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Field Test: Canyon Spectral 125 AL 6 - When Trail Meets Enduro

Apr 28, 2022
by Ryan Palmer  


Canyon Spectral 125 AL 6

Words by Ryan Palmer, photography by Tom Richards

As the most expensive bike at the value bike Field Test, it wasn’t surprising that the Canyon Spectral AL 6 was spec’d better than the rest. But it still astonished us what Canyon could put together for $3,500. Absolutely nothing needs to be changed right out of the box on this bike. Moreover, everything about it is built to last, from the all-aluminum frame to the parts hanging off it.

The frame is a no-nonsense affair, with a simple four-bar suspension layout designed without any unneeded links or clutter. We can’t test for longevity at Field Test, but a system this straightforward has a potential leg up on more complex designs.
Canyon Spectral 125

Canyon Spectral 125 Details

• Frame: aluminum
• Travel: 125mm rear / 140mm fork
• 29" wheels
• 64° head-tube angle
• 76.5° seat-tube angle
• Reach: 486mm (large)
• Weight: 34.9lb / 15.8kg
• $3,500 USD
Cables are routed internally through the mainframe, and externally on the chainstays. The bottom bracket is threaded, rear spacing is Boost 148, and the derailleur hanger is a SRAM UDH, all practical, rational choices.

The geometry on the other hand, is less practical. The Spectral 125 has just 125mm of rear wheel travel and 140mm up front, yet runs numbers that are normally seen on longer-legged enduro bikes. To start with, the reach on the size large is a rangey 486 millimeters. The medium is 460mm, longer than most size large bikes from just a few years ago. The headtube angle is 64-degrees, one of the slackest found on a bike with 125mm of travel, and a full degree slacker than anything else we had on test.


It’s a specific type of rig that mixes playfulness and plowfulness in a way that not many other bikes can do. It’s long up front, but relatively short in the back, with 437mm chainstays across the fours sizes, and even though it didn’t have the longest rear-center on test, it did have the longest wheelbase by a long way, at 1260mm. The next longest was the Stumpjumer at 1237mm. What this means is that the Spectral 125 AL likes to get rowdy on gnarly terrain. It’s big for its britches, so it’s a good thing it has the component spec to keep up.

The Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain executed flawlessly speedy shifts, can take a beating, and when you do have to replace it, is much more affordable than SRAM GX. The GX cassette for instance, retails for $230, while a replacement SLX cluster will only run you $105. With that kind of performance and value, the SLX drivetrain was decidedly the favorite drivetrain of the whole fleet we had in Tucson. The SLX four-piston brakes impressed us as well, with buckets of power and solid consistency throughout the test.

Not to be overshadowed, the Fox Rhythm 36 fork and Float X Performance shock were equally impressive. These dampers don’t have the adjustments found on Fox’s Factory or Performance Elite-level offerings, but they’re smooth, consistent, and adjustable enough for truly high-level riding.



On the chunky, technical climbs we were testing on in Tucson, the Spectral’s length and slack head angle were immediately noticeable as not being totally at home. It doesn’t have the snappy manners of the YT Izzo, making it more difficult to change directions when choosing lines. However, for riders with more power, who could maintain higher speeds on the climbs, it proved to be quite a solid technical climber. Kazimer wrote that, “the length and slack head angle slow the trail down a bit and give time to pause, collect yourself, and get ready for the next move.”

Personally, I love techy climbing and was able to clean many of the most technical moves at our testing grounds, just not consistently on the Canyon. I’m a much slower climber than Kaz, and at the speeds I was going, the bike would exhibit undesirably floppy steering. It was more of a handful than the Izzo, which was my favorite bike for the trails in Tucson.

Regardless of our climbing quickness, we agreed that the Canyon isn’t as ideally suited for climbing certain types of singletrack as some of the other bikes in the test, and that it’s far more comfortable on less steep, less technical climbing, and smashing fire road climbs.

The actual pedaling efficiency of the Spectral 125 is very good, though. There’s really no squatting or wallowing to speak of, even with the shock in the open setting. Testers appreciated not needing to use the firm lever on the shock because leaving the shock open enabled them to maintain traction on the loose, rocky terrain, without losing power.




Just like on the climbs, the slack head angle stood right out—but this time in a very good way. The Spectral 125 had the most stable, secure, smash-into-everything type of feel to it. Going fast on the YT Izzo, and to a lesser extent, the Specialized Stumpjumper, tended to be a more carefully executed affair, but once we got the Canyon up to speed, it felt devilishly solid.

It begged us to let the brakes go and rally through the loose baby-head rock gardens and blocky stairsteps that litter the trails in Tucson. The suspension is quite progressive, which had us both appreciating and critiquing it. On one hand, it provided excellent bottom-out protection when we were cooking. The aggressive ramp-up helps when there’s just 125mm of travel to work with. The progressivity also gives the Spectral an overall sporty attitude that makes it really fun to play around with and get big pop off small trail features.

Timed Testing

Our timed lap consisted of steep, technical climbs full of ledges and hard efforts, and a rough descent littered with rocks that lead into a fast, loose section of trail. Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.
The Spectral 125 ended up in fourth place (out of five) for the climbing portion of our loop, seven seconds off the fastest time posted by the YT Izzo. On the descent it moved up to third place, three seconds behind the Specialized Stumpjumper and Fezzari Cascade Peak.

The results weren't entirely unexpected - the test lap had plenty of tight, chunky sections, and there weren't as many places to really let the Spectral 125 run.
The lively nature of the progressive suspension makes some sacrifices when it comes to small bump sensitivity, though. The Canyon was less willing to give up its travel than the YT Izzo, for instance. The rear wheel skipped around more, while the YT hugged the ground a bit better. We felt like we had better traction with the YT, but the Canyon maintains better stability during bigger, more jarring impacts. You’ll feel more of the trail with on the Canyon, but it’ll remain composed.

