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Launch Day Review

2024 Canyon Spectral

Photos Deniz Merdano - Unless noted
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The 2024 Canyon Spectral

Well, we have finally done it. We have arrived at the mountain bike. We have been hard at work from the moment the first coaster hub caught fire while bombing down the dirt roads of coastal California. Baggy jeans and hockey jersey-clad outcasts have spent years hucking their meat off of fallen second-growth Douglas firs on the North Shore of Vancouver. We have been at work trying to find a balance of party and business. The business that is defined by a crowd of racers and time bandits trying to cross an imaginary line of speed and time. What if your business is to party? Without the constraints of time and comparative speed, the only objective is to have as much fun as possible.

The new Canyon Spectral for 2024 is a combination of four outgoing bikes. Previously, the Spectral family consisted of the Canyon Spectral 125, a slack, short travel, rather portly downhill machine. Joining the 125 were a full 29er, a 29/27.5 mullet and a full 27.5 version that altogether made the Spectral family rather confusing to navigate. Do you need the short travel, mixed, big, or small wheels? The commitment to a specific character within the same product range must have been confusing for the consumer. Having talked to a couple of friends who pulled the plug on one, they often wished they had gotten another version of the bike instead.

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Positively good looking bike. I like loud colours on bike but the Canyon got no comments from others on the trail.

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For 2024, Canyon decided to redesign the Spectral from the ground up for a more 'geometry divergent' bike that melted the four previous bikes together. It is now a 140mm travel frame paired with a 150mm fork and a 64° head angle. Bliss.

In the post-pandemic era, it's not as common for us to get a month with a test bike before the embargo lifts. This was a great opportunity to ride the bike as much as possible before the launch and write this review. I was invited to Bellingham, WA on a wet but tacky dirt day to meet the makers of the new Spectral and ride the bike with them to eliminate as many annoying emails as possible. The weather an hour North was flood-level horrible yet there was dry ground to be found in Bellingham that day. Perfect. When you are pedalling for half the day with the guy who designed the bike, turns out you can whip up a decent list of questions to annoy him with over beers after. Thanks for the opportunity, Canyon.

Along with the designer & engineer, there was a contingent of key people from Canyon's EU and US offices to ask about specs and overall maintenance questions. One particularly exciting person who was in tow was Braydon Bringhurst, a lovely human being who can ride the shit out of any bike. His riding style inspires mine and his goal-oriented focus allowed him to ride his bike backwards up the Whole Enchilada trail network in Moab. Following him on the ride was the goal to get an idea of what the bike could do with similar intentions on familiar terrain.

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Loves to leave the ground at a moment's notice. Photo: Tim Coleman. Art Direction: Deniz Merdano

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The new Canyon Spectral has changed a bit: still a trail machine, now with a bit less travel - 140 / 150mm - and a 64° head angle.


Canyon has always been on the extreme end of sizing when it comes to reach numbers and the new Spectral is no different. From the limited geometry chart I was sent prior to the media camp, I opted for the bike with the 450mm reach. This turned out to be the size Small. For those of you just tuning in, I am 5'9" (175cm ish) and have abnormally long arms with a post-coffee weight of 160lbs. I prefer bikes with 450-460mm reach and 610-620mm of stack.

The Spectral is designed with versatility in mind. I requested a full 29er tester but the mullet arrangement is also available. While I may not be tall, I still prefer a full 29er under the right circumstances. Shorter travel bikes with compact chainstays are my jam and I don't yearn for smaller rear wheels until the bike inches into the plow territory. Smaller rear wheel falls into holes easier making scrubbing speed on steep chutes more intuitive. Which is where I usually ride longer-legged bikes, setting up my path for the new Spectral's review period.

canyon spectral 2024 geo chart

The new Spectral is not designed for small people, but also it is...

The people at Canyon decided against size specific chainstay lengths. I am sure this will enrage some people in the comment sections but for a 5'9"/175cm tall rider, I was happy to see sub 440mm stays on the Spectral. My daily driver with 440mm stays and 166mm travel does a good job going around corners but I often wish for a slightly shorter option for more oversteer on tighter sections. A 621mm stack put my hands in a very comfy position for all-day pedaling.

