By Stefan Abram
Canyon’s new gravel bike is called the Grizl and it bridges the gap between gravel and mountain biking, fleshing out Canyon’s offerings across the off-road spectrum.
The headline updates are: it’s got clearance for bigger tyres (50mm), it has many mounts for better adventuring and it’s got a redesigned geometry compared to Canyon’s original Grail gravel bike to best complement its intended riding style.
There’s also much speculation to be enjoyed regarding suspension compatibility and why there aren’t currently any SRAM equipped models in the range.
We’ll be digging into the detail on the frame, wheels, groupsets and speculation about the future of this brand-new platform.
The main feature of the frame has got to be the wider tyre clearances. Canyon’s original gravel bike, the Grail, was always at the skinnier end of the spectrum allowing a maximum width of 42mm tyres.
The Grizl, on the other hand, can take tyres up to 50mm, although 45mm Schwalbe Bites come specced as standard.
But this doesn’t mean that the Grizl is by any means superseding the Grail. Rather, the Grail is just optimised and suited for a different kind of terrain – think more unpaved roads as opposed to British bridleways.
So, in order of increasing “gnar”, Canyon’s range now goes Endurace, Grail, Grizl. Then, if you want any greater off-road capability, the next step would be swapping the curly bars for the flat and plumping for the Exceed hardtail mountain bike.
There’s a lot of crossover between gravel bikes and bikepacking. It’s not just that broken roads have an almost inextricable link to adventure – even if you are planning on sticking to the tarmac, the wider tyres and consequential greater comfort will always be a welcome addition.
To facilitate this, you get the standard bottle mounts on the inside of the frame – as well as set on the top tube for securing a bag, and underneath the down tube for holding a tool keg or an extra bottle of water.
There are also triple mounts on each fork leg for attaching cargo cages to further increase your carrying capacity.
A lovely touch is that not only are these bolts all quite low profile – to reduce the unfortunate warty look that afflicts certain bikes – but also, there is detailing on the frame specifying exactly the diameter and pitch of the threads, making replacements a little easier to source. Added to that, the fork legs highlight that the maximum load per leg shouldn’t exceed 3kg.
There aren’t any mounts for panniers on this frame, so classic style cycle touring isn’t being accommodated on this model. But there are mounts for mudguards – although only for Canyon’s own.
Canyon teamed up with bikepacking bag manufacture Apidura to design some custom models specifically for the Grizl. The range consists of:
- A 5-Litre Saddle Pack
- Two sizes of Frame Pack (2.4-Litrr for frames 2XS-L, 4-Litre for frames XL-2XL)
- A 1-Litre Bolt-On Top Tube Pack
Constructed from Apidura’s proprietary Hexalon material, they feature a completely waterproof construction, mud-proof zips and a design that’s supposed to cause minimal obstruction when riding to enable the bags to be used week in and week out – rather than just on once-a-year bikepacking trips.
We have a set of these bags on our media loaner bike and will be putting these bold claims to the test along with the bike.
Other odds and ends are that the fork is designed to be compatible with flat-mount calipers and either 160mm or 180mm disc rotors, rather than the 140mm/160mm most drop bar bikes come with. This’ll be welcome news to riders carrying heavier loads and those who are after just a bit more stopping power generally.
Something else to note is that the range topping CF SLX lightweight carbon-fibre frames will not be getting mounts on the underside of the down tube. This is because that’s where the battery of the Shimano’s Di2 groupsets will be residing – the commonly used site of the seatpost remaining having to remain clear for compatibility with internally routed dropper seatposts.
It’s a bit of a shame that the Campagnolo Ekar build of the CF SLX frame will be missing out on those mounts – even though there isn’t a battery to be accommodated. Canyon does say that down tube mounts for this frame is “something we would look into for the CF SLX in the future.”
Final thing on the frame here, the chainstays have seen a growth of 10mm over those on the Grail, putting them (for sizes S and upwards) at 435mm, due to the extra size of the rear tyre. These shrink down to 420mm for sizes XXS and XS, made possible by swapping 700c wheels for 650b on these models.