At the end of the day, the Spectral 125 isn’t really made for the type of trails we were riding. On the steep loamers of the Pacific Northwest is where we feel this bike would really come to life. You know, trails that are scary in a less pokey type of way. The bike’s aggressively long and slack geometry and progressive suspension are more ideally suited for steeper, less boney terrain. That’s where this unique bike will really shine.



+ Excellent parts spec and value
+ Feels more stable at speed than most short-travel bikes
+ Unique mix of pop and brawl


- Long, slack geometry can be cumbersome on technical climbs
- Lacks small bump sensitivity
- Not the most space for water

The 2022 Value Bike Field Test was made possible thanks to Visit Tucson and Norrona clothing.

Want early access to all of the Field Test content, along with other exclusive articles and videos? The enduro bike Field Test is happening soon - to make sure you don't miss any content sign up for Beta MTB.

These tests take a lot of time and money to make happen, and we genuinely try to give riders useful, honest feedback about the bikes we review. We appreciate everyone's support!

Author Info:
RyanRPalmer avatar

Member since Nov 1, 2021
10 articles

  • 317 5
 So many jokes to be made about the line "mixes playfulness and plowfulness"... most of them involving your mom.
  • 21 101
flag Monkeyass (Apr 28, 2022 at 9:47) (Below Threshold)
 My mum’s dead…but did you meet her before?
  • 7 66
flag trollhunter (Apr 28, 2022 at 10:20) (Below Threshold)
 Can you please invite your mom over tonight. I’d like to playfully wrestle with her no brawling before dinner though. Is straight 29 or does she prefer a little MX?
  • 90 0
 @trollhunter: there’s a fine line between hero at the Top of the Comments and shunned Below Threshold.
  • 103 3
 'bout $100/lb if you're thinking about this versus some wagyu. You're welcome.
  • 8 28
flag SangamonTaylor (Apr 28, 2022 at 11:54) (Below Threshold)
 I wouldn't pay $20 apiece for Japanase wagyu.
  • 27 4
 @SangamonTaylor: S & P heavily, preheat to 400, 4 minutes, flip each minute for good grill marks, rest for 2 minutes, down the hatch.
  • 11 10
 @yogriffman: Montreal steak spice really needs to be a parts of this conversation...
  • 17 4
 @lepigpen: good meat doesn't need anything more than s&p
  • 12 7
 @evehmeyer: Tryna have a pop culture reference thread here, my guy. Either get on in or give your balls a tug.
  • 5 5
 @lepigpen: give yer tits a tug, ball f*cker
  • 5 3
 @Lebmartin: Tell your mom to fill up the prepaid phone she gave me so I can text her on the late night.

(You seen the new trailer yet?)
  • 5 0
 @lepigpen: no I haven't... Don't spoil anything!!
  • 4 0
 @Lebmartin: They already drop a rather big spoiler in the trailer. Hit up the youtube channel, it's literally amazing.
  • 75 2
 We need a standard Spectral vs 125 shootout. I'm not convinced that a 34lbs 125mm travel bike that just climbs ok is really going to be a better option than just getting the bigger one that weighs the same. All mountain bikes can climb really well now, my Troy has been better than all my older bikes with less travel and the Spectral gets good reviews in that department.
  • 42 1
 Agreed. Surprised they didn't try to lighten up the 125 a bit, or do something other than just cut the rear travel by 25mm. Amongst other things - the fork. I get a 36 Fork on the standard with 150mm in the rear, but on a 125mm rear trail bike - isn't a 36 overkill and wouldn't a 34 be sufficient? And if a 34 isn't sufficient for the way you ride - wouldn't you enjoy 150mm rear travel better?
  • 7 0
 @trillot: Yeah your last point is kind of where I'm going with my argument as well, although with the piggyback shock, 64 degree head angle and 4 piston brakes it fits. It just fells like the two venn diagram circles would be very similar with the 125's just being smaller. The Optic comes with the 36 on the high end model with similar travel and design, and took bike of the year, so what do I know.
  • 4 0
 All mountain bikes, or all-mountain bikes? Both?
  • 3 0
 Agreed - I'm probably going to get the normal spectral next year. I have a Transition Spur so it will be a good way to have both short and long travel covered.
  • 2 0
 @kinematix: All-mountain bikes. The sometimes weird category between trail and enduro. My bad.
  • 5 1
 I used to be pretty keen on the short travel thing, but I'm not so sure anymore. I still like the idea of a light XC bike that has better geo, but bikes like this...I don't know. I rode a Banshee Phantom last season and it might be the right bike for someone somewhere, but to me, it was a master of none.
  • 4 1
 @Adamrideshisbike: The Spur is super fun. It is the right bike if you have super long pedal sections or really long rides.
  • 5 0
 @Adamrideshisbike: I had a Norco Optic for a couple of years (coming to buy/sell soon) and it was fun but now that I am back on a longer travel bike Im not too sure Ill go back to short travel anytime soon.
  • 2 0
 @mtmc99: Having both is ideal for sure
  • 1 0
 Agree shootout would be interesting. I just got my spectral 125 cf7 couple weeks ago, coming from a xc guy this thing climbs very well, way better then i expected
  • 2 0
 @frontierlasalle: That build makes more sense to me. 1.75lbs lighter than the big cf7.
  • 1 0
 The normal one will be better for most people. But the 125 will be better for some. Especially if they already have an enduro bike.
  • 2 0
 You're right about the weight. But there's not much they can save framewise as these things are all pretty light already: the carbon frame is 2.500 g on the 125 vs 2.600 g on the 140. AL is claimed to be 3.000 g on both, although I think it's actually closer to 3.1 kg. Anyway, to save weight and make it more trail friendly you would have to look towards the components. Therefore I chose the 125 cf7. Have ridden it for a few weeks now and must say I'm totally stoked. For 3.500 €, that thing is absolutely insane and exceeded my expectations by far, coming from a really playful and light 160mm 27.5 bike. Swapped out a few part for a surplus of about 250 € and weight is now down to 13 kg (w/o pedals) vs. the 13.9 it was initially. Depends probably on what riding exactly you do but for me, doing maybe 10% bikeparks, that thing fits in perfectly for allmost any trail, up and down.
  • 1 0
 That should say 150, not 140 for the "classic" Spectral
  • 3 0
 Agreed with OP. The elephant in the room here is why not just keep this a 140/150 trail bike? The geometry calls for it, the spec calls for it - seems like we're limiting the utility purely to justify charging more $$ for the longer legged iteration.
  • 61 2
 If a bike does not have space for 37 water bottles I refuse to ride it.
  • 39 1
 I have a custom water bottle cage to hold a 5 gallon jug
  • 27 0
 @Nathangouff: would you call that a flagon wagon?
  • 53 2
 I also have waterproof socks that fill up with sweat as I ride, so I can just stick a straw in them and slurp it up
  • 1 0
  • 3 0
 @Nathangouff: You should buy an extendable straw to drink while riding.
  • 47 1
 Forget all this nonsense about antiquated bidon holders. When are bike companies going to develop sealed frames that hold water?

