Like all 2021 Canyon eMTBs, the new Canyon Spectral:ON is fitted with the new Shimano EP8 motor. Alongside the new motor and a bigger battery, it’s also been treated to a better spec. Does the update make it better? You can find out about all the changes here, as well as how the Spectral:ON CF 9 handles on the trail.

Before we get into the review, we would like to tell you about our latest print edition. The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 | Shimano EP8/630 Wh | 150/150 mm (f/r)
21.80 kg in size L | € 7,499 | Manfacturer’s website

Only last year, Canyon redeveloped the Spectral:ON, not just making the bike 1 kg lighter and furnishing it with clever details, but also improving its performance on the trail. For 2021, sticking with the same 150 mm travel front and rear, the bike has been reworked once again. The main updates include the new Shimano EP8 Motor, which delivers 85 Nm torque, and the 630 Wh battery which feeds it. But that’s not all that’s changed, with an upgrade to the suspension too. We’ve had the opportunity to test the Spectral:ON 9 2021 for several months already and were able to scrutinise it both on our wintery home trails and riding in Tuscany. We tell you what’s new and explain why at € 7,499, the new Spectral:ON CF 9 is € 500 more expensive than last year.

At first glance not much has changed on the Spectral:ON 2021. Only when you look more closely do the differences become apparent.

The Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 in detail

The smart and elegant appearance of the Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 hasn’t changed at all. As before, integration and user-experience are at the highest level. The Spectral:ON still comes with a USB-C port next to the power button on the top tube, the SD:ON saddle, space for a bottle cage in the main triangle and the ON key to remove the battery. The top-of-the-line model still features the striking one-piece carbon bar and stem. The Canyon:ON CP12 cockpit isn’t just a visual highlight but hides the cables for the display and motor internally. However, the one-piece design could be problematic if you’re not happy with its shape and ergonomics. You can’t change the stem or bar individually and will have to replace both to adjust the fit.

The new Spectral:ON is powered by the new Shimano EP8 motor which is fed by a 630 Wh battery. If you want to find out more about the Shimano EP8, everything you need to know is here.
Like its predecessor, Canyon’s own Canyon:ON CP12 carbon cockpit is used on the top-of-the-line model.
Electronic cables are routed inside the bar, ensuring a tidy cockpit.
Canyon have even considered the integration of the display.
Typically Canyon: a USB-C port on the top tube lets you charge your phone, GPS or light directly from the main battery.

The new Shimano SC-EM800 display is mounted directly to the bars and elegantly integrated. Speaking of neat integration, the Shimano EP8 motor system suits this bike excellently. The frame’s battery slot has been modified, allowing the Shimano EP8 to be powered by a larger 630 Wh battery. The speed sensor is cleanly integrated and tucked away with the matching magnet integrated with the disc rotor. Like its predecessor, the assistance modes of the new Japanese motor can be individually tuned via an app. What’s new are two motor profiles which store separate user-defined settings. These can be switched between on-the-fly while riding without having to get out your smartphone.

The components of the Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9

The biggest change to the spec is that, for the first time, the Spectral:ON is fitted with a FOX 36 with the GRIP2 damper. Up until now, the lush Kashima-coated version of the 36 fork was only available in combination with the inferior FIT4 cartridge. GRIP2 delivers better performance, is superior on hard hits, allows better tuning and, thanks to FOX’s comprehensive setup guide, is easy to dial in for beginners too. The performance difference on the trail is significant. The € 7,499 top-of-the-line Spectral:ON 9 relies on the best components. As we’ve come to expect, Shimano XTR brakes and shifting are fitted to the top-end model – only the best!. For the tires, Canyon fit a 27.5 x 2.6″ MAXXIS Minion DHR II at the rear and a 29 x 2.5″ DHF up front. The EXO/EXO+ casings, fitted front and rear respectively, combined with the Reynolds carbon wheelset is a daring option for those who like to ride with low tire pressures or venture onto more demanding terrain. If you want to be sure that the carbon rims won’t suffer, you should fit tires with a more robust casing. In particular, the EXO+ casing on the rear wheel won’t be sufficient for heavier riders.

