Canyon bucks trend and commits to women's specific design with Grand Canyon and Spectral WMN

New geometry, smaller sizes, and bottle cages for all

Canyon released its first women’s specific geometry road bikes in 2017, and for 2018 the direct-sell brand has launched two new mountain bikes with women’s specific geometry: the Grand Canyon WMN hardtail and the full-suspension Spectral WMN.

While both bikes existed in the lineup before, and indeed were available as WMN models, the original frame design was unisex with the only differences being WMN models featured different finishing kit.

Now, both bikes have had a major overhaul that includes new geometry, which is, Canyon says, designed to better fit the majority of female riders, giving them the same ride experience as men have on its bikes.

Other changes include the addition of smaller sizes, with the bikes spanning 2XS to M, plus a lighter shock tune and a number of other interesting new tweaks, accessories and features.

Canyon Grand Canyon WMN

The trail-focussed Grand Canyon WMN has a slacker head angle, steeper seat tube angle and shorter reach than its predecessor
The trail-focussed Grand Canyon WMN has a slacker head angle, steeper seat tube angle and shorter reach than its predecessor

Canyon has shifted the emphasis of the aluminium-framed Grand Canyon from cross-country to trail with progressive geometry such as a slacker 68-degree head tube angle and steeper 74.5-degree seat tube angle.

It comes with 110mm of travel up front courtesy of a RockShox Reba RL fork with a lighter tune to accommodate the lighter weight-to-height on average of women compared to men.

The standover height has been reduced too, the reach shortened and the bike fitted with narrower handlebars. This, coupled with the addition of a 2XS size to the range means the bike is designed to fit riders from 148cm to 179cm.

While the wheel size is 27.5 across the range, the size medium will also have a 29er option, with frame clearance for up to a 2.6in tyre and boost axle spacing.

Further adaptations include a choice of lighter components, which Canyon claims saves about a 1/2kg over a similarly-sized unisex model.

There are three bikes in the range:

Canyon Grand Canyon WMN AL SLX 8.0

  • Sizes 2XS, XS, S and M
  • Shimano XT/SLX  2x11
  • Shimano BR M500 brakes
  • Mavic XA wheels with 25mm rims
  • Schwalbe Rocket Rons Addix tyres
  • RockShox Reba RL 110mm forks
  • £1,299 / €1,399 / AU$1,999

Canyon Grand Canyon WMN AL SLX 9.0

  • Sizes 2XS, XS, S and M
  • Shimano XT 2x11 with SLX cranks
  • Shimano XT brakes
  • Mavic XA Light wheels with 25mm rims
  • Schwalbe Rocket Rons Addix tyres
  • RockShox Reba RL 110mm forks
  • £1,649 / €1,799 / AU$2,599

Canyon Grand Canyon WMN AL SLX 9.0 Trail

  • Sizes XS, S and M (not available in 2XS)
  • SRAM GX Eagle 1x12 with SRAM Descendant 6K Eagle cranks
  • SRAM Level TL brakes
  • DT Swiss M1700 Spline wheels
  • Schwalbe Nobby Nic Addix tyres
  • Kind Shock Lev SI dropper seat post
  • RockShox Reba RL 110mm forks
  • £1,799 / €1,999 / AU$2,899

Canyon Spectral WMN

The new Canyon Spectral WMN with women's specific geometry
The new Canyon Spectral WMN with women's specific geometry

While the men’s/unisex Spectral recently had a refresh, the new women’s Spectral is different again.

Available in five models with two full aluminium versions, two carbon frame/alloy rear triangle versions and a range-topping full carbon version, it offers 140mm travel at the rear and 150mm travel up front, again both with a lighter shock tune.

Head angle sits at 65.9 degrees, seat tube angle at 74 degrees, and the reach ranges from 378mm in the 2XS size to 430mm in the M.

The standover in the 2XS alloy model comes in at 640mm, and ranges to 668mm in the M carbon version and 674 in the M alloy version. However, Canyon also says that a more useful measurement of standover is 1/3 of the reach away from the saddle because that's where a person is actually going to be standing.

In this case, the standover at the 2XS comes in at 686mm and the M at 741mm. 

Because the geometry is based around the same body dimension data as the Grand Canyon, the Spectral has a shorter reach too. This shouldn’t result in a more upright position though, just a less stretched position.

Another change that arguably has an edge over the unisex frame is that the geometry now places the bottom bracket and the shock in a slightly lower position. Having these weighty areas lower in the bike means a lower centre of gravity, which should translate to a more stable and secure-feeling ride — something I’ll be testing in the near future.

Even the 2XS size Spectral has room for a bottle cage, albeit a specially designed one
Even the 2XS size Spectral has room for a bottle cage, albeit a specially designed one

The design of the front centre has also been adjusted, which works in tandem with the reach to place rider weight more naturally over the front of the bike when needed, which improves handling on technical terrain, according to Canyon.

The Spectral WMN has of course got all the updated elements as featured on the men’s/unisex Spectral such as additional seals on the bearings, which Canyon claims can double their lifespan and guard against water and dirt ingress, particularly from repeated use of pressure washers.

While cables are technically externally routed for ease of maintenance, they sit within a channel on the down tube with a cover that gives the appearance of internal routing and acts as a frame guard against rock strikes and scratches.

More frame protection for the carbon-framed version comes in the form of the ‘Impact Protection Unit’, a sacrificial stopper system where the steerer merges with the top tube. It’s designed to stop the bars spinning around during crashes or transportation and potentially gouging the top tube.

The concept isn’t completely original, Canyon has done something similar before on road bikes and Trek has its own system for mountain bikes, for example.