- Place two water ports at the high point on the top tube, one for filling, the other with a flexible drinking tube that clips onto the top tube when not in use.
- Have a crank-driven impeller in the bottom bracket, driving a pump to pressurize the water.
- Incorporate a pressure relief valve to prevent the frame from rupturing when riders with Nino-class power are crushing the pedals.
- Manufacture the frame with a narrow clear strip, similar to that on automotive oil containers, so riders can see how much water they have remaining for the ride. Custom frames could be made entirely see-through, of course they'd have Perrier Premium pricing.
- For those fond of handlebar remotes (paging @MikeLevy) there'd be an optional 2-trigger remote to operate an electronically actuated drink tube with angle adjustment and portion control. One remote trigger would make the tube rise to any of three pre-set positions, the other would release a blast of water straight to the pie hole. Let's call it SquirtSpray. you know, because why not?

You just know once RC reads this he'll be running to his workshop (ie: kitchen table) yelling "Here, hold my beer. I have an idea!".
  • 5 0
 @dlford: Like the old Intense M1 that had an air tank for Shimano Airlines integrated into the downtube.

Except for water.
  • 3 0
 @dlford: electric water pump please, or it will rubb precious power from your high pivot water-hydraulic controlled 16 speed Bald-Head-Eagle drivetrain
  • 2 0
 @Nathangouff: Reduce, reuse, recycle!
  • 2 0
 @Nathangouff: "He shall know your ways, as if born to them"
  • 3 0
Specialized took a good stab at the concept calling it Shiv but their design has a few leaks.
  • 1 0
 @dlford: The time put in to that does not correlate to any entertainment value.
  • 1 0
 @dlford: you forgot the goldfish
  • 43 1
 This review kind of highlights why it's a problem that a lot of reviewers are sort of concentrated in PNW. So many new bikes are aiming for good reviews from PNW based reviewers. Then the bike that 'hits all the numbers' doesn't fit the terrain and bikes with more old school numbers do a little better. Believe it or not, there are places where it makes sense to put the flipchip in the 'high' setting (shocker).
  • 5 1
 You're probably right. I was faster on most of the trails in my area on my Tallboy LTc (which had, like, a 68* HA when overforked) than I am on my current 64* enduro sled. Most of my trails are -7% to -20%. On the few trails that are -20% or steeper, the enduro sled definitely shines. But flatter than that, and the steeper angles seem to be easier to go faster on. :-/
  • 4 0
 If only there were a Spectral 125 with the same hta and an inch shorter wheelbase, on which one could use a 50mm stem, and which would still be 2cm longer than a large Izzo. Palmer's saddle is set high--not optimal for helping rear wheel over ledges. Spectral shock 210 x 50 for 125mm travel. Izzo 210 x 55 for 130mm
  • 8 1
 Have to agree here. Long, low and slack bikes don't do very well here in Austin. In fact, bikes with slightly more conservative geometry (like the fezzari) or ones from a couple years ago work best.
  • 39 0
 A 140/125 trail bike weighting 15,8kg?!
  • 3 0
 WHAT! That's just ridiculous.
  • 11 0
 Cue the “weight doesn’t matter” replies.
  • 32 1
 @stevemokan: Cue the "cue the" replies
  • 36 0
 @rickybobby18: the "cue the" cue replies are queued
  • 6 2
 It's downcountry bike, that's why. A trailbike could have 140/140, but downcountry is all about extra efficiency coming from 15mm less travel, lol.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: yeah, it’s for people who think that ca. 150 or more travel is too much and close to scary stuff (steep, fast, enduro).
  • 43 12
 This must be an early draft.

Shimano brakes and no mention of the wandering bite point?

  • 6 1
 Probably has something to do with the thicker Hayes rotors specced...
  • 10 34
flag William42 FL (Apr 28, 2022 at 9:34) (Below Threshold)
 In fairness, it's been over a decade of shimano waffling and not getting their shit together to fix it.

