A gravel bike in a road bike group test? Quite right! With the Canyon Grail CF SLX8, the direct to customer brand sends its stalwart gravel machine into the test. Is the upgrade to DT Swiss aero wheels enough to stand up to the competition? You can find all the answers here.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best road bike of 2021 – 15 models in review

Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap | 7.77 kg in size M | € 4,899 | Manufacturer’s website

Groundhog day? That’s how it felt when the test crew climbed on the Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap. After all, the bike had only just been part of the party in our most recent gravel bike group test. That said, what set our test bike, priced at € 4,899 (without upgrades) and weighing 7.77 kg (without mudguards, 8.17 kg with mudguards), apart from the previous one we had in, was the wheels. Instead of the series DT Swiss GRC 1400, this model came fitted with a DT Swiss ARC 1400 DICUT aero wheelset. Even if this combination isn’t available to buy directly from Canyon, this build is intended to demonstrate just how versatile the Grail CF can be. After all, the range of available aftermarket wheelsets is massive if you want to recreate a similar build. On top of that, the bike also came with Canyon’s Grail AL/CF mudguards, available for € 59.95, which are easy to mount and remain rattle-free, protecting our test riders effectively from road spray in the rain. These should be a no-brainer for all Grail AL/CF fans and are compatible with tires up to 42 mm! Canyon use a SRAM Force eTAP AXS Wide drivetrain, resulting in a generous gear range with climb-friendly gears thanks to the 2×12 gearing combining a 10–33 t cassette and 46/33 t chainrings.

Sturdy and effective
The Grail CF is one of the few bikes offering the option to mount mudguards and even has a matching in-house set available for it. The mudguards excel with their quick and easy mounting as well as effective protection for tires up to 700 x 42C.
Everybody’s darling
Even outside the Canyon community, the Canyon S15 VCSL 2.0 CF seatpost is much-loved amongst bikers thanks to its high level of comfort. Rightly so! It has a flippable head allowing you to swap between 13 or 25 mm offset. We like it!
A slightly too narrow footprint
The carbon rims of the DT Swiss ARC 1400 DICUT wheelset pinch the Schwalbe Pro One TLE tires to just 29 mm wide. For rough and challenging surfaces, that volume is a touch too little. It could happily be a little more.

Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap 2021

€ 4,899


Seatpost Canyon S15 25 mm
Brakes SRAM Force AXS 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Force eTap AXS GS-FRC-E-A1 2 x 12
Chainring 46/33
Stem Canyon CP07 75 mm
Handlebar Canyon CP07 440 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss ARC 1400 DICUT 12 x 100/12 x 142 mm Thru-Axle
Tires Schwalbe Pro One TLE 30-622 (700x30C) 29
Cranks SRAM Force FC-FRC-D1 172,5 mm
Cassette SRAM RED CS-XG-1290-D1 10–33

Technical Data

Size 2XS XS S M L XL 2XL
Weight 7.77 kg

Specific Features

striking “double decker” carbon cockpit
DT Swiss ARC 1400 DICUT Aero wheelset instead of stock DT Swiss GRC 1400
SRAM Force eTap AXS Wide drivetrain with large gear range
mounting options for mudguards

Everything but the kitchen sink
The integrated mount for a GPS computer and front light is a little clunky, though it is compatible with lots of different standard mounts. It might lead to some aesthetic quibbles but is very useful in practice.
Integration with an aftertaste
The stack height of the Canyon CP07 cockpit can be adjusted to some degree. However, seamless integration is only possible in the standard position.
Found its calling
This test showed that the Canyon CP07 isn’t a gravel cockpit, but an all-road cockpit. If you don’t have to be ready to brake at a moment’s notice, you can enjoy cruising on the tops, or make full use of the stiffness of the drops while sprinting thanks to the additional struts.

The high level of comfort of the Canyon S15 VCSL 2.0 CF seatpost also stood out in this test. In fact, the flying carpet effect of the carbon seatpost, which is available with 13 or 25 mm offset, manages to exceed the comfort of the front. Now, to the elephant in the room: the Canyon CP07 cockpit. The big flaw of the system remains its limited adjustability and the fact that seamless integration is only possible in one position. However, the drops are well-suited to sprints, being comparatively stiff due to the additional struts, while the comfortable tops are great for cruising – we were able to get much more out of these features in this test than our gravel one. The advantages of the cockpit are incomparably more useful for changing road conditions and short hardpack detours. While the integration of the brake hoses is average, the mount for lights and a GPS computer is a great feature.

