- Good looking alloy frame
- Good value
- Better fork specced than others in its class and price bracket
- Long stem
- Classic XC geometry makes this a one trick pony
The Canyon Grand Canyon AL SL 7.0 is a cross-country racer with winning intentions that will be easier on your wallet than its competitors and can provide you with just as much speed.
The direct sales model of Canyon shines through here with this alloy 29er cross country machine coming in at £1,199 complete with Shimano SLX and XT kit, Mavic wheels and Rockshox Reba RL fork. At that price and spec, it’s something only other direct sale brands can compete with, other similar bikes from non-direct brands get a fork and brake downgrade compared to the Grand Canyon.
The frame is constructed from 7005 aluminium and is offered in 29er guise for the sized medium (as tested) and above, with the smaller sized getting 27.5” wheels and shorter chainstays to match the smaller wheels.
As I mentioned the bike is kept rolling by a Shimano drivetrain, the Grand Canyon gets a 2x set up with SLX 26/36 chainrings and an SLX shifter up front, gearing that will see you up and down most inclines. This paired with an 11 speed cassette (11-42T), SLX cranks (press-fit bottom bracket) and an upgraded XT mech at the rear. The bike gets 110mm of travel using Rockshox Reba RL air sprung fork with a OneLoc remote to lock out the forks from the handlebars and rebound adjustment.
Stopping is dealt with by way of Shimano BR-MT500 brakes, these Deore levers and 2 piston callipers offer reach adjust (with a tool) and the brands Servo Wave tech. The cables for the brakes are externally routed along with the rear mech, but the front mech gets internal routing to keep lines of the frame clean.
Wheels are from Mavic, with the Grand Canyon getting a set of 20mm wide (internal) Crossride FTS-X wheels with Mavic own hubs. These have a claimed weight of 2075g for the pair, not the lightest and help add up towards the 11.5kg (25.6lbs) total weight without pedals for our medium test bike.
Fitted to that wheelset is a Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.3”Addix Speedgrip Evo Line on the front and a Racing Ralph 2.1” Addix Performance line tyre on the rear. Speedgrip denotes the use of the Addix compound that Schwalbe say has a universal use that balances grip and durability. The Performance Line Racing Ralph uses a cheaper compound focused on durability compared to an Evo Line Racing Ralph meaning they will wear less but at the same time will use a less tacky compound, potentially offering less grip. Performance Line tyres also have a different carcass with a TPI of 67 rather than 127TPI as found on Evo Line tyres. The front tyre is also tubeless ready whereas the rear is not.
The rest of the kit is mostly from Canyon’s own stable, there is a 70mm stem, 740mm wide bars, fixed seat post and a Selle Italia saddle.
Setting up the Grand Canyon to ride is a simple affair, the bike is ready to go out of the box and I doubt you’ll have any complaints about the specification aside from maybe thinking about a new set of tyres for wetter conditions or if you want to go tubelesss.
Riding wise the bike adopt geometry that puts you in a traditional cross country position, although not as much as the cheaper bikes in the range such as the AL 3.0 which only get 100mm forks giving them a steeper head angle than the 68.5° one we have on this AL SL 7.0. The head angle, whilst it is by no means slack, offers a couple more ‘get out of jail’ free cards when tackling relatively technical terrain, the fact that there isn’t a dropper post impedes handling long before the head angle curbs the momentum. The effective seat angle is relatively slack at 73.5°, and whilst the bike isn’t the lightest hardtail I’ve ever sat on, it moves uphill at a fair pace, a steeper effective seat angle here would only help things further.
I usually ride a medium bike but the long effective top tube of this bike (owing to slack effective seat angle) and long stem made me feel stretched out when seated. Downsizing would make the bike feel cramped when descending so a shorter stem is in order here.
The bike is happy to munch up singletrack and mash out miles, although again riders may wish to change the 70mm stem for something shorter. Whilst descending I found the long stem allowed too much weight to be distributed forward of the steering axis and therefore unbalanced the bike on more technical descents. The fork with 32mm stanchions, Solo Air spring and Motion Control damper allows a good range of adjustment and is well paired with this bike given its cross-country roots, it will likely work well for years to come with a regular service and TLC.
The reach of this bike is shorter than I’d personally like but it’s on par with its competitors, the Rose Count Solo for one, Specialized Chisel for another and the Scott Scale for yet another. As it is the bike does classic XC race geometry with short chainstays (427mm) and a short wheelbase (1112mm) giving nippy handling that only becomes a detriment when pushing hard and fast over rough terrain or steeper tracks. Longer chainstays would aid climbing ability and a longer front centre (and reach) would build a more stable bike that would be more at ease on the ‘A line’ on any XC course, with the potential here of making the rider faster. In its current form Canyon has produced a bike that is safe in its niche, works well for it’s given purpose and won’t scare off new folk entering the scene with talk of progressive geometry.
If you are set on pushing your limits on the cross country course then the Grand Canyon will be a good partner. It’s not radically different from other XC bikes on the market and it doesn’t break the mould in terms of geometry, but with the help of the 110mm fork on the Grand Canyon, its slacker than other XC hardtails which I think can only be a good thing and with the release of the Canyon Lux it appears the brand is thinking in terms of more progressive geometry. As ever with Canyon, though, the spec list and price is the thing that will make it stand out from the crowd.
You might also like:
- First Look - Rose Count Solo 2
- Feature - 9 ways to ensure you survive your first MTB marathon
- Feature - The 12 best smartphone apps for mountain bikers
I was really happy to find this review because I'm considering this bike but I'm slighlty confused. Don't get me wrong, but isn't "long stem" issue related to the fact that you've used a bike setup for men? Women specific version of this bike seems to have shorter stem so this issue looks to be irrelevant for main focus group of the riders and this shouldn't be mentioned in the review? Also as far as I know Canyon allows you to switch stem size within 30 days of the purchase which could make sense to mention.