Should probably just start saying "These shimano brakes are inexcusable, and no product manager should spec them."
  • 4 13
flag rarerider FL (Apr 28, 2022 at 9:51) (Below Threshold)
 I believe the wandering bite point only shows up on the servo wave brakes (sure did on my lousy XTs) though am not sure if SLX does have servo wave.
  • 40 3
 I've had at least half a dozen pairs of Shimano brakes at various price points... I've never had a big issue with bite point. In sub freezing temps they get a little wonky, which I do notice on my fat bike with 2015ish SLXs. I bleed them myself with a pair of syringes, and occasionally whip out the funnel for a quick gravity bleed if I feel like they're not at their best - maybe once a year.
  • 14 1
 @rarerider: Pretty sure every Shimano brake, Deore and above (save for XTR Race) has servo wave.
  • 23 0
 My 2021 bike came with oem Slx 4 pot brakes. In almost 12 months of riding not once I felt the wandering bite point. Zero other issues as well.

And, yes, I know what a wandering bite point looks like. My previous (my 2016 bike) had Xt with wildly wandering bite point as soon as it gets hot.
  • 18 13
 @William42: If you're not a horrible mechanic, wandering bite point is a non-issue.
  • 3 0
 @William42: I wonder if they have worked on it behind the scenes?
  • 8 0
 @bicyclelifestyle: Exactly! When I first had my saints mounted (in a hurry by a shop in whistler) the bite point was all over the place. Got home and gave them a good gravity bleed and they're honestly flawless, perfect brakes now.
  • 10 9
 A little wander never bothered me. One should always give their levers a quick pre-squeeze before needing to brake anyway, just in case a rabid squirrel has gnawed a hole in your brake hose between the previous corner and the upcoming one.
  • 4 1
 Lack of water bottles took up space in the cons column, wasn't room for that bullshit.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: If it was only when it was hot, that very likely means you had air or water in the system. Or just terrible mineral oil.
  • 7 0
 @Glenngineer: you probably fixed it because you're a glenngineer
  • 2 0
 @rarerider: IME the wandering bite point on Shimano brakes is dependent on the viscosity of the brake fluid and therefore the ambient temperature you ride in. Higher air temp = Less viscosity = More consistent bite point
Maybe it was just warm enough in Tucson.
  • 2 1
 but what about the leaking fluid all over the place
  • 14 9
 @bicyclelifestyle: I'm not here to start fights, so let's take a step back. I have over a decade of shop mechanic experience, and bleeding a brake is simple enough that somebody can do it correctly in 20 minutes after watching a 5 minute video on youtube. It's not exactly rocket surgery.

The issue at hand here is that this is an engineering flaw, not a "be a better mechanic" flaw, and it doesn't matter how perfect your bleed is if there is a fundamental problem with the engineering. Bleeding your brakes 6-7 times in a season should not be a thing that happens with any brake.

I recognize that it happens more frequently for riders with large elevation to deal with, and if you live east of the Rockies it's probably a smaller issue for you than it is for somebody who lives in BC or the Alps and has regular 2500+ft descents, but there are a few issues with Shimano brakes that are straight engineering problems that have yet to be resolved. Ceramic pistons that develop micro fractures and let air in after experiencing high heat cycles, a MC design that traps air bubbles and leads to a variable bite point during hard cornering, and any number of other issues with them.

As far as I'm concerned, the brakes should work well for anybody, and you shouldn't need to be a professional mechanic to justify owning them. It's not like nobody has cracked the code on reliable (and strong) brakes, and that its just a difficult thing to get right - Magura, Hope, Formula, Hayes, and Trickstuff all have something pretty solid out there these days. These are solved problems, and after a decade of not giving a shit about it, it's probably best for people to call Shimano out for it.
  • 2 0
 I've been using Pentosin and never experienced any wondering bite points. Maybe that's a reason, idk.
  • 8 3
 @William42: As a pro mechanic with also over a decade of experience, all hydraulic systems need maintenance. Obviously some more than others, and YMMV, but there are best practices to ensure the paying customer does not return with a bad brake bleed. I do my best to make sure of this, because it's literally how I make a living. Whatever I'm doing, is working, as I haven't had many complaints over the 100's of brakes I've bled. I believe the Shimano units are very solid with proper setup and maintenance, no less than any other brake (as someone that rides Magura essentially exclusively). I see you with the caliper issues. Batch warrantied over 170 shimano brakes about 6 years ago that leaked at the pistons on a huge shipment of BRAND NEW bikes that were sitting in a warehouse for over 2 years. That super sucked to go through but I understand it was a unique situation and I still have confidence in Shimano brakes. If you wanna talk about bad engineering, you've also been in the game long enough to go through the hell that was TaperBore and also the first gen Sram road disc brakes that quit working the second it got cold... so many upset customers. Bicycle brakes are a fun conversation for sure. Obviously my comment is controversial so sucks to suck, I guess.
  • 4 2
 @bicyclelifestyle: Definitely. There are a ton of subpar products out there that shouldn't be on the market, or should never have been released in the form they were.

It's definitely interesting for sure though. When I lived in California and did a lot of riding in Tahoe and some good socal stuff, I didn't know a person who didn't have issues with shimano's "wandering bite point" feature. It's pretty much the same story in the pac NW (although my sample size is admittedly smaller these days because after years of moving all over the country I just don't have as many friends in my immediate riding vicinity). Whatever the case, it's pretty easy to find significant enough numbers of people from any number of places all over the world that it doesn't appear it's an isolated thing.

But when I lived in Texas and the Southeast, I don't know anybody that had any issue and pretty much everybody thought it was just some made up internet thing.

My own personal guess is that extended descents that cook your brakes are more likely to cause down stream issues for shimano brakes.

