Canyon’s all-mountain Spectral gets a completely new short-travel enduro sibling with this Spectral 125, breaking down the assumed correlation between MTB travel and technical trail capability. Canyon likes to call it ‘rowdy’ or ‘poppy’. But no buzzwords are really needed, because this new Spectral 125 is simply a fun-to-ride mountain bike that combines all their best modern slack geometry & bulletproof frame construction tech with ‘just enough’ active & progressive suspension to give the new bike a playful ride that you can take from local trails to the bikepark.
Canyon Spectral 125 short-travel, progressive all-mountain bike
The original 150/160mm Spectral already blurred the lines between technical trail and enduro riding, and the new Mullet version leaned more towards the aggressive side of things. But really unless you live in the big mountains or near a bikepark, that’s still probably more travel than many mountain bikers truly need. The trouble is… the Spectral is actually a lot of fun to ride. (I know, I’ve been riding one or the other since last summer.)
So Canyon’s mountain bike engineers decided to make a mini-Spectral. And they designed it to be ridden just like you would the longer travel bike.
Built for mountain bikers who want a modern fit, handling & progressive suspension, but just don’t need a long-travel enduro bike. This is a bike that dials it back a bit to give you more trail feedback, a bit more challenge in the tough stuff, and more fun to pump and play around on your local singletrack.
But don’t call it underbiking – this is nothing like riding a gravel bike on trails. Because, while the travel is shorter, the Spectral 125 is no less capable.
No holding back, and no compromises.
The result is the Canyon Spectral 125. It gets almost exactly the same long, low & slack geometry of the bigger bike – with a 64° head angle. The same flip-chip adjustability (carbon model only) to tweak your ride to suit your own terrain, with +/- 8mm of BB height adjustment and 0.5° of head & seat angle change. (Read more here how the alloy bike is a happy medium geometry like the longer Spectral AL.) Headtube length & BB height are slightly adjusted to mimic the same position with less travel & less sag, and ~5mm longer reach for more forward weight balance on climbs.
And it gets the same enduro-ready carbon construction, only now in a 222g lighter frame. Canyon originally told us it was 100g lighter, but their detailed breakdown of indivudal frame elements suggests the bigger weight savings. It’s still just as strong, category 4 tested – the same as their gravity-racing enduro bikes. It also gets the same protected sealed bearing pivots with extra grease fill and replaceable thread inserts, so it will stand up to trailside and home mechanic abuse.
The bike has room for a small water bottle under the shock in all frame sizes, and features a set of bosses under the toptube to direct mount an optional mini tool/spares bag from Canyon, or you can mount any number of other tool straps there too. It also has the same fully guided internal routing for easy setup and maintenance, plus integrated chainstay & downtube protectors, and optional ISCG tab for the carbon frame.
Again, carbon and alloy frames are available to suit a wide range of budgets. And the aluminum bikes were again engineered independently, so you get the same performance as the carbon bikes at just 500g extra frame weight, not simply an aesthetic copy. Like on the bigger Spectral AL, that means the new carbon and alloy Spectrals don’t look exactly alike, but Canyon says they feel more similar than ever out on the trail.
The real shift is in suspension curves and how that shorter travel impacts the character of your ride.
Canyon tweaked the smaller Spectral’s progression to have balanced gravity feel with such short travel for the same speed & rider style. Generally, that means setting the Spectral 125 with a bit less sag (25% vs. the bigger bike’s 27.5%) for a bit more reserve.
And they added an especially higher bottom-out protection at the end of its 125mm of travel, so you can bomb full bore into the rough stuff. It also means more anti-squat from its earlier sag point for better pedaling efficiency, but it tapers off quickly so you have more plush suspension movement from the middle of its travel. A close look at the suspension curve data points to a progressive ride closer to what you’d expect out of a 140mm travel bike, rather than 125mm.
The frame itself is lighter too, although total light bike weight wasn’t really as much of a design target as building a more active, more playful, more efficient trail bike was. The Spectral 125 frameset now comes to 2239g (painted w/ hardware) for a small saving over the OG Spectral.
Weight is saved with slightly smaller tubes to intentionally retune a lower stiffness to match the poppy ride feel, and even to add a bit more rear-end compliance to compensate for less wheel travel. Saving two hundred grams in the frame is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but comparable complete bike builds come out around 500g lighter overall factoring in shorter suspension and almost as burly component specs.
While the big travel Spectral added a new fully 27.5″ option or a 27.5 Mullet mixed wheel option in 2021, the new Spectral 125 is purposefully 29er only. With the decreased rear wheel travel, you really need that bigger wagon wheel in the back for the extra ground-hugging grip at the rear wheel, and improved rollover through rough trail sections.
Modern trail & enduro bikes seem to have kinda equated the move from 27.5 to 29″ wheels as being equal to an extra 10mm of travel, and that seems to bear out on this bike too.
2022 Canyon Spectral 125 – Pricing, options & availability
The new Spectral 125 is available in two alloy and three carbon complete bike builds, all with the same geometry, same 125mm rear wheel/140mm fork travel, dropper posts, and the same 2.4″ Maxxis Minion DHR II front/Dissector rear tire combo.
The more affordable aluminum bikes start with the $2900 / 2500€ Canyon Spectral 125 AL 5 built up with a Shimano Deore 1×12 group, RockShox 35 Gold fork, Deluxe Select + shock, and alloy RaceFace AR30 wheels for a 15.7kg claimed weight.
The $3500 / 3000€ Spectral 125 AL 6 steps up to SLX, Fox 36 Rhythm fork, Float X Performance shock, and a set of DT Swiss alloy wheels with LN star ratchet internals at a claimed 15.4kg complete.
The most affordable carbon bike at $4200 / 3500€ is the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 7 with SRAM GX Eagle 10-52T, Code RS brakes, RockShox Pike Select+ fork, Deluxe Select + shock, and alloy DT M1900 wheels at 13.9kg. This entry carbon model is the bike I’ve been riding the past couple of weeks.
At $5200 / 4500€ the Spectral 125 CF 8 gets Shimano XT, a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork, Float X Performance shock, and alloy DT SwissXM1700 wheels for a 13.8kg weight.
Then at the top, the $6300 / 5800€ Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9 is built up with wireless SRAM GX AXS, Kashima-coated Fox 36 & Float X Factory suspension, and carbon DT Swiss XMC 1501 wheels, for another claimed weight at 13.8kg.
Now with just 125mm of rear-wheel travel and 140mm up-front, this bike is even harder to pigeonhole. But I’m happy to call this shredder of a 29er just about anything. Trail bike seems fitting, and so does all-mountain bike, because that’s how I’ve been riding it the past couple of weeks on snowy and muddy trails. But it has happily eaten up some of the steepest trails around, so as ludicrous as it might sound, a short-travel enduro bike seems appropriate as well.
How about we just call it a mountain bike? Remember when that summed up riding any off-road trail, and having fun riding whatever? That’s what the versatile and playful new Spectral 125 reminds me of. Stay tuned for my First Rides Review, and plenty more winter riding shots…
The new Canyon Spectral 125 short-travel all-mountain bike is available direct-to-consumer today, arriving in early spring 2022 in the USA.