When the Grail launched in 2018, Canyon’s first dedicated gravel bike, it turned a lot of heads owing to its unique double-decker handlebar design. A year later, it’s no less radical, but the range has now expanded to include several Shimano GRX specced bikes.
What we have here is a Shimano GRX 800 Di2-equipped Grail CF SL costing £3,149. The SL denotes the frameset is one step down from the range-topping SLX, but what the SL adds in weight, you save at the checkout. Both frames have all the same profiles and features so you’re not missing out.
This is the most expensive Grail CF SL with a Shimano groupset. GRX is offered in 2x and 1x but looking at the Canyon website, it’s 2x all the way. This bike pairs an 11-34t cassette with a 48/31t chainset. It’s a shame not to see any 1x options in the range though…
The benefits of buying direct really come into light when you look at the excellent wheel and tyre package. No skimping here as is sometimes the case. A set of DT Swiss G1800 Spline db wheels designed for gravel riding with a 24mm inner width are the tubeless platform for Schwalbe’s popular G-One Bite 40mm tyres, also tubeless. Topping it all off is a Fizik Aliante R5 saddle.
What really sets the Grail apart is the unique handlebar. It’s called the Canyon CP07 Gravelcockpit CF (catchy) and the idea is simply to introduce more comfort when riding on rough roads, whilst maintaining the precise control you want for accurate steering.
It’s best to think of it as a regular carbon handlebar integrated into the stem with a second handlebar-mounted above. The top handlebar is designed to flex for more cruising comfort, offering a claimed seven times more vertical deflection than the brand’s H31 Ergocockpit.
The lower bar attached to the stem is stiffer so you get direct steering when in the drops and when you’re giving it jolly beans out of the saddle. As you might be in a gravel race. Powering up a short hill, sprinting for the timed section, that sort of feisty riding.
Despite the looks, the top section of handlebar and the hoods are in the same place as they would if it were fitted with a regular stem and handlebar.
The long-running VCLS 2.0 seatpost adds seated comfort. It’s a split design with a bolt at the bottom you use to adjust the saddle angle. The two halves encourage the seatpost to flex when you hit a bump. Canyon has also lowered the internal seat clamp to increase the effective bending length.
Other details include clearance for wide tyres, up to 42mm and plenty of space around the stock 40mm tyres. There are disc brakes with flat-mount callipers, 12mm thru-axles and internal cable routing. A press-fit bottom bracket will frustrate those people who feel an external threaded design would be better on a gravel bike.
It’s clear this is a bike built for fast gravel riding and performance-focused types, as with no mudguard or accessory mounts it lacks the versatility we’ve come to expect from many gravel bikes. How does it perform? Watch out for a review soon
Weight on the scales for this size medium is 8.78kg (19.35lb). Full review coming soon.
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