Whatever the case for what's actually causing it (the speculation I've seen tends to center on the ceramic pistons not dealing with large heat changes well and not being very durable because of it, and the shape of the MC in the servo wave levers collecting and trapping bubbles) Shimano has got to have found more than enough samples in the past decade to figure out what the hell is happening and fix it.

And while I trust them as a brand to take care of getting the brake replaced when it happens, that doesn't help very much when it comes down to actual riding issues. 99/100 times it's just an inconvenience, but I know that I personally have been out for few weeks from overshooting a drop that comes out of a fast corner and pulling my brakes to brake check for it and finding them pull back to the bar after running perfect and smooth for the previous three weeks of riding. That's an unacceptable safety issue.

Long story short, while I'm happy to be running an XTR drivetrain on my bike, no way will I touch shimano brakes again unless it's a fully new design, and even then I'm waiting for a year or two, I'm not willing to be a guinea pig again for them.

And honestly, pretty happy with my Cura4's. They'll be on my bike until I'm able to get ahold of some Maxima's at some point in the next decade when they're finally available.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: Or air. Obviously. But I can still remember times when you could ride Xt for a year without need for bleeding. This pair needed bleeding multiple times a year

If I would take my time and bleed the system meticulously (some anal guy made a 37 steps tutorial years ago) the wandering bite point would disappear, but it would come back pretty soon in let's say bike park.
Also Putoline hpx instead of Shimano mineral oil has solved the issue for good.
  • 1 1
 @pakleni: if a different oil solved it for good, then I would put the blame squarely on the Shimano mineral oil not being up to task for high-heat applications, like lift-access/bike-park.
  • 1 0
Adding to that, an insufficient bleed leads to a bite point that is closer to the bar from time to time and for me the problem is the bite point wandering out from the bar so you grab a fistful of brake all of a sudden.
  • 1 1
 @bicyclelifestyle: If you're bringing a bleed kit and fluid with you on every ride and bleeding your brakes mid ride when they're at their highest temps then yeah, sure wandering bite point isn't a problem. It has nothing to do with being "not a horrible mechanic." Saying stuff like that just highlights that you don't know what you're talking about or doing.
  • 29 1
 "The Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain executed flawlessly speedy shifts, can take a beating, and when you do have to replace it, is much more affordable than SRAM GX."

SLX is my new fav. GX can acutely take a bit of a beating too, but it just gets floppy so fast: the b-pivot is junk after a few hundred trail miles, and then ghost shifts on anything remotely janky and late shifts everywhere. SLX has been holding strong, keeps on shifting crisply, even when forced into shifting an XO chain on a GX cassette.

GX chain is also made of cheese, they need one in between GX and XO, with solid pins and just hardened rollers, and demote GX chain to NX.

And I just need to save for MS freehub body, SLX cassette, and XT chain, and say bye-bye to the bird group.
  • 6 0
 Shimano 12spd has been flawless for me too. I've got a couple thousand miles on mine(replaced the chain once or twice obviously), and I've had to adjust the deraillieur exactly one time. It was even perfect after a nasty crash which snapped my hangar, as soon as a new hangar got put on it didn't even need to be changed one bit. Currently building up a frame and hoping I can find some Shimano 12 speed stuff in stock soon.
  • 6 0
 When it's time to change (measure with few dollars tool) I would advise everyone to get X01 chain for Sram and xtr for Shimano regardless of other components. Those last some much longer that it covers the costs.
  • 1 0
 @JAK79: That's odd. A very recent GMBN video outlined all the different Shimano MTB groupsets and made a claim that the XTR chain has a shorter lifespan than XT or SLX chains due to the changes made to save weight.

  • 12 0
 @skyroach: No that's wrong, here is an actual test from cyclingtips comparing the efficiency, cost per km, etc.


TLDR; SRAM 12 speed chains are the best as far as durability goes, specifically X01. Of the Shimano chains though, the XTR 12s lasts the longest and was the most efficient in the test.
  • 2 0
 @GBeard: cool, thanks for that info!
  • 2 0
 @GBeard: Yes, that was the test my comment was based on. Nice that you found the link.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil : is the 12sp SLX derailleur silent when riding chunky stuff? I have only experience on 11sp where SLX is much more noisy than GX. Now I've tried GX 12sp and it seems fine, but I'd like to go with SLX 12sp afterwards only if it's not as frickin loud as I fear...

Or does anybody know a tip to solve this? basically it seems like the spring doesn't have enough tension, so every hit moves the der down/inwards
  • 4 0
 @Uuno: You just need to adjust the clutch tension. That's why it is worth to buy XT, it works the same as SLX but have it externally adjustable. In SLX you just need to unscrew the clutch cover (3 bolts).
  • 3 0
 @Uuno: clean and put some more tension on the clutch
  • 4 0
 @Uuno: you can adjust the clutch tension. Cleaning and greasing is good to do also when you have to open the clutch cover for adjusting. I had slx on my previus bike and I noticed that the clutch gets rusted quite quick if you ride in wet conditions or wash your bike often.
  • 3 0
 @JAK79: It should be opened for cleaning once a year either way
  • 2 0
 @pakleni: Mine went in bad condition in 3 months. Clutch did not move smoothly and when I opened it I found the rust. I was quite surpriced.
  • 4 0
 @JAK79: At least you can't say that up at North you don't have a bit extreme conditions
  • 1 0
 @Uuno: I think it's pretty quiet. Quiet enough that when I once accidentally knocked the clutch lever to off position, I thought something else was loose in the back since it was noticeably noisy. I hoenstly can't recall how noisy GX was in the jank because I was experiencing so many partial ghost shifts that was all I noticed.

re: SLX 11sp being louder than GX 11sp, that might be due to GX 11 already having the horizontal parallelogram design while SLX 11 still had a bit of angle to the p-gram, meaning a hard impact could more easily move the entire thing downward despite the clutch. With 12sp, everything (at least in mountain groups) has a pretty much horizontal p-gram, so way less movement in that area.