I can't help but feel for the vertically gifted individuals who will choose the 500mm+ reach L and XL options and have to deal with the short rear center of this bike. But reality may be different and the combination could be the key to unlocking some real fun.

The new Spectral does come with size specific handlebars that I wasn't immediately a fan of, but the 760mm wide bars on the size Small I ended up with didn't hinder the bike's performance for me. I am usually a 780mm guy and after a month on the narrower bars, I am considering trimming my other bars to see if there is a benefit over the entire course of the ride. Narrower bars put me in a slightly more upright position and I enjoyed the climbing combined with the 40mm stem and positively steep 77.2° seat tube angle.

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760mm bars are narrower than I prefer but did not negatively effect the Spectral's behaviour.

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30 minutes into the first pedal strokes, we ended up on the black jump line in Galbraith. Spectral did beautifully...me, not so much. Photo: Eric Mickelson

As a former size Medium fella, I think it is about time bike companies moved away from naming their bikes in t-shirt sizes and gave us reach, stack or combination of numbers. Hanging out at the media camp, sizing up other's bikes, I was relieved to see people, whose riding skills I admire, were also on size small bikes. Misery loves company. But I think the online purchasing and habitual sizing standards will push some people towards a bigger bike than they need. I could also be wrong, but I've seen it happen way too many times. We used to ride bikes that were too small for us, now we are riding bikes that are too big. Oh, the pendulum.

The size small Spectral comes with the excellent and entirely trouble free G5 dropper post in a 200mm length. What a beast! I love that the seat tube has received a haircut to fit this dropper and makes the riding experience significantly more fun.

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Quick direction changes and agility are key to having fun on a bike. Photo: Eric Mickelson.

Models and Builds

Where there is only one Spectral now, there are 4 builds you can get at the time of your order. Every build can also be mullet or full 29er as long as you are not buying a size XS or are living in the US. Canyon is fully expanding into the US and there is a push to make the bikes available and ship them from a warehouse in California to your door without incurring any duties. but this convenience comes at a price. To make the logistics work, Canyon US will only carry the Spectral CF7 and CF8. Both bikes are carbon and both bikes will only come in 29er versions.

"But you said the new Spectral was so versatile."

Well, it is, and you can still pony up for a 27.5 rim and build yourself a mullet bike after your purchase. Otherwise, take your concerns up with the dudes in Germany.

Which brings us to Canadian customers. The Canyon you'll order will come directly from Germany, which means you can order whatever model and wheel size you'd like. However, you will pay customs and duties upon arrival. There is no way around this and Canyon will not ship your bike to a PO box somewhere near a border, so make sure to account for that expense when you are ordering your bike. Until Canyon opens a Canadian warehouse, there is no way around this other than flying to Europe and picking one up there. Which is an amazing option, really. Get one shipped to your hotel and shred some Finale laps for a week.

canyon spectral models

From sensibly pedestrian CF7 to full bougie CF LTD, there is a Canyon for everyone, as long as you are not in the US.

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Smart builds at decent prices. 6,500 CAD gets you a build with no corners cut.

I ended up with a CF9 in No Neon (the Key Lime Pie would have been my choice) that retails for 6,499CAD / 4,999EU / 4,799GBP.

It is a GX T-Type build with DT Swiss XM 1700 wheels laced to 350 hubs. There is no carbon on the bike other than the frame and there is nothing I would change on this bike.

A 150mm RockShox Lyrik Ultimate with Buttercups takes the front end while the Super Deluxe Ultimate suspends the rear wheel in perfect harmony. The brakes are tried and true SRAM Code RSCs with HS2 rotors - 200 / 180mm front and rear. Maxxis DHR II tires front and back is one of the best all-around combinations and while they are the thinner-walled EXO/EXO+ variants, they have not given me any grief on the trails. In the long run, I would switch to EXO+, MaxxGrip front and DD rear for more downhill potential but I would not rush to do that right off the bat. The bike works extremely well as specced.

