Category • | Biking

The Jack of all trades - Year and a half with the Canyon Spectral CF7

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  • Review

Canyon Spectral 29 CF7 160/150 mm (front/rear) 14.64 kg (size L) € 3,199


You can get pretty overwhelmed by all the types of bikes and categories of MTB if you are a beginner - XC, down-country, trail, all-mountain, enduro, DH. This can happen with experienced rider as well (seen that).
All these types of bikes have one thing in common - the mountain. In the mountain there are rocks, roots, sand, mud, rain, snow and sweat. Choosing a bike for your desired category might scope the task a bit, but what if you want to ride it...all?
You can always have n+1 bikes, of course, but this comes with not a small maintenance cost.

Isn’t there a bike to rule them all? Maybe it is. Many of the latest all-mountain bikes assert this capability. This should be the blend between a trail bike capable of going strong uphill and an enduro bike which float in it`s own waters during the downhill.

So I was after a Jack of all trades, master of none bike to match my skills. Quickly forward after a year and a half of owning a Canyon Spectral CF7, I'll try to share my honest long term review.

About the bike

For 2021, the carbon frame of the Spectral 29 has been redeveloped from scratch. Apart from the name and the Horst-link suspension, Canyon’s 29" trail bike has very little in common with its predecessor.
The Spectral CF 7 falls on the long-travel side of the "trail bike" category. With a 160 mm fork and 150 mm rear suspension, the Spectral certainly blurs mountain biking lines between trail and enduro bikes.
The full carbon frame rolls on 29-inch wheels and boasts modern geometry. A slack 64-degree head-tube angle is paired with a moderate 76.5-degree seat-tube angle.


Frame: fully carbon with Category 4
Fork: FOX 36 Rhythm Grip 160 mm
Rear shock: FOX Float X Performance 150 mm
Dropper post: Canyon G5 170 mm
Brakes: Shimano SLX M7120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 1x12
Stem: Canyon G5 40 mm
Handlebar: Canyon G5 Carbon Riser 780 mm
Wheelset: DT SWISS M1900 29"
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.4
Grips: Canyon G5
Saddle: Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp

Technical data

Size: S M L XL

Weight: 14.28 kg

Price: € 3,199

6 years frame warranty

2 years components warranty


Seat tube395 mm430 mm460 mm490 mm
Top tube582 mm609 mm636 mm663 mm
Head tube95 mm105 mm115 mm125 mm
Head angle64.5°64.5°64.5°64.5°
Seat angle76.5°76.5°76.5°76.5°
Chainstays437 mm437 mm437 mm437 mm
BB Drop36 mm36 mm36 mm36 mm
Wheelbase1,193 mm1,222 mm1,251 mm1,281 mm
Reach435 mm460 mm485 mm510 mm
Stack611 mm620 mm629 mm638 mm

The frame

frame front
frame back
frame bone

The paintjob of those bikes is amazing. In the case of my owned Spectral, it’s gloss black in the front and matte black at the back.

Invisiframe can equip the bike with additionally foil protection which comes in the same finish as the frame color. I was impressed.

frame bottle

The Spectral uses a Horst link rear suspension layout with a horizontally mounted shock. Despite the shock layout, there is room for a 600ml water bottle inside the front triangle, but any bigger than that and you'll start running into clearance issues.


The rear axle has a lever that slides out for wheel removal, then tucks away when not in use.

Cables and the rear brake hose are internally routed through the downtube and chain stays. Its really quite even on the roughest trails and provides that clean looks. Indeed I do get sometimes small amount of debris in the frame from the cable route. This happens likely because of the fact that I transport my bike upside down.


I managed to solve this problem by placing a cut sponge between the front triangle and the rear.


I’m running IvTech transportation system which is really simple and useful.

Other details include a threaded bottom bracket, and molded chainstay, seatstay, and downtube protection.
The chainstay protector started to rip off after a few months, which required additional glue and duck tape to be easily fixed.


An integrated upper guide adds a little extra security against dropped chains, and while there aren't any ISCG tabs to be seen Canyon does offer a removable mount that can be purchased separately.


The frame allows carrying bag storage. An additional propertiery bag from Canyon which surprised me with it’s capacity. It’s not fully integrated into the frame like Trek or Specialized for example. Nice feature, but in my opinion comes a bit pricy at €35.


A flip chip in the shock mount allows you to change the head and seat tube angle by 0.5° and the bottom bracket height by 8 mm. Slacker head angle drops to 64° in the low setting and the seat tube angle to 70°.

Pivot bolts are not directly mounting to the frame instead aluminum inserts are used. And they are all places on the left of the frame for easy maintenance.

The spectral also comes with UDH which is always welcomed.

The components


Forgiveness of the suspension is nicely handled by Fox Rhythm 36 Fit Grip. It has low speed rebound and 2-position compression settings. Comes preloaded with 3 tokens.


On the back we have Fox Float X Performance with low speed rebound setting as well as 2-position compression lever. I ended up removing one of the 2 available tokens.

The 12 speed Shimano SLX drivetrain feels really well by providing smooth shifting.