And as has been mentioned, Shimano clutches are rebuildable and adjustable, so if your setup seems noisy/loose, might be worth a clean and tighten. And Shimano 12sp also seems to have a much lighter level action than Shimano 11sp (at least XT 11, the only one I have experienced), so there is likely room to really crank the clutch up and still have pretty decent light lever action.
  • 3 0
 Swap the B-bolt for the X01 B-bolt when new, and enjoy a long-lasting GX mech for 20 bucks extra
  • 1 2
A) I have zero faith the rest of the mech is going to outlast even another fresh GX bolt, let alone a fancier bolt.

B) That kit is impossible to find right now, maybe ever.

C) That's not my job, it's SRAM's job to not cut corners such that large parts get thrown out prematurely because of poor quality small parts.

C) I don't want to support this kind of bullshit, wasteful, product, and having it on my bike, especially putting effort into keeping it there, is a kind of endorsement.
  • 4 0
 @justinfoil: whoa, sorry for trying to give a helpful tip.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: thanks a lot! I just investigated a bit more and yes, that slightly vertical movement of SLX 11sp pa-gram is the issue. So if the shimano 12sp has it almost only horizontal (as GX 12sp has, I just checked), that should solve my noise issue. I have SLX 12sp as spare to check out easily.

To everyone suggesting clutch tension issues, thanks for the info and link but that's not my root cause. The unwanted movement I am chasing is when the der goes inwards (same movement as when we pull the cable) because shocks make it go down (and IN, with p-gram designs that are not only horizontal).
  • 21 0
 Universal Derailleur Hanger and Proprietary Water Bottle.
  • 13 1
 Would have preferred the lower spec Deore to compare to in this field test, but I do love that even with the higher spec and price it didn't necessarily sweep the test. So, I suppose that is interesting food for thought for 'budget' buyers. (3500 aint budget)

Funny the Stumpy with an X-Fusion shock and practically no brakes pipped this rig out.

I'd still be getting the Deore Canyon over the Stumpy and Fezzari. Can't wait for the Izzo review to come out.
  • 8 0
 I do find it odd that they tested the $3500 canyon and not the $3500 stumpy, which has a much more respectable spec than the one they tested.
  • 1 0
 I guess they have to test what they get. Canyon sure knows about the lackings of the 35.
  • 12 0
 Between this and a Norco Optic, Love the playful nature of the shorter travel, with the aggressive geo. Would love to try 27 wheels on something like this
  • 2 0
 We have a 2021 spectral (full xt, fox pe) 27.5 in the family it is honestly an amazing bike. Even more so when you consider the price (it was a hell of a lot cheaper last year than it is today).
  • 1 0
 Good build for the price too
  • 1 0
 Try a carbon stumpy, similar but way lighter, stiff and snappy
  • 1 0
 @arrowheadrush: Different. Stumpy is a great bike, but feels more light trail bike compared to the all-mountain leanings of the Optic.
  • 1 0
 came here to say this, same bike with 27 or mullet would make this a blast
  • 11 0
 trailduro or is it endurail
  • 2 0
 Gotta follow McCaul's slope-duro-cross formula... definitely trail-duro-country.
  • 2 1
 Up Country Bike.
  • 10 0
 "Normal" spectral makes way more sense. It climbs very well and is much better on the descents.
  • 7 0
 I'm just not a fan of the split colours Canyon have on all their bikes, I preferred their single colours.
  • 1 0
 See Torque al 5 Lil Moine colour Smile
  • 1 0
 @JAK79: Yeah Lil Moine colour is so great!
  • 9 0
  • 5 0
 Off topic from the bike - but that shot with dude descending, big mountain back left, and saguaro in the foreground on the right is an absolute banger. Makes me really want to get back to the desert. Nice work photog
  • 1 0
 Appreciate that, cheers!
  • 9 5
 Why not use multiple test tracks for downhill to highlight the differences in bikes? Obviously some will be better suited for certain trails than others and it gives a false sense of what the bikes are capable of.
  • 26 1
 We ride a whole bunch of different trails on these bikes, but the timing takes place on one track. Ideally you're able to get a sense of how the bikes handle based off the video and written portion of the review, and then the timing is just an interesting side note.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: Thanks for the reply! Its just something I've noticed in the tests and just curious as to why only one track gets used for the timed testing. If there was more time available, it would be cool to be able to see the results on 2 different styles of tracks to better understand how a bike could fit someone's needs or even compere them to a benchmark time.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Do you guys mind sharing which trails or network you were riding? Looks like foothills at times but also doesn't. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @ATXZJ, sure, most of our testing took place in the Tucson Mountain Park. It was a good location to be able to do a bunch of short loops with a variety of terrain - that's key for back-to-back testing.

  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Awesome, thanks!
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: on the timed loop which climb did you do? curious about the average grade and how "techy" it is.

I live in in San Diego and though I haven't been to Tucson, my feeling is that the trails here are largely similar to those in Tuscon - rocky loose techy stuff, with a handful of purpose built flow trails. The climbs here in particular can be pretty onerous. There's a super gnarly climb that I currently struggle with on my heavy 27.5 bike and I'm looking to get something that helps clear the steep loose sections so I can keep up with my pals who are faster.

