With gravel quickly becoming popular across the globe, you might be wondering if you should get a gravel bike. While gravel riding isn’t my all-time favorite (nothing trumps mountain biking), I do enjoy having a drop-bar bike that can conquer singletrack as well as road.
One bike company I continue to go back to is Canyon, based out of Germany. They are direct to consumer- meaning you order directly from their website and get more bike for less money- and they make a sturdy, comfortable bike that will last you a long time.
Although Canyon offers three different gravel bikes, this review is going to focus on the Grail and Grizl to help you determine which gravel bike is best for YOU!
Review In A Nutshell
- The integrated stem and double-decker handlebar provide comfort over rough terrain
- Extremely snappy: feels like a road bike
- Offered in several different builds allowing you options for different components
- Split rail seat with leaf spring construction that offers 15% more flex
- Max tire size is 700x42mm
- Is a great bike for both road riding and gravel riding due to its geometry
- Direct to consumer means better bang for your buck and is shipped right to your front door
- Offered in SEVERAL sizes. Canyon wants all bodies on bikes
- Max tire size is 700x42mm (yes, listed in both pros and cons)
- Great for smooth gravel roads, but not the most comfy on technical singletrack/roads
- Little to no adjustability in the cockpit. The double-decker bars DO NOT allow you to customize stem length.
- Max tire size is 700x50mm WITH fenders
- Perfect for gnarly gravel roads and can handle singletrack well.
- Also offered in different builds for customization.
- Option to put a RockShox Rudy 30mm suspension on AS WELL AS a dropper post
- It comes stock with the same split rail seat that the Grail comes with to allow for more flex
- Comes in 1X and 2X drivetrain builds
- Available in so many sizes…one of the wonderful things about Canyon
- Not NEARLY as fast and snappy as the Grail
- The 1X drivetrain build comes with a 40t chainring and can make climbing difficult in the mountains
Price & Where To Buy:
What is a Gravel Bike and How Does it Compare to a Road Bike or Mountain Bike?
Imagine if a mountain bike and a road bike had a baby…that is what a gravel bike is. You get to ride singletrack, but also rip the road if you want and are not limited to much of anything.
Depending on how your gravel bike is specked, you can do multi-day bike packing trips or race in Unbound. If you order a gravel bike from Canyon, you will have several different options for which components you want on your bike.
You can choose from high-end products like SRAM Red XPLR e-tap to basic Shimano GRX. There is also the option of putting a RockShox Rudy fork that offers 30mm of travel.
The Race Ready Canyon Grail
The Grail is one of the most unique bikes I’ve ever ridden. The cockpit is all integrated and the double-decker handlebars offer significant suspension.
According to Canyon, “The cockpit has a unique two-tier design: on the upper level, a carbon Flex Area gives you the shock-absorbing comfort you need over gravel and forest tracks. On the drops, the carbon is formed to provide maximum stiffness for quick descending and all-out sprinting.”
The Grail comes specked with 700x40mm tires but can take up to a 42mm tire. Canyon does not recommend putting 650b wheels on this bike, so if you’re looking for a girthier tire, the Grizl might be your best option.
Because this bike can hold up to a 42mm tire, it has the ability to ride some of the toughest roads while being extremely snappy and responsive. The Grail is an excellent choice if gravel racing is your primary goal.
So, why did I sell my Grail and purchase the Grizl? The short answer is the lack of adjustability in the cockpit.
After working many years in the operating room, my back and neck are worn out. I have a few compressed discs in my neck and the Grail was uncomfortable for me. I was super bummed when I began riding longer rides on my Grail only to find out that it was almost intolerable for me.
The double-decker handlebars were AWESOME for soaking up some of the small bump chatter. I think they are extremely comfortable to use and had no issue at all with them EXCEPT that I couldn’t adjust the angle or length. After putting roughly 3,000 miles on my Grail I decided to part ways with it.
One thing that I DO miss about the Grail is how fast that bike was. I have yet to touch any of my PRs on any other gravel bike and I solely blame that on how quick and responsive the Grail is. It is the PERFECT bike for riding road and gravel.
Comfort and Speed: What Can’t the Canyon Grizl Do!?!
While the Grail is marketed as being, “light, fast, and versatile” the Grizl is shred-ready. What I mean is it can handle just about anything you throw at it.
The Grizl comes with 700x45mm tires but can fit up to 50mm tires. Wow- those are mountain bike tires on a gravel bike. If that isn’t enough suspension for you, you can have this bike built with a 30mm front suspension.
This bike has SO many frame mounts that your carrying options are endless. Also, you have the option to put a dropper post on the Grizl allowing for more clearance on technical trails/roads.
While I am happy with my choice to purchase the Grizl, I do miss how fast my Grail was. The Grizl is a super fun, ripping machine but the larger tires do slow the bike down quite a bit. I guess if I wanted to get serious again in gravel racing, I could buy another set of wheels and run skinnier tires on them.
The thing I LOVE most about my Grizl is the ability to make it my own. I love that I can change the stem and bars.
That is SO important for being comfortable. I also love my dropper post. Being a person who primarily rides mountain bikes, I LOVE a dropper post…it just makes riding so much more fun.
