Canyon Grail: ON CF 8 eTap 2020 first ride review – E-gravelling with an 85…

tire clearance, capability, and mounts than the Grail — and an almost completely normal handlebar and stem, too.

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Canyon introduced its first gravel bike, the Grail, in 2018, and as popular as it’s been, most people probably didn’t expect it to be the company’s only offering in the segment for long given how diverse the category is in reality.

We at CyclingTips have long held the opinion that gravel exists on a spectrum, and with the Grail occupying the somewhat milder end of that range, there was room at the other end for Canyon to introduce something a bit more capable. And so, to complement the Grail, we now have the Grizl.

[ct_story_highlights]What it is: Canyon’s new more gravelly gravel bike for your most gravelest adventures yet.||Frame features: Carbon fiber construction, dropped driveside chainstay, clearance for 50 mm-tires, internal cable routing, PF86 press-fit bottom bracket shell.||Weight: 950 g (claimed, medium Grizl CF SLX frame only, with paint and hardware); 8.70 kg (19.28 lb), as tested, XS size, without pedals or accessories.||Price: Varies by model and region.||Highs: Excellent balance of ride quality and chassis stiffness, very good tire clearance, upsized rotor diameters, lots of mounts, mostly normal cockpit, strong value proposition. ||Lows: Goofy 1 1/4″ steerer diameter, non-convertible internal routing, limited gearing range on Shimano 1x models, no frameset option.[/ct_story_highlights]

What the heck is a Grizl?

Canyon doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being the most lighthearted bike brand out there. Given the brand’s performance bent, it’s perhaps of little surprise that the bike families are all rather serious, the colors more mild than wild, and so much of the marketing spiel centered around objective test figures rather than emotion.

With the Grizl, Canyon finally seems to be lightening up a little. In fact, one might even argue that the company is displaying a sense of humor.

Nowhere in Canyon’s marketing materials for the Grizl is there any mention of stiffness or compliance, aerodynamics or watts. You’re curious about fiber modulus or you want to see a colorful image from some FEA testing? Sorry, you won’t find any of that here.

There is this little gem in the official press materials, however:

“Grizlin‘ is just like riding, but with your priorities set right. Experience over performance. Stories over glories. Grizlin’ means rolling out the door with an open mind, not knowing quite what‘s going to happen. We saw the progression in gravel riding with riders tackling more technical terrain and getting their kicks from what the cool kids call ‘underbiking.’ We tried it. It was fun.”

“Underbiking” is exactly what some Grail riders might find themselves doing, what with that bike’s official 700×42 mm maximum tire clearance. That’s enough to do a decent amount of off-tarmac exploring, but is ultimately most ideally suited for unpaved dirt and gravel roads, not legitimate trails. Canyon is expecting that Grizl owners will be taking their bikes on plenty of terrain for which it isn’t ideally suited, but it’s still a whole lot easier to do that when the tires are at least a little closer to where you really want them to be. As such, the new Grizl is built to accommodate tires up to 50 mm across for more grip and comfort on rougher terrain.

Going along with the substantial boost in tire clearance are some subtle geometry tweaks.

The chainstays grow from 425 mm to a still-reasonably-short 435 mm, while ever-so-subtly slacker head tube angles add a bit more length up front to match, maintaining proper rider weight distribution. Comparing a medium Grail to a medium Grizl, the total wheelbase grows from 1,029 mm to 1,050 mm.

That minuscule change in head tube angle — just 0.25°, and not even in all sizes — increases the trail dimension into the low-70 mm range for just a smidgeon more steering stability. But, all in all, the handling of the Grizl is far from a grand departure from what the Grail offers, and is similarly on the quicker side of things as far as gravel bikes are concerned.

Canyon is also sticking with the Grail’s long-reach-plus-short-stem philosophy that the company co-opted from the mountain bike world — and for good reason, since it works so well in terms of lending confidence on trickier terrain.

There’s no need to toss in a caveat of how the handling of the Grizl might change with different wheel sizes. Whereas plenty of gravel bikes out there are supposedly accommodating of both 700c and 650b wheel-and-tire setups, Canyon intends for the Grizl to stick to one, and one only. XXS and XS sizes are designed specifically around 650×47 mm tires, while the other five sizes go with 700×45 mm; 50 mm-wide tires will fit either way. According to Canyon, there are just too many geometry compromises that go along with changing the total outer diameter, and I tend to agree.

Rider positioning is fairly aggressive regardless, with an overall stack-to-reach ratio that’s a bit more upright than the Ultimate family of road bikes, but longer and lower than the Endurace collection of endurance road bikes. If you want to go higher, you don’t have to worry too much; Canyon is including 27.5 mm of headset spacers on every Grizl. You can go low if you want to, but you don’t necessarily have to.

In terms of ride comfort, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of vertical compliance built directly into the frame or fork. The chunky seat cluster doesn’t suggest a whole lot of flex going on there, nor do the generously proportioned fork blades and crown. That said, Canyon does include its superb VCLS flexible carbon fiber seatposts with most Grizl models, and the high-volume tires will do most of the heavy lifting, anyway.

Conspicuously missing is any sort of weird cockpit treatment up front like on the carbon fiber Grails. Canyon has opted for separate handlebars and stems on the Grizl so as to provide riders with a little more choice in terms of equipment and accessories, and the exposed cabling will make for easier servicing. Control lines are otherwise routed internally through the down tube and chainstays.

Some Canyon habits die hard, though. The company is standing by its long-preferred PF86 press-fit bottom bracket shell format, but screw-together bottom bracket cups are used throughout to help keep things quiet. And up front, the fork uses a tapered steerer, starting with a girthy 1 1/2″ diameter at the crown and tapering only slightly down to Canyon’s trademark 1 1/4″ oversized diameter up top. This dramatically limits stem choices, although in fairness to Canyon, that situation is getting a little better. Even Redshift Sports now offers a version of its popular ShockStop suspension stem to suit.

Take your Grizl with you everywhere, and bring all of your stuff, too

That extra tire clearance and slightly more stable handling is also accompanied by a fair bit of additional versatility.

As with the Grail, