Canyon's popular Spectral trail bike has been beefed up over last year's version, with a 10mm increase in travel both front and rear. But has it made the Spectral more capable? Or has the extra suspension muted the ride?
The not-so-minor details
2019 Canyon Neuron AL 6.0
- The lovely brushed alloy frame looks equally clean and industrial
- High-quality Fox suspension package
- Water bottle inside the mainframe
- That tidy tool-free Quixle thru-axle
- Seat tubes need to be shorter
- Weight - this bike has a lot of it!
- The Iridium dropper post lever is a little wiggly
Not long ago, Canyon undertook a massive overhaul of the Spectral range, introducing a brand new frame and suspension design to its popular 27.5in trail bike platform. Although it’s already proven to be a winner – both with consumers and testers alike – a year on the German direct-to-consumer brand has rolled out some interesting changes to the Spectral, which aim to bolster its big-hit capability. Here we take a closer look at our newest test bike; the 2019 Canyon Spectral Al 6.0.
2018 vs 2019 Canyon Spectral
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that the Spectral frame itself hasn’t changed for 2019 – that carries over from 2018. This means you’re still getting the Triple Phase suspension design, the low-slung top tube, and clearance inside the mainframe for a water bottle. Clever features like the Cable Tunnel, bolt-on pivot shields and Quixle thru-axle are also present. All good things.
Instead, the changes to the 2019 Canyon Spectral are entirely spec related. But that doesn’t mean they’re insignificant – far from it in fact.
There’s been a 10mm increase in suspension travel both front and rear, along with a move to bigger forks and piggyback rear shocks. Handlebars have gotten 20mm wider, while stems have actually gotten 10mm longer. Tyres have also shrunk down from 2.6in to 2.4in wide, while also shifting to toothier, more aggressive tread patterns.
There are a few other subtle tweaks going on, so let’s dive in for a closer look to see just how much the Spectral has changed this year.
Moar Suspension! Well, Mostly…
The biggest change for the 2019 Spectral is the increase in suspension travel from 150mm front and 140mm rear, to 160mm front and 150mm rear. On certain models, this change has been accompanied by a shift from Fox 34s to beefier Fox 36s.
Out back, the increased suspension travel has been delivered thanks to the wonder of the latest Metric shock designs. The suspension design is unchanged, and the rear shock length is still 230mm eye-to-eye. However, the stroke (or travel) of the shock has gone up from 60mm to 65mm. This translates to an extra 10mm of vertical travel at the rear wheel, upping the Spectral to 150mm.
There are two exceptions to this. One is the Small size, which actually features a shorter 210x55mm stroke shock. This carries over from 2018, which means the Small size frames get 160mm travel up front, while sticking with 140mm out back. The other exception is the Spectral Women’s models, which retain the 150/140mm travel configuration of the 2018 version. The Women’s models also stick with lighter weight Fox 34 or RockShox Pike forks, along with a lighter shock tunes compared to the Unisex Spectral.
No More 2.6in Tyres Then?
That’s correct – with the exception of a single model, the entire 2018 Canyon Spectral range came fitted with 27.5×2.6in tyres. This was something you were either into, or not. The almost-but-not-quite-plus width certainly delivers more traction due to the bigger volume and footprint, but in our experience it also lead to less precision to the Spectral’s handling, and also more pinch flats – something that Mick touched on in his longterm review of the 2018 Canyon Spectral CFR 9.0 SL.
It looks like Canyon was listening, because for 2019 the Spectral range no longer features 2.6in wide ‘plus-minus’ tyres. Instead, you’ll find 27.5×2.4in tyres on most models, including the Spectral AL 6.0 we’ve got here.
While we’re talking tyres, our test bike features Maxxis Minion DHR IIs front and rear in the 2.4in Wide Trail size, complete with 3C triple-compound rubber. The front tyre is the uber-sticky Maxx Grip version, while the rear tyre goes for the firmer and faster-rolling Maxx Terra compound.
Despite the suspension and tyre changes over the 2018 model, the 2019 Spectral has exactly the same geometry – at least according to Canyon. So you’ve got a 66° head angle, a 74.5° seat angle, 430mm long chainstays, and a 22mm BB drop. Reach on our Medium test bike sits at 440mm, so relatively conservative by today’s standards.
