The new 2020 Canyon Spectral:ON CF not only promises to be more fun than its predecessor on the descents, it should also climb a lot better. Canyon have revised the design from the ground up, making small improvements to the geometry and the kinematics. The only thing they haven’t changed is the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor. We’ve taken the bike for a spin to see what it’s capable of.

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 9.0 2020 | 150/150 mm | 29”/27,5” | Shimano STEPS E8000 | 504 Wh | 21.6 kg (manufacturer’s specs) | € 6,999 | Manufacturer’s website

What some might have considered more of an ugly duckling has now transformed into a beautiful swan with the latest evolution the Canyon Spectral:ON CF. Gone are the times of the rudimentary looking aluminium frame and external battery — welcome to the age of integration. By switching over to carbon fibre for the front triangle, Canyon have been able to shave off almost 1 kg and position the battery lower in the frame. The only things that haven’t changed on the new Spectral:ON is the motor, the travel (150 mm front and rear) and the mixed 29″ and 27.5″ wheels. Their latest model is driven by Shimano’s STEPS E8000 motor and a 504 Wh battery. However, the battery has been exchanged for the integrated version, though it’s still easy to remove. Instead of speccing their new bike with one of the alternative motors that come with a bigger battery, Canyon chose to stick with the Shimano system because of the motor’s reliable performance, it’s compact dimensions and the international service network. Should you encounter a problem with any one of the Shimano STEPS components, you don’t necessarily have to return the bike to Canyon but take it to one of Shimano’s world-wide service centres instead. If you want to find out more about Canyon’s thought process in the development of the Spectral:ON and how much of an impact their direct to consumer sales model had on this, check out the separate article.

The new Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9.0 is driven by Shimano’s STEPS E8000 motor and an integrated 504 WH battery.
You can select the support mode via Shimano’s slender remote.
Canyon’s CF:ON handlebar features an integrated display mount.
The battery is integrated into the downtube and it can be removed out of the bottom of the frame.
The charging port is supplied by Shimano, as with every component surrounding the Shimano motor. That way, you know who to go to in case of a defect.

21 components developed in-house — attention to detail on the Spectral:ON

Besides the frame and associated hardware of the Spectral:ON, Canyon have developed 21 components in-house to guarantee the highest level of performance, integration and user experience. This includes the USB-C port, which you’ll find in the top tube directly above the on/off switch and allows you to charge your smartphone, a GPS device, an action camera or even power a headlight. The one-piece handlebar and stem combination as you’ll find on the flagship model is an optical highlight. It features internal routing for the cables of the motor as well as an integrated mount for the display.

An optical highlight – Canyon’s CF:ON CP0012 cockpit, developed in-house. The dimension of the cockpit were equally convincing. The back- and upsweep is comfortable and should suit most trail riders.
The SD:ON saddle has become a firm fixture on all of Canyon’s eMTBs. We’re big fans of the raised back, especially in steep terrain.
As with its predecessor, the new Spectral:ON will accommodate a water bottle in the front triangle.
You can conveniently charge your smartphone or GPS device via the USB-C port in the top tube or even use it to power a headlight. It’s weatherproof, making it perfectly suitable for use on an eMTB.

Canyon have given equal amount of thought to the integration of the motor with several in-house solutions. The composite motor cover doubles as a bash guard for the chainring. There is chain guide to keep the chain securely in place on the trail and the battery cover is matched to the colour of the frame to keep the bike looking slender and clean. Speaking of which, the battery of the 2020 Spectral:ON CF isn’t lockable, but you have to use 4 mm allen key to remove it. For this, Canyon developed the :ON key, which is small enough to hang on your keyring.

Attention to detail: Canyon’s specially developed :ON key to remove the battery. Alternatively, you can also use any standard 4 mm allen key.

The magnet for the speed sensor is no longer attached to the spokes where it’s prone to come loose and fall off. Instead, it’s been securely integrated into the brake rotor. The latter being 203 mm in size both front and rear. The rear brake mount has been designed in such a way that you don’t need an adapter for the brake calliper — nice.

The Spectral:ON is designed with 200 mm brake rotors in mind. No adapter needed.
The magnet for the speed sensor has been securely integrated into the brake rotor where it can’t come loose or fall off.
Conspicuously inconspicuous — we were impressed with the silence the new Spectral:ON.
The grips were developed in-house and are supposed to offer more comfort with smaller clamps. They didn’t budge on the carbon handlebar with it’s textured surface, but we felt a small amount of movement on the aluminium bars.