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9

€ 7,499

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR M9120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 1x12
Stem Canyon:ON CP12 Carbon-Cockpit 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon:ON CP12 Carbon-Cockpit 780 mm
Wheelset Reynolds TRe Carbon 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR II (EXO/EXO+) 2.5/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 21.8 kg
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 108 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

Cockpit with handlebar-stem unit
USB charging port

For 2021 Canyon will finally offer FOX forks with the better GRIP2 damper. That improves the trail performance of the Spectral:ON CF 9 in comparison to its predecessor.
The SD:ON saddle continues to be deployed. On the flats and downhill, it splits opinion. However, on steep hills, we’re big fans thanks to the extra step on the back.
Typical for Canyon and the Spectral:ON too: the Canyon Quixle thru-axle.
The combination of Reynolds carbon wheels…
… and MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHRII tires with EXO/EXO+ casings front and rear is a daring one. If you’re a little heavier or like to ride with low tire pressures, you should mount tires with a more robust casing to protect the carbon rims.
It might not look like it, but the chainstay guard efficiently eliminates all chain noises.
Shimano XTR four-piston brakes do braking duties…
… combined with 203 mm rotors.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs: during our test, we snapped a chain…
… the resulting whip has the chain guide on its conscience.
In case this happens to you: the chain guide isn’t available to buy via Canyon’s online shop. You’ll have to contact Canyon directly, who will send you a replacement.

The models of the Canyon Spectral:ON 2021

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8

€ 5,999

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork FOX 36Performance 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Performance 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper Post 100 – 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XT M8120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 1x12
Stem Canyon:ON CP12 Carbon-Cockpit 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon:ON CP12 Carbon-Cockpit 760 – 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss H1700 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR II (EXO/EXO+) 2.5/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 107
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

Cockpit with handlebar-stem unit
USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7

€ 4,999

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork RockShox Lyric Select R 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select R 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper Post 100 – 150 mm
Brakes Shimano SLX MT7120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/ SLX 1x12
Stem Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 760 – 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss H1900 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR II (EXO/EXO+) 2.5/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 106
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7 WMN

€ 4,999

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork RockShox Lyric Select R 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select R 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper Post 100 – 150 mm
Brakes Shimano SLX MT7120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/ SLX 1x12
Stem Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 760 – 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss H1900 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR II (EXO/EXO+) 2.5/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 106
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 6

€ 4,599

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork RockShox Yari RC 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select R 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper Post 100 – 150 mm
Brakes Shimano Deore MT6120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/ SLX 1x12
Stem Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 760 – 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face AR30 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR II (EXO/EXO+) 2.5/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 106
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 6 WMN

€ 4,599

Specifications

Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano BT8036 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-EM800
Fork RockShox Yari RC 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select R 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper Post 100 – 150 mm
Brakes Shimano Deore MT6120 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/ SLX 1x12
Stem Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 50 mm
Handlebar Canyon:ON AL Cockpit 760 – 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face AR30 29"/27.5"
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/DHR II (EXO/EXO+) 2.5/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 106
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

USB charging port

Why has the Spectral:ON CF 9 become more expensive?

Compare the prices of the new Spectral:ON CF 9 (€ 7,499) and its predecessor and it quickly becomes apparent that the new model is about € 500 more expensive. Alongside the bigger battery and new motor, this is due to the EP8 system components which Canyon claim are significantly more expensive than those for the Shimano STEPS E8000 system fitted previously. The FOX 36 with its GRIP2 damper and the quicker 4 amp charger also contribute to the increase in price. According to Canyon, neither the current situation in the sector, the associated increases in shipping costs nor the increased demand as a result of the 2020 bike boom factor into the price increases for the Spectral:ON 9.

The seat post clamp might be nicely integrated into it but at 480 mm, the seat tube is just too long. Combined with the raised tail of the saddle, freedom of movement on the downhills is restricted.

