The Canyon Grail CF SL 7 Review
We like the Grail a lot. They have made it unique and challenged all other gravel bikes with this one, and I feel they have created something extraordinary.
- Fast and Agile
- Very comfortable
- Looks amazing
- Great value for money
- Handlebars are unique
- Limiting on accessories
- Getting your size right can be challenging
- It’s not the most adjustable bike
User Review( votes)
When gravel riding became popular, every brand was keen on pushing new bikes out, and we all knew Canyon planned to drop something amazing as they always do. I just don’t think anyone expected them to redesign parts of the bike completely.
What they released was wild, and in my opinion, was a very bold move. Did cyclists and the industry well receive it? Have they made the holy grail of gravel bikes?
Why all the hype?
What makes this bike so unique compared to other gravel bikes on the market is the design. Canyon has outdone themselves here. The frame is beautiful and sleek, and it doesn’t look like it should be riding gravel, and it looks like it should be in a museum as a concept bike. It has an entirely unique handlebar design, and the bike is nothing like anything else on the market.
What we’re testing
We will be speaking about the Canyon Grail CF SL 7 (Carbon Fiber, Super Light 7). This is a mid-range carbon fiber gravel bike made by Canyon and one of the most popular models currently on the market. The bike we are testing is equipped with;
- Frame: Canyon Grail CF SL 7
- Groupset: Shimano GRX 810 2X
- Wheelset: DT Swiss Gravel LN
- Tires: Schwable G-One 40c
What else do they offer?
Before we start speaking about the bike, it’s worth mentioning Canyon has a vast range of different Grails available. You get Grails at a fundamental level with an aluminum frame and basic gearing all the way up to the super-light carbon fiber frames with electronic gearing. We chose to test a mid-range model, and we feel this gives us an insight into what they offer overall the most.
The Frame and those Handlebars
Let’s start with the heart of the bike, the frame. The Canyon Grail frame is very unique. Although this bike looks like it isn’t going to offer you comfort, it has ultimately been designed to give the user a very smooth ride. Firstly the drop stays and skinny seatpost gives it flexibility on the rear.
Many brands these days seem to think aero is the way forward when it comes to seat posts, but this doesn’t provide the flexibility, and avoiding an aero post is something I rate Canyon for doing. Unlike many other Canyons, they also have added mudguard mounts which aren’t seen on many Canyons.
Now we turn to the front of the bike to understand what they have done. The frame has very clean lines, and you can see how the top tube and the stem are all level. This brings the majority of the bike’s weight lower, typically offering the user a better ability to handle the bike. You might think this makes the bike much more aggressive to ride, but it doesn’t because those unique handlebars bring the shifters much higher.
Sizing can be tricky on this bike as they don’t use typical sizing. We recommend trying a Grail before you buy, as if you get it wrong, it’s a bit of a nightmare. The bike isn’t very adjustable, and although you can drop the stack height, it does make it look a bit odd. If you are someone who is very particular about the fit, you might struggle with this bike and end up needing to spend money to change it with accessories from Canyon.
Now the handlebars and these are what Canyon calls the hover bars. They are a unique design and look like the handlebars have two levels. These are an incredible design and provide the bars with a lot of flexibility, so when you’re hammering over gravel, it takes the edge of the vibrations. They all offer a lot of different positions for the user, and having a thumb rest in the drops helps on those technical slow descents.
One thing to note is that these are not wide flared bars, unlike many gravel bikes. They are more like a road bike width, and although they might not be to everyone’s taste, it works. Also, adding accessories such as lights and aero bars becomes very challenging, and you have to be very selective about your choice of kit.
If you love your Shimano Ultegra or 105, then you’re in for a treat. They have equipped the Grail with GRX, it’s the gravel groupset created by Shimano, and it is fantastic. The shifters have flat tops, and the brakes are incredibly efficient. When it comes to hydraulic disc brakes, we know Shimano does set the bar high.
The groupset shifts well and is very efficient. They have put a double chainring on the front with a 46/30 ratio. This means getting up hills is much easier, and just having lower gearing does make it better off-road. It is still competent on the road with a 34 teeth cassette on the rear.
The DT Swiss Gravel LN wheels are excellent. They are robust and come in the 700c size. On the smaller models Canyon does tend to use 650b wheels. They are also tubeless-ready, so you don’t have to worry about conversion kits.
Canyon equips these wheels with Schwable G-One 40c tires, and they are excellent for riding along gravel and hitting a bit of tarmac. As far as multi-terrain tires go, these are great.
When we rode it
Although technically it sounds impressive, what is it like to ride? I was lucky enough to take on some fantastic routes with a Grail, and honestly, it rides beautifully. Everything they have done makes it feel comfortable, agile, and fun to ride. You feel like you’re very connected to the ground, and it just flys on the road and off-road.
We like the Grail a lot. They have made it unique and challenged all other gravel bikes with this one, and I feel they have created something extraordinary. From an engineering and design perspective, it is excellent.
Fine adjustments can be challenging for the user, and getting the fit perfect is harder. Is it a good buy? Completely!
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.