The Canyon Spectral:ON is Simply Spectacular
eMTB manufacturers struggle with a dilemma. While riders of electric MTB’s revere the agility of mountain bikes, they aspire to the power and range of motorcycles. Agility is achieved with lightness, but batteries and electric motors add weight. Increasing the power and range of an eMTB not only pushes up costs but compromises the agility of the bike.
Manufacturers are, however, guided by consumers. If there is a demand for higher capacity batteries or improved performance, then sales floors will be flooded with options to meet the demand.
Spectral eMTB at a glance
A Spectacular leap forward for Spectral eMTB Capability
Canyon listened to consumer sentiment and responded with a benchmark electric mountain bike, the Canyon Spectral:ON CFR Ltd. This flagship eMTB addresses the desires of eMTB sports enthusiasts and can only be described as simply spectacular.
The latest Canyon Spectral:ON focuses heavily on battery capacity. The 2022 model Spectral:ON offers a 900 Wh battery while keeping the weight to a very respectable 23Kg. Canyon’s own tests have found the range of this battery to extend over 60 miles (almost 100 Kilometres) in eco mode.
The low weight of the Spectral:ON becomes even more impressive considering that Canyon fitted the ebike with the latest Flight Attendant suspension from RockShox. [click here for my article on RockShox Flight Attendant or, click here for the introduction video of the Flight Attendant system].
The CFR mnemonic on the Spectral:ON stands for Canyon Factory Racing. The CRF is the nucleus of the works bikes ridden by the Canyon factory downhill racing teams.
The core of the Spectral:ON is powered by the smooth, sleek, and lightweight, Shimano EP8 motor. The quiet 2.6Kg Shimano EP8 motor is 300 grams lighter, and has 10Nm more torque than its EP8000 predecessor. Aesthetics and ground clearance have also been improved on the EP8 although the position in the Spectral:ON frame could still be a little higher to provide additional ground clearance. Positioning the motor is always a compromise as lowering the engine improves the agility of the bike. Canyon engineers preferred agility over ground clearance, appealing to speed riders but irritating obstacle hoppers who will likely smack the engine/battery protector more frequently.
The motor is not my favorite in this class, but it is no slouch. The Shimano EP8 holds its own with the top performers and differences with all top brand power plants is now relatively minor. In 2022, the choice between brand name motors is more about personal preference than any leap forward in performance. The Shimano is, however, one of the more rattly motors in the top ranks.
Rattles from the motor always give the impression of something cheap. Rattles give a feeling that lowers the quality that the Spectral:ON has in spades.
The motor can connect via bluetooth to the E-Tube smartphone app. The E-Tube app allows fine adjustment of rider assistance algorithms to provide a huge range of options for rider support. Riders can adjust the amount of motor assistance at both low and high cadence (up to 4 x rider input).
The Shimano EP8 can deliver up to 400% pedal assistance topping out at 85Nm. The motor can deliver up to 250 Watts of continuous assistance with short bursts of 500 Watts available to help overcome more severe obstacles.
The power plant delivers maximum torque somewhere between 70 to 90 RPM so you have to keep the pedals spinning to maximize motor assistance.
In addition, aftermarket software can be uploaded via smartphone to deactivate the 15MPH (25KPH) speed limiter. Note that unrestricted motors do not provide additional power or torque. Where a standard motor does not assist the rider above 15MPH, unrestricted motors continue to provide rider assistance at higher speeds. Unrestricted motors do not increase the torque or power that the motor provides.
CANYON SPECTRAL:ON SPECS
The latest Canyon Spectral:ON is the same weight as previous year’s models and retains the major specs. The 2022 Spectral:ON has 150mm forks, carbon frame, and mixed wheel sizes with 29” front and 27.5” rear. The new model is. However, light years ahead of its predecessor.
From mid size frame up, the battery pack receives a massive upgrade of more than 42%. Battery power steps up from 630 Wh to 900 Wh. Small to medium frame bikes accommodate a 720 Wh battery.
If you prefer to lighten the bike by almost 1 Kg (900 grams to be precise) the larger frame “ON” e bikes are available with a smaller 720 Wh battery. The smaller battery will also lower the price by around $300. The 720 Wh option weighs in under 22 Kg for the mid size frame option. Astoundingly lightweight for a mid-sized eMTB.
A modified frame design was required to accommodate the larger battery options. A bonus from the wider, and flatter, re-engineered frame, was improved aesthetics. The wider profile and sharper contours of the frame really add artistic flair to the bike.
Special artwork is added to the carbon frame for a top professional finish. The origins of the carbon frame inspired the ebike color name: “Deep Space”.
The latest advanced carbon polymers reduce mass with no loss in strength. The carbon layup used on the frame is cutting edge with the carbon fabrication techniques being developed and used for space travel. Canyon had to seek permission from the Japanese military to use the material.