The geometry tweaks result in a lower shock position for the Spectral WMN
The geometry tweaks result in a lower shock position for the Spectral WMN

A quirky new solution for the quick removal of wheels was also showcased during the launch event in Nice. Canyon wanted to do away with external levers on quick-release axle systems, but also didn’t want a system that necessitated carrying tools around to remove the wheels. The solution is a lever that slots inside the axle when riding and slides out to work like a regular quick release axle.

The trend for carrying as much as possible on the bike rather than on the rider is clearly a growing one, and Canyon has managed to ensure there’s room for a bottle cage on every size frame in the Spectral WMN range. Yes, even the 2XS, although Canyon had to develop a special bottle and cage system to make it happen.

And finally, there’s an optional hard storage box that can be fitted within the frame at the front of the bike, big enough to stow an inner tube, snacks and a few essentials.

There are five models in the Canyon Spectral WMN range. 

Spectral WMN CF 9.0 (US only)

  • Fox 34 Factory forks and Fox Float DPS Factory Evol shock
  • SRAM X01 Eagle groupset with SRAM X1 carbon cranks
  • SRAM Guide RSC brakes
  • DT Swiss XMC1200 Spline with 30mm rims
  • Maxxis Minion DHF 2.6 and Maxxis Rekon 2.6 tyres
  • RockShox Reverb Stealth B1 seatpost
  • $5,999

Spectral WMN CF 9.0 SL

  • Fox 34 Factory fork and Fox Float DPS Factory Evol shock
  • SRAM X01 Eagle groupset with SRAM X1 carbon cranks
  • SRAM Guide RSC brakes
  • DT Swiss XMC1200 Spline with 30mm rims
  • Maxxis Minion DHR and Maxxis Ardent tyres
  • RockShox Reverb Stealth B1 seatpost
  • £4,499 / €4,999 / AU$7,199

Spectral WMN CF 8.0 

  • RockShox Pike RCT3 fork and RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock
  • SRAM X01/GX Eagle with SRAM Descendant 7K Eagle cranks
  • SRAM Guide RS brakes
  • DT Swiss XM1501 Spline with 30mm rims
  • Maxxis Minion DHR and Maxxis Ardent tyres
  • RockShox Reverb Stealth B1 seatpost
  • £3,399 / €3,699 / AU$5,299

Spectral WMN CF 7.0

  • RockShox Pike RCT3 forks with RockShox Deluxe RT3 forks
  • SRAM GX Eagle with SRAM Descendant 6K Eagle
  • SRAM Guide R brakes
  • DT Swiss M1700 Spline wheels with 30mm rims
  • Maxxis Minion DHF 2.6 and Maxxis Rekon 2.6 tyres
  • RockShox Reverb Stealth B1 seatpost
  • £2,699 / €2,999 / $3,499 / AU$4,299

Spectral WMN AL 6.0

  • Fox 34 Performance forks with Fox Float DPS Evol Performance shock
  • SRAM GX Eagle groupset with SRAM Descendant 6K Eagle cranks
  • SRAM Guide R brakes
  • DT Swiss M1700 Spline wheels with 30mm rims
  • Maxxis Minion DHF 2.6 and Maxxis Rekon 2.6 tyres
  • Kind Shock Lev SI seatpost
  •  £2,349 / €2,599 / $2,499 / AU$3,699

The data and the differences

Canyon collected the bulk of its data from its online fit system. This is a series of measurements that prospective buyers put into the Canyon website when buying a bike to work out their correct size, and it records gender as well as body measurements.

From a sample size of 68,000 women, predominantly from Europe, Canyon observed several measurable differences between the average female and the average male.

Some of this data, such as on average women tend to be shorter and lighter than men, is surely not a surprise. More interestingly, Canyon states that its data indicated that while women have the same proportionate leg length per height, their arms are generally shorter (on average 2cm shorter) than men and they have narrower shoulders.

The handlebars on the Grand Canyon are narrower than before
The handlebars on the Grand Canyon are narrower than before

In addition to the statistical data, Canyon also worked with female riders such as Enduro World Series elite racer Ines Thoma. Besides racing, Thoma also has extensive experience coaching and has first-hand anecdotal experience of how the women she coaches ride.

Canyon also indicates that women have, again on average, lower upper body strength per size than men of an equivalent height.

This data isn’t new — much of it was revealed in 2017 with the launch of the then new Endurace and Ultimate WMN road bikes, the first from Canyon to have a specific geometry designed for female riders.

From data to design

So what does the above data mean for mountain bike design?

In the first instance, it means that Canyon has shifted the main size around which the bikes are designed from a medium to an XS/S. This is because, according to the data Canyon has collected, the majority of women sit at this size point, whereas the majority of men sit at a size medium frame size. The difference is about 1.5 frame sizes, or 13.8cm.

Second, the size range in the Grand Canyon will extend down to 2XS, and in the new Spectral down to XS (and 2XS in select models).

Even the 2XS size Spectral has room for a bottle cage, albeit a specially designed one
Even the 2XS size Spectral has room for a bottle cage, albeit a specially designed one

Third, Canyon has shortened the reach on both the Grand Canyon and the Spectral to accommodate the shorter arm length and narrower shoulders its data suggests the average rider has. Crucially, this shouldn’t put the rider in a more upright position, rather place them in the same body position as men riding the men’s/unisex bike.

And finally, Canyon has worked to develop lower standover on both the Grand Canyon and Spectral, with standover on the smallest sizes the greatest. On the Spectral, for example, the standover on 2XS size is the equivalent of 8cm lower than the previous generation.

Availability

The Grand Canyon WMN and the Spectral will be available directly from the Canyon website, with availability on different models in different territories.

Aoife Glass

Women's Cycling Editor
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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