Canyon Spectral WMN CF 9.0 SL Review – Made For More
Canyon launched their latest women’s line back in March this year under a “Made for More” campaign: topping the new range is the full carbon 150 / 140 mm Spectral WMN CF 9.0, boasting all the shredability of the hugely popular Spectral platform. The question is, are the geometry tweaks necessary and do they really make it more suitable for female riders?
When it comes to numbers, the team at Canyon certainly know how to crunch a digit or two. Their, ‘Perfect Positioning System’, online bike sizing tool, has given them access to the body measurements of a staggering 60,000 female riders. So, when it comes to sizing, Canyon have no excuses if they get it wrong. The question is, with the ‘men’s’ Spectral being such a phenomenal bike, do we even need a women’s model? When asked what the difference was between men and women, Canyon have summarized that, on average, female riders are shorter in height, have shorter arms in relation to torso length and have narrower shoulders. They are also lighter and have a lower centre of gravity. Knowing this, Canyon have shifted the midpoint of their WMN’s size range from a Medium to a size Small, losing the size Large and instead adding a new 2XS frame size, allowing Canyon to fit female riders between 148 – 179 cm.
A woman’s vital statistics
So what have Canyon done to tailor the Spectral platform for women? To clarify, we consider the ‘standard’ Spectral a unisex model but, for simplicity, we will refer to it as the ‘men’s’ model, as do Canyon on their website. Comparing both the Medium sized WMN’s and men’s model, the WMN’s bike is 10 mm shorter in the reach at 430 mm, the stack is lower at 581 mm (compared to 605 mm) and the wheelbase is a touch shorter at 1160 mm (compared to 1172 mm). The seat tube height is identical but the WMN bike also features a lower BB, but only by 1 mm. In a nutshell, the WMN bike is a little lower to the ground and a little shorter with a tighter reach. While the industry is telling us we need to go longer, Canyon is telling women to go shorter. Who is right?
Riding the Canyon Spectral WMN CF 9.0 SL
To find out, we gave a top-of-the-line Spectral WMN CF 9.0SL to tester Scottish based tester, Janey Kennedy, a 158 cm tall shredder for a full season of racing, adventuring and general abuse. On paper, the Canyon looks perfect for a hard-hitting trail bike for a shorter rider. The suspension fork is the formidable FOX Factory 34 FLOAT, with a good adjustment range for lighter riders. The rear suspension has received some attention, gone is the long stroke 230 x 60 mm shock of the men’s model, instead replaced with a shorter stroke 210 x 55 mm FOX Factory DPS Float EVOL shock. This has allowed Canyon to revise the kinematic, giving the same 140 mm of travel but with a higher leverage curve to provide more sensitivity for lighter riders and, at 55 kg, Janey felt she had a broad range of adjustment available. However, on very demanding runs the smaller shock did not handle heat build up as well as the longer stroke model. The SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain (X1 cranks) and the Guide RSC brakes provided faultless performance, though the Guides did show a fierce appetite for brake pads. With a 30T chainring and big 50T cassette, there is no mountain that cannot be climbed, especially combined with the featherweight DT Swiss XMC 1200 carbon wheels which accelerated with enthusiasm. It’s great to see Canyon spec a Maxxis Minion DHR II on the front, riders should not get hung up with the ‘R’ in the name as the DHRII is an amazing front tyre. The Maxxis Ardent rear is a little better in dry trails and Janey quickly changed it out to suit her riding style.
The Spectral WMN CF 9.0 SL is like a hot-hatch with the interior stripped out, accelerating rapidly and zipping through corners
Fork FOX 34 Factory150 mm
Shock FOX Float DPS Factory 140 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide 200/180
Drivetrain SRAM X01 / GX Eagle mit X1 Eagle Kurbel
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 125 mm
Handlebar Canyon H32 Rise CF 740 mm
Stem Canyon V12 50 mm
Wheels DT Swiss XMC1200 Spline
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR II 2.4 / Ardent 2.4″
Weight 12.20 kg
Price € 4,999
The geometry of the Canyon Spectral WMN CF 9.0 SL
|Seat tube||385 mm||425 mm||440 mm|
|Top tube||548 mm||567 mm||594 mm|
|Steuerrohr||88 mm||88 mm||112 mm|
|Chainstays||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|BB Drop||22 mm||23 mm||19 mm|
|Wheelbase||1102 mm||1123 mm||1160 mm|
|Reach||390 mm||409 mm||430 mm|
|Stack||581 mm||581 mm||600 mm|
Climbing the 12.2 kg Spectral is a rocket, with a very firm platform damping it sprinted uphills with enthusiasm, with a compact and upright position that makes it easy to spin away the miles on a ‘day-long’ mission. However, hobbit legged riders beware, the tall seat mast does mean that some riders will need to check clearance if they want to run a longer 150 mm dropper. Janey found the ride was the very definition of ‘playful’; poppy, easy to manual and snap through turns, it’s a near perfect trail bike. However, gravity focussed riders who love flat-out charging will find the Spectral WMN’s effervescent nature does mean that on high-speed tracks, the shorter wheelbase results in a sensitive and less stable feel. Indeed, on paper, Janey should have been riding an XS, but she found up-sizing to a Small worked better, preferably running a longer 50 mm stem (40 mm fitted as standard) to get a little more reach and weight over the front wheel.
Aren’t all bike unisex?
It’s a valid question, and the debate about whether women need specific bikes will continue to rage on. However, Canyon have clearly tried to solve the problems encountered by smaller female riders. The female-specific shock tune gives a good range of adjustment for lighter riders, offering the same impeccable ride that makes the Canyon Spectral such a legendary trail bike. However, taller or more aggressive riders would be better suited to check out the equivalent men’s models, let’s call them ‘unisex’ from now on, which offer a little more reach and a more supportive shock stroke.
Riding aggressively over the front of the bike Janey felt there was not as much room to move as she would like
The Spectral WMN CF 9.0SL is a light and efficient trail rocket, capable of potent performance on challenging trails. The WMN’s range is clearly optimised for shorter and lighter women, with a geometry and suspension kinematics to match. However, larger or more skilled female riders will enjoy the spacious ‘unisex’ model more.
+ Energetic handling and acceleration
+ Great specification
– Compact sizing
– Maxxis Ardent tyre lacks bite
For more info head: canyon.com