The revised frame now features a carbon rear section which has been added to keep the bike as light as possible. The new carbon chainstay has also been extended to give the Spectral: ON a more stable ride. The extended chainstay is another indication that the design of the Canyon:ON is giving increased focus to downhill performance in preference to rockhopping.
No expense has been spared with the Spectral:ON, and the Canyon flagship eMTB is adorned with the ultimate tech in almost every department. It is surprising then, that this flagship eMTB has not been provided with Canyon’s “Shape Shifter” fitted on the Canyon Strive with great success.
The Canyon Shapeshifter divide is a swing arm pivot bracket similar to the GIANT “Flip Chip” on their Maestro electric enduro MTB. The Shapeshifter raises (or lowers) the chainstay to provide more efficient uphill drive (or, alternatively, to increase downhill stability).
Unlike the Flip Chip which has to be manually set, the Shapeshifter is operated electrically at the touch of a button. Electric control gives the rider the ability to change geometry on the fly. The Shapeshifter has earned acclaim on the MTB race circuit for many years.
Instead of their in-house Shapeshifter, Canyon opted for the RockShox Flight Attendant system. Flight Attendant is a groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence suspension system. The choice underscores the brilliance of the RockShox system.
Canyon replaced the previous swing arm bearings with larger, more durable alternatives to resolve durability issues encountered on earlier models.
The remodelled rear section could have been shaped a little better. In higher gears, the chain rubs against the chainstay. Canyon has addressed this minor issue by fitting a protector. It is surprising though, that this German engineered masterpiece did not catch this in the design phase.
The seat post is 2 degrees steeper than previous models with the head angle 1 degree slacker. Revised geometry places the rider in a more upright position with a larger portion of rider weight over the saddle. Weight over the saddle affords a more comfortable riding position for longer endurance challenges consistent with the extended ride time that larger batteries will allow.
FORKS AND SHOCKS
Huge battery packs are not the only upgrade on the new Canyon with suspension receiving the latest tech. Top end Lyrik Ultimate forks are fitted with RockShox advanced Flight Attendant system. Flight Attendant automatically varies suspension settings using AI to predict changes in track surface and severity.
The high tech RockShox Super Deluxe Ultra Flight Attendant underscoring the angles of the flat slim crossbar of the revamped frame with the 155 mm rear shock runs parallel to the crossbar.
The CFR Ltd also receives lightweight, wireless, SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS derailleur. This top end system delivers clean, sharp, gear changes, while keeping the frame clean and cable free.
Not to leave brakes out of the high tech equation, the Spectral:ON is fitted with SRAM Code RSC brakes with the latest ‘SwingLink’ technology. Leaver bearings are sealed to guarantee the rider a responsive and progressive feel.
There is no doubt that the Spectral:ON is a stunner. The flatter carbon frame has sharp contours and the Deep Space gray is a popular modern choice. The lines of the bike are accentuated by the sharp, high tech, RockShox Flight Attendant shock which runs parallel to the crossbar.
Adorning the eMTB with electronics minimizes cables. The Spectral:ON presents a sophisticated, clean image. Only one brake cable drops from the crossbar to the front wheel, while the few remaining cables quickly disappear into the steering head.
Everything about this bike screams quality, high tech sophistication. If you don’t like the RockShox Flight Attendant system, the Canyon:ON CFR is available in black with Fox Kashima-coated 36 forks.
Although not as high tech, Fox suspension with Float X Fit4 damper have gold stanchions which is further enhanced with a matching Fox Transfer Factory dropper post. The black/gold combination is a stunning fusion of color.
The ride is impressive for any eMTB and the Canyon has done an incredible job isolating the weight of the massive battery from the rider. The bike is exceptionally agile compared to bikes with batteries half this weight.
The lower Center of Gravity, and reduced weight, allows the rider to switch fast lines and rockhop with dexterity.
The bike design is, however, moving more toward a fast, sharp and stable downhill racer. The geometry has become more stable, and is more comfortable on longer rides.
Rockshox Flight Attendant active suspension integrates with Lyric forks. The active suspension softens suspension settings on rough terrain to soak up the harsh bumps and chatter, while firming up when the track smooths out. The system transfers more power through the drive train with minimal (or no) rider input.
Canyon has taken a massive leap forward with the new Spectral:ON CFR. The main focus has been to increase the battery capacity, making the bike more practical and reducing range anxiety for riders.
Designers have created an incredible machine by isolating the weight of the massive battery from the rider through design simplification and use of high tech materials.
The bike is exceptionally agile when compared to most bikes with batteries half this weight. The geometry has become more stable, and more comfortable on longer rides.
Active suspension softens suspension settings on rough terrain to soak up harsh bumps and chatter while stiffening up for greater rider efficiency when the track allows.
This high performance, big battery bike delivers what the majority of eMTB riders are looking for.