With the fork pumped up to 80psi and the shock to 175psi for this rider, I settled into a nice, plush feeling platform. Swapping ideas with Braydon during setup, I settled on a fast rebound that oscillates a couple of bounces when you drop your bum onto the seat. The extra pop this setup provides is a great way to make a bike feel light and agile without making it uncontrollable. Speaking of weight, the CF9 Spectral in size Small weighs in at 35.6lbs / 16.15kg on my scale. That is a portly stature but not without reason.

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Chainstay length adjustment for wheel size and shock lower mount adjustment for BB drop. Photo: Canyon

The Canyon Spectral is built to Enduro Category 4 standards. While it doesn't seem to be designed to be an Enduro World Series (I will never call it EDR) race bike, the geometry numbers point towards an extremely capable descender. With the Shapeshifter-equipped Strive, however, the Canyon team won't be needing a shorter travel bike in their arsenal. No need to switch bikes from race to race when the Strive gives you both.

The Spectral is not an energetic climber. With a high initial leverage ratio and a highly progressive (30%) leverage curve, there is quite a bit of suspension movement at the top of the stroke. Once settled into the 30-40% stroke range, the progressivity takes over the support and allows for negative wheel travel to keep traction at the rear wheel. The Canyon climbs like a bigger bike than the travel numbers suggest. While the pedaling position is excellent thanks to the seat tube angle, the slow and steady method gets you to the top fresher than stand and mash. Unlike a Dual Link or Split Pivot bike, there is less urgency to sprint forward with pedal strokes on this Horst Link rear end. In comparison, the DH tire-equipped Hightower V3 moves with significantly more excitement on paved and gravel roads, but with less traction on chunky climbs.

This traction monster loves technical climbs and I have done some of my most impressive, seemingly impossible climbs on this bike - so much so that it became a fun experiment on the trails. 8,000m / 24,000ft of climbing later, the excitement to try new lines has not changed.

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North shore Jank is no problem for the Spectral. I hadn't visited the CBuster for a while. Photo: Tim Coleman, Art direction: Deniz Merdano

KIS the Elephant in the Room

Ok, so Canyon checked one big box with the self-proclaimed mechanics by routing the cables through the frame and not the headset. There is no integrated stem/bar option either so the cable warriors can be at peace with the frame.

There is, however, a simple but obtrusive steering stabilizing system built into the headset of the Spectral: the KIS (Keep It Simple) system, created by a fellow named Jo Klieber and licensed and improved upon by Canyon. The spring-loaded steerer clamp constantly wants to center your steering. Do you want this? No? OK, you can remove it. Each bike will be shipped with a blanking plate and the contraption is easy to remove if you are capable of removing and and re-installing a fork. It is not a damped system as one would imagine it to be. Rather, it is two counteracting springs pulling the steering back to the center with force similar to an infant's strength. It is not very noticeable unless you really crank the adjuster up. This is done simply by undoing a 4mm hex bolt, sliding the adjuster into the desired setting and tightening it back up to 3Nm. There is a steering limiter in the headset because of the KIS system, so the bars will turn parallel to the top tube and not more, which is also a great way to keep your hoses healthy during a crash.

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The bike climbs smooth surfaces well, but really shines in technical bits. Photo: Eric Mickelson.

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One of the best cornering bike I've ever been aboard. 429mm rear center may have something to do with it. Photo: Time Coleman.

I could do without the KIS as I can't feel an apparent benefit to it. The use case scenario of the steering's centering effect helping on the tech climbs is feasible. But there are so many variables to the situation that I couldn't replicate a test. I could however increase the effect so much that it hindered my abilities. On a particularly jumpy line in Galbraith, I found the highest setting to be fighting against my arms in the air. I heard a loud ping a couple of times and the steering tried to stand the bike up on a berm. But dialling the setting down remedied all that nonsense. After that ride, I settled on a setting just below the medium point. The only obvious benefit to KIS I could find is the front wheel not flopping around when the bike is leaning against a wall or when it's on the repair stand - that is extremely useful.

