Here at Singletrack Towers, we love it when people drop in to see us. It gives us an excuse to down tools (and keyboards) for a while, have a coffee and catch up on what’s going on and what our visitors might have to show us. When Jack Noy, Canyon Events Coordinator swings by, we know that we’re usually in for a tough day because this eternally cheerful chap appears to love nothing but a bike ride up some steep hills.
And no amount of excuses can put this lad off, it seems. Jack’s been at Canyon UK down in Surrey for a couple of years and before that did his time on the Downhill World Cup circuit as a mechanic to top flight riders. However, that amount of gnar doesn’t sum him up completely. Jack is bike agnostic and will happily run rings around you on a road bike, or a ‘cross bike.
In our pre-ride faff chatting, Jack admitted that right before his first day at Canyon’s office in Surrey, he did a gruelling ‘cross race and, being a bit of a purist and lover of grip, he raced without gloves. Something that the pros do but also something that can take a bit of getting used to. Jack had to then endure his first week at work with the sore palms of a ‘cross newbie, having to hover over the desk in order to type without pain.
Today, though, Jack is full of excuses about having ridden ‘cross and road bikes a lot recently, and so he was bound to be slow. He’s barely ridden a mountain bike this year and all that. We’re used to this kind of ‘excuse’ from fast people and Andi and I braced ourselves for a tough afternoon. The sudden appearance of sunshine on the snowy hills made choosing clothing a tough job, especially given the sawtooth nature of the ride profile, but with the minimum of delay (for us…) we were soon on the grinding climb upwards to the sky.
Jack has previously ridden around Calderdale on one of our annual bike-industry trade days – barely concealed excuses for us all to get together, ride bikes and eat cakes – but he’s only ever ridden the ‘Death Tech’ super-steep variety of trails here. I suppose, given the choice of three trail rides ‘Easy, Medium and Hard’ – with all of your peers there, you’re not going to pick ‘Easy’ are you? And probably not even ‘Medium’. And so, in the way that every driver thinks they qualify as ‘above average’ so about 80% of the UK bike industry reckons they’re pretty tasty on a bike and chooses ‘Hard’ whenever there’s the option.
Today, though, we’d be doing more of a medium ride. Mostly because I was leading the ride and I prefer everyone to get back in one piece. It’d still involve a fair amount of up and some pretty fun downs. The weapon that Jack had chosen to bring along for him (and for me) was the Spectral. Canyon’s new 140mm trail bike and a really good fit for the type of terrain we’d probably encounter. Jack is about seven feet tall (OK, 6ft 4in or so) and rides the XL, which just happens to be the very top spec model. And being that I could barely swing a leg over with the seatpost down, he seemed smug that he rarely has to lend his own bike out. I had a far more sensible medium-size machine.
Our long grind up gave us a chance to warm up (quickly) and to mostly see Jack disappear into the distance. Even once the trail turned down, the routefinding is easy enough that he could usually be found already at the gate with the gate open. That was, until a particularly cryptic gate fastening (involving specially imported coat hanger technology) had him stumped. Luckily this meant that we could catch up and use the opportunity to send Jack up the track a few times for some photos. The first shot turned out great, but that didn’t stop us sending him up for a few more. That seemed to be our only strategy to slow him down for the day.
When we did manage to keep him in sight, we had a good chance to quiz Jack about the new bike, with readers adding their own comments on our hilltop Facebook broadcast. One big issue with UK riders is that the bike features a press-fit bottom bracket, but as Jack’s previous job was running the firm’s UK test fleet, he was able to reassure people that the previous version of the bike also had a PF bottom bracket and he had yet to see one of those fail in the field.
2018 Canyon Spectral CF 8.0
- Frame // Carbon Fibre Front Triangle, Alloy 6066 Rear, 140mm Travel
- Fork // Rockshox Pike RC, 150mm
- Shock // Rockshox Deluxe RT
- Wheelset // DT Swiss M1700 Spline 30mm
- Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C 2.6in WT Front & Rekon II EXO 3C 2.6in WT Rear
- Chainset // TRUVATIV Descendant 6K Eagle, GXP, 32t X-Sync 2 Eagle Chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
- Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
- Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
- Brakes // SRAM Guide R, 200mm Front & 180mm Rear
- Stem // Race Face Aeffect R 35 CNC
- Bars // Race Face Aeffect, 35mm Clamp Diameter, 760mm Wide
- Grips // Canyon Bracelets
- Seatpost // Rockshox Reverb Stealth B1, 150mm Travel
- Saddle // SDG Fly Mountain
- Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- RRP // £2699
Turning to the bikes we were riding, as I mentioned, this was our first turn on the 2018 Canyon Spectral. While Jack had pulled rank and brought his top of the line, Spectral CF 9.0, the bike we ‘ve been swapping around on is the slightly more affordable Spectral CF 8.0 which sells for just £2699.
Our bike came with SRAM’s GX Eagle 12 speed transmission and it’s only the occasional logos that interrupt the ‘none-more-black’ paint scheme on the bike. The bike has a matte/gloss two-tone (even if it’s the same tone) paint job and even after a hose-off of all the Yorkshire grit, it was refreshingly still black and not that dark beige you can get with matte-frames after a few rides.
While our Eagle equipped bike comes with just one chainring up front, Canyon has designed the Spectral to accept a front mech and even offers some builds with 2x as standard.
Our bike also has larger 2.6in tyres front and rear on super wide 30mm rims, but again there are builds that offer slimmer tyres if that’s what you prefer and Canyon has actually designed the Spectral around 2.4-2.6in tyres.
Riders who like to get lairy on the trail will be happy to hear that Canyon rider Joe Barnes from the Dude Of Hazard was involved in the development of the new Spectral, so it should shred the gnar pretty well and when you’re not hitting gaps or cutting in berms, there’s room for a bottle in the frame and a custom frame case up near the headtube.
So far that is, anyway. We’ve got this bike for a few weeks and we’re going to do our best to ‘wear it in’ a little and bring you a full report. In the meantime, we quizzed Jack some more…
With moorland quizzing done and some of my favourite ‘medium’ descents in the bag, it was back to the office for some frantic cleaning of the bikes ready to shine under our studio lights, but not until we’d ventured down the road to the Little Bird Cafe and a round of its famous Fish Finger Sandwiches. A highly recommended reward for keeping up with one of the most cheerful visitors we’ve seen this year so far.