Unlike what we’ve seen from certain other brands, Canyon does not endorse swapping in different wheel sizes on the Grizl, saying “We’ve always been firm believers that if you create a bike to run both 700c tyres and wider 650b setups, then you’ve probably cut a corner somewhere.”
The bikes are optimised around the diameter of 700c x 45mm tyres in the frame sizes S and upwards, and around 650b x 45m in XXS and XS – mixing and matching with different wheel sizes has not been accommodated for. But you can run tyres as wide as 50mm in all sizes, though.
The wheels and tyres are ready to be set up tubeless from out of the box, being all fully compatible. However, the bikes will be shipping with inner tubes installed due to the logistical complications involved with tubeless.
All the bikes come with Schwalbe G-One Bite TLE EVO tyres, which offer a good balance between rolling resistance on the tarmac and grip off road – although not best suited to deeper mud. And these are mounted on DT Swiss wheels with the cheapest models getting the C 1850 Spline DB 23 – featuring a 22mm internal width and a 26mm outer, while measuring 23mm deep and coming with 24 aero-bladed straight pull spokes.
The most expensive get the GRC 1400 Spline DB 42 wheels, which have width measurements of 24mm / 33mm and stand at 42mm deep. The rim material is carbon, while the spoke count also comes to 24.
The finishing kit
One of the most striking things about Canyon’s original gravel bike was the ‘distinctive’ Hover bar. While Canyon still fully stands behind the concept, they do acknowledge that it isn’t the best match for the Grizl.
The main stumbling blocks were that it’s not so easy to attach aero bars for long distance gravel events and that made it more difficult to swap out for third party handlebars which might be better suited to your exact ergonomics.
So, the handlebars specced across the full range are the Ergo AL HB0050 aluminium model, with the smallest sizes getting a 400mm width and the largest a full 460mm. But there is still some scope for inbuilt compliance, with the S15 VCLS 2.0 seatpost with its split construction for added vibration dampening specced on certain models throughout the range.
This is a very Shimano heavy affair, with the entry level bikes (£2,199 and £2,499) getting 46/30t cranksets paired to 11-34t cassettes – which provides the lowest gearing option in the 11-speed range.
In the midrange (£2,999), we see a 48/31t crankset paired to a 11-34t cassette – providing the greatest absolute gearing range available in 11-speed GRX – while the top-end Shimano model (£4,999) gets Di2 electronic shifting, but with these same version gets the same ratios.
There’s also a 1x11 option (£2,949) which sees a 40t chainring paired to an 11-42t cassette. This is the Japanese groupset manufacturer’s lowest gearing for 1x11 gravel, but still represents a rather meaty setup for a bike that’s intended for the rough stuff.
There’s one lone Campagnolo build (£4,899) with the 1x13 Ekar gravel groupset, and a here a 40t chainring is matched with the 10-44 tooth cassette. This is an interesting choice, as the 9-42t cassette paired to a 38 chainring would offer a higher top end and lower bottom end.
Naturally, the jumps between the gears work out on average a little larger with the 9–42t, but the largest jump anywhere on this cassette is 20%, whilst on the 10-44t cassette, the largest jump is a whopping 23.1% – between the 26t and 32t sprockets near the middle of the cassette.
It would be easy to understand if the 10-44t cassette was paired with a 38t chainring – as this provides the lowest gearing combination possible in the Ekar range – but pairing it with the 40t chainring is quite curious
Currently the only two frames in the Grizl line up are carbon and lighter-weight carbon. But those who prefer the lower cost and greater robustness of aluminium need not despair – Canyon says that an AL version is currently in the works.
Although currently all the bikes in the range feature rigid forks, the Grizl frameset is actually rated for use with suspension. There currently aren’t many forks out there with the right axle to crown measurements and a steerer with dimensions of 1 ½” – 1 ¼”, but if you can find one, there’s nothing stopping you from attaching it and bouncing off into the sunset.
It’s worth also noting the surprising dearth of Grizl SRAM builds – especially given the fairly equal balance between Shimano and SRAM on many of Canyon’s other bikes. Now, given that RockShox suspension is a subsidiary of SRAM, we suspect that there might be something big in the pipelines regarding AXS integration for gravel bike suspension – perhaps featuring electronic remote lockout.
This is pure speculation, but Canyon does say to stay tuned for an August update…
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