To be fair, calling the new Canyon Spectral 125 a short-travel enduro bike feels a bit like clickbait. But bear with me.
Canyon says it’s a shorter all-mountain trail bike, maybe even enduro-ready. It’s designed to pedal uphill well, fly down hills fast, and have a playful feeling riding everywhere in between. And I can assure you it is super capable of handling some fast & loose technical trails.
Can’t we just agree to call it a mountain bike, and leave it at that?
First Rides Review: Canyon Spectral 125 short-travel enduro bike
But here’s the thing… you miss the point if you just look at the bike’s 125mm travel and lump it in with other 120-130ish bikes. That’s not at all what this bike feels like. Canyon makes a 110/120mm downcountry Lux Trail and a 130/130mm trail Neuron.
This rides much more like the 150mm Spectral. And hence the name, which I begrudgingly accept after riding it.
What makes it a Spectral?
I was a bit confused when Canyon told me their new 125mm travel mountain bike was being called a Spectral 125. But a closer look reveals it is 100% a Spectral.
You have the exact same suspension layout, almost identical long/low /slack enduro-capable geometry. The same flip-chip ride height/head angle adjustability, same downtube & chainstay protectors, same toptube tool mount, same option for ISCG tabs. (Read my full tech breakdown on the Spectral 125 for all the new bike’s details.)
Plus, inside the carbon layup, the new Spectral 125 is said to be just as tough, so you can ride it like a much bigger bike.
In fact, even putting this gray 125/140mm Spectral 125 next to the gray 150/160mm Spectral Mullet CF, the only way you can really tell them apart at first glance is the coil shock vs. the air shock and the 27.5″ rear wheel of the mullet.
To be fair, there’s obviously a bit more travel on the bigger bike’s fork (right) and the tube junctions at both the headtube & seat cluster and rocker link are a bit slimmer on the smaller bike (left). But the family resemblance is strong.
Actual Weight Savings
So a shorter-travel bike means a lighter bike too. One of Canyon’s big reasons for developing the Spectral 125 is that most mountain bikers really don’t need to be lugging 150mm bikes up and down their local trails. Proper enduro bikes and big all-mountain bikes are a blast to ride. But that’s more bike than you really need to ride most trail, trail centers, and singletrack.
So why not make it lighter.
The 3500€ size Large 2022 Canyon Spectral 125 CF 7 I’ve been riding with mechanical GX & RockShox suspension weighed in on our scale at 14.56kg ready to ride with tires set up tubeless. (That’s effectively 14.12kg complete or 220g more than Canyon claims, excluding the 49g sideloader cage, 30g fork fender, 25g tool strap & 340g pair of Crankbrothers Candy pedals.)
Canyon originally told me the new Spectral 125 was 100g lighter than the original Spectral, but it seems there’s at least twice that savings in the details – totally 222g less for the shorter travel bike.
Even more is made up in lighter suspension and build specs. But Canyon didn’t really put this bike on serious weigh-savings diet, instead maintaining durable complete bike builds since we are going to ride it like an enduro bike, even if it has a lot less travel.
In the end the 4000€ Large original 2021 Spectral 29 CF 8 I tested weighed 15.16kg ready to ride tubeless (effective 14.37kg complete, excluding the 49g sideloader cage, 30g fork fender, 25g tool strap, 160g Unior Euro13 multi-tool, 100g Pirelli SmarTube & 430g pair of Shimano XT Trail pedals). And the 4000€ Large 2022 Canyon Spectral Mullet CF 8 CLLCTV weighed 15.26kg almost bare (effective 15.21kg complete, excluding only a 49g sideloader cage).
In the end, the slightly lower-spec (~100g penalty) and shorter travel Spectral 125 weighed 250g-1kg less than its longer 150/160mm travel siblings.
But how does it ride, and who is it really for?
Mini-enduro, short-travel all-mountain, downcountry+, aggressive trail?
With only 125mm of rear-wheel travel paired to 140mm up-front, it’s still a bit hard to classify this bike. But its ride is certainly fun.
The Spectral 125 feels oddly capable for just 125mm out back. If 125 wasn’t in its name and literally written on the toptube just behind the headset, it’d be easy to assume this bike had more travel after riding it.
The big bike slack geometry and super progressive suspension really does make you feel like jumping off every trailside kicker, whipping the bike around on loose descents, and charging hard into steep, choppy trails.
Pedaling uphill feels more efficient than the bigger Spectrals, and surprisingly closer to the full 2kg lighter Lux Trail I tested last summer. But a 14kg bike isn’t a superlight climber, and I still had to resort to a few hike-a-bikes to access the best & steepest trails to test out the new Spectral 125.
Of note, debuting a new all-mountain bike in the middle of the central European winter meant plenty of frozen night riding, snow-covered trails, and a lot of mud to test this bike out in time.
One thing I don’t particularly like about the Spectrals is the small gap between the chainstay bridge and the frame just behind the main pivot, where the internally routed cables pass into the rear end. It’s a mud shelf right off the rear tire, and I feel like it should have a mini fender of something.
I haven’t actually had enough time on this bike to have any issue with it long-term. And I haven’t had any maintenance issues in six months of riding Spectrals. But seeing the mud pile up hurts my soul a little bit.
So who is it for again? Canyon has one of the most silly, jargon & slang filled bike descriptions I can remember reading:
“The Spectral 125 is a shredder’s short-travel whip… a poppy, little machine that’s perfect for jibbing off every trail feature in sight… if tackling the world’s chunkiest gnar line is your constant and abiding passion, you’ll obviously have less margin for error with the Spectral 125 than with a long-travel model like the Spectral 29 or Torque. Different horses for courses and all that jazz… if [riders] are looking for a rowdy trail bike that excels on technical descents, yet climbs better than long-travel models, they should get the Spectral 125.”
Final Thoughts on First Riding Impressions
That’s actually a pretty good description of the most fun Canyon mountain bike I can remember riding. I’ve only been on the new Spectral 125 for about a week and a half, but I’ve managed to squeeze in four good days of riding in a mix of conditions.
The little slack bike does ‘shred the gnar’ quite well. Set up with 25% sag, I’ve yet to bottom it out off half-meter drops and bombing rough rock faces in the dark. And paired with the always great 140mm Pike, the ride feels nicely balanced.
It feels faster than the bigger Spectral Mullet, since it doesn’t have as much travel soaking up chunky trail chatter. And its ‘poppy’ progressive rear suspension feel really does encourage me to pump and bounce off almost every big rock, stump, or even little bump I find in the trail.
I’m not ready yet to completely give up the bigger Spectral for all-day shuttle-assisted all-mountain rides or the occasional trip to the bikepark. But I am reconsidering it a bit. For a technical rider, the Spectral 125 just seems really close to that all-rounder ideal we are always hunting.
Short-travel enduro bike, indeed.
Check out the full tech detail and specs in our launch coverage, or just order your next new all-mountain bike direct from the source…