This bike is a TRUE adventure bike that can take you anywhere you want to go.
So, Which One Do I Choose?
Choosing between the Grail and Grizl is totally dependent on your cycling goals. We will discuss the difference in geometry and specs further on in this review, but the BIGGEST questions you need to ask yourself are:
2. Do I have any interest in taking a gravel bike on singletrack?
3. Am I just wanting to have fun on a drop bar bike?
When I was getting heavy into gravel racing and doing ultra-rides, the Grail was the perfect rig for me. My life changed with the addition of our second child and my priorities changed, and so did my biking style.
Racing wasn’t interesting anymore. I only wanted to ride drop bar bikes for fun and a workout, so I decided to shift gears and go with the Grizl.
I am extremely happy with my decision and encourage you to REALLY ask yourself what you want out of the gravel bike. That will be the biggest determining factor in how you choose.
Once you decide on your specific goals, it will be easier to figure out what bike is best for you. Now, let’s get into geo and specs…
Geometry of the Grail and Grizl: Are They Similar or Different?
A few notable differences between the Grail and Grizl geometry are the top tube length, head tube length, stack, and reach.
The top tube length is important in determining how the bike is going to fit you. The Grizl comes in about 10mm longer than the Grail mainly because of the double-decker handlebar versus the normal stem and bar. I don’t necessarily think this is a huge factor when deciding between bikes, just something to keep in mind when choosing your size.
Coming in at a whopping 45mm longer, the Grizl has a much longer top tube than the Grizl. This means that the Grizl has a much more upright feel to it which makes sense because this is not marketed as a “race” bike.
The Grail is going to feel more aerodynamic hence it being super-fast compared to the Grizl. This is important when looking at the different bikes because you want an idea of how it is going to feel when riding- are you going to be more upright or closer to the bars?
Stack and reach…what the heck are those and why are they important? Well, they go hand in hand and help you determine HOW the bike is going to fit you.
Think of the stack and the vertical measurement from your bikes bottom bracket to the center of the top tube and the reach is the horizontal measurement from the center of the bottom bracket to the middle of your head tube. These are important measurements because they help you determine the right sizing.
The Grizl has a stack of 537mm and reach of 382mm, whereas the Grail has a stack of 490mm and a reach of 388mm. You’re going to feel MUCH MORE race oriented on the Grail than you will on the Grizl- something to think about when deciding on your new gravel bike.
The Different Builds Offered by Canyon
If you go to Canyon’s website, you’ll see that they offer several different builds in both the Grail and Grizl. Let’s break them down…
Canyon uses different acronyms for the carbon and aluminum frames. Their top-of-the-line carbon is called CF SLX and weighs 955g for their medium Grizl build, whereas their next step down, the CF SL comes in weighing 1035g for a medium Grizl. There isn’t a huge difference except for price and weight, so when deciding between carbon frames it’s important to figure out if weight matters THAT much to you.
Canyon also offers both the Grail and Grizl in an aluminum frame making the price extremely affordable while not sacrificing significantly on weight.
You will have the option of choosing between SRAM and Shimano components on both bikes. The Grail has less customization compared to the Grizl, but there are still a few options.
The Grizl has the option of a 2X or 1X drivetrain, dropper post, and suspension giving you endless options for your ride.
Some of the builds come with carbon wheels and SRAM AXS or Shimano Di2. Basically, the world is your oyster, have fun picking and choosing what you want on your new gravel bike.
Both bikes I purchased have been the CF SL and I have not had any issues with them at all.
What’s With the Weird Sizing?
Both of my Canyon gravel bikes have been a small and I am by no means a small person. For stats purposes, I am 5’9 (on a good day) and have a 33-inch inseam.
When you start shopping, there is a spot for you to enter your height and inseam and Canyon will help you determine the perfect size for you. Please use this tool…it is crucial for getting the perfect size bike.
Warranty: What Does Canyon Offer Their Customers?
Canyon offers a 6-year warranty on all their bikes. This includes all Canyon-manufactured parts like the frame, fork, and cockpit. It is only valid for the first customer who purchased the bike so if you’re buying one used, you will not get that warranty.
Canyon Offers Financing
Like most things now-a-days, you can get your new gravel bike financed if you want. Canyon uses Affirm which is super simple to use and has low interest rates.
Bottom Line: No Matter Which Bike You Choose, You Will LOVE Your New Gravel Bike
Gravel riding has opened the doors for people who love drop bar bikes but don’t want to be on busy roads AND people who want to shred singletrack. Determining which bike is for you is going to come down to those few key questions we talked about. After deciding if you want the race-ready Grail or the adventure Grizl, you can decide on the build and include any accessories Canyon offers.
Whichever bike you choose, you will be ready to ride a variety of terrain with a smile on your face.
More Stuff You Might Like
- 9 Best Women’s Gravel Bikes & How To Choose!
- Your Guide to Road Bike & Gravel Bike Tire Sizes
- Why You Should Invest In A Professional Bike Fit
About The Author
Malorie Gage has been mountain biking, road, gravel cycling for many years. She lives in Colorado where she’s raising two tiny humans and balancing biking and motherhood.