Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV Review | A dedicated mullet bike that’s built to party

The not-so-minor details


Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV


$6,099 AUD (plus shipping)




- An absolute dream to rip corners with
- Playful, jump-loving attitude
- Supple and well-controlled suspension
- Aggressive, high-traction tyres
- Appealing spec for the money
- Pragmatic and serviceable frame design


- Not the best technical climber
- Harder work on really rough & raw singletrack
- Slow hub engagement

Wil reviews the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV

For 2022 the Canyon Spectral lineup is rapidly expanding with the arrival of new alloy bikes, a top-end CFR model, and both 27.5in and 29in wheelsize options throughout the range. Additionally, Canyon will be introducing a specific model with a trendy mullet setup and a coil shock. That’s the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV we have here, which combines a 29in front wheel with a 27.5in rear wheel. I’ve had the chance to ride this bike prior to the official launch, and here I’ll be taking you through my experience so far, and how it compares to the Canyon Spectral 29 we’ve tested previously.

No doubt about it, the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is the sort of bike that will make you want to throw caution to the wind and let that mullet hair flow!

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
The Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is a brand new, purpose-built mullet bike.

The Spectral goes full-mullet

Pitched as an aggressive long travel trail bike, the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV features a 160mm travel fork and 150mm of rear wheel travel, just like the regular Spectrals. It’s built around a progressive four-bar suspension design, which is suitable for both high-volume air and coil shocks.

To suit the mixed wheel setup, the full carbon fibre chassis is something of a Frankenstein monster. Instead of relying on a dropout flip chip or an aftermarket mullet link, Canyon’s engineers have actually paired the mainframe from the Spectral 29 with the swingarm of a Spectral 27.5. This has been made possible due to the modular nature of the Spectral platform, with all the pivot points lining up between the two frames.

The beauty about this setup is that you get the shorter chainstays from the 27.5in specific rear end, while maintaining the travel, kinematics and overall geometry as the regular Spectral models.

The downside is that riders can’t easily modify their bike between wheelsizes. And no, Canyon won’t be selling swingarms separately. That means if you want to try the mullet thing, this complete bike is your only option.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
Canyon pairs a 29in mainframe with a 27.5in swingarm to create this raucous Frankenstein monster!

Why the mixed wheels?

Well for a start, it’s very hot right now. There’s already been a big uptake in the e-MTB market, with bikes like the Merida eOne-Sixty, the Specialized Levo and Canyon’s own Spectral:ON embracing the mixed wheelsize thing. In the non-motorised world, we’ve seen the arrival of the mullet-specific Santa Cruz Bronson, the YT Capra MX, and and the recently introduced Commencal Meta SX.

There’s certainly a lot of market hype around mullet bikes at the moment, so it makes sense for Canyon to capitalise on that hype by offering one of its most popular models with the mixed wheelsize setup.

As for the purported benefits of a mullet bike, the general idea is that you end up with a compromise in performance between a full 27.5in bike and a full 29in bike. According to Canyon, you combine the business-like confidence and speed up front with the bigger 29in wheel and fork, with a party-ready back end thanks to the shorter rear end and smaller 27.5in wheel. A best of both worlds scenario? That’s the claim from mullet fans.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv fox 36 grip2
There’s a 160mm travel fork with a 64-64.5° head angle.

Geometry remains very similar

Despite the hybrid frame and mixed wheel sizes, the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV maintains much of the same geometry as the rest of the Spectral range.

In the Low geometry position you get a 64° head angle, a 76° seat angle and a 36mm BB drop. Flip the chip at the bottom shock mount, and you’ll steepen those angles by half a degree, while lifting the BB height by 8mm.

While most of the listed measurements are the same, the key difference to the regular 29in Spectral is the shorter chainstays, with the mullet bike getting a tight 432mm rear centre length.

On the note of geometry, Canyon will only be offering the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV in four frame sizes from Small through to Extra Large. If you need an Extra Small, you’ll be directed towards a regular Spectral 27.5.

2022 canyon spectral geometry
Geometry for the full 2022 Canyon Spectral lineup.

Canyon Spectral price & specs

There are no fewer than eight different models in the 2022 Canyon Spectral lineup. There are alloy and carbon frame options, with prices kicking off at $2,799 AUD for the Young Hero model. If you want all the specs and prices for the full lineup, check out our Canyon Spectral range overview.

The Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV we have here sits somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum, sharing a similar spec level to the regular Spectral CF 8. The key differences include a Fox DHX coil shock, a Maxxis Assegai front tyre, and a custom DT Swiss wheelset with heavy duty EX 511 rims.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
Canyon equips the mullet bike with a slightly different build kit to the rest of the Spectral range.