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I have been honing my skill at the North Shore Bike Park and the Spectral loves the input. Photo: Tim Coleman.

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The two-piece loam shield is a product of extensive research by Leo Malmeryd, the Spectral's designer. The bike is extremely easy to clean after a ride.

Main Course

You probably want to know how this bike rides when pointed downhill. Unseasonably good weather has descended upon the North West(US) and the South West(Canada). This means that I got out on the bike a little more than usual. I tried to limit my rides to pedal only, save for a couple of days of shuttle/ pedal combos. Thousands of meters of ascending and hundreds of kilometers of pedaling later I have a solid understanding and appreciation for the Spectral. I also did something I was not supposed to and with the 29er rear wheel: I placed the chainstay chip in the 27.5" mode. There is plenty of room to clear a 2.5" tire even after the switch. This setting gives me a 429mm rear center that injected some morning coffee in its veins.

I am in a camp that believes longer stays should be on smaller rear wheels while shorter stays are best paired with 29" rear wheels. This combo gives the best of both worlds if the geo adjuster is only adjusting the wheelbase and not other aspects like the head angle and BB drop. The Spectral comes alive with the shorter rear center without a sacrifice in other aspects of its handling. It still climbs wonderfully, is still extremely stable at speed but now a heck of a lot more fun going around the trees.

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There is nothing you can't ride on the Spectral. It is an absolute animal on the downs.

The RockShox Lyrik is a fantastic fork. It works well for my 160-lb carcass that likes to air the bike into silly situations. I don't find it too flexy until the speeds get north of my comfort zone and the corners are full of wheel-sized holes. The SuperDeluxe Air is a fantastic piece of equipment and no additional tokens were needed to make it more progressive. 175psi and Rebound 2 clicks from open (easier to count that way) LSC at center, HSC at -1 (again, from open). Perfection!

The SRAM Code RSC brakes are trouble free but the bigger rotor up front and smaller 180mm in the rear feels a little unbalanced. I ran out of brakes for the rear wheel a couple of times. This bike likes to go fast so a bigger rear rotor would be much better. Or perhaps more powerful SRAM brakes...

The 200/34.9mm dropper post is a hot tamale - amazing for a guy with a 30" inseam. The steep seat angle works wonders in the actuation and there is no binding. I might be able to squeeze a 210mm OneUp V3 in there but I don't see the point for an extra 10mm.

The grips are OK. Combined with the Code RSCs they tire my hands out on long runs. I'd change them to ODI Elite Pros, Raceface Chesters or Ergons If I was buying this bike.

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The 150mm RockShox Lyrik Ultimate is up to the task, but I wouldn't say no to 160mm either.

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I love a DHR II x DHR II combo... MaxxGrip preferred.

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EXO + casing has been durable so far.

SRAM's GX T-Type derailleur has a weak clutch and makes a racket when riding on rough terrain. It is almost distracting. My old AXS X01 is quieter and shifts faster. I am looking forward to a faster-shifting firmware update on the new T-Type and possibly an upgraded clutch. I doubt we'll see that though.

The Spectral CF7 CLLCTV model with a Fox DHX2 coil shock and 36 Performance Elite fork is an intriguing option. The frame feels progressive enough for rowdy coil shock riding. It would make the already portly bike heavier but I can see people who love winch and plummet riding going for that build. Add some lighter carbon wheels, maybe faster rolling tires like the Kryptotals or the DHF, and you will have a hell of a time playing in the woods.

I am also equally interested in taking the CF LTD build and trying to get it to around 30 pounds complete. Making the climbs a little more tolerable and turning the bike into a jibbing machine would be fun. The more I think about it, the more versions of this bike I come up with; a mulleted version with 160mm fork and Canadian carbon wheels would suit Shore riding exceptionally well.

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CF8 Coil would be a serious bruiser on the descents.

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Plenty of room for a 29er tire in both chainstay length options.

