Don’t let the name fool you – Canyon’s Spectral WMN is more than just the unisex Spectral in a different colour. The WMN model differs in travel, geometry and spec.
Being a direct-sales brand, Canyon manages to supply a carbon frame with an exceptional kit list for not much over three grand. But taking a closer look at the geometry chart, it doesn’t quite measure up to expectations for a modern trail bike.
Can the frame keep up with the amazing spec out on the trails?
Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 frame
The Spectral is the only bike in our four bike test – ridden back-to-back with Scott’s Contessa Genius 910, Juliana’s Maverick C R and Liv’s Intrigue Advanced 1 – available in two colours: black-and-blue or black.
Canyon uses two types of carbon fibre for its frames. The 8.0’s front triangle is made from the heavier CF (as opposed to CFR) material, with an aluminium swingarm. While the unisex version offers 160mm of front/150mm of rear travel, this one has 150mm/140mm.
The cables run through a tidy-looking guide under the down tube. This makes for easier maintenance than internal routing, and protects the frame at the same time. Steve Behr
A 74-degree seat angle in the size medium gives you decent room between the saddle and bar when seated, but if you stand up, the short reach of 425mm puts you over the bar.
That relaxed seat angle makes it harder to keep the front wheel weighted on climbs, too. The Spectral also has the longest seat tower on test, limiting how low you can drop the seatpost.
Not only are the dimensions conservative, but Canyon is cautious with its sizing. For my height of 165cm with a 77cm inseam, it recommends the XS bike, but I sized up to the medium and still found it a bit short.
The bike uses a classic four-bar Horst link suspension design, with the shock mounted horizontally.
There’s still room in the mainframe for a (side-loading) bottle cage. A neat feature is the ‘impact protection unit’, which stops the bar from turning past 90 degrees and the controls hitting the top tube in a crash.
The cover under the down tube isn’t just there to protect the frame, it houses the cables and makes maintenance easier.
Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 kit
If components and price were all that mattered, the Spectral would be the bike to go for because it’s way ahead of the others in terms of spec.
The four-piston Shimano XT brakes are great, and the XT drivetrain is reliable and precise. A 32t chainring (the others have 30t rings) gives a higher top gear for descents, while the 10-51t cassette offers enough range for easy climbing.
The Fox 34 fork and DPS shock are both from the brand’s second-from-top Performance Elite range, but the two ends of the bike don’t work as well together as I’d have hoped.
While the rear suspension is good, I found the fork just wasn’t supportive enough when set up to feel supple.
The Spectral is a solid trail-centre shredder. Steve Behr
Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 ride impressions
Whereas some trail bikes have features in common with burlier enduro rigs, the Canyon has more of a cross-country vibe about it.
Its light frame and its rear suspension kinematics make for a capable climber, especially with the three-position shock lever in the middle setting to firm things up (the bike feels too rigid over bumps when fully locked out), and the handling is very direct-feeling, helped by the short reach and 650b wheels.
On speedy, rough descents, though, the bike finds its limits quickly. I had no issues with the shock, but the fork lacks mid-stroke support.
It doesn’t bottom-out, but dives through its travel and doesn’t recover when hitting repeated bumps. Applying maximum compression damping and adding a third volume spacer to the two already installed improved this, but compromised comfort.
For my riding, I’d prefer a fork tune with more mid-stroke support.
Combined with the short reach and quick-handling front end, the performance of the fork meant I didn’t feel that comfortable on techier downhills. In fact, the Spectral seems cut out for smoother rides on undulating terrain.
It’s fun to hit little jumps on and blast around trail-centre berms, with enough rear suspension support for the occasional bigger hit.
Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 geometry
Sizes (* tested): XS, S, M*
Seat angle: 74 degrees
Head angle: 66 degrees
Chainstay: 43cm / 16.93in
Seat tube: 44cm / 17.32in
Top tube: 58.5cm / 23.03in
Head tube: 8.9cm / 3.5in
Bottom bracket height: 33cm / 12.99in
Wheelbase: 1,160mm / 45.67in
Stack: 60cm / 23.62in
Reach: 42.5cm / 16.73in
How we tested
Four popular female-focused trail bikes were put through their paces to see which performs best on the ups, downs and everything in between.
Brands take a varied approach to designing bikes for female riders, but in this test Scott designs its frames identically for both unisex and women’s bikes, Juliana’s measurements are the same as that of its brother company Santa Cruz, while Liv and Canyon modify their frame dimensions for female riders
Bikes also on test:
- Scott Contessa Genius 910
- Juliana Maverick C R
- Liv Intrigue Advanced 1