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Bike brands often have two different definitions for the word “new.” Sometimes, it means exactly that. A bike that is totally brand new, aside from its name. New frame, new geometry, maybe even new material and new linkage. But then there’s the far less exciting, far more common version of “new.” That’s when the only things that have changed are a bike’s color, spec and price point. It’s what happens in the years between actually new bikes coming out, and it’s the type of “new” I was expecting when I heard that Canyon would be announcing an updated Spectral. After all, the 29-inch Spectral is barely a year old, and pretty damn rad already. But it turns out, although the core Spectral 29 CF models aren’t changing (aside from color, spec and price point), the overall Spectral lineup is indeed very very new.
Today, Canyon Bicycles has changed the following about the Spectral: added a lighter, fancier CFR version, introduced a mixed-wheel build, updated the geometry on the 27.5-inch models, brought the recent refinements of the Spectral 29 to an all new aluminum lineup, and even invited the kids along with a youth-focused “Young Hero” extra-extra-small option. Very quickly, this is getting a lot more exciting than just one “new” bike.
We’ll start with the CFR model, since it’s pretty straightforward. Just like Yeti and Santa Cruz, Canyon is now offering a slightly lighter frame (about 300 grams) on the top-end build. It’s only available in a 29-inch version, and it’s got the same geometry, same travel, and the same claimed stiffness and durability as the CF version. There’s just some fancier materials and a more careful layup process. There’s only one CFR build, and it stacks XTR bits, Fox Factory suspension and DT Swiss XMC1200 wheels for an expensive-but-impressive $7,500. Just beneath it in the lineup are the three standard CF options. There’s the SLX / Fox Float X Performance / Rhythm 36 build for $4,300, the XT / Performance Elite build for $5,200, and the GX AXS / Super Deluxe / Lyric build for $6,300.
On the far end of the Spectral spectrum are the new aluminum versions. There have been aluminum Spectrals for a while, but only in the previous-generation 27.5-inch models. Today, not one but two entirely fresh aluminum Spectral frames are added to Canyon’s roster: A 29-inch version available in sizes SM to XL that mirrors the current carbon model, and a new 27.5-inch version available in XS to L. In addition to updated geometry, Canyon rethought the shapes of the tubeset on the aluminum Spectrals not to mimic the swoopy lines fo the carbon bikes, but to offer an optimally stiff ride. These alloy builds, the Spectral 5 and Spectral 6, go for $2,900 and $3,500 respectively. The Spectral 5 runs on Shimano Deore 12-speed and a Fox Rhythm 36 fork and Performance Float shock. The Spectral 6 jumps up to a Lyric and Super Deluxe with a GX drivetrain and Code R brakes. One feature lacking on the aluminum Spectral frames is actually a stroke of genius on Canyon’s part. They skipped the flip chip to save some cash and complexity, but instead of picking one setting or the other, they built the single-position Spectrals around the steeper, more efficient seat angle of the high setting, and more capable slack head angle and low bottom bracket of the low setting.
Speaking of geometry, the 27.5-inch versions of the Spectral are about as close to the 29-inch models as possible. They’re even both built around the same 160 millimeters of front travel and 150 rear. They have taller head tubes, but that’s so every model can offer the same stack height. In fact, the only dimension that changes between 27.5 and 29 is the one you’d want to change. The chainstay length is 5mm shorter on the 27.5-inch Spectrals. And most of the eight new Spectral models announced today are available with either 27.5 or 29-inch wheels. The exceptions are the 29-inch only CFR, which we already talked about, the 27.5-inch-only Spectral Young Hero, which I haven’t thought of a good segue for, and the mixed-wheel CLLCTV build.
One of the cool perks of Canyon keeping the geometry identical between both wheel-size options in the Spectral is that it allowed them to mix and match rear and front triangles. They didn’t just offer a longer shock extender like Orbea, Specialized or Foribidden. Canyon built entirely unique front and rear triangles to suit their appointed wheel size. The mixed-wheel build is only available on the $4,900 XT / SLX, DHX Coil / Fox 36 Performance Elite build, and thankfully it occupies quite a sweet spot in spec and value because Canyon is not planning on selling front or rear triangles aftermarket for those who might want to switch, though we hope an aluminum mixed-wheel option will show up eventually. Interesting side note: Canyon has broken from recent tradition in using the term “mullet” for its mixed-wheel bikes. They’re even doubling down by spelling it with a capital “M” like it’s a proper noun. But as we learned in our story about the attempt to trademark the term “mullet” as a bike brand, it’s a generic term. But hey, it’s got personality.
I said I didn’t have a segue into the new XS 27.5-inch Spectral, and I meant it, so we’re just gonna talk about it here. With purely coincidental similarities to the Young Talent behind YT’s name, Canyon’s Young Hero build is a double extra small 27.5-inch version that drops 10mm of front and rear travel and is built around a lighter rider. The aluminum-only Young Hero gets Recon / Deluxe suspension and an SX / NX drivetrain for an almost-reasonable-for-a-kid’s-bike $2,300.
Oh yeah, and there’s a bunch of stuff that has carried over from the Spectral CF 29 and other Canyon models before it. All the main pivot bolts thread into replaceable steel inserts, and Canyon pays special attention to the weather-sealing on their pivot bearings. The whole Spectral family now runs on the UDH derailleur hanger and threaded bottom brackets. The carbon models have fully guided internal cable routing, and the aluminum ones come out of the box with foam liners. and all frames have an accessory mount underneath the top tube. And of course, the 2022 Spectrals come all in new colors.