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The gravel-sphere is a very different place than it was just a few years ago. Like any ‘new’ cycling discipline, there are growing pains. As companies and riders explore the direction and possibilities, bike technology and riding progression seeks to find a status quo. Gravel has been no different, what was once simply gravel riding has now developed into an umbrella term that covers all off-road riding and racing between road cycling and XC mountain biking. The encompassing 'gravel' term can cover everything from high-octane racing to loading the bike with bikepacking bags for a multi-day adventure. Previously one bike would cover all duties but increasing specialisation and demands by consumers have resulted in gravel bikes becoming niched.
That means designing the best gravel bikes is a complicated task. Canyon’s new Grizl is the direct-to-consumer brand's idea of a do-everything-go-anywhere gravel bike. Fast yet functional, a bike that is designed to take on everything from epic gravel rides to laden exploration, covering a broad spectrum of terrain.
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Design and geometry
Canyon already has a gravel bike. Anyone who has been remotely interested in gravel for the last few years will surely remember the launch of the Canyon Grail with its unconventional handlebar; a bike that has so far taken care of Canyon’s drop bar off-roading duties for the last three years. Canyon predicts gravel riding will continue growing in popularity and is doubling down, keeping the Grail range with its unconventional bi-wing hover bar as the lightweight, racier 50/50 gravel/road option for the foreseeable future, and offering the Grizl as a more rugged explorer.
While the intended usage may be quite different, Canyon has stuck with the Grail’s proven off-road geometry for the new Grizl. Canyon originally took its Endurace endurance road bike geometry as a starting point for its gravel format when developing the Grail, and stretched the wheelbase by 40mm (medium frame). The extended wheelbase, which is complemented by a shorter stem and wider bars, increases stability and control when riding off-road whilst maintaining lively road handling. Stack and reach are also the same across the Grail and Grizl, settling on a position a little longer and lower than the Endurace but not quite as aggressive as Canyon’s race bike, the Ultimate.
The subject of 650b vs 29er has been a long-running debate in MTB with 29er wheels only recently coming out on top. Canyon has been decisive: by making the Grizl 700c-specific there should be no compromises in ride quality caused by accommodating multiple wheel sizes. This continues through to the smaller frame sizes which opt for 650b wheels as a way to maintain the ride characteristics and something that Canyon has done on other bikes. Canyon understands that riders, especially those wanting more capability, seek larger tyre volume. So while there is no additional tyre clearance advantage when running 650b, the Grizl can fit 50mm tyres along with the benefit of a larger rolling circumference which should give a smoother ride.
The enhanced capability doesn’t stop with tyre volume either, there is internal dropper post routing and 180mm rotors can be specced if big descents are your thing. This is backed up by the Grizl meeting Canyon’s 1CX mountain bike testing protocols, so if things get really rowdy you don’t need to worry about frame integrity.
Canyon has thought about the modularity of the bike to allow setup versatility too, dropped stays allow fitment of 1x and 2x drivetrains and the standard cockpit adds versatility. Anything cage mounts on the fork legs (rated to 3kg on each side), top tube accessory mounts and three bottle cages give flexibility in bikepacking setups too. On the practicality-front there are mudguard fittings, using the same wide fenders made for the Grail:ON which should clear a 45mm tyre. Canyon has even printed technical specs, recommended torque settings and weight limits on the frame in case you need to double-check anything.
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Components and build
As with all Canyon bikes, pricing is very competitive and our Grizl CF SL 8 1BY comes equipped with a really solid spec for riders looking for a do-it-all gravel bike. The groupset is handled by Shimano’s GRX 800 groupset which is geared with a 40t chainring and 11-42 cassette. Braking is also GRX 800, using 160mm rotors front and back as standard.
While the Grail Cockpit, affectionately known as the hover bar, was a talking point and offered extra compliance, the integration requirements mean that the carbon Grails couldn’t run a conventional bar or stem. For riders who want more flexibility with cockpit adjustments and mounting bikepacking bags and other accessories Canyon has specced a standard bar/stem setup. The Canyon Ergo AL bar measures 42cm with a 130mm drop and is paired with a 70mm Canyon V13 stem. The seatpost is also from Canyon, the S15 VCLS 2.0 post is split in half creating a leaf spring design which Canyon claims can offer up to 20mm of compliance. Beyond additional comfort, the post offers 13mm and 25 mm setback options via the Flip Head and very easy tilt adjustment.
The wheelset is DT Swiss’ G 1800 gravel-specific wheelset, using DT Swiss 370 hubs which are paired with a 24mm internal-width alloy rim. Our limited experience with the G-One Bite tyres is that, if you are riding rougher terrain, they could be more likely to get bitten than be doing the biting. That said, the low profile tread means they roll quickly on smooth gravel and tarmac.
Canyon offers a few optional extras for the Grizl too. A set of bags have been made in collaboration with Apidura, maker of some of the best bikepacking bags around. Based on the Race and Backcountry series, the set consists of a frame bag (2.4L for frames 2XS-L, 4L for frames XL-2XL), a top tube bag (1L) and a saddlebag (5L) and provide extra luggage capacity for adventures. Canyon also has a clear sticker set available to protect the paint from the inevitable rubbing of bag straps which was simple to apply.
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While we have only had a limited time on the Grizl CF SL 8 1BY we are so far impressed. The geometry feels very natural and, while some bikes can take a few rides to become accustomed to, it didn't take long before I felt comfortable to push the Grizl on terrain that could otherwise leave less confident bikes feeling shaken or nervous.
Being based in Scotland means there is a wealth of gravel tracks and trails that cover the full gravel spectrum ranging from natural road to sloppy singletrack on my doorstep that will put the Grizl through its paces. With some long solo days, gravel racing and bikepacking adventures already planned, we will find out if Canyon’s claim of ‘all-you-might-ever-need gravel bike’ stands true to the test.
Tech Specs: Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1BY Gravel bike
- Price: £2,949.00
- Frame: Canyon Grizl CF SL
- Size: Small
- Weight: 9.4kg (Small, including bottle cages)
- Groupset: Shimano GRX RX800
- Crankset: Shimano GRX RX800
- Wheels: DT Swiss G 1800 Spline DB 25
- Brakes: Shimano GRX RX800
- Handlebar: Canyon Ergo AL HB50
- Stem: Canyon Stem V13
- Seatpost: Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0
- Saddle: Fizik Argo Terra R5 150mm
- Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Bite TLE EVO 45mm
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