The Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail enters our adventure gravel bike group test with a suspension fork and iconic leaf-spring seat post, as well as Canyon’s usual understated style. Without a doubt, it’s a well-established and wildly popular gravel bike. But is it the right choice for an adventure gravel bike?
This bike was tested as part of our 2024 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the featured bikes here:
The Canyon Grizl has already established itself as a classic in the gravel game, despite the fact that it didn’t show up in the German brand’s portfolio until 2021. In contrast to the Grail, the Grizl offers significantly more adventure and off-road capability, including greater tire clearance, more mounting options (with the rigid fork), dropper post compatibility, and a less racy look and geometry. The Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap Suspension won our big gravel bike group test in 2022. Since it’s an adventure specialist, it’s bound to tick all the right boxes in our adventure gravel bike group test, right? Can the tried-and-tested gravel bike claim victory once again?
Suspension becomes Trail – Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail
Not so long ago, the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail was still called Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Suspension. So, Canyon decided to replace the Suspension suffix with Trail, perhaps because roadies didn’t know what it meant. We can only speculate. Either way, Trail makes the bike’s intentions a whole lot clearer. The difference compared with the other Grizl models, however, remains the same: 30 mm of suspension travel provided by a RockShox Rudy air suspension fork. It should be capable of dealing with rough off-road terrain, and make the Canyon Grizl even more versatile. However, the 12-speed SRAM Force XPLR eTap AXS drivetrain offers too little range for real off-road adventures with its 10–44 t cassette and 40 t chainring. You also get a power meter, although your wattage output isn’t usually the main priority on an expedition, unless you enjoy analysing your performance afterwards or intend to use the bike for racing. The remainder of the components are supplied in-house, from the stem to the bar tape. Naturally, the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail also makes use of the ever-popular and equally catchy Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 CF seat post with its leaf-spring design.
In terms of design, the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail doesn’t push any boundaries, but rather features the classic, subtle Canyon design language. It looks rather simple and unobtrusive, but compared to the more extreme designs like the BMC URS, or eye-catching frames like the Specialized Diverge STR, you’ll still find your eyes drawn to the clean lines of the Canyon. Visually and functionally, the high-quality and robust Reynolds ATR wheelset is an ideal match for the bike. Considering the 40 mm rim depth and internal width of 23 mm, the weight of just over 1,600 g is relatively light. The wheels are shod with Schwalbe G-One Bite tires. There’s not much to speak of in terms of luggage mounting points: the only additional bosses can be found on the top tube, as well as eyelets for a mudguard at the rear. The build is available for € 5,199.
Tuning tip: Bikepacking straps to lash things to the fork
Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail
Fork Rock Shox Rudy 30 mm
Seatpost Canyon S15
Brakes SRAM Force 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Force eTap AXS 1x12
Stem Canyon ST0035 90 mm
Handlebar Canyon HB0063 440 mm
Wheelset Reynolds ATR
Tires Schwalbe G-One Bite 28"
Size S M L XL XXL
Weight 9.82 kg
Relatively few eyelets
Seatpost with flex function
Trail action, or cruising comfort – What is the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail capable of?
The moment you hop aboard the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail, you’ll feel at home. The riding position is superbly balanced, neither too aggressive, nor too relaxed. Furthermore, the riding position is very centred and compact. Accordingly, the handling is good-natured and balanced. The Grizl doesn’t do anything unexpected, consistent through the corners and holding a line well on the straights. It’s composed without feeling cumbersome, implementing the rider’s input in a controlled manner. This also instils you with plenty of confidence. The Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail performs just as convincingly in terms of compliance. The Rudy suspension fork and S15 seat post harmonise perfectly together and generate a high level of comfort on almost all terrain, from smooth gravel to rugged trails. We were particularly impressed with the S15 seat post, and its ability to generate a similar level of comfort to bikes with a rear suspension system, but with far less weight and complexity, and no service intervals. This is especially useful for long adventures far off the beaten track, as it’s one less thing to worry about it.
Despite the relatively hefty weight of 9.82 kg, the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail proves to be surprisingly efficient. You can obviously feel the weight on steep climbs, but it sprints relatively well even with the suspension fork open. The Schwalbe G-One Bite tires allow you to make good progress on both the road and gravel. They really shine on the trails, especially in combination with the suspension fork and leaf-spring seat post. Despite its versatility, it’s not the perfect bike for every situation: the GIANT Revolt X does a better job of blasting down rough trails, while the Merida Silex will be a better companion to rack up the kilometres over smoother terrain.
An ideal companion for a wide range of adventures.
The perfect Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail adventure
The Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail is a pretty decent bike for a wide range of scenarios. With the suspension fork, it’s especially interesting for those who want to race along single-track paths, or just want maximum comfort wherever they ride. It’s just as good for beginners or roadies who want to venture off the beaten track from time to time but still prefer riding on gravel roads. Due to its versatility and balanced handling, it’s a great option for commuters, too.
Our conclusion on the Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail
The Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail is a well-thought-out bike that’s well-balanced in all scenarios. It doesn’t stand out from the test field in any particular discipline, but it’s far above average in all respects. Its high level of comfort and balanced handling make it ideal for a wide range of use cases. We also think it’s quite reasonably priced. The Grizl is an excellent gravel all-rounder, and missed out on the top spot by a narrow margin.
- easy, intuitive, and predictable handling
- superbly comfortable thanks to the Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 CF seat post and RockShox Rudy Ultimate suspension fork
- timeless design
- limited mounting points for an adventure bike
For more information visit canyon.com
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the test field here:
All bikes on review:Argon 18 Dark Matter | BMC URS 01 ONE | Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 Lefty | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail | Falkenjagd ARISTOS TRAIL GRAVEL | Focus Atlas 8.8 | Ghost Asket Advanced | Giant Revolt X | Merida Silex 10k | Mondraker Dusty XR | Orbea Terra M21e Team Custom M | Ridley Kanzo Adventure | Rose Backroad AL Plus | Santa Cruz Stigmata | Scott Solace Gravel eRIDE 10 | Specialized Diverge STR Pro | Trek Checkpoint SL 7 AXS | Wilier Adlar | YT Industries Szepter Core 4
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Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Mike Hunger