Joe Barnes' Spectral is a bike ready to rip

We take a close look at the Scottish EWS star's brand new race bike

If we ever need inspiration to get out riding, whatever the weather, Joe Barnes and The Dudes of Hazzard’s videos are just the pill.

Having emerged from the Highlands of Scotland, Joe is now one of Canyon’s top sponsored riders, and so at the launch of the Spectral trail bike, back in December, I spent ten minutes getting nosey with his bike and getting the low down on how he has his new race bike set up.

Joe was involved in the development of the Spectral from early on, but got his hands on the production frame the day after the final EWS race of 2017 in Finale Ligure. Read our First Ride review of the Spectral, to see what we thought of the bike.

The Canyon Spectral only has 140mm of rear wheel travel, but this is enough for the Scottish EWS racer
The Canyon Spectral only has 140mm of rear wheel travel, but this is enough for the Scottish EWS racer

His sponsors, alongside Canyon, are Mavic, RockShox/SRAM, Ergon, Renthal and Crankbrothers.

The frame

The Spectral is a 140mm trail bike, but built to be able to withstand the rigours of racing. While Joe will race the longer travel Torque from time to time, it’s on the Spectral that he'll spend most of 2018.

The 140mm travel frame has boost spacing, a neat cable run under the down tube, with the full-length of the down tube and cables protected neatly by a plastic sheath.

Integrated storage is designed to sit seamlessly in the triangle, and the dual bottle system will also be used by Joe so that he doesn’t have to ride with a pack. A quick-link for the chain is taped to his brake hose.

The suspension

Joe’s sponsor RockShox provides a Super Deluxe RC3 shock and a 150mm Pike RCT3 fork.

Given the frame is brand new, Joe has been playing with the shock’s damping tune, and has landed, at the moment, on both a light compression and rebound tune, thanks to the frame’s relatively progressive kinematic.

With that light rebound tune Joe is running three clicks of rebound damping. On the compression side of things, he leaves it as is, without running a lockout — this makes things as simple as possible, and he’s yet to need a lockout on the shock.

Joe has a custom light tune on his Super Deluxe shock
Joe has a custom light tune on his Super Deluxe shock

The fork is the latest Boost width model. Joe likes the extra stiffness, but mostly appreciates the extra mud clearance, allowing him to run chunky-width mud spikes with no issues. 

At 69kg he runs 74psi with two volume spacers adding a touch, but not masses, of progressivity into the air spring. On the compression side of things he adds four clicks of low-speed damping.

A few clicks of low-speed damping and two volume spacers are all that Joe needs to tune his Pike
A few clicks of low-speed damping and two volume spacers are all that Joe needs to tune his Pike

Longtime sponsor Mucky Nutz provides a fender.

The drivetrain

No surprises here, Joe runs SRAM’s X01 Eagle groupset. Usually a 34t ring is used for riding at home — the 36t that sometimes finds its way on for races would just contribute to getting knackered for everyday riding! Joe says that “for the size of the cassette, the mech is really well tucked away — no issues when in the ruts.”

The X01 Eagle drivetrain has a wide enough range for Joe's riding style
The X01 Eagle drivetrain has a wide enough range for Joe's riding style

Joe has been running single ring drivetrains for years, even when cassettes maxed out at 11-32t, appreciating the simplicity they offer.

For security he runs a chainguide, a common sight in the EWS — “weight is negligible, safety key” says Joe.

Crankbrothers’ Mallet E pedals are the ‘enduro specific’ version of the Mallet that’s seen all over the DH scene. With Mavic’s Deemax shoes having a relatively deep tread, and Joe liking the feel of the Crankbrothers mechanism’s float, he runs the pins pretty slammed to interfere less with the feel.

Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals are popular on the EWS scene for good reason
Crankbrothers Mallet E pedals are popular on the EWS scene for good reason

The standard 15-degree cleats are fine for Joe. He likes the feel of the pedals, because when he gets all out of shape on the bike he doesn’t find himself accidentally unclipping form the pedal.

The wheels and tyres

Mavic’s Deemax wheels find their way on to Joe’s bike. While carbon options are available, Joe prefers alloy wheels as they’re a bit softer, more forgiving.

As a lighter rider, he wasn’t regularly damaging carbon wheels, but with the priority being to finish a race, Joe finds that the alloy rims are less likely to get damaged catastrophically, and can still hold air when damaged. To further exacerbate the feel of the alloy wheel, he runs the rear wheel’s spokes a touch looser to give a bit more flex.

Mavic is a long-time sponsor of Joe's — he likes the feel of its aluminium rims
Mavic is a long-time sponsor of Joe's — he likes the feel of its aluminium rims

Joe usually rides 2.4in Mavic Charge tyres front and rear. He runs them usually with 24psi in the rear and 20psi up front. He's also been testing some prototype tyres, hand-made by Mavic, which have a stiffer sidewall and softer carcass under the tread. This is to give a stable tyre that has improved damping through it — it’s something we may see come to production in the future.

Where Mavic don’t have an appropriate tyre, Joe is free to use other rubber, as in these pictures. For example, Mavic, as yet, doesn’t have a dedicated mud spike.

The brakes

Joe likes his levers to run pretty flat
Joe likes his levers to run pretty flat

Joe uses SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes, with 180mm rotors front and back, and sintered pads.

His set up is all about getting the feel right. The 180mm rotors mean the brakes aren’t too grabby — ideal in the muddy conditions Joe loves riding. This is aided by running the bite point really close to the bar, and having them set up so that he can use the middle of his finger, as opposed to the end, boosting control.

Having the levers relatively flat also aids control of the brakes, and goes some way to reducing arm pump.

In really wet conditions Joe will use the gold-backed pads because they heat up quicker, but Joe’s not a fan of their feel.

With a bite point close to the bars, Joe reckons he can better control the feel of his brakes
With a bite point close to the bars, Joe reckons he can better control the feel of his brakes

The cockpit and finishing kit

Renthal’s FatBar Lite is cut down to 750mm. Currently it’s the 20mm rise version, but Joe runs his 35mm long stem upside down to give a 7mm drop. The top cap of the headset is milled down too — this means Joe has more room for adjustment in cockpit height, while he’s still getting used to the bike.

A custom milled top cap and flipped stem keep the front end low
A custom milled top cap and flipped stem keep the front end low

Joe rarely changes the cockpit setup for different races, but will occasionally raise it by 5mm for gnarlier events such as EWS Whistler.

A 150mm RockShox Reverb offers enough drop, and is pretty small in his size Large frame. Atop this is an Ergon SMD2 saddle, which is the DH model, but Joe likes the narrow width which doesn’t get in the way and the textured top.

Tell us what you think about his bike in the comments section below.

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

Related Articles

Back to top