
- Available in sizes XS-M
- Integrated knock-block and down tube protection
- Aluminum build $2,499, Carbon builds from $3,799 (tested) up to $4,499
The downhill capabilities of the women's Canyon Spectral CF 7.0 are stout and quite intrepid. This bike does an incredible job at staying on course due to its progressively balanced suspension, designed specifically for the female rider. The geometry in combination with the smoothness of the Triple Phase Suspension provides a nimble yet controllable dynamic response when things start to light up on the downhill. When brought up to trail speed, the Canyon Spectral becomes extremely playful and wants to let its hair down. The surprising mix of agility and stability set it apart from the competition, and this quick-witted bike was equally at home dancing through technical sections as it was charging down rugged sections of trail. The Spectral's somewhat compact yet slack geometry combined with generous travel and a quality component specification make it a blast to ride on just about any type of descent.
Looking at the Spectral's geometry measurements, our testers were concerned that it might feel a bit small. On the trail, however, they felt that concern slip away as the energetic feel and precise handling offered by the shorter 1130mm wheelbase made it feel highly maneuverable and notably playful compared to longer bikes. The shorter chainstays also gave the rear end a nice snappy and flickable feel. Despite that maneuverability, the Spectral maintained a high degree of stability at speed, and when the trail opens up, this bike begs to be ridden at a faster pace. Testers found the handling to feel precise and the Spectral was highly maneuverable at both high and low speeds. The suspension design performs as advertised, with great small bump compliance, support in the mid-stroke, and a progressive ramp-up at the end that keeps you from blowing through all of the travel on bigger hits. Despite looking small, don't underestimate the punch that this little rocket has, especially when it comes to performance on big hits. The 140mm of rear-wheel travel can handle 3-5 foot drops.
The cornering abilities of the Spectral are stellar and lively. The Maxxis Minion DHR II up front provided a very confidence-inspiring and predictable cornering feel as you power into the apex of a corner. The stock DT Swiss M 1900 wheels are stout and help add to its stability through corners while the 30mm internal rim width is ideal for today's wider tire dimensions. The Fox Float Performance 34 fork controls the 150mm of front wheel travel and is plenty substantial for what this bike is capable of. The cockpit setup also felt dialed right out of the box, with a nice width handlebar and a dropper seat post that allows the rider to get into an aggressive downhill athletic position on the descents.
The Spectral surprised our testers with its unexpectedly excellent climbing abilities. This bike is relatively lightweight with a comfortable seated pedaling position and a suspension platform that feels supportive and efficient. The component grouping only adds to its climbing prowess.
The geometry of the Spectral allows for a relaxed, comfortable, and somewhat upright seated pedaling position while maintaining an efficient stride jamming up the trail. The shorter reach of 404mm on the size small worked well for our 5'4" tester, though riders on the cusp of sizes may want to consider sizing up due to this somewhat short measurement. The 74.4-degree seat tube angle isn't especially steep, but it lines the rider up just barely behind the bottom bracket, and power transfer felt direct and efficient. The shorter wheelbase of 1130 helps to make this bike very maneuverable while picking your way through tight technical sections, and it shined with confidence when climbing up and over smaller logs and rocks that stood in its way. The suspension platform of the Spectral is extremely supportive and performs like a champ while climbing. Small bump sensitivity in the initial portion of the stroke is smooth and buttery, and the kinematics helps minimize levels of rise and fall reducing pedal bob while climbing to create a smoother feel.
The Spectral's component grouping works well on the climbs. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is known for its reliability and poured on the efficiency while climbing. The 11-50 tooth cassette paired with a 30 tooth chainring provided ample range for any pitch of climb, and the 170mm long crankarms are perfect for smaller riders on a frame of this size. The saddle was comfortable enough and never caused any complaint. The Maxxis Forekaster rear tire worked well in most situations, though in super loose or sandy soils it tends to spin out due to the rounded profile and smaller tread lugs.
Canyon makes the Spectral in both carbon fiber and aluminum with a total of three WMN models. The CF 7.0 model we tested falls in the middle of their range and is the least expensive of the carbon fiber framed versions.
The Spectral WMN CF 8.0 retails for $4,499 and features the same carbon fiber frame as the model we tested. The notable component upgrades include a RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, a RockShox Super Deluxe RT3 shock, and SRAM Guide RSC brakes. Canyon has also equipped it with a Fox Transfer Performance dropper post and DT Swiss XM 1501 wheels.
The budget-friendly Spectral WMN AL 5.0 retails for a jaw-dropping price of $2,449. This alloy framed model comes with a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes, and Fox Float Rhythm 34 fork, and a Fox Float DPS Performance rear shock. It rolls on SunRingle Duroc wheels and even comes with an Iridium dropper seat post.
With a retail price of $3,799, the Spectral WMN CF 7.0 is a great value. Canyon's consumer-direct sales model allows them to deliver exceptional value to the consumer, and that is evidenced in the great component specification of the CF 7.0. This bike is as well, if not better, appointed than other models in this review that cost $1,000 more. Of course, $3,799 is no drop in the bucket, but this is clearly the best value in our test and the winner of our Best Buy Award. A carbon frame bike with excellent suspension and drivetrain components coming in under 4 grand is epic for any lady who wants to go out and step up their game without having to break the bank.
There is little if anything that needs to be upgraded on the Spectral we tested. As mentioned several times already, the price to build ratio of this bike is through the roof. Perhaps our least favorite aspect of the build is the Maxxis Forekaster rear tire. Sure it rolls fast and provides reasonable levels of traction, but considering the downhill chops this bike has we would prefer something with a little more braking and cornering bite like a Maxxis DHR II. Anyone looking for a slightly more high-end spec should check out the Spectral WMN CF 8.0 which features slightly burlier suspension, brakes, and a fancier dropper post and only costs $700 more.
Canyon is known for delivering high-quality bikes at more reasonable prices than the competition, and that is true of the Spectral WMN CF 7.0. This lightweight carbon-framed trail bike comes dressed to the nines with a very nice component specification for the asking price. If the price and the build aren't impressive enough, the Spectral backs that up with a solid all-around performance that rarely if ever left our testers wanting. This bike climbs well, is playful and agile, and is ready to rumble when the trail gets steep and rough. If you're looking for a reasonably priced trail bike that is highly versatile and capable of getting radical we suggest checking out our Best Buy winner, the Spectral WMN CF 7.0.
— Tasha Thomas
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