As the trail bike category continues to expand, cyclists no longer have to choose between a bike that’s fun to climb and jump on and one that can plow through rubble. More bikes do it all, and they’re doing it all better than ever. The Canyon Spectral CF 9.0 EX is a great example. At 12.3kg (size M) with 150mm of front travel and 140mm in the rear, the Spectral is quick and manoeuverable with enough squish to let you get rowdy.

“I’d describe the geometry as modern but not too extreme,” says Daniel Oster, senior product manager for Germany-based Canyon. So while you’ll find the Spectral’s long front centre and short rear similar to that of other trail bikes, it’s not so exaggerated that you’ll need pro-level handling skills to pilot the bike. “You can keep a centralised position and just concentrate on the right line,” Oster says.

On steep, technical climbs, the front stayed low while the rear tracked predictably. Testers appreciated the stiff pedalling platform, which feels powerful and precise whether you run the shock in pedal mode for more snap or leave it open for suppleness and traction. The 150mm RockShox Pike RCT3 fork floats easily over logs and gobbles small bumps, and the moderately aggressive 67 degree head-tube angle gives you responsive steering.

Even paired with a taller 34T chainring, I didn’t often take advantage of the massive 50-tooth cog on the 12-speed SRAM Eagle X01 cassette. On the punchy, technical climbs stomp power usually serves you better than spinning. But the wider range is a lifesaver on long uphill grinds.

On descents the Spectral makes you want to seek out every jumpable undulation on the trail. I could throw it off anything and the back wheel would loft and help centre the bike mid-air, making for a more balanced landing. However, testers who were used to attacking the front of a slacker frame — which encourages a more forward riding position — found themselves unweighting the rear end of the bike more than they expected.

Still, the bike has remarkable composure in corners, and the more you push it, the better it feels. The tune on the RockShox Monarch RC3 shock supports you through the top and into the middle of the suspension, eliminating sluggish handling as you exit the turn.

Ultimately, Canyon’s Spectral rewards the rider who likes to descend creatively and corner hard — and it has the snap to carry you up almost any hill. In a growing world of do-everything bikes, the Spectral fits right in.


RRP: $8599

From: Canyon Australia