Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 review

Fearsomely fast and fun, but just too short

BikeRadar score4/5

The well-regarded Canyon Spectral was completely re-engineered to produce this, the Spectral WMN, a 650b-wheeled trail machine with 150/140mm travel.

The WMN Spectral is designed to cater to women’s physical differences, based on fit data from Canyon’s online size guide and body dimension databases.

  • The Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.

Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 frame

The women's frames is significantly shorter than the unisex version, with a reach of 430mm on the medium, compared to 440mm on the regular Spectral. Canyon has also decreased the standover (742mm vs 763mm) and lowered the bottom bracket on the smaller sizes.

It's hard to go wrong with smooth, dependable Rockshox Pike RCT3 forks
It's hard to go wrong with smooth, dependable Rockshox Pike RCT3 forks

The Spectral WMN’s head angle sits at 65.9 degrees, which is pretty slack for a trail bike. Going against current trends, the seat angle isn’t the steepest at 74 degrees. The women’s Spectral is only available in three sizes (extra-small, small and medium), and at 5ft 8in I was at the upper end of the size range.

Canyon has combined a carbon fibre front triangle with an alloy rear end. It’s a good-looking frame, with semi-internal cable routing adding to the aesthetics. There’s also a plastic shroud under the down tube, encasing the cables.

Other well-thought-out features include a head tube block to prevent the bar rotating past the top tube (and therefore the fork crown hitting the down tube) should you crash.

On undulating terrain and climbs the Spectral WMN feels efficient and urgent, and it has a startling turn of speed on straight descents
On undulating terrain and climbs the Spectral WMN feels efficient and urgent, and it has a startling turn of speed on straight descents

Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 kit

The equivalent unisex Spectral is cheaper, but this isn’t a case of ‘pink taxing’ a product. For an extra £50, the WMN model gets SRAM GX 1x12 gearing instead of the 11-speed Shimano XT on the standard bike. It’s also fitted with a slightly lighter RockShox Pike RCT3 fork instead of a Fox 36.

In terms of handling, the Canyon feels equally comfortable pointing and ploughing through the hits as it does weaving and popping over technical terrain

SRAM’s Guide RSC brakes are only trumped by its Ultimate offerings and, combined with a 200mm front rotor (180mm rear), these give a smooth, well-modulated feel. A RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock controls the 140mm of rear travel, while up front the Pike fork has a slightly longer 150mm stroke.

RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock controls 140mm of rear travel
RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock controls 140mm of rear travel

Other kit includes a Race Face bar and stem, shock-absorbing Ergon GE10 grips and a 150mm Fox Transfer Performance dropper post (Canyon specs a 125mm-drop version on the XS and S). Quality DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline wheels with wide 30mm rims provide a solid foundation for the Maxxis DHR II 2.4in and Forekaster 2.3in tyres.

Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 ride impressions

Canyon doesn’t offer a size large, and while it says the medium fits riders up to 5ft 10in / 179cm, I don’t think it’s long enough for those over 5ft 8in. Switching to the unisex Spectral in the same size could be a solution. If you’re near the top of the extra-small or small size ranges, I’d recommend trying a size up.

This nifty feature on the top tube stops the bars spinning in the event of a crash
This nifty feature on the top tube stops the bars spinning in the event of a crash

On undulating terrain and climbs the Spectral WMN feels efficient and urgent, and it has a startling turn of speed. Even on square-edge hits, the suspension floats up and over bumps, feeling well-composed, no matter what’s in its path.

In terms of handling, the Canyon feels equally comfortable pointing and ploughing through the hits as it does weaving and popping over technical terrain.

The Maxxis tyres deliver plenty of traction, thanks to good tread designs and quality triple-compound rubber. At the rear, the Forekaster offers enough bite in softer conditions without sucking out the speed on fast-rolling sections. Add the traction-rich Minion DHR II up front and you’ve got a great combination for most trail scenarios.

Unfortunately, the Spectral WMN’s short reach and high front end, narrow 740mm bar and long-ish 50mm stem meant it didn’t inspire the same confidence as the other bikes on test when tackling steep, twisty and technical descents.

I felt somewhat perched over the front of the bike, and the front wheel felt like it was tucking under when sliding down steep chutes into tight turns. If the Spectral WMN fits, it’s a great ride, but it’s not forgiving if body and bike don’t match up.

Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 specifications

The Spectral is a good-looking frame, with semi-internal cable routing adding to the aesthetics
The Spectral is a good-looking frame, with semi-internal cable routing adding to the aesthetics

  • Sizes (*Tested): XS, S, M*
  • Weight: 13.19kg
  • Frame: Carbon fibre front triangle, 6066 alloy rear end, 140mm (5.5in) travel
  • Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3, 150mm (5.9in) travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT3
  • Chainset: Truvativ Stylo 7K Eagle, 30t
  • Bottom bracket: SRAM DUB press-fit
  • Cassette: SRAM XG-1275, 10-50t
  • Chain: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Mech: SRAM GX Eagle (1x12)
  • Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Hubs: DT Swiss 240
  • Axles: 110x15mm Boost (f) / 148x12mm Boost (r)
  • Rims: DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline One
  • Spokes: DT Competition, straight-pull
  • Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO TR 27.5x2.4in (f), Maxxis Forekaster 3C MaxxSpeed EXO TR 27.5x2.35in (r)
  • Wheel weight: 2.17kg (f), 2.47kg (r), inc. tyres
  • Stem: Race Face Æffect, 50mm
  • Bar: Race Face Æffect, 740mm
  • Grips: Ergon GE10 Slim
  • Headset: Acros
  • Saddle: SDG Allure Mtn
  • Seatpost: Fox Transfer Performance, 150mm
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC, 200/180mm rotors

Canyon Spectral WMN CF 8.0 geometry

  • Seat angle: 65.9 degrees
  • Head angle: 74 degrees
  • Chainstay: 43cm / 16.93in
  • Seat tube: 44cm / 17.32in
  • Top tube: 59.4cm / 23.39in
  • Head tube: 11.2cm / 4.41in
  • Bottom bracket drop: 1.9cm / 0.75in
  • Bottom bracket height: 33.5cm /  13.19in
  • Wheelbase: 1,160mm / 45.67in
  • Stack: 60cm / 23.62in
  • Reach: 43cm / 16.93in

BikeRadar would like to thank 661 Protection, Northwave, Effetto Mariposa and Finale Ligure for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.

Aoife Glass

Women's Cycling Editor
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 74kg / 163lb
  • Waist: 82cm / 32in
  • Chest: 86cm / 34in (below bust measurement)
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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