2022 Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV

There aren’t a lot of purpose-built mullet trail bikes on the market right now, so we’re excited to see the Germans commit to the concept with the new Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
Yiewww! We’ve been riding the mullet bike to see what it’s all about, and how it compares to the regular Spectral 29.

Canyon Spectral sizing & fit

At 175cm tall I’ve been riding a Medium size in the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV. The fit is very similar to the CF 8 we previously tested, with a generous 460mm reach.

Each frame size is equipped with a 40mm long stem and a 780mm wide riser bar (760mm on the Small). It’s a comfortable setup, though I’ve always found Canyon’s lock-on grips to be a little too firm and slightly abrasive when gloveless. There are no complaints with the Ergon saddle though, which is a terrifically comfortable perch.

The G5 dropper post is new for 2022, with an adjustable design that allows you to limit the travel by up to 25mm. I had plenty of room with the stock 150mm stroke, but it’s still a really useful feature for shorter-legged riders who may be looking at upsizing.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
Each size gets a 40mm stem and 780mm wide riserbars (760mm on the Small).

Suspension setup

Being a direct-to-consumer brand, Canyon has typically favoured air shocks for its full suspension bikes. So we were thoroughly intrigued to see this Spectral model arrive with the latest Fox DHX coil shock.

To accommodate different rider weights, Canyon includes two additional springs with the bike. This is a really nice touch given that coil springs sell for around $60 on their own.

Our Medium test bike came with a 400lb spring fitted, along with 350lb and 450lb springs in the box. I went with the lighter spring to suit my 68kg riding weight, and only a few clicks on the preload collar were required to get me to 30% sag.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv fox dhx coil
Canyon includes two other springs in the box with the bike. A nice touch!

I’ve trended towards a faster rebound setting (9/14 clicks) to keep things feeling lively, though I had to draw on all of my dexterity to adjust the awkwardly-located rebound dial. Low-speed compression is currently wide open for maximum plushness, but I’ve been experimenting with adding a few clicks to help stabilise the rear end when pumping through flowy jump trails.

To match the supple rear I’ve been running the Fox 36 GRIP2 with a little less pressure than usual – 70psi instead of the 78psi recommended for my weight. I’ve also got both rebound adjusters set slightly faster than halfway, with the compression dials set about a third of the way in from fully open.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
Wil’s been testing the Medium size in the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV. That’s the same size as the 29er version we’ve ridden previously.

Canyon Spectral weight

Always a nice surprise, our Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV test bike came in a little lighter than claimed at 14.94kg. That’s without pedals and with the tyres setup tubeless.

It’s not terribly heavy for a 150mm travel bike, though the coil shock certainly contributes to the figure on the scales. The Fox DHX weighs in at a confirmed 965g including the spring, which is around half a kilo heavier than the equivalent air shock.

The DT Swiss wheels are also fairly weighty (2,129g confirmed), though they are built to take a beating with heavy duty EX 511 rims and 370 hubs.

Even still, the rear tyre only features an EXO+ casing. I promptly fitted a CushCore Pro insert into the rear wheel and set tyre pressures at 21-22psi on the front and 25-26psi on the rear.

What’s good about the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV?

No doubt about it, the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is the sort of bike that will make you want to throw caution to the wind and let that mullet hair flow!

It’s got plenty of presence courtesy of the stout frame, tough build kit and the long front centre. My immediate impression was that it actually feels slacker and lower than the full 29in bike, with more of an in-the-bike riding position.

In fact, I found myself clipping pedals pretty regularly on the first few rides, even with the 170mm crank arms. To address this, I flipped the geometry chip into the high position. The head angle only steepens to 64.5°, which is still very slack. However, it helps to shift more bodyweight onto the front wheel, improving steering precision and front-end grip. Of course the extra 8mm of pedal clearance was welcome for my local chundery singletrack.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
Plush coil-sprung suspension, aggressive tyres and a kicked-out front end. The Spectral does not hold back on the descents!

Coil shock cushioning

That coil shock delivers outstanding sensitivity, offering comfort and masses of traction alongside the aggressive tyre spec. Despite the supple performance, there’s still excellent support to the back end though. According to Canyon, the Spectral linkage delivers 29.5% progression throughout its travel, making it well suited to a coil shock. I’ve only hit full travel twice so far, and even then the big bottom-out bumper helped to cushion my haggard hucks-to-flat.

The supportive suspension and aggressive geometry means it loves to ride hard and fast, with a keen interest in jumping, manualling and slapping berms. The compact rear end gives it some serious carveability (it’s a word now), allowing you to steer off the rear wheel and dive effortlessly in and out of tight turns. It’ll square them off efficiently too if you’ve come in a little hot.

