Canyon was among the first to mix wheelsizes when they introduced the 2018 Spectral:On. The bike has the “regular” 27.5×2.8″ Plus tyre rear and the initial plan was to use the same tyre on the front wheel. But after a bit of testing they decided to go with a bigger rim and narrower tyre up front. I’ve heard a similar story from other manufacturers, and we’re seeing more bikes move away from the 27.5×2.8″ wheels, at least on the front wheel.
External battery for 2019?
The Spectral:On has a 500Wh external battery and not one that is hidden inside the frame. An external battery frame design usually results in a cheaper and lighter bike compared to most integrated designs. And the Spectral:On is fairly light wheighing in at 23.16kg pedals included. But not everyone like the less refined looks of a bike with an external battery. I think the external battery design has it’s place in the market and it will be with us for several years to come.
Spectral:On is equipped with the Shimano E8000 motor and the cheaper E7000 display and handlebar remote. This is a good mix. The remote is flush, small and easy to operate. I think most people will prefer the E7000 remote over the E8000. The compact E7000 display is easy to connect to Bluetooth devices. If the device doesn’t connect to the bike automatically, just click a button on the remote and it should connect immediately. The E8000 motor is still one of my favourites, it’s not the most quiet but it’s power delivery is easy to control.
The rest of the spec
The gear shifter from the Shimano XT groupset feels thight and accurate. The XT Trail four pot brakes are quite powerful. I like the brake lever feel, it’s very easy to modulate. Rear shock is a Fox Float Performance DPS LV and the fork is a Fox Performance 36 Float GRIP. Wheels are built from Shimano XT hubs and Alexrims rims. The tyres are the Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.5″ up front and Minion DHR ll 27.5×2.8″ rear. The seat seems to be a rebranded Ergon ebike specific one with extra support at the back end. The seat rests on a 150mm travel dropper post.
What about that saddle?
All these components are very good, but the seat isn’t my favourite on this kind of bike. I was pretty happy with the seat on the Canyon Neuron:On 5.0, especially when I was using a padded shorts. But on the Spectral:On I felt the seat was in the way on occasions. It was limiting how far I could move on the seat, and it was uncomfortable sitting on when the seatpost was dropped. This Ergon saddle seems better suited for climbing than for descending. And climbing isn’t the strongest point for the Spectral:On, I have to sit on the tip of the saddle when climbing the steepest stuff, so the extra support of the saddle isn’t much help.
The Fox suspension is performing very well. It can be set up quite soft so it’s comfortable over smaller hits and it will still sit pretty high in it’s travel and offer good support on bigger hits. I used to prefere the cheaper Fox 36 Rhythm over the previous Fox Float Performance forks, but this Performance 36 fork with the GRIP impressed me a bit. I could see myself owning a bike with this suspension. I’ve ridden the shock before and it performed as well as I remembered. Combined with the Horst Link rear linkage we’ve got a bike that peddals better than expected and it has a nice “pop” when jumping.
The suspension behaviour suits the frame geometry very well. At well under 1200mm the wheelbase is pretty short for a 150mm travel bike in size M. This is down to the short 430mm chainstays and the not very slack head angle of 66.8*. The result is a capable and pretty agressive trail bike. This is not a hardcore enduro bike, I assume Canyon will introduce the Strive:On for that task. Thanks to the short rear end this is not the most extreme climber. The Neuron:On can be a better choice if climbing is important. The Spectral:On is a bike made for shredding and having fun. Thight turns can be handeled at high speed thanks to the short wheelbase and the improved feedback from the narrower front tyre. And you don’t have to work hard to make the bike react, rolling off a drop on the back wheel doesn’t take much effort.