Canyon was a little late to the ebike party, but clearly did its homework before debuting the Spectral:ON.
It’s packed with thoughtful design details and was one of the first to use a 29in front wheel for improved rollover and a wider 650b tyre at the rear to boost traction – often referred to as a mullet bike setup.
The brand’s algorithms seem to keep reducing its prices too, making this a very competitive package considering the kit quality.
Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0 frame
The five sizes are all built around Shimano’s STEPS E8000 drive unit, rotated upwards at the leading edge for better ground clearance.
A 504Wh battery sits externally on the 6061 alloy frame, in a deep groove on the down tube that also wraps round the engine. The logic is that external power packs save weight and are easier to remove to charge.
There’s great standover clearance, thanks to a deeply-kinked top tube, and the rear stays, forged dropouts, shock links and hardware are cleanly executed.
A second bolt hole at the upper shock mount lets you steepen the geometry slightly. Using the compact Shimano motor allows for 430mm chainstays, which are some of the shortest ebike stays around.
The seatstays, rather than chainstays, house the rearmost suspension pivot, meaning this isn’t a true four-bar design like Canyon’s ‘anologue’ bikes, but I can’t say I noticed any drawbacks to this layout.
Canyon provides a second upper shock mount in case you want to raise the BB and tilt the bike more towards climbing than descending. Mick Kirkman
Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0 kit
RockShox handles the damping of the 150mm of suspension travel at each end. The Lyrik fork smoothly gets on with it, while the Deluxe R shock offers great control and support.
Canyon specs short 165mm crank arms to prevent the low bottom bracket (13.58in / 34.5cm) causing too much pedal-bashing.
Its e-specific checklist extends to dent-resistant DT Swiss H 1700 rims – in different widths to best support the thinner front and wider rear tyres – and the own-brand SD:ON saddle, which has a raised rear lip to stop wet shorts sliding off on steep climbs. This looks kooky, but works a treat.
The superbly powerful four-piston SRAM Code RSC brakes are about as good as it gets.
One thing Canyon messed up is the stem length – the stock 50mm Race Face number makes the steering feel light and floppy. Swapping it for a 40mm replacement transformed the handling, which is an easy fix.
The rear brake also died during testing and needed a bleed, but SRAM’s Bleeding Edge system is uber-quick and this is the first issue I’ve had after using dozens of sets of Codes, so I’m prepared to overlook it this time.
When you’re trying to control your speed in steep slop, the plus-size rear tyre can get a bit wild. Mick Kirkman
Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0 ride impressions
Economical with its travel but also super-sensitive, the Spectral:ON stomps through technical terrain and repeated hits with a real calmness.
The low bottom bracket puts your feet down near the dirt and ensures the ride is stable and safe on the steepest descents. Canyon’s ebike feels relatively light, dynamic and nimble when shifting about the trail compared to plenty of its rivals.
Both ends feel well-balanced, but the cheaper, 35mm-legged RockShox Lyrik RC fork doesn’t quite have the ‘3D’ damping feel of the high-end Fox 36 forks on the YT Decoy CF Pro and Vitus E-Escarpe VRX. also on test, so it just works, rather than excels, in terms of bump-tracking and rider stability.
In common with the Vitus and YT, which also have 27.5 x 2.8in rear tyres, the Canyon can struggle to claw into the ground under braking and aquaplanes a little across mud and wet ruts, which can get sketchy on the steepest tracks.
The Minion DHR II does offer gobs of traction in the dry though, and also when powering up steep climbs and tracking across loose scrambles. The seated climbing position when doing this is great, as is the rider balance when stood up descending (with a shorter stem).
It’s way easier to manual the Spectral than most ebikes too. The low BB feels great in turns, and the rear end is supportive enough to bounce the bike in and out of the trail while cornering and jumping about.
Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0 geometry
Sizes (* tested): XS, S, M, L*, XL
Seat angle: 73.8 degrees
Head angle: 66.8 degrees
Chainstay: 16.93in / 43cm
Seat tube: 18.9in / 48cm
Top tube: 25.12in / 63.8cm
Head tube: 4.45in / 11.3cm
Bottom bracket drop: 1.3in / 3.3cm
Bottom bracket height: 13.58in / 34.5cm
Wheelbase: 47.56in / 1,208mm
Stack: 24.96in / 63.4cm
Reach: 18.31in / 46.5cm
How we tested
This bike was tested as part of a four-bike grouptest of power-assisted e-MTBs for £5,000 or less.
They’re all quality machines with the latest in battery/motor tech and geometry but which is worth your hard-earned cash? We put them to the test.
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