First Ride: 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 – A Trail Bike With Enduro Geometry
Canyon kicks things off with the new Spectral 125, a bike that shares identical geometry with its longer-travel sibling. That’s right, you’re looking at a bike with 125mm of rear travel, a 140mm fork and a slack 64-degree head angle. Unlike the standard Spectral, which comes in a variety of wheel size options, the Spectral is only available with 29-inch wheels front and rear.
• Wheel size: 29 inches
• Travel: 125mm, 140mm fork
• Carbon or aluminum frame options
• 64.1º head angle
• 437mm chainstays
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Claimed frame weight: 2500 grams (carbon) / 3000 grams (alloy)
• Weight: 30.6 lbs / 13.9 kg (size L, CF9)
• Price: $2,899 – $6,299 USD
There are five models in the range, two with aluminum frames and three with carbon. Prices start at $2,899 for the Spectral 125 AL 5, which features a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and brakes paired with a RockShox 35 fork and Deluxe Select+ shock.
The top-of-the-line model is the Spectral 125 CF9 at US$6,299. Highlights of his build kit include a SRAM GX AXS wireless drivetrain, Fox 36 Factory fork and Float X shock, SRAM Code RSC brakes and DT Swiss XMC 1501 carbon wheels.
The Spectral 125’s carbon frame is 100 grams lighter than the longer-travel Spectral, with a claimed weight of 2,500 grams. This weight saving was achieved by using slightly smaller tube sections and a smaller rocker link between the seatstays and the seat tube. Even with those weight reductions, the 125 frame receives a Category 4 designation, meaning it’s built to the same standards as Canyon’s enduro bikes. That’s a good thing, because a bike with those specs and geometry isn’t made for cruising gravel roads.
There is room for a water bottle, although space is a little tight due to the location of the shock. To get around this, Canyon has its own bottle that’s a bit chunkier than the norm, allowing you to carry around 600ml of liquid. Two bolts under the top tube can be used to attach a tube or tool holder, and Canyon even makes its own little zippered pouch that can attach to the frame.
Other features include a threaded bottom bracket, ribbed chain guard, and fully guided internal routing on the carbon frame (aluminum models use foam sleeves to keep things quiet). The tabs on the frame can accept a separately available ISCG adapter for riders who want to use any chain guide.
Although the geometry is the same, the kinematics of the Spectral 125 differ slightly from the 150mm version. the leverage curve is slightly steeper, which means the bike climbs a little faster to keep riders from blowing out during the trip. Canyon recommends running at 25 percent sag, another factor that helps make the bike feel livelier and more peppy on the trail. For those of you considering putting a coil shock on this bike, Canyon does not recommend going that route, and in many cases there won’t be enough room to make it a possibility first. location.
As I mentioned, the geometry is almost identical to the Spectral 150 – the reach, chainstay length and head angle have all been copied and pasted onto this new model. At the moment, saying a bike is long and slack is about as useful as saying it has two wheels – of course it does – but that description is very apt this time around . The size large has a 64.1 degree head angle, 486mm reach and 437mm chainstays on all sizes. The seat tube angle is 76 degrees, and Canyon provides several part numbers to help riders get an idea of what it will be like at different positions.
A flip-chip at the rear shock bolt helps steepen the head angle by 0.5 degrees, which also raises the bottom bracket by 8mm. The aluminum models don’t have a flip-chip, but they have what seems like the best geometry of both worlds – the alloy frames get the slack head angle and low BB of the carbon frame’s low setting, combined with the steeper seat tube angle you would get with the high setting. I wonder why Canyon just didn’t do that for the carbon model as well—there probably would have been a few extra grams of weight savings by going that route.
Models and prices
Categorizing bikes is a tricky thing, especially now that there are so many subcategories. When does a downhill bike become a trail bike? And when does an enduro bike turn into a freeride bike? I have my own opinions, but there are certainly no hard and fast rules. However, as easy as it is to make fun of all the names, I think they can be useful, a way to show where a bike fits in the grand scheme of things. With the Spectral, I would put it squarely in the aggressive trail category. It’s a moderately climbing bike, but it’s decidedly more focused on the descending side of the equation.
For riders who are actively seeking tough climbs or are a little less determined to hit more technical trails, the Spectral 125 might feel like too much of a bike. The 64-degree head angle and full wheelbase length give it relatively moderate handling on tighter, twistier climbs. It gets the job done, and the 76-degree seat angle creates a comfortable riding position over a variety of terrains, although I personally wouldn’t have bothered if it was a bit steeper. This won’t be the case for everyone – at 5’11” I’m right on the border of size medium and tall so taller riders might not find this to be an issue.
On tight, slower-speed sections of trail, the Spectral 125 is easier to maneuver than a full-fledged enduro bike, thanks to the supportive suspension, but it’s more of a handful than an Ibis Ripley or a Santa Cruz Tallboy, for example.
As you’d expect, it’s on the descents that Canyon’s geometry decisions pay off—this thing can carry some serious speed, especially on trails that aren’t super fat. My local riding area has a mix of moderately rough trails interspersed with lots of trails full of berms and jumps, which I would say is the Spectral 125’s perfect habitat. It’s easy to take off, and it’s a blast absolute on the jump lines, with enough bottom-out surge to support those times when the landing ends up being a little flatter than intended.
On a component-related note, I needed to separate the dropper post and wrap a piece of electrical tape around the internal cartridge to keep it from rattling when fully extended. This is also something I had to do on the new Torque, so I knew what to expect and it only took a few minutes. Still, it could be an annoyance, especially for less mechanically minded riders.
Choosing the specs of a Fox 36 and Code brakes makes a lot of sense and helps keep things from getting too out of control. I’ve had a few moments where I felt like I was approaching the bike’s speed limit (or at least my brain’s speed limit) – it’s easy to forget there’s no has only 125mm of travel, and the next thing you know you’re going straight into a mess of roots faster than it looks safe. It’s part of the fun, though, of trying to find the boundaries and then very lightly recalling them.
Canyon obviously isn’t the first company to offer a short-travel 29er that’s meant to be ridden hard – Kona’s Process 111 is the example that immediately springs to mind as demonstrating what big wheels and just enough travel could do, and most recently the Norco Optic picked up the slack. It turns out that the geometry numbers of the Spectral 125 are very close to those of the Optic, except that the head angle of the Spectral is one degree slacker.
We’ll be putting more miles on an aluminum Spectral 125 very soon for an upcoming field test, where it’ll be compared to a whole bunch of other bikes and subjected to all the usual pseudo-scientific tests, including an Impossible Ascent filled with saguaro cacti.