As we experienced with the Spectral 29, the carbon chassis is stiff and responsive, with minimal flex through the big head tube junction, overbuilt chainstays and seatstay bridge. While it can bounce you around on rockier trails, it does pair well with the mullet bike’s inherently playful attitude. It’s a big travel trail bike, but it’s got a tight and precise feel that really rewards an enthusiastic pilot with a dynamic riding style.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
The short rear end and 27.5in wheel means the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV loves to pop up the front wheel.

What does it struggle with?

With the Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV biased more towards descending party times, it’s not as sprightly to ride on flatter trails or uphill.

The weight is for sure a part of it, but the slow-rolling Assegai does no favours to overall rolling efficiency. There’s oodles of traction on loose trail surfaces, and it’s a great tyre combo for slithering your way down steep and sloppy trails in the woods – something that British and Pacific Northwest riders will no doubt appreciate.

Given our drier trail conditions however, I’d consider fitting a Minion DHR II or DHF up front. I’d be curious to see if some lighter wheels and faster-rolling tyres could push this bike back towards all-round duties.

Rear suspension kinematics are tuned to minimise feedback. Anti-squat sits just under 100% around sag, and quickly drops off through the travel to eliminate any unwanted pedal kickback. It works well on the trail too, with a nice and neutral feel to it.

Pedal bob isn’t excessive, but the supple coil shock does mean that the back end feel somewhat squishy under power. As such, I took full advantage of the 2-position climb switch for extended ascents. Sitting just inside of your right knee, it’s easy to reach and safe to engage while riding. The Firm position isn’t a full lockout, but it is quite solid, and it stops you sinking into the travel when things get steep. If the climb was really sketchy and loose though, I’d flip the lever into the Open position to maximise grip.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
You’ll need that climb switch.

Where the mullet comes unstuck

Still, the Spectral mullet is not a great technical climber. Part of this is the riding position, where you feel like you’re a little further back behind the front wheel. Shifting the saddle forwards on the rails helped, but when it boils down to it, the smaller 27.5in rear wheel just doesn’t get up rough climbs as easily.

The reduced rollover capability is noticeable on the descents too, where the smaller wheel catches more edges on the trail. There’s greater chance of stalling on square-edge rocks and roots, stymieing your ability to maintain momentum when things get ugly. Compared to a full 29er, it just doesn’t build speed as well on more rugged trails.

Being more agile however, the Spectral mullet is easier to steer around or jump over the top of obstacles in the first place. The small rear wheel also pumps off the backside better, and that encourages you to search out those transitions in situations where you might just bulldoze through on a 29er.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
The weight, aggressive tyres, low BB and short rear end means its not the most dynamic climber.

Component highs & lows

The Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is priced bloody well given the quality of the overall package, though of course you’ll need to add both the $199 shipping fee and the $30 bike box to the price tag. It’s still a very desirable bike for the money though, with very few weak points.

The DT Swiss wheels are a top-notch choice with their high quality alloy rims. But while it’s nice to see the new 370 hubs equipped with the Star Ratchet freehub mechanism, pickup at the pedals is slow due to the 18T ratchet plates. Square away some cash to upgrade to the 36T or 54T ratchet if you’re keen for faster engagement.

The Canyon G5 cockpit is well-finished, though it didn’t take long for the dropper post on our test bike to feel a little sticky. A quick clean and regrease of the main bushing and seal had it returning smoothly again, so it’s something owners may need to service on a regular basis.

Otherwise there’s little to complain about with the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV. As mentioned earlier, I’d like to try out some faster-rolling tyres, and I’m also curious to see what this bike would ride like with a Fox Float X shock, which is essentially the air-sprung version. At the very least, you’d be able to drop half a kilo from the bike.

Wistful curiosity aside, I like that the frame is equipped with pragmatic features like a threaded bottom bracket, guided internal cable routing, double sealed pivot bearings and a SRAM UDH, which make it an easier bike to work on for home mechanics.

There’s also generous noise-cancelling rubber used to wrap the drive-side chainstay and seatstay tubes, and a bolt-on armour plate for the underside of the downtube. The compact chainguide has done its job just fine, though you can add a full-wrap chainguide with the included ISCG 05 adapter.

I also love the Quixle rear axle, and the QR15 fork means it’s easy to live with for riders who need to de-wheel their bike to fit it in the back of the car. And while the frame can only fit a compact 600ml bottle, it’s always good to see one factored into the design in the first place.

Spectral 29 vs Spectral Mullet

With the introduction of the new Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV, there’s likely to be a few folks out there who are now unsure whether to go for the full 27.5in bike, the mullet option, or the full 29er. Canyon has gone to some lengths to explain the differences on its website, but I expect the Live Chat function is going to be running hot with questions about wheelsizes.