  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: it would be interesting to poll the readers what kind of trails they ride, and tailor the testing location accordingly. I in the UK for instance, ride almost exclusively loamy/rooty/softer trails in the woods with almost no rocks, hard pack, or 'surfaced' trail in sight, which is almost completely the opposite of the small bits of dry, dusty, rocky trails I've ridden on trips to California.
  • 4 0
 yknow, if there is one thing that could have made "the bible of bike tests" better it would have been a comments section. I miss Bike, but happy to have the cream here telling me which affordable bikes I can't afford
  • 3 0
 I would really love one of the testers to weigh in here:

Would the Spectral 125 be a better bike if they backed the geometry off just a bit?
Has Canyon reached the point where longer/lower/slacker in each subsequent model doesn't make a better bike?
  • 2 3
 Yes, and so ends the long and slack age, soon to be followed by the age of reasonable geometry.
  • 3 0
 A Spectral 125 with a more conservative geo is the Canyon Neuron!
  • 1 0
 There are tons of bikes which do that, Canyon are doing something a bit more progressive for those who appreciate that kind of thing. More power to them.
  • 1 0
 @BadWeevil: There is a LOT of room in between the geometry of the Neuron and Spectral 125. Ignoring the suspension travel numbers the Neuron closely matches a cross-country bike in 2022, while the Spectral is pushing into enduro territory. Figures below are for a size L Neuron 1st, Spectral 2nd.

Head angle: 67 vs 64
Seat Angle: 74.5 vs 76.5
Reach: 453mm vs 486 mm
Wheelbase: 1190mm vs 1260mm

About 3" longer wheel base is quite a spread. Both bikes have basically the same travel (F: 140 & R:125/130), but very different intentions. Personally I don't think either would be a great match for me. Likely in a year or 2 when Canyon brings out an update to the Neuron frame the numbers will fall nicely between these extremes.
  • 4 1
 This review for sure proves that higher end components doesnt make your or your bike any better, proves that a lower spec bike and thus cheaper bike will do the same thing, the same way.

A yari/z1 etc is the most fork Every person that comments on this stuff actually "needs"
Super duluxe/float x the most shock a person needs(in most cases a dps/deluxe will do)

deore drivetrain.

Brakes depend if you can bleed properly, Code R's or Deore if you cant bleed.

so remind me why We, myself included need factory stuff/ultimate level equipment?

the above statements is also anther reason why more manfs need to sell frames by themselves.
the components on your current bike are perfectly fine, but not every bike rides the same.
  • 3 0
 I like how Canyon offers two distinct alternatives for Trai bikes. A steep 140 Neuron and slack 125 Spectral. Along with lux trail and full spectral they have all the horses for all the courses. I noticed that this bike only gets compared to the Izzo, not to the other bikes on test. Why?
  • 7 2
 Canyon Spectral 125 Al 5 have similar spec and price to Stumpy and Kona. Would be a better comparison.
  • 2 0
 Very similar bike to my Optic as well which is a great bike. The Canyon is about 25mm longer wheelbase but the rest of the numbers match up fairly well.
  • 2 0
 @mrdimi: Agreed, but I think the subtle differences in geo (just slightly less progressive) may actually help the Optic be a better bike for most people.

Also once you factor in duties and shipping here in Canada the base model Optic is only about $200 CAD more. Both bikes have a similar quality part spec while the Optic has a carbon frame. I would chose to support a local shop and get the Norco if I were looking for a 125mm shredder at this price point.
  • 1 0
 @J-Sheridan: Yup. Loving my C3 Orange Optic, great upgrade from a 99 Stumpy LOL having gotten back into riding two years ago.
  • 1 0
 @BadWeevil: Why not compare yourself? Everyone knows how shitty the 35 is, but between Deore and SLX there is no difference. Tires? Hubs? The Deluxe is just OK. So basically it is the same plus the cost for a new fork.
  • 2 0
 As someone who lives in a place where all the trails tend towards steep, dry and money, this is the geometry I’d prefer, even for techy climbing.

Then again, even at 5’9” I prefer a considerably shorter reach (450-465). Seems like PNW riders go for the longer reach if possible, which isn’t ideal for dry/desert riding.
  • 1 0
 Yup, I ride desert chunk, long bikes are not my friend,. I prefer a short chainstay and a moderate reach. I can always keep a short bike under control at speed, but making a long bike work in tight situations is no bueno.
  • 2 0
 I got this bike since march and agree with the Review. In europe the cf7 variant is probably netter "value for money", for 500€ more you lose around 1,5kg of weight.
I liked the raw alu through and much prefer slx to gx so went with the reviewed spec. Even the reach is not short it feels compact seated, you notice the wheelbase positively when going faster, and then it handles beautifully.
  • 3 0
 Hello @RyanRPalmer, I just wanted to say that I really enjoy seeing and listening to you as a presenter. I enjoy your way of talking about things. A welcome addition. I hope you´ll be involved more often in the future.
  • 1 0
 Oh yes I was waiting for this test !
So good impression.
And what do you think of this model but with carbon frame and fork Rockshox Pike (www.canyon.com/fr-fr/vtt/trail-bikes/spectral-125/cf/spectral-125-cf-7/3177.html?dwvar_3177_pv_rahmenfarbe=GN)

  • 1 0
 I was debating going with that version too. Wanted the higher end suspension. Looks like decent value but I ended up going a used SC Hightower instead
  • 1 0
Haha why did you choose the SC instead of ?
  • 1 0
 @steffmtb: wanted something a little more balanced. Seemed like the Canyon was more of a short travel enduro focused bike. My last bike didn’t love going uphill, feel like I’ve found a happy middle ground
  • 1 0
 @Antigravity19: Ok thanks for your reply. I think the canyon will be my next one, I have currently a Meta TR which I love but it is heavy.. really heavy..
  • 1 0
 Solid review, love the compare and contrast taking into account the different kinds of terrains people ride. One tester preferred the Izzo for his riding style, whereas another preferred the long and slack Canyon, good info and helpful for making a decision on a bike purchase. I'd take the Canyon over an Izzo, I like slack, even when riding uphill on southwest chunk
  • 1 0
 As a Knolly owner it's amusing to see all the not-so-subtle "6-bar links aren't needed" comments popping up from PB staff in 2022.