While I am not against the idea, I don't love the current execution of storage compartments on bikes. There are many ways I can think of that would improve their performance. I'll save the rant for another article. The example on the Spectral is well thought out with an excellent latch. It goes on tight and stays tight. The water bottle holder that goes on it can hold a 600ml bottle. Canyon is developing a proprietary 800ml bottle that will fit in the triangle perfectly. At the time of the media camp, there was a prototype floating around on which they were testing different material softnesses. I would be all for adding another kilo onto the bike for the sake of hydration. *sarcasm.

There is also a mini tool that attaches to the underside of the top tube for quick access. This came in handy on several occasions and Canyon is going to be providing files to "self-print" a holder for the front of the stem. You will be able to download the file HERE and print yourself a tool holder for the tool that comes with the bike. I love this idea even though the current location of the tool is just fine. I would like to see more 3D print files provided by manufacturers for small plastic parts. Chain guides, brake levers, adjusters, adapters, you name it. Bike shops could offer printing services for small parts and reduce clutter in their inventory. A Bambu Labs Carbon X printer does not cost an arm and a leg!

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First ride, air into whatever, even with not the grippiest tires. Photo: Eric Mickelson

I am quite fond of the new Spectral from Canyon and the way it allows me to ride anywhere and everywhere. It is a solid trail bike with an enduro bike's legs. It punches way above its weight on the descends while making the climbs quite fun with all the traction at hand. Canyon just put the exclamation mark in Mountain Bike!

The limited availability in the US will frustrate some people but the rest of the world can rest easy with all the options. Prices are as follows:

Canyon Spectral CF7: 3,399 EUR / 4,499 CAD / 3,299 GBP / 3,699 US

Canyon Spectral CF8 CLLCTV: 3,999 EUR / 5,249 CAD / 3,999 GBP / 4,199 USD

Canyon Spectral CF9: 4,999 EUR / 6,499 CAD / 4,799 GBP

Canyon Spectral CF LTD: 6,999 EUR / 8,999 CAD / 6,699 EUR

Deniz Merdano



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+2 Deniz Merdano WasatchEnduro

Hahaha that first paragraph is just gold.

But…. Overall while it seems like a fine bike, I think I’m reading that you were mostly just… “whelmed” by it. It’s definitely hard to stand out these days, but if you want my attention (or dollars even!), it’s going to have to be metal, serve up everything this bike does and more (minus the steering doohickey), and also (gulp) be affordable.


+1 ackshunW

Very whelmed by it. Worse thing about this bike his how nobody cares about commenting on it when you stop on the trails. Brutally flying under the radar.



We are a weird bunch eh?

Like someone else commenting on our bike on the trail means something to us?

Its just all for show isnt it, excited by the shiny thing




+1 Timer

Sounds like lots of good going on here, but the bottle size limitation and weight had me skimming a bit.



The 800ml water bottle is coming, but the weight is an issue for some. For me, it makes the descending more fun by deflecting less.


+1 WasatchEnduro

I was looking forward to the new iteration of the Spectral after having tested the longest travel one last year. It was one of the best bikes I demoed. I rode it back to back with a YT Jeffsey. Although I think I get what Canyon is doing here, I definitely wouldn't purchase this version over the one I tested. More weight, less travel isn't the way I'd want to go.  I'd probably look at the Strive with Shapeshifter instead if I wanted to pick up a Canyon.



great pricing by Canyon but I'm always worried about warranty issues.  My GX T-type AXS derailleur stopped working and got it warrantied the same day by the local bike shop (Thanks LOU!!!).  Not sure how long it would take with Canyon for an average consumer?



The GX T-type derailleur on this bike would be warrantied the same as your store bought bike. Doesn't matter where the bike came from.


+4 Timinger Curveball Mark R.bobbby

I mean it might matter.....

If I walk into a shop I frequent with the part hanging off thats warrantyable, and I bought the bike from that shop, I would expect that they might treat me different than if I walked in with a bit from a bike I bought online.  that feels a bit like human nature to me, and feels like a valid concern for an online purchase. 

Much like if I bought something from Amazon, or bought it from Canadian Tire.  CT, I walk in, they take another off the shelf, I walk back out.

Amazon, not so much....