As mentioned above, there are two different versions of the Spectral: Unisex and Women’s. The Unisex Spectral comes in five sizes from X-Small through to X-Large. The Women’s model covers XX-Small through to Medium, and also has different geometry with a slightly slacker head angle, a shorter reach and narrower handlebars.
2019 Canyon Spectral Range
There are no fewer than 12 models in the 2019 Spectral range, which covers alloy frames (AL), hybrid carbon/alloy frames (CF) and full carbon frames (CFR). In Australia, the range kicks off with the $2,779 Spectral WMN AL 4.0, and ramps up all the way to $10,199 for the Spectral CFR 9.0 LTD.
The model we’ve got on test is a more modest Spectral AL 6.0, which is built around a hydroformed 6061 alloy frame, Fox suspension, DT Swiss M 1900 wheels, and a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. For $3,649 (plus shipping), it’s a pretty darn impressive package.
2019 Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 Specs
- Frame | 6061 Alloy, 150mm Travel
- Fork | Fox 36 Rhythm, 160mm Travel
- Shock | Fox Float DPX2 Performance Series, 230x65mm
- Wheels | DT Swiss M 1900, 30mm Internal Rim Width
- Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO 27.5×2.4in Wide Trail
- Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12
- Brakes | SRAM Guide R, 200mm Fr & 180mm Rr
- Bar | Canyon G5 Riserbar, 20mm Rise, 780mm Wide
- Stem | Canyon G5, 50mm Length
- Seatpost | Iridium Dropper, 150mm Travel
- Saddle | SDG I-Fly MTN
- Confirmed Weight | 14.53kg
- From | Canyon Bikes
- RRP | $3,649
First Ride Impressions
I’ve only had a few rides on the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 so far, but that’s been enough time to get the cockpit, suspension, and tyre pressures setup to my liking, while also getting a bit of a feel for what this bike is all about.
Weighing in at 14.53kg out of the box, this bike ain’t no lightweight, and that was made pretty clear on the first climb. Combined with the sticky Maxxis Minion DHR II tyres, and the gluey DPX2 rear shock, the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 isn’t a naturally spirited climber. Needless to say, I’ve been getting to know the 50t cog on the GX Eagle cassette quite well.
Though the glue-like suspension isn’t exactly the most efficient on the ups, it provides a huge amount of control on the downs. With the supple 36 Rhythm fork up front, the Spectral has a tough and ‘up for it’ feel, which is compounded by the grippy Maxxis rubber. Out back, the piggyback shock offers incredible rear-end control, which has no doubt taken the Spectral’s technical prowess up a notch or two.
I’m digging the cockpit setup on the Spectral, which includes Canyon’s 78omm wide G5 handlebars and the new G5 stem. Using a split-half construction, the stem’s jaws chomp down on the 31.8mm bars securely, though it does take a little more thought as to the specific order that the six different bolts need to be tightened in.
One thing I’m not a fan of though is the tall seat tube, which measures 440mm long on the Medium test bike. This means I’ve got the collar of the dropper post slammed down as far as it will go, which just gets me to my ideal saddle height. Bear in mind that at 175cm tall, I’m smack-bang in the middle of the recommended height range for the Medium. However, the tall seat tube means I can’t run a longer travel dropper post, and it pretty much eliminates the option of up-sizing for those who are chasing a longer reach. This is something Mick flagged in his review of the Spectral CFR 9.0 SL, and it’s also an issue I’ve encountered with Canyon’s 29er trail bike, the Neuron. Shorter seat tubes please Canyon!
I’ll be spending the next few weeks on the brushed alloy Spectral to explore the outer limits of this pumped-up trail bruiser, with some trips to bigger and steeper mountains on the agenda. I’ll also be messing around with a few things to see whether there’s some more versatility to be unlocked for riding milder terrain. The stock wheels and tyres are on-point for aggressive riding, but they’re not the lightest options going. I’d like to see if we can inject a little more zip into the Spectral with some changes there.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you guys think of the latest Canyon Spectral AL 6.0, and if you’ve got any questions for us about our test bike, then pop them into the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer them for you!