As an owner of 2 Titus bikes it's nice to see a resurgence of the good-ol' Horst Lentier link bikes in the last couple years.
  • 1 0
 It's a useful review, but it doesn't really say whether the bike is fun and engaging to ride or not (apart from Levy alluding to that right at the end of the video). Any comments PB team? And does it feel much less lively than something like the Izzo?
  • 3 0
 This looks freakin awesome! I will trade my XC bike for this, all day, any day.
  • 2 0
 I want a shootout with this and the Status 140 so bad. Who could've imagined we'd have two such silly bikes, both with decent spec at the value end of the market!
  • 1 0
 Of course the parts spec is good, it's $1000 more than the stumpjumper.
For the sake of a meaningful 'field test', surely if you're comparing bikes, the bikes should at least be in the same price bracket.
  • 1 0
 In Australia, the Spectral 125 AL 6 is AU$4,650 with a Fox 36 Rhythm, Fox Float X shock and SLX. The Stumpjumper Comp is $5,200 with a Fox 34 Rhythm, DPS shock and Deore drivetrain. Yeah I'd go with the Spectral.
  • 1 0
 It would be nice if you could test it on more pedally hardpack trails - I'd love to see how this translates to rooty and flowy trails found in Arkansas, Florida and down here in Cairns!
  • 4 2
 Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the neuron would’ve been better suited for this field test.
  • 2 0
 They keep mentioning that my home AZ trails have no traction. I need to ride in the PNW to see what traction really is.
  • 10 0
 well dry and dusty is just that, and loam is like velcro, so they probably arent wrong.
  • 1 0
 Hero dirt.
  • 2 0
 Winter rides in the desert are pretty special too.
  • 1 0
 @alis66: Yeah, but I wonder if that is even the same. Hero dirt is nice though.
  • 1 0
 Desert SW- rocks are predictable traction, dirt inbetween is sketchy. PNW- rocks are unpredictable traction, dirt inbetween is glorious.
  • 1 0
 The spectral dual bottle solves the water carrying issue. It’s a good solution for other bikes that have limited space too.
  • 3 1
 Wouldn't the Canyon Neuron be a more closely matched contestant to the other bikes in this test?
  • 2 0
 These reviews are the perfect length. Good balance between necessary detail and not being long winded.
  • 1 0
 I'm not in the market for a value bike, but why do they not have a Siskiu T7 in this test? I know its a direct to consumer, but so is Canyon.
  • 1 0
 @NBainas: when they’ve answered this question under other posts, they’ve said that they don’t want to rereview bikes that they’ve already field tested.
  • 1 0
 at the 7:25 mark in the video, you can see there are some things that hold the front cables together in a tidy way. Anyone know what they are called?
  • 2 1
 20mm more reach (medium vs medium), and ~a degree slacker than my 2018 E29 (160mm fork replaced with a 170).
  • 1 2
 Yeah! Saving the best for last... My Izzo! Woop Woop. Take that Spur! Although... the NX drivetrain and Forekasters have to go. Aaaand... gotta bump the FOX34 up to 140. Done.
  • 1 0
 Sounds like if you threw a Bomber CR on the back, you'd have a great mid-range trail bike for the PNW
  • 2 0
 Say it with me now 'TrailDuro'...
  • 1 1
 That aggressive short-tavel formula worked really well on the Norco Optic, and it worked well again on this bike, which is almost a carbon copy of the Optic. Big surprise...
  • 2 1
 Loam (/lōm/): a soil with roughly equal proportions of sand, silt, and clay.
  • 2 1
 Nobody even rides that stuff anymore. The trend ended a long time ago, bud
  • 2 0
 Digging Palmer's "nature and shit" cap.
  • 1 0
 Is it still "astonishing" that D2C bikes offer better parts for the price?!
  • 1 0
 Would an angle set head set make this bike appealing to a broader rider base?
  • 9 8
 or you could just wear a hydration pack..
  • 2 0
 good formula here.
  • 2 0
 I approve
  • 1 0
 Anyone ever try to self-broker one of these in to Canada? How'd it go?
  • 2 0
 Might want to put one in the cart and check the actual shipping (very final step), even without the brokerage fees to Canada it's a shock
  • 1 0
 I've seen that, I'm just curious on the duties and brokerage fees specifically. If you're near an airport self brokering is very easy, but does it save you any money here?
  • 1 0
 Outside is the darkside, Levy is Anakin
  • 2 1
 Playful 4 play @ 15.8 kgs. Not 2 playful in my book.
  • 1 1
 So it does seem like it’s more a hardtail than a full sus bike on more rocky and technical terrain.
  • 1 0
 Playful yet aggressive
  • 3 3
 Ryan gained some weight over the winter
  • 1 0
 this orange is wonderful
  • 1 0
 It would be be nice 27.5
  • 1 1
 Specialised status 140
  • 1 2
 Bring head angle back to 65.5
  • 6 0
 Just keep your old bike with 65.5
  • 2 5
 @Nathangouff: Greatest thing I have ever heard.
  • 10 1
 I think you may need to get out more
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