Why you need to buy this bike
I have just got back from a ride on the Grail. It is still wet from a quick spray down and I have a pile of dirty clothes next to me, but I feel compelled to review this bike, right now. Spoiler alert, it is flipping brilliant!
I have had the bike for a couple of months now, I’ve almost exclusively ridden it in the rain and in the dark. This is the first solo, day time, sort-of-dry ride I’ve done. I’ve had time to get myself settled in to the cockpit and see how it handles on lots of different surfaces. I think I’m in love.
Getting to know your bike
I’ve always felt a bike choice is highly personal. You go through a lot of emotions (and pain) on a bike and so choosing the one for you shouldn’t be rushed. I made that mistake last year and bought a Genesis Datum. It was a lovely bike but I just never got excited riding it. Also, I could only get a 37mm tire on the back and so always felt a bit limited.
Don’t get me wrong, it was capable (See dirty Reiver video here) but for the kind of riding I do, which is pushing the limits of gravel bikes, it was holding me back.
Buying bikes visually
Most of my mates will tell you, I know very little about bikes from a technical point of view. I kind of know groupsets and brand names but I have no idea how many teeth I have on my cassette or what type of bolt through axel, I have on my wheels. I just don’t really care that much!
Like many people, I buy my bikes with my eyes first and fall in love with the aesthetics first. Whilst the Canyon Grail is a ‘marmite’ design, I absolutely LOVE IT.
Yes, everyone spots the handlebar first (or hover-bars as people call them), but just look at the rest of it! From the matte finish black and silver frame to the angle of the top tube, the gum wall tires and the absence of a traditional stem. It is a delight in my opinion.
What is like to ride?
Fab fab fab fab fab.
I quite like an upright geometry to ride but something slammed to look at. I think that comes from being a mountain biker moving into road and gravel. Whilst the seat is set well above the handlebars and looks slammed, I don’t feel uncomfortable even on the drops.
The drops are actually the most interesting part of the hover-bars. They give you the ability to hook your thumb over the lower bar where it connects to the drops. This gives you an amazing feeling of control on some of the sketchier descents.
When you are riding on the top of the bars it is like any other bike with just a touch more compliance. I was expecting it to flex more than it does but the reality is on the bigger bumps you’ll be riding in the drops anyway. I see the hover-bar coming into its own on longer traditional gravel rides.
The buying process
If you’ve ever bought a bike from Canyon’s website you’ll know it is fairly user-friendly. As a marketer and fan of shopping for bikes, I found the user experience, live chat function and getting information super-easy. Their size guide has also been bang-on for both my Spectral and Grail.
Canyon have excelled at their customer experience when it comes to delivery of the bike. From the little tool kit, torque wrench, tote bag, grease and packaging straps, everything seems considered. This is a little video of my unboxing and building it in one minute
As I am sure you can tell, after even a short amount of time I feel at home on this bike. It is capable on the road as well as thrashing down a track in the woods in the dark. It really is a do-it-all bike.
I plan on taking this on some much longer adventures bike packing as well as getting to know more local bridleways, canals and trails.