Now while I’ve not ridden the latest 27.5in bike, both Mick and I have spent a load of time on the Spectral 29.

2021 Canyon spectral 29 cf 8.0
We’ve spent a lot of time on the latest Spectral 29. So how does it compare to the mullet bike?

Directly comparing the new 2022 bikes, the Spectral CF 8 is more expensive by 600 buckeroos. However, it does get lighter wheels, a Float X air shock and a full Shimano XT groupset. According to Canyon, that makes it lighter by over a kilo.

On the trail the Spectral 29 offers a more versatile and well-rounded ride quality. It’s a better technical climber, possessing greater traction and smoother rolling performance due to the dual 29in wheels. And while it’s no XC bike, the faster-rolling tyres give it more pep on the climbs compared to the aggressive rubber spec’d on the mullet bike.

It also maintains better momentum on the descents, offering a sure-footed riding position with plenty of control and stability at high speeds. While Canyon still recommends the Strive for serious enduro racing, the Spectral 29 is more than capable of going flat-out between the tape. And for us, it’s this balanced ride quality that impressed us most when we tested the Spectral 29 in Beechworth as part of the Ride High Country Test Sessions.

2021 canyon spectral 29 cf 8.0
You want descending speed and confidence? The full 29er gets you that in spades.

Where the tables begin to turn is when things get tighter, twistier, flowier and jumpier. The Spectral mullet is the more agile and playful bike of the two, and it absolutely rips through corners like nobody’s business. Where the full 29er requires more brute strength to lean it over, the mullet bike requires a lighter touch before it flops over and commits to diving into a turn.

It’s also much easier to manual, and it’s more eager to get its wheels off the ground. And for medium-sized riders like myself, the additional clearance from the 27.5in rear wheel is also much appreciated over jumps and heading down steep descents.

It’s an absolute hoot to ride, with its compact rear end and 27.5in wheel deliver outstanding cornering abilities. It really is a joy to holler your down fast and flowy descents.

It’s worth noting that the build of each bike certainly takes some responsibility for the different ride quality on the trail. Indeed it would be possible to blur the lines further between the two. You could fit burlier rubber and a coil shock to the Spectral 29, and you could fit faster-rolling tyres and an air shock to the Spectral mullet. That would see the two platforms coming together a little more closely.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
But the mullet setup is hard to beat in the corners. This bike rips!

The thing is, Canyon has already made that decision for you. If you want the mullet setup, you’re committing to the heavier duty build kit. At least for now anyway. If the mixed wheelsize turns out to be popular though, then we’d expect Canyon to expand on the number of spec options beyond this single CF8 CLLCTV model.

Regardless, the Spectral 29 is the bike to go for if speed is your main goal. It’s better suited to riding really rough terrain, and if you’re keen to sign up to more than the one enduro race each year, you’ll be more competitive on the big wheels.

In comparison, the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is less serious about speed, and more interested in releasing your inner hooligan. The mixed wheelsize setup shines on machine-built flow trails with plenty of doubles, hips and berms, where it can really cut loose and show a bit of attitude.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
The Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV won’t be for everyone, but it’s also not meant to be for everyone.

Flow’s Verdict

There aren’t a lot of purpose-built mullet trail bikes on the market right now, so we’re excited to see the Germans commit to the concept with the new Canyon Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV.

This bike delivers an appealing and high quality package that for the most part delivers on its claimed benefits. It’s an absolute hoot to ride, with its compact rear end and 27.5in wheel deliver outstanding cornering abilities. It really is a joy to holler your way down fast and flowy descents.

Shorter riders will appreciate the bum extra clearance on really steep steep descents, and anyone who’s just never quite got on with long-travel 29ers will no doubt warm to the mullet setup very quickly.

If you’re looking for an all-rounder though, then you’ll likely be better off with one of the regular Spectral models. The Spectral mullet isn’t a great technical climber, and it’s also slower and less composed on rough backcountry singletrack. That’s not really where this bike is designed to shine though.

This is a bike that’s at home winching its way up dirt access roads in order to bomb back down steep, flat-out lines through the woods. It’s a bike for riders who want to hit the bonus jump lines and practice their manuals and cutties in between. I’m yet to take it up to Mystic Bike Park in Bright, or the Cascades trail at Lake Mountain, but I have no doubt it will be totally in its element shuttling those kinds of high-speed trails and jump lines.

No, this isn’t the Spectral for the masses – Canyon provide plenty of those already. Instead, the Spectral CF 8 CLLCTV is for riders with more flair, and preferably messier hair.

2022 canyon spectral cf 8 mullet cllctv
We’ve got some tweaks in mind, and some bikeparks we want to ride on the new Spectral mullet. Come at us summer!

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