Incorporating an aluminium frame in place of carbon fibre, Canyon has brought the gravel-focussed Grail range down to new bargain basement price-point. But, without the distinctive ‘Hover Bar’, does the Grail AL still deliver on comfort and compliance?
The launch of the Canyon Grail CF gravel bike certainly did not go unnoticed. With a carbon frame designed exclusively to be used with the innovative floating-flex-area ‘Hover Bar’, the aesthetic was certainly polarizing, with styling as unique as the concept. However, championing comfort when riding on the tops, and stiffness on the drops, the Canyon Grail CF certainly delivered on its promises, showcasing next level comfort and very composed handling. Noticing the growth of the gravel/adventure sector at all price points, Canyon bikes have extended the Canyon Grail lineup to include the AL range, starting from just €1199.00 for the entry level Grail AL 6.0 to €1599.00 for the Grail AL 7.0 SL. At this price point, you would think there’s little room for building sensibly specified bikes, but if anyone knows how to aggressively price point a bike, it’s the Koblenz based direct retail brand. However, in doing away with the highlights (bar and seatpost) that made the Grail CF so unique, does the aluminium version still tick all the boxes as a versatile adventure machine?
The Canyon Grail AL 7.0 in detail
At first glance, it’s clear that the Canyon Grail AL does not share the polarising silhouette of the Hover Bar equipped carbon “CF“ models. With a conventional bar and stem, the Canyon Grail AL looks sharp and classy, translating Canyons design language well on the 6061 Aluminium frame and carbon fork. Canyon has not skimped on the details either, internal cable routing, mounting points for a third bottle cage and a provision for fitting fenders and racks all add to its versatile credentials. With the AL 7.0 model retailing for just €1499.00 there is not a lot of room left for Canyon to go crazy with the componentry, but we admit to being pleasantly surprised.
The heart of the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 model is a full Shimano 105 groupset and disc brakes, simple and effective. The drivetrain features a Shimano HG700 11-34 T, 11-speed cassette, twinned with 50 / 34 T chainrings. The disc brakes are Shimano 105 paired with 160 mm rotors front and rear. Canyon has also included DT Swiss’ C 1850 Spline db gravel wheelset, with Schwalbe G-One Bite 40 mm tires. The rest of the componentry is Canyons own brand V13 stem and HB Ergobar AL, taped with Canyon Ergospeed Gel. While the specification is unlikely to get anyone’s juices flowing, it’s all reliable and up to the task, and looking at the amazing price tag, makes it all the more appealing.
Sizes and geometry of the Canyon Grail AL
The Canyon Grail AL models are available in 7 sizes, from 2XS for riders from 158 – 166 cm, all the way to 2XL for riders up to 202 cm.
|Seat tube||432 mm||462 mm||492 mm||522 mm||552 mm||582 mm||612 mm|
|Top tube||516 mm||531 mm||555 mm||577 mm||591 mm||613 mm||631 mm|
|Head tube||117 mm||133 mm||124 mm||143 mm||169 mm||190 mm||209 mm|
|Chainstays||415 mm||415 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|Wheelbase||984 mm||990 mm||1,027 mm||1,035 mm||1,047 mm||1,070 mm||1,085 mm|
|Reach||384 mm||373 mm||390 mm||405 mm||412 mm||431 mm||440 mm|
|Stack||514 mm||533 mm||556 mm||579 mm||605 mm||626 mm||644 mm|
The Canyon Grail AL 7.0 in review
Before we dive into a review, we must hand out a virtual high-five! Canyon has succeeded in making a ‘budget’ bike look anything but. The clear design language, cutting lines and well-chosen colour scheme gives the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 an elegance and sense of purpose that defies its paltry price tag. “Chapeau” Canyon, “chapeau”.
However, looks aside, there are other areas where sticking to strict budgets can be observed. Weighing in at 9.48 kg the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 is unlikely to explode off the mark, and when stomping hard on the pedals the speed increases leisurely. It’s no whippet but once up to speed the Grail AL is happy covering ground at a good pace. For a bike at this price point, you should be expecting to replace some parts, but out of the box, there is very little to complain about. If you do lust for more speed, some stiffer and lighter carbon wheels would fire up the acceleration. The Shimano 105 11 speed drivetrain lacks the lightness of touch and instantaneous shift of a top-tier drivetrain but goes about its business with a rugged reliability that would suggest many kilometres of trouble-free riding. The Shimano 105 brakes are powerful and silent in their action, working well in all weathers.
Stable and composed is the best way to define the handling of the Canyon Grail AL 7.0. No matter how rough the terrain under the wheels, the 430 mm chainstays and relaxed 72.25° head angle (in Medium) result in a confident and easy going front end. There’s no nervousness or sharpness to the steering through tight turns or long carves. It would make a great bike for beginners, for long-tours, or for those who do not want to be attacking every turn.
Punching hard out of the saddle, the spacious reach and stiff cockpit of the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 ensures you can dish out some serious horsepower up short steep climbs, however the long chainstays that provide so much seated stability, do mean that you can lose a little traction from the back wheel when pulling hard on the bars. Also, while its more expensive sibling, the Grail CF, boasts many innovative approaches to improve comfort such as the compliant split VCLS 2.0 carbon seatpost; the basic carbon seat post of the AL version combined with the stiff rear triangle borders on a little harsh. We found that we needed to regain some comfort with a slight reduction in the tire pressures in the Schwalbe G-One Bite 40 mm tires.
Overall – especially considering the bargain basement price – the Canyon Grail AL 7.0 delivers an exceptional package, blending reliable componentry with a confident and stable handling package that will be well-suited to the target market of riders taking their first step into gravel, or more advanced riders looking to upgrade in the future.
The Canyon Grail AL 7.0 is an affordable kilometre-muncher that brings great looks and versatility to an exceptional price point. Lacking the energy and lively handling of lighter and more expensive gravel bikes, instead, it champions confident and undemanding handling that makes light work of after-work loops and long Sunday epics.
For those of you who still wonder what the real world differences between a gravel and a cyclocross bike are, we compared the two concepts with Canyon’s Inflite CF and Grail CF. Find the article right here.
For more info head to: canyon.com