Canyon having released a carbon-only Spectral with 29-inch wheels last year, it was no surprise that more affordable alloy models and a 27.5-inch version of its popular track bike arrived later in. the year.

We weren’t expecting a mule version, with a 29-inch front wheel and 27.5-inch rear wheel.

Canyon seems to have taken jokingly “business up front, party back” to heart, with a helical shock bike that avoids the lighter weight, the 29/29 or the 27.5 / 27.5 lighter. that we very much expected to see.

There’s no doubt that the CF8 CLLCTV (pronounced ‘collective’) Spectral looks awesome, but the eternal question is… how does that translate on the track?

Spectral raster CF8 CLLCTV

If there’s one thing you can say about Canyon’s chassis, it’s that they’re always tidy; clean lines, excellent attention to detail and a polished aesthetic are almost its hallmark. And, as always, this Spectral seems to have it all.

The cables are presented as pluggable, extractable, with proper guidance from front to back to make life easier.

The bearings have an additional seal and a well-formulated grease to protect against the elements.

There is down tube impact protection and chainstay slam protection which are ridged to further reduce noise.

The pivots are designed to be easily accessible, while finishes, such as the carefully integrated chain guide and a top tube kit carrying an accessory bolt, show that thought has been given.

The industrial designers at Canyon do a terrific job, in my opinion.
Roo fowler

The four-bar linkage provides 150mm of travel, distributed by Canyon’s “Triple Phase” suspension kinematics. It’s the one we’ve seen at several Canyon’s over the past couple of years that consistently stands up to scrutiny: flexible, supportive, and progressive – pretty much everything you need.

It’s been tweaked slightly for this version of the bike, with a more anti-squat touch around the sag point and a bit less rebound when you really push the bike into the ground.

Geometry-wise, the Mullet Spectral is well-proportioned, borrowing its front end from the 29-inch and its rear from the 27.5-inch bike.

Mulet Canyon Spectral CF8

I’m spying on a decidedly shady haircut …
Roo fowler

Reach is 680mm on our Large size, the fork comes out of the 115mm head tube at 64 degrees, and the rear seatstays measure 432mm.

The seat angle is around 77 degrees depending on the height of the saddle, for example at minimum insertion and maximum extension it measures 76 degrees but if you snap the seat post with it With the dropper limited to 125mm of travel, it will measure closer to 78 degrees. .

There is also a flip-chip if you also want to deepen everything by 0.5 degrees.

Spectral CF8 CLLCTV Kit

Canyon clearly went wrong towards the more rugged end of the trail spectrum, especially with this construction, specifying a Fox DHX coil shock – a sure-fire way to add attitude.

While coil shocks are more difficult to adjust for the rider’s weight (because it’s the physical spring that needs to be swapped out), Canyon ships the bike with a heavier, lighter spring with each bike.

That, he says, is expected to affect 90-95% of runners, with only the actual outliers in terms of height / weight potentially needing a different spring.

Canyon Spectral CF8 Fox 36

Although there is no Kashima coating, the Performance Elite 36 is a very capable fork.
Roo fowler

Up front, a Performance Elite Fox 36 with GRIP2 damper matches that big-hitting capability. Our impression of the latest version of the 36 is that it is more comfortable and more suitable for the real world than the previous versions.

DT Swiss and Maxxis provide the wheels and tires, both strong enough and more than up to the task.

Shimano’s SLX / XT drivetrain, along with powerful four-piston brakes, are more than capable of getting you up and down hills with minimal stress.

Spectral Canyon DT Swiss EX511

The DT Swiss / Maxxis combo should be subject to abuse.
Roo fowler

While the own-branded trim kit is often seen as an inexpensive way to finish a build, Canyon says its G5 component series doesn’t compromise.

The “5” in the name refers to Canyon’s method of classifying the type of ride that bikes (and components) are designed for.

The Spectral, with its “4” rating is designed for races up to EWS, while the Canyon Sender DH bike, for example, is rated “5”. As such, the G5 range of components (including a nice top loading stem – much easier to install on a bar) are designed for DH WC races.

Canyon Spectral CF8 G5 cockpit

Ready for Rampage – and certainly more than enough for your average rider – the G5 kit is solid.
Roo fowler

Canyon also added a new dropper post with a displacement that can be easily changed by riders.

By crushing the post with a touch, undoing the collar and lifting the saddle, a stepped internal wedge appears. The rotation allows you to adjust the stroke of the dropper in 5mm increments. Clever.

First impressions of Spectral CF8 CLLCTV

There are many traits of a bike that influence the way it rides, and without an identical bike to compare (bar wheel size), it’s hard to pin the Mullet Spectral’s personality just on its mixed wheels.

The Spectral still performs well, and when I reviewed the 29 inch version of the bike, released a year ago, I said it was “one of the best performing trail bikes on the market.”

And, there’s no doubt that Canyon’s sorted suspension, well-finished frame, and properly proportioned tube lengths combine here to a great effect.

Canyon Spectral CF8 downhill

The bags of character are provided by the Spectral.
Roo fowler

Spectral CF8 CLLCTV climbing performance

Based on a few rides, I’d say this version of the bike doesn’t ride as well as the complete 29-inch bike with an air shock.

One of the advantages of a coil shock is its sensitivity, but it also results in slightly more shock movement under pedaling loads.

It adds a hint of sluggishness, although rear wheel grip is as good as it gets with a given tread / tire pressure combo.

Escalade Canyon Spectral CF8

It’s not the best climber ever, but you knew that before you bought it!
Roo fowler

As such, the DHX’s lock switch is a godsend, and during testing I raised the blue lever on pretty much every climb I tackled. It helped calm things down in the back, meaning more of my pedal stroke was put into forward (and upward) motion.

On very steep and loose terrain there was more grip with the shock open, but this caused the suspension to compress further, releasing what was a fairly steep seat angle to one who didn’t feel as cheerful as it could get with a 29 inch rear wheel and a slightly more uphill air shock – for reference I briefly rode the Spectral 29 CFR when the bike was launched, with a Fox shock Float X Factory and 29-inch front and rear wheels.

However, I doubt you would buy a helical shock mule bike for its climbing performance.

Spectral descending performance CF8 CLLCTV

Downhill is where this version of the bike should shine.

The rear shock has tons of smoothness, smoothing out fine track details, especially high-frequency, low-amplitude chatter.

This increases grip under braking and almost masks the speed you are able to maintain.

So far, I haven’t been able to remove the damper from its bumpers, indicating that the linkage has a lot of progress for a coil damper that won’t increase as much as an equivalent air damper.

The 36 Performance Elite is a great fork. Its chassis is sturdy, the air spring is supportive and progressive, and the GRIP2 damper is equipped with a range of adjustment that can be used in the real world, but it is almost shown in terms of smoothness, considering how good the ride is. back.

Canyon Spectral CF8 in the bends

The CF8 CLLCTV greedily falls into the corners.
Roo fowler

In terms of the suspension, the only thing to note seems to be that the bike is reasonably happy to get into its mid-race.

While he doesn’t unceremoniously crash in the middle of the run, I have found that he sometimes enjoys sitting pretty deep in his run. Also, I’m not convinced that on flatter tracks it pumps through rollers as well as others might. I just got the next heavier spring, which I will be riding in due course.

If I had to blindly put my finger on where the small rear wheel makes the difference, it would be in its willingness to rush into a corner. The rear wheel is very happy to be let go, slamming through the corners with a hint of rear brake.

I like the confidence of the front wheel on the track – it goes where you want it and is completely predictable. The rear is a bit more free to go where it wants, rather than carving out of the same arc as a 29-inch rear hoop, which gives the bike a thoroughly engaging ride quality.

The shape really suits the ride I have done on the bike so far too. On steep terrain, the front wheel sits well in front of the bar and the bottom bracket is low enough to feel your weight is ideally placed to allow you to point straight, rather than throwing yourself over the bar.

The slightly smaller rear wheel also gives you that little extra room for the butt when the going gets tough. really steep – visible when I buzzed my back while jumping back and forth on the 29er Spectral during testing.

Although the shock is noticeable, the small rear wheel does not roll as well over bumps as the larger front. It doesn’t cling to mid-sized rocks and roots, but the 29in is smoother to ride than the mule over such obstacles. As such, if you were looking to ride your Spectral, I would bet the 29er to be faster.

Canyon Spectral CF8 G5 Dropper

The easily adjustable dropper is neat.
Roo fowler

Spectral CF8 CLLCTV anticipated verdict

The Spectral CF8 CLLCTV has been a pleasure to drive so far.

For precise pedaling, high speeds, and predictable control, I think bikes without a mule might be a better bet. However, the character that the coilover damper and mixed wheels have given to the CF8 mule is thrilling and has so far made it difficult to get to the bottom of the garage.

There is much more to discover with this bike; a change in spring, more varied trails and, as always, time-consuming suspension adjustments, but it’s definitely a good start. We will bring you a full review once we have had more time to play.


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