Braking is reassured by 4 pistons Shimano SLX M7120 and Hayes rotors but most of the Shimano users know of their inconsistency at least on the rear. The brake requires periodical rebleeding to keep running correctly otherwise it might start to feel squishy and doesn’t bite where you expect it.


The DT Swiss rims came with 30mm of inner width, Ratchet hub and straightpull spokes. They are really light and tubeless ready (tape applied). I also fitter a rim protector at the back but that didn’t help to slightly bend the rear rim. A few spokes came loose and broke during rides which wasn’t the nicest experience as well.


Comfort is reassured by the 170 mm dropper post from Canyon. Due to the long seatstay only 180mm of travel can be inserted into the frame of size L.

Ergon enduro comp saddle feels good on my bottoms, but it was starting to rip off after a few months. Canyon kindly send replacement immediately after reported.


G5 cockpit (handlebar, stem, spacers, grips) was also completely designed to provide tidy look and good ergonomics which is in-house built by Canyon. In combination with the Shimano I-SPEC components, the cockpit of the Spectral ensures good and clean looks.


The headset is covered by a plastic cap which matches exactly with the G5 spacers and stem. This fact limits the customization option. One well known Spectral issue is the creaking headset after a few months of usage. New cap from Cane Creak ZS49 - part: BAA0078K resolves the issue but this also requires to upgrade the stem and the spacers. In my case, a good cleaning and a huge amount of grease once in a while did the trick.

Tires are a spot on with Maxxis DHR2 MaxxGrip at the front and MaxTerra Exo+ at the back. Unfortunately they didn’t last long so I happily replaced them with Continental Kryptotal. Feels more draggy, but what a grip and endurance these tires have!

For pedals I choose Crank Brothers Stamp 1 L, which disappointed with lack of grip, but quickly fixed with new longer bolts.

My ride experience

If I’m being honest, my first few rides on the bike were not ideal. Like many things in mountain biking, getting used to a new bike is a process, and I found my process took longer than expected.

The major issue I had was a general out-of-control feeling while descending at high speeds. As soon as I hit any chunky or chattery bits, the Spectral felt as if it was going to skip out from underneath me. I diagnosed this problem as having less to do with the Spectral itself and more to do with how I set up the suspension. Rather than feeling supported, I felt bounced around by the suspension. More than a few settings attempts later and a few tokens removed, I think I’ve managed to dial it.

When opening it up on the Spectral and riding fast on rough trails, I found it pretty important to ride with an aggressive, forward stance and this is especially true in corners as the front wheel can pretty easily wash out without proper weight on it.

On the other hand, without proper technique, it might feel big into tight corners due it’s longer wheelbase.


A distinct lack of squat from pedaling input made the bike climb with a sense of urgency and good amount of support for traction where needed.

The bike`s modern geometry helps a lot, especially the seat tube angle, which is a moderately steep 76.5 on the Spectral.
This puts the rider more forward on the bike and over the bottom bracket, allowing for more efficient pedaling.

I also prefer the high setting of the flip chip mostly to avoid pedal strikes. Maybe shorter cranks would improve this a bit.



On the way down, it feels like you have more than enough room to move around the Spectral and change your body position for what the trail had coming.

Geometry inspires confidence and doesn’t push you to the back when things get steeper.
I feel weight more forward, dropping my chest, and trusting the bike’s long wheelbase.

Once dialed and used to, the bike becomes well grounded, humble and more capable to go fast. Its not scared of going air too and the suspension doing it`s best to support you where needed.




  • High quality build and finish
  • Excellent value for money
  • Excellent all-round qualities is what I was after and this bike got them
  • Pedal-neutral suspension ensures good climbing qualities
  • Inspires confidence during the descends for it`s longer and slacker geometry
  • Excellent customer support from Canyon


  • Headset creek mentioned above
  • It feels a bit large for some tidy trails. The old school shorter bike would benefit in such segments. Already sacrificed a derailer in the trail gods name.
  • Since I transport my bike upside down, there are some strange times where debris enter the frame from the opened space for the internal cable routing between the front and the back triangles. Fixed with sponge insert :D (probably con only for me)
  • In the Spectral group you can see a lot of bikes having problems with the bottom bracket shell which is production defect in the 2021-22 Spectrals. It’s still covered by warranty though.

The Canyon Spectral 29 CF7 is the ultimate do-it-all weapon and a perfect all-rounder for (almost) any type of rider!
The bike feels capable, but it’s not a full-on Enduro bike, either. It’s got moderately progressive suspension and feels more precise than ultra-forgiving and plush. It’s a bike that maintains speed really well as long as you don’t force it to eat every hole, rock, and compression the trail puts in front of you. The Spectral 29 rewards an engaged rider who rides at 90% pace most of the time. It feels like a better choice for someone who is generally in control and on top of line choice than it is for less experienced, more timid riders.

Who’s it for?

I believe the Spectral could work for a very wide range of mountain bikers.

  1. Riders looking for a do-it-all, versatile Trail bike with a bias toward downhill performance
  2. Riders looking for a lightweight long-travel Trail bike with a lot of value
  3. Riders looking for a more nimble bike, rather than a very planted one

Hope this article helps you make the right decision. Enjoy the ride!