Minor changes to the kinematics and geometry of the new Canyon eMTB

The team behind the development of the 2020 Spectral:ON CF were generally quite happy with the handling of its predecessor. The handling was super agile and playful – which our review of the bike was also able to confirm. However, the bike’s climbing capabilities and high-speed handling could have been better. To improve its climbing characteristics, Canyon lengthened the chainstays of the Spectral:ON CF by five millimetres and steepened the seat tube angle by 0.7°. For more composed handling on the descents, they’ve also slackend the head angle minimally by 0.3° and lengthened the head tube by 12 mm. You can read further on in our first ride review how this ultimately affects the bike’s handling.

Unfortunately, the seat tube is still quite long, which limits the length of the dropper post. We would have preferred a 170 mm dropper on the size L bike.

Canyon have also tuned the kinematics of the rear suspension. Since a lot of riders weren’t able to make use of all the travel on the old model, the rear linkage has been made slightly more linear on the 2020 Spectral:ON CF. The bike comes standard with a medium volume spacer installed in the shock. If you prefer your suspension slightly more progressive, you can always instal a bigger volume spacer, or you can exchange it for a smaller one if you’re not using all the travel.

With the 2020 Spectral:ON CF, the kinematics of the rear linkage have been made more linear. That way, less active riders are better able to use the travel. If you need more reserves here, you can always add volume spacers.

In contrast to the previous model, the new Spectral:ON is only available in four instead of five sizes and, unfortunately, smaller riders under 1.66 m will have to resort to the Neuron:ON.

The geometry at a glance:

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 438 mm 448 mm 480 mm 520 mm
Top tube 589 mm 612 mm 632 mm 653 mm
Head tube 100 mm 115 mm 125 mm 135 mm
Head angle 66.5° 66.5° 66.5° 66.5°
Seat angle 74.5° 74.5° 74.5° 74.5°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop (front/rear) 33 mm/24 mm 33 mm/24 mm 33 mm/24 mm 33 mm/24 mm
Wheelbase 1,171 mm 1,197 mm 1,221 mm 1,245 mm
Reach 425 mm 445 mm 465 mm 485 mm
Stack 620 mm 633 mm 643 mm 652 mm

Three models starting from € 4,599 — the componentry of the Canyon Spectral:ON CF

You’ll get to ride a new Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7.0 starting from € 4,599, making it more expensive than the aluminium version. For the flagship Spectral:ON CF 9.0, you’ll have to pay € 6,999. The Spectral:ON CF 8.0 fills the gap between these two models for € 5,599. Canyon also offer a women’s version based on the CF 7.0 with adapted, women’s specific contact points. You get powerful four-piston Shimano brakes across the range paired with 200 mm rotors as well as 12-speed drivetrains and dropper posts. For maximum durability, All bikes have been specced with steel freewheels. For the tires, you get a 2.6″ MAXXIS Minion DHR II with the EXO+ casing on the rear and a Minion DHF 2,5” with the EXO casing up front. Aggressive trail riders that tend puncture their tires will want to upgrade these, but the majority of you should get along well with the stock tire combination.

The carbon fibre rims paired with…
…rather thin-walled tires should work fine for most riders. Particularly aggressive riders are best advised to exchange the tires with something more robust, or things could get expensive.

The entry-level models come with a RockShox Lyrik fork whereas the two more expensive versions feature FOX suspension. Unfortunately, Canyon decided against the GRIP2 damper in the Performance Elite fork on the CF 8.0 as well as the Factory fork on the flagship model. The reason for doing so, according to product manager, Philipp Klein, is the easier setup of the FIT4 version. It’s a shame in our opinion because with the recommended settings on the fork, the GRIP2 fork isn’t that much more complicated to set up but offers even more performance.

Generally, all models of the Spectral:ON range are well specced with good-quality components. Unfortunately, small details such as the lack of a GRIP2 damper in the forks of the two higher-end models and the limited dropper post length cloud the otherwise positive overall impression.

In order not to make the Spectral:ON CF unnecessarily expensive, the bike comes standard with Shimano’s 2M charger. With this charger, it takes 7.5 hours to fully charge the battery. If you haven’t got the patience to wait that long, you can add the 4M charger to your order before checkout. Canyon also want to offer spare 504 Wh batteries at a discounted price. They used to offer a € 70 discount on these (€ 629 instead of € 699), but we haven’t yet been told how much discount they’ll be offering with the latest model.