I build a relationship with the shops I like to deal with, I bring in doughnts, I joke around, I ride with them, etc.

When I walk in with 12 beer, and a broken bike that needs attention just as I'm headed out for the weekend, you can bet with confidence that I dont wait the 2 weeks that the shop is backed up to get it fixed.   Relationships are important



That's impossible. That derailleur is indestructible.



Was this a rushed article? 

Was the editor rushed?

Or am I crazy?

The first paragraph is .....strange?  Maybe its press copy, but man it reads strange to me.

This paragraph is a run-on thats interrupted with a geo graph, was this done with AI?

I__n the post-pandemic era, it's not as common for us to get a month with a test bike before the embargo lifts. This was a great opportunity to ride the bike as much as possible before the launch and write this review. The people at Canyon decided against size specific chainstay lengths.

This article doesnt flow for me, and I'm used to sitting down with a cup of coffee and enjoying NSMB articles



You are looking into the mind of a mad man with sub-par English writing skills. Even my editors struggle sometimes; and they may have had a slip or two with this one. The first paragraph however, is designed to be strange...



No sweat man, wasnt meant as outright criticism, more trying to confirm that I hadnt had a stroke or something.

I just read an article on PB about Lewis brakes, and had the same weird feeling, too much caffennie maybe?


+1 Curveball

Whoops! That one's on me - weird cut/paste job during editing. Should be a bit smoother now!



I'm all over KISS if it will keep the bars straight when the bike is in the workstand!



Interesting comment on tire choice. I'm not sure if it's a win going from DHR2 EXO+'s to Kryptotals. I was going to swap out my Assegai Maxxgrip/DHR EXO+ combo for a set of Kryptotals last summer for a faster rolling summer set until I saw the weight penalty. Those Conti's are portly. Instead, I swapped out the DHR for a Dissector EXO+ (faster rolling than dhr, much lighter than Krypto's). My goodness, what a difference. I was going to put the DHR back on this winter, but I'm still loving the extra speed, and the traction breakaway point on the dissector is very predictable. So for now I'm keeping it.



I am a massive fan of the Kryptotals. I can pedal them all they long and when its time to point them down, there is nothing else close to the casing feel and traction I get from them. The 300tpi carcass is unmatched in trail feel and flat resistance. The DHR II in DD maxxgrip would be my second choice. Yes even over an Assegai. The Dissector I have been loving on the back of my small bike but I wouldn't run it on the front for any serious riding other than the Whistler Back Forty.



I was running DHR2's front and rear, but the Assegai was a significant improvement up front for overall cornering traction. I would never put a Dissector on the front though.



They've really stacked on some weight from the previous (also Enduro 4 certified) bikes. Where is the weight coming from considering they claim the frame is only 100-200g heavier? My Spectral AL 5 aluminium bike with Fox 36 Rhythm is about the same weight!

If I were buying one, I'd be sorely tempted to buy the CF8 coil version and swap it out for an air shock and lighter wheels. That liquid gold colour is beautiful!



Yes, heavy, but hides it's weight well. really well.



Hello, I'm 175cm bare foot, too. And I have 82cm inseam, 68kg weight. I wonder if a medium is too large for me? 

Because I happened to demo a 475mm reach YT jeffsy 2024 and find it is hard to maneuver, I feel the front wheel is way too far away from me. I struggled to lift the front wheel, cannot do a bunny hop on it (though the bike's owner showed me how). But I think a longer bike might be safer? Longer wheelbase is stable and prevents me from going over the bar. I come from a Giant Trance 2017 which has 435 reach, 60mm stem and 610mm ETT, front center is 725mm. If I get it correctly, a medium Spectral with 40mm stem will have almost the same seated cockpit space with my old bike, but the front center will be definitly much longer. Also, I find you and Canyon's Pro rider, Braydon, are both on size small. I admired you guys' skill and style.  So small might be a better choice?

Personally I usually ride natural trail with small jumps and drops, don't ride very chunky and super steep stuffs. Base on this information and your experience, could you give me some sizing advice? Canyon's recomendation is M or S both work...


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