The geometry of the Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9

The Spectral:ON is available in four sizes: S, M, L and XL. Based on body size, there are suitable bikes for everyone between 162 and 192 cm, according to Canyon. The Spectral:ON 2021 has a compact reach (465 mm in size L) and a steep 66.5 ° head tube angle. If you’re looking for stable handling, you would usually go up a size. However, that’s not so easy with the Canyon. The seat tube is far too long, which is a shame given that the low-slung top tube suggests that technically there’s nothing that speaks against a shorter seat tube. 480 mm on a size L is just too long for modern standards, not just restricting the choice of size but also freedom of movement when riding.

SizeSMLXL
Seat tube430 mm440 mm480 mm520 mm
Top tube590 mm612 mm632 mm653 mm
Head tube100 mm115 mm125 mm135 mm
Head angle66.5°66.5°66.5°66.5°
Seat angle74.5°74.5°74.5°74.5°
Chainstays435 mm435 mm435 mm435 mm
BB Drop33 mm33 mm33 mm33 mm
Wheelbase1,171 mm1,197 mm1,221 mm1,245 mm
Reach425 mm445 mm465 mm485 mm
Stack620 mm625 mm635 mm645 mm

Agile, more agile, Canyon – The Spectral:ON CF 9 on the trail

The riding position on the flats is upright and, due to the relatively slack seat tube angle, comfortable with the load spread evenly between your hands and seat. On long tours, the SD:ON saddle with its raised tail splits opinion. Comfortable for some, for others the saddle is too wide and too high at the rear. Nonetheless, when things turn uphill, the saddle demonstrates its advantages. Thanks to the high tail, it’s easier to get your weight forwards and load the front end. If the uphill trails are flat, tight and flowing, the Spectral:ON 9 delivers a lot of fun thanks to its agile character. However, when things get properly steep the light front end has to be actively ridden to prevent it from lifting, not least due to the short chainstays. If you enjoy climbing the nastiest slopes and look for challenges on technical uphill terrain, you won’t be happy with the new Spectral:ON. While the bigger battery gets a little more weight on the front wheel, the fundamental character of the Spectral:ON hasn’t changed on technical and steep climbs.

Go with the flow – Downhill with the Spectral:ON CF 9

What really counts with the Spectral:ON is the fun it delivers on the way downhill, which is massive! Since its first incarnation, the Spectral:ON has been known for its agile character and the same holds for the new bike. Its playful and simultaneously precise handling paired with plenty of traction and pop makes it a cornering demon and a master of quick direction changes. This eMTB loves to play with the terrain. Through corners, the one-piece cockpit helps you to assume an active position, which helps even passive riders to get enough weight onto the front wheel. When things get really steep the cockpit becomes a hindrance with the position pulling you forwards. At the same time, the saddle with its raised tail and the long seat tube limit freedom of movement towards the back of the bike, meaning that steep descents aren’t the prime example of the Canyon’s abilities.

Tuning tips: If required swap the saddle | change the grips | Tires with more stable carcass if necessary

The improved fork of the 2021 model can’t change the bike’s high-speed capabilities either. When things get fast, the bike reaches its limits. If you prefer to ride really technical and chopped up trails or like to blast through the bike park, you should take a closer look at its big brother, the new Canyon Torque:ON. Be aware that neither bike is very quiet on the downhills. Alongside the usual clattering of the Shimano EP8 motor, our Spectral:ON also had a rattling battery.

Helmet MET Roam | | Backpack Fox Utility Hydration Pack | Shirt Fox Ranger Jersey | Shorts Fox Ranger Shorts | Knee pads POC Joint VPD System Knee | Shoes Leatt DBX 4.0 |

Canyon Spectral:ON 9 conclusion

Canyon have managed the integration of the new Shimano EP8 system and the upgrade of the Spectral:ON 9 well. If you’re looking for flow, you’ll find it aboard the Canyon Spectral:ON 9. Thanks to its lively and playful handling, flowing tracks and trail are this bike’s favourite discipline. It also does very well on longer rides. However, it’s not made for technical terrain, high-speed riding or bike park blasting, with its big brother, the Canyon Torque:ON., taking on that role instead.

Tops

  • fun handling
  • great integration of the Shimano EP8 system
  • look and feel

Flops

  • not made for steep climbing
  • nervous at high speeds
  • battery and motor rattle

For more information visit canyon.com


It's finally here: The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!

Words: Jonas Müssig Photos: Robin Schmitt