The Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0 secured the coveted Best Value Tip in last year’s big group test. It returns in 2020 without any changes to the frame or spec but can it still hold its own against an increasingly competitive field?
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!
Click here for an overview of the best eMTB 2020 group test.
The Canyon Spectral:ON was first introduced in early 2018, so we wouldn’t exactly call it old. However, ebikes move quickly and the 150 mm travel aluminium frame looks like an eMTB dinosaur compared to the competition: both the external 504 Wh battery of the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor and the antiquated speed sensor with its glitchy spoke magnet underline the overall system’s lack of integration. The workmanship is not up to the level we’ve come to expect either: the welds look basic and the rear linkage bushings developed play during testing. This is a problem that Canyon claim to have solved, but we’ve encountered it on every Spectral:ON we’ve tested to date.
Components, weight and technical details of the Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0
When it comes to componentry, the € 6,199 flagship Spectral:ON 9.0 features the best in high-end componentry with a Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes and FOX Factory suspension. Riders who spend long days in the saddle will also appreciate the USB charging port integrated into the top tube, the proprietary saddle and the drivetrain’s extremely wide gear range.
Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0
Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 70Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS BT-E8010 504Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork FOX 36 FIT4 Factory 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT DPS Factory 150 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-piston 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR 1x12
Stem Race Face Aeffect R 50 mm
Handlebar Race Face Aeffect Riser Aluminium 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss HX1501 29"/27.5"
Size XS S M L XL
Weight 22.12 kg
Perm. total weight 130 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 107 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no
integrated USB charging port
Geometry and size of the Canyon
When developing the Spectral:ON, agility was the top priority. To achieve this, Canyon have a special trick to keep the chainstays as short as possible. The Shimano motor is mounted at a slight angle in the frame to make room for the main pivot of the rear linkage. By doing so, the Spectral:ON has the shortest chainstays in the entire test field at 430 mm.
|Seat tube||420 mm||430 mm||440 mm||480 mm||520 mm|
|Top tube||582 mm||597 mm||616 mm||638 mm||660 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||95 mm||100 mm||113 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstays||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|BB Drop||20 mm||33 mm||33 mm||33 mm||33 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,151 mm||1,161 mm||1,183 mm||1,208 mm||1,233 mm|
|Reach||405 mm||425 mm||445 mm||465 mm||485 mm|
|Stack||605 mm||618 mm||622 mm||634 mm||644 mm|
The Spectral:ON 9.0 on the trail
The riding position of the Spectral:ON is comfortable and thanks to the proprietary saddle developed specifically for eMTBs, it also stays comfortable on long rides. We were impressed with the bike’s balanced and agile handling on smooth, flowing climbs. However, the slack seat tube angle and extremely short chainstays are at a disadvantage on steep terrain. You have to physically shift your weight forward to keep the front wheel on the ground, robbing you of precious energy. With your weight forwards even the 2.8″ wide MAXXIS Minion tire on the rear reaches the limits of its grip. Going uphill, the Spectral:ON doesn’t make use of the full advantages that mixed wheel sizes offer, losing ground to its latest rivals.
Looks matter: the external battery on the Spectral:ON makes it look outdated.
The Spectral:ON’s climbing capabilities can’t keep up on technical, steep terrain
With your centre of gravity low and secure behind the bars, together with the reliable stopping power of the brakes, the Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0 instils you with confidence on the descents. The balanced weight distribution and the extremely short 430 mm chainstays give the Spectral:ON almost the same agility as its non-motorised counterpart. The suspension offers enough mid-stroke support to nimbly change direction or bunny hop while still making good use of the available travel on harder hits. However, rather than going at full tilt or hitting big jumps, the Spectral:ON feels most comfortable on natural singletrack. Here, it handles with precision and nimbly weaves around obstacles. It’s only the bulky saddle that gets in the way of your legs on steep descents or whenever you want to shift your centre of gravity back or forth.
Few bikes are as agile and playful on the descents as the Canyon Spectral:ON
Tuning tip: Aggressive riders will want to swap the rear tire out for something with a sturdier casing and better puncture protection
The design principle of the now somewhat outdated Canyon Spectral:ON is resolutely form follows function. Canyon’s efforts to make the Spectral:ON 9.0 handle as much as possible like a non-motorised mountain bike on the descents have compromised its looks and climbing capabilities. It’s a good choice for those who live for the descents and where climbing is only a means to an end but unfortunately, it’s no longer enough for the Best Value Tip.
In March 2020, Canyon launched the new Spectral:ON CF. Find out in our first review what’s new and whether they considered our criticism.
- excellent handling on the descents
- wide range of frame sizes
- comfortable pedalling position
- good value
- somewhat rudimentary finish
- no local dealer network for services
- play in the rear linkage
- looks and lack of integration
You can find out more about the Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0 at canyon.com.
The test field
You can find everything you need to know about our test for the best eMTB of 2020 right here!
All bikes in test: BULLS SONIC EVO AM 6 | Cannondale Moterra 1 | Canyon Spectral:ON 9.0 | COMMENCAL META POWER 29 TEAM 2020 | CONWAY XYRON 927 Carbon | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 160 HPC | FANTIC XF1 180 Race | FOCUS JAM² 9.9 DRIFTER | Giant Reign E+ 0 Pro | Haibike XDURO Nduro 10.0 | Liteville 301 CE MK1 | MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K | Moustache Samedi 27 Trail | Norco Range VLT C1 | NOX Hybrid Enduro 7.1 | Orbea WILD FS M-LTD | Pivot Shuttle 29 | Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 90 Rally Edition | ROTWILD R.X750 ULTRA | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo | Trek Rail 9.9 | Whyte E-180 RS V1 | YT DECOY CF Pro Race
Relaxed and comfortable riding on surfaced roads, both uphill and downhill.↩
Easy climbs up trails with few obstacles, wide turns and a moderate incline.↩
Active and playful descents on easy trails with few obstacles, wide turns and a moderate slope.↩
Single-track climbs on challenging terrain. Loose ground, steps, roots, tight corners and occasionally extreme inclines.↩
Singletrack descents on challenging terrain. Loose ground, steps, roots, tight corners and small jumps as well as some very steep descents.↩
High speed descents on sometimes very rough trails with large jumps and obstacles that you can’t roll over.↩
The rating used for riding characteristics refers to the bikes in the group test and the current state of development of eMTBs. The best bikes managed to blend supposedly opposite riding characteristics, feeling both lively and stable at the same time. The handling describes the balance of the bike on downhill sections. The information regarding motor-power refers to the ride-feeling in the overall context of the bike and not exclusively to the motor – that’s why the same motor can present different values.↩
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: Felix Stix, Robin Schmitt, Jonas Müssig Photos: Finlay Anderson, Robin Schmitt, Felix Stix, Markus Frühmann