Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 review

Excellent performance, superb geometry and one of our Trail Bike of the Year contenders

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £3,599.00 RRP | USD $3,999.00 | EUR €3,399.00 | AUD $5,299.00
Pack shot of the Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike

Our review

A stunning frame, with a great ride quality to match
Pros: Top-notch frame finish and performance. Handling is ideal for a trail bike
Cons: A posher fork might just have tipped the balance
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Brand new for 2021 Canyon’s latest Spectral sees a return to big wheels for their most trail-friendly of trail bikes. The range is split between bikes with 150mm or 160mm travel up front, with both the longer-travel burlier builds and the slightly lighter 150mm fork options enjoying 150mm of rear wheel travel.


Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 frame

Canyon has won many fans with its Triple Phase Suspension linkage (a 4-bar system), and here it provides the 150mm of travel at the back. An aluminium rocker link pushes the shock through its travel, into the middle of the down tube, leaving space for a bottle underneath the damper.

Canyon has given the Spectral replaceable threaded inserts on the frame, meaning if you do manage to mangle, say, a shock bolt’s threaded nut, it can be swapped out without causing extensive damage to the frame. The usual gamut of frame finishing touches are all present too – internal cable routing, down tube and chainstay protection, and neat blanking plugs for the bottle cage bosses.

Canyon cannot be criticised for its approach to geometry too, with a very up-to-date shape on its latest trail bike. A long 485mm reach features on a Large, along with a slack 64.5 degree head angle, steep-ish 76.5-degree seat-angle and mid-length 437mm chainstays.

The 460mm seat tube is perhaps the only obvious area for improvement – a shorter one would allow a longer-drop dropper for those who like to tackle the steepest of steeps. That said, it’s 20mm shorter than the previous generation Spectral’s seat tube, and there’s a shorter head tube too – excellent news.

The rear triangle on the Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 mountain bike
Their Triple Phase suspension is one of the best on the market, in our opinion.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

There is a flip-chip, should you wish to steepen the angles, and improve ground clearance for technical climbs. Switching it over adds 0.5 degrees to the head and seat angles, and 8mm to the bottom-bracket height. For the purpose of this review, I talk about the bike in its low position.

Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 kit

SRAM features heavily across this version of the Spectral (160mm versions receive Fox 36/Shimano builds), with a 150mm RockShox Pike Select RC fork that has low-speed compression and rebound adjustment, and a matching Deluxe Select+ rear shock.

The Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike is equipped with a RockShox Deluxe Select+ rear shock
The Deluxe Select shock has few bells and whistles, but felt decent throughout our test.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Pushing and pulling the bike to and fro is a full GX Eagle drivetrain, with its new 10:52t cassette, while G2 R brakes with 200/180mm rotors complete the SRAM package.

As frequently seen, DT Swiss provides the wheels, this time in a 30mm-wide internally M 1900 flavour, while they’re shod in Maxxis tyres – a 2.5in Minion DHF at the front and slightly faster, but still nice and aggressive 2.4in Dissector at the back.

The Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike is equipped with a Canyon G5 cockpit
Canyon’s own G5 cockpit has a great shape and looks good in our eyes.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Canyon’s own components largely finishes the build. Its G5 cockpit is borrowed from its more aggressive Torque/Sender/Strive lines, showing Canyon’s intent for this bike to be pushed towards the limits of the trail rider. The Iridium dropper has 150mm of travel and on top sits an Ergon saddle – a company based very close (in more ways than one!) to Canyon’s Koblenz HQ.

The Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike is equipped with a SRAM GX Eagle crankset
The GX Eagle crank from SRAM showed some signs of wear after testing.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 ride impressions

Effortless is the term that first springs to mind when I jumped on the Spectral. It’s an incredibly easy bike to ride, needs little to no adjustment to riding style and I reckon most riders would happily jump on and start setting some PRs as soon as the wheels start turning.

That’s thanks to the shape of the bike, which throws out no surprises, and also the rear suspension, which is some of the best in the business. No doubt it’s also helped by a sorted parts package.

The Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike is equipped with a RockShox Pike Select RC fork
RockShox’s budget Pike Select RC fork let the spec side down a touch.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Geometry wise, while it’s not the most radical trail bike out there, the numbers all add up to give plenty of confidence and control, whatever the trail.

The 480mm reach gives a nice balance between front-end stability, without it feeling like an effort later in the ride to manoeuvre the bike around. This is paired with a 64.5-degree head angle, which puts the front wheel nicely ahead of the bike, easily allowing you to confidently weight it in a corner or on loose terrain without too much worry of it washing out or projecting you over the front.