The different builds at a glance:

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9.0

€ 6,999

Specifications

Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 70Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS BT-8035 504Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork FOX 36 Factory 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Factory 150 mm
Seatpost Fox Transfer Factory 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-Piston 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR
Handlebar Canyon CF:ON
Wheelset Reynolds TRe Carbon 29"/27,5"
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF EXO/DHR2 EXO+ 2.5"/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL

Specific Features

USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8.0

€ 5,599

Specifications

Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 70Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS BT-8035 504Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork FOX 36 Performance Elite 150 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Performance 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 4-Piston 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT
Handlebar Canyon ON: Bar & Stem
Wheelset Race Face with Shimano XT hubs 29"/27,5"
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF EXO/DHR2 EXO+ 2.5"/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL

Specific Features

USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7.0

€ 4,599

Specifications

Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 70Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS BT-8035 504Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork RockShox Lyrik Select 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper 150 mm
Brakes Shimano MT520 4-Piston 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/SLX
Handlebar Canyon ON: Bar & Stem
Wheelset Race Face with Shimano MT510/MT400 hubs 29"/27,5"
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF EXO/DHR2 EXO+ 2.5"/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL

Specific Features

USB charging port

Canyon Spectral:ON CF WMN 7.0

€ 4,599

Specifications

Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 70Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS BT-8035 504Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork RockShox Lyrik Select 150 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select 150 mm
Seatpost Iridium Dropper 150 mm
Brakes Shimano MT520 4-Pisto 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/SLX
Handlebar Canyon ON: Bar & Stem
Wheelset Race Face with Shimano MT510/MT400 hubs 29"/27,5"
Tires Maxxis Minion DHF EXO/DHR2 EXO+ 2.5"/2.6"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL

Specific Features

USB charging port

Good going up, even better going down — the Spectral:ON on the trail

We’ve already had the opportunity to test the brand new Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9.0 for two days on the dry and dusty trails surrounding Barcelona. Before climbing aboard the bike, we heed the advice given to us by designer, Vincenz Thoma, and adjust the specially developed saddle as far forward as it will go. Only with the saddle pushed forward are you able to make full use of the advantages of its design. The riding position on the bike is comfortable, central and slightly stretched. With the seat tube angle still within a normal range, your weight is nicely balanced between your hands and your backside. At the stock motor settings on the Spectral:ON the assistance of the ECO mode is high, the Trail mode is in the middle setting and the Bosst mode is in the high setup. We liked the setup as it was and rode the bike in Trail mode for 99 % of the test.

Before hitting the trail, it’s worth sliding the saddle far forwards, only then do you gain the advantages of its special design
Riding uphill, the sitting position is very comfortable! However, the Spectral:ON is challenging to ride up technical and steep climbs.

On forest service roads, the Spectral:ON makes for a comfortable and capable climber. When things start getting more technical, you have to be careful with the timing of your pedal strokes. If you don’t, you’re likely to get caught on the pedals because of the bikes low bottom bracket, despite being specced with 165 mm cranks. On moderate and steep climbs, the front wheel stays firmly planted. It’s only on very steep inclines that you have to actively weight the front of the bike to keep it under control. If you enjoy regularly challenging yourself with the steepest and meanest ascents, you’re unlikely to be happy aboard the Spectral:ON.

Going downhill, you’re sure to have fun. The handling of the Canyon remains super agile and playful!
It’s balanced and composed but never boring — the Spectral:ON is a ton of fun.

Where the new Spectral:ON CF really shines is on the descents. Its predecessor was very agile and playful, to begin with, and it’s the same on the latest generation model. Changing direction is quick and precise, the steering feels light and easy yet it will stay securely on line when you want it to. The suspension feels sensitive and plush without wallowing. No matter how big the hits, the Spectral:ON absorbs every impact without bottoming out even though the kinematics are more linear than before.

Aboard the Spectral:ON CF, all you’ve got to do is lean back and stay off the brakes
The bike feels balanced in the air, hitting jumps, but we would have liked a longer dropper post for more freedom of movement — especially considering the raised back part of the saddle.

When the terrain becomes more demanding, with rougher and steeper descents, you feel at one with the bike and always in control thanks to the tall front end. You never feel like you might go over the bars. With its longer chainstays, the weight distribution across the wheels of the Spectral:ON is well balanced, which makes it that much easier to ride. We couldn’t fault the spec on the descents. Even the one-piece Canyon cockpit performed well and felt comfortable, which is a good thing seeing as you can’t make adjustments here anyway. The noise the bike makes is conspicuously inconspicuous — besides the sound of the motor and the tires on the trail, the Spectral:ON is silent.

Conclusion

The new Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9.0 delivers a convincing package not only with it’s noticeably cleaner looks and improved integration, but also with it’s very playful yet balanced handling on the descents. If you’re looking for an agile eMTB with a proven motor, this is the bike for you. However, you’ll have to accept compromises in battery capacity and climbing capabilities in extreme terrain.

Tops

  • very playful and agile handling
  • plush and sensitive rear suspension
  • great value for money
  • attention to detail

Flops

  • limited climbing capabilities in extreme terrain
  • significantly more expensive at the entry-level
  • No GRIP2 damper in the fork
  • Not enough battery capacity for some
Ihr wollt mehr über die Entwicklung des neuen Spectral:ON CF erfahren? Dann lest lest ihr in einem gesonderten Artikel

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: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer, Canyon

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.