The Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL is one of our most tested bikes. After awarding it the Best Buy in our last gravel bike group test, it now has to prove itself as a bikepacking rig. Does the Grail AL have everything it takes for big adventures?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best bikepacking bike in review

Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL | 9.24 kg in size M | Manufacturer’s website

The Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL is something of a modern gravel bike classic and the perfect choice for gravel fans who aren’t yet ready to commit to the bikepacking scene. With its harmonious colours and fresh look, it definitely scores in the style department! For € 1,799 you get a complete 1×11 SRAM Rival groupset, rattle-free internally routed cables and high-quality DT Swiss C1850 SPLINE DB wheels. The maximum tire clearance of 700 x 40C and the rather rudimentary quality of the weld seams are compromises that you should be aware of, though you get a lot of bike for your money!

While the Canyon FK0070 CF disc carbon fork doesn’t have any mounting points, the frameset has bosses for a total of three bottle cages and eyelets for mudguards. Compared to the 2019 model, which we awarded the Best Buy in our 2020 gravel bike group test, the current model no longer offers the option of mounting a rack. If you decide on a Grail AL, be aware of some peculiarities in the sizing. The size M bike we tested was a good fit for our test riders measuring between 1.77 and 1.84 metres tall, when they would usually go with L frames from other manufacturers.

Too big
You’ll be cursing the chainring on steep climbs while hauling all of your luggage with tired legs on the third day of your trip. The 42 t chainring on the Canyon is far too big given the gear range of the cassette.
Good deal
For € 1,799 you get a complete 1×11 SRAM Rival groupset and solid spec overall
Turn a blind eye
Don’t inspect the weld seams too closely. There’s room for improvement here.
Bolt it on
You’ll find additional bottle cage bosses hidden under the down tube

Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL

€ 1,749

Specifications

Seatpost Canyon SP0043 VCLS CF
Brakes SRAM Rival 1 HRD 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Rival 1 42 (10–42)
Stem Canyon V13 80 mm
Handlebar Canyon HB 0050 Ergobar AL 440 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss C 1850 SPLINE DB
Tires Schwalbe G-One Bite 40C

Technical Data

Size 2XS, XS S M L XL 2XL
Weight 9.24 kg
Wheelsize 700C

Specific Features

compatible with fenders
bosses underneath the down tube


Revelate Designs
Sweetroll (18 l, € 139.99) | Yakataga Dry Pocket (4.3 l, € 169.99)
Tangle Frame Bag (3.5 l, € 129.99) | Saddle Bag (14 l, € 209.99)
Size 2XS XS S M ML XL 2XL
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 616 mm 631 mm
Head tube 117 mm 133 mm 124 mm 143 mm 169 mm 190 mm 209 mm
Head angle 70.0° 71.0° 70.8° 72.3° 72.5° 72.8° 72.8°
Seat angle 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
BB Drop 60 mm 60 mm 75 mm 75 mm 75 mm 75 mm 75 mm
Chainstay 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 364 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

Still the Holy Grail for gravel fans who don’t want to pigeonhole themselves. However, this bike lacks the comfort needed for one of the top spots in our bikepacking group test.

Helmet KASK PROTONE | Glasses Oakley Wind Jacket 2.0 | Jersey Pas Normal Studios Mechanism
Shorts Pas Normal Studios Mechanism | Socks Giro HRC Team | Shoes Giro Republic LX Reflective

The 9.24 kg (size M) Grail AL 7.0 SL feels lively and direct as you accelerate. Even with all of your luggage, the torsionally stiff Canyon is a good sprinter. However, exactly that stiffness is its undoing on rough climbs. It tends to lose traction in these situations and interrupts your rhythm while climbing. However, on compact and flat surfaces, it offers all the more efficiency and carries its momentum well. As in the gravel bike group test, the handling of the Grail AL offers a good balance between agility and composure even when you’ve strapped on all of your bags. Its handling remains precise and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face even on winding paths, as long as the terrain is reasonably smooth.

The SRAM Rival brakes perform well, instilling you with confidence, and their comparatively large hoods also offer a secure grip for your hands in case things get wet and slick. The little bit of comfort that the bike offers is owed in large part to the Schwalbe tires. Unfortunately, the comfort quickly reaches its limits and isn’t enough for extended gravel expeditions. Due to its stiffness, the Grail AL is one of the bikes on test that was least affected by heavy payloads but that comes at the cost of its long-distance suitability.

Tuning tips: suspended stem and seat post for more comfort | careful route planning

Conclusion

The Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL is a great entry-level gravel bike and a good all-rounder. It isn’t phased by heavy payloads and scores for its balanced handling. Due to its lack of comfort, you’ll do better staying on compact gravel roads and asphalt when planning the route for your next bikepacking adventure. For multisport fans, fair-weather riders and beginners, it’s an excellent gravel all-rounder offering good value for money. However, it’s not the bike you buy if all you want to do is bikepacking.

Tops

  • top spec for the money
  • braking performance
  • good gravel all-rounder

Flops

  • lacking comfort
  • lacking mounting points
  • some welds look rudimentary
  • chainring too big

For more info head to canyon.com.

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best bikepacking bike in review

All bikes in test: Bombtrack Hook 2 (Click for review) | Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL | Fern Chuck Explorer (Click for review) | Marin Headlands 2 (Click for review) | Mason Bokeh GRX (Click for review) | MERIDA SILEX+ 8000-E (Click for review) | RONDO BOGAN (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD AXS Mullet Build (Click for review) | Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600 (Click for review) | Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Epic HT AXS Custom (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.9 XTR Project One (Click for review)

Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Benjamin Topf, Robin Schmitt, Valentin Rühl