I found it an easy bike to rally through corners and point down steeper chutes. If you want even more performance on the steeps, check out the CF 6 or CF8 models, which gain an extra 10mm of travel at the front and a Fox 36 fork for added authority through the chunder.

Male cyclist in grey and blue top riding the Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7
The Spectral is one of those bikes that just begs to be picked up and popped around on the trail.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Looking further back is the Canyon’s Triple Phase Suspension. It’s their take on the traditional 4-bar linkage, and truth be told, it’s up there with the best rear suspension I’ve ridden.

It’s sensitive, so it soaks up high-frequency trail chatter early in its stroke for a comfortable ride and predictable traction whether under braking or acceleration.

The mid-stroke is underpinned by utmost stability. Through corners it holds you up, and you can really push into the middle of its travel to get an extra boost on the lip of the jump. Jab at the pedals, and the suspension remains rock solid, projecting you forward.

Male cyclist in grey and blue top riding the Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7
There were no issues launching the Spectral off anything Tom saw fit!
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Then later on, when you really clatter the bike onto a landing, it reaches the end of its travel with perfect finesse.

So why has the Spectral not won our annual Trail Bike of the Year test? It very nearly did. But while back in the day the name Canyon was synonymous with ‘value’, the £3,656 price tag doesn’t quite come with the parts package to compete. The GX Eagle drivetrain is on par, but the G2 R brakes lack the all-out power and adjustment of its slightly pricier siblings. Likewise, the DT Swiss M1900 wheels are very good hoops, but maybe in the past we’ve been spoilt by posher wheels.

Male cyclist in grey and blue top riding the Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7
With a good, neutral shape, the Spectral gives off no surprises when it comes to handling.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Then it comes to the fork and shock. I really like the Pike fork, but the Select RC level fork has the older Charger RC damper, rather than the Charger 2.1 found in the Select+ fork – it’s good, but not quite as plush as it could be on staccato hits.


I’m nit-picking here, and almost feel bad for doing so. Truth be told, the Spectral is one of four bikes that could very easily have won Trail Bike of the Year, but this time, it just misses out. If you do go ahead and purchase one, I’m fairly confident you’ll be impressed with the bike’s capabilities.

Angled pack shot of the Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike
The Canyon Spectral CF 29 is one of the most quietly competent trail bikes on the market.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7 geometry

Seat angle (degrees)76.576.576.576.5
Head angle (degrees)64.564.564.564.5
Chainstay (cm)43.743.743.743.7
Seat tube (cm)39.5434649
Top tube (cm)58.260.963.666.3
Head tube (cm)9.510.511.512.5
Bottom bracket drop (cm)
Wheelbase (mm)1,1931,2221,2511,281
Standover (cm)751758763775
Stack (cm)61.16262.963.8
Reach (cm)43.54648.551

Thanks to…

A massive thank-you to BikePark Wales for granting us access to its trails despite the bike park being closed to the public.

Cheers also to Fox clothing for sorting the kit for the photo and video shoots and Garmin for sorting us out with bike computers to log the many miles of testing.

And not forgetting Muc-Off, for its help keeping the bikes washed and lubed throughout testing.

Bike of the Year 2021 contenders

The best trail mountain bikes should be fast and capable on the descents, but with less weight and travel (130–150mm) than enduro bikes, they’re nimbler on flatter trails, less of a drag on longer rides and better on the climbs.

The following bikes were shortlisted for our Trail Bike of the Year award, with a price range of £2,999.99 to £4,695.

  • Bird Aether 9 (winner)
  • Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7
  • Intense Primer 29 Expert
  • Lapierre Zesty AM CF 6.9
  • Privateer 141 SLX/XT
  • Propain Hugene
  • Saracen Ariel 30 Pro
  • YT Jeffsy Blaze 29

Product Specifications


Price AUD $5299.00EUR €3399.00GBP £3599.00USD $3999.00
Weight 13.94kg (L) – without pedals
Brand Canyon


Available sizes S, M, L, XL
Headset Canyon
Tyres Maxxis Minion DHF 29x2.5inWT 3C EXO (f) / Maxxis Dissector 29x2.4in WT 3C EXO (r)
Stem Canyon G5 45mm
Shifter SRAM GX Eagle
Seatpost Iridium 170mm
Saddle Ergon SM10 Enduro Comp
Rear Shocks RockShox Deluxe Select+
Rear derailleur SRAM GX Eagle
Handlebar Canyon G5 800mm
Bottom bracket SRAM DUB
Grips/Tape Canyon G5
Frame Carbon, 150mm
Fork RockShox Pike Select RC, 150mm
Cranks SRAM GX Eagle
Chain SRAM GX Eagle
Cassette SRAM GX Eagle
Brakes SRAM G2 R, 200mm/180mm rotors
Wheels DT Swiss M1900