Size 2XS XS S M L XL 2XL
Seat tube 432 mm 462 mm 492 mm 522 mm 552 mm 582 mm 612 mm
Top tube n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Head angle 70.3° 71.3° 71.0° 72.5° 72.5° 72.8° 72.8°
Seat angle 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstays 415 mm 415 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm
BB Drop 60 mm 60 mm 75 mm 75 mm 75 mm 75 mm 75 mm
Wheelbase 988 mm 990 mm 1,020 mm 1,029 mm 1,040 mm 1,063 mm 1,073 mm
Reach 404 mm 425 mm 442 mm 461 mm 478 mm 497 mm 516 mm
Stack 595 mm 615 mm 638 mm 660 mm 688 mm 709 mm 729 mm
Helmet POC Octal MIPS | Glasses Oakley Trillbe | Jersey Isadore IAR T-Shirt
Pants Isadore Alternative Bib Shorts | Shoes Giro Imperial | Socks VOID Socks 16
Watch Garmin Forerunner 45

The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap in review

Step on the pedals and the Grail CF is pleasantly direct and noticeably more sprightly with the road wheelset. However, in comparison to the rest of the group, its acceleration remains average. Efficiency on the flats is good and doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of. That said, in windy conditions the mudguards act like sails and together with the 62.5 mm deep carbon rims, make the bike sensitive to crosswinds, detracting from the feeling of security aboard the bike.

It’s remarkable how well the Grail CF SLX 8 transitions between riding on perfect asphalt, broken up roads and occasional gravel detours! The cockpit concept works much better here than for gravel use. #allroadeverydaygrail

The Schwalbe Pro One TLE 700 x 30C tires also reduced our testers’ trust in the bike. They measure a comparatively narrow 29 mm wide on the DT Swiss ARC wheels and, as such, quickly reach their comfort limit on challenging surfaces due to their low volume. These two negatives aside, confidence in the Grail CF is high and with its excellent stability and overall balanced handling, is well-suited to all abilities. With the difference between the standard 42 mm and the 29 mm tires on our special build being significant, we recommend rubber between 32 and 35 mm as a sensible middle ground between directness and precision on the one hand and damping and off-road control on the other. The overall level of comfort in the setup we had is already very high and stands up well in comparison to the rest of the rest field. The pleasantly central riding position isn’t overly aggressive and is well-suited to long distances. While you can only reach the brake levers from the comfortable tops if you change your hand placement, with enough foresight you can happily cruise in this position. By contrast, the Grail becomes significantly more direct and sporty in the drops. However, it can’t quite keep up with the sportiest bikes in the test field. Opposite to the Cannondale, which approaches its all-round abilities from a performance perspective, the Grail CF does it on the back of adventures and off-road exploring. As a result of their spec changes, both bikes leave their original niche behind and become significantly more versatile in the process. However, in the test, there are ultimately even more versatile bikes.

Tuning tip: 32–35 mm tires to offer more reserves with increased volume and to better emphasise the bike’s sweet-spot

Riding Characteristics



  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

  1. boring
  2. lively


  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data

Grail CF SLX 8 eTap

Size: 2XS XS S M L XL 2XL
Weight: 7,77
Price: € 4,899

Indended Use

Smooth tarmac 1
Allroad/Gravel 2
Everyday/Commuting 3


In the tested special build, the Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap is the perfect choice for all those looking for a versatile bike for enjoyment, commuting and bike touring. Today a gravel tour, tomorrow a scenic gran fondo? With this setup and two wheelsets, not a problem. For this kind of use, the Canyon feels at home like nowhere else! However, when things get sporty on the road, it reaches its limits compared to the competition, making it less-suited to ambitious and sporty riders.


  • comparatively high comfort
  • well-chosen transmission
  • mudguards available as standard
  • versatility sensibly expanded with upgrades


  • susceptible to crosswinds
  • limited adjustability of cockpit
  • on-road abilities don’t extend to high-performance use

For more information head to canyon.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best road bike of 2021 – 15 models in review

All bikes in test: BMC Roadmachine 01 ONE (Click for review) | Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD Disc Ultegra (Click for review) | Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap | Cervélo Caledonia-5 Dura Ace Di2 Disc (Click for review) | Mason Resolution Ekar (Click for review) | MERIDA REACTO TEAM-E CUSTOM (Click for review) | MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM (Click for review) | OPEN MIN.D. (Click for review) | Orbea Gain M20i (Click for review) | ROSE REVEAL FOUR DISC Ultegra Di2 (Click for review) | SCOTT Addict eRIDE Premium (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Aethos (Click for review) | Storck Fascenario.3 Comp Disc Ultegra (Click for review) | Trek Domane+ LT 9 (Click for review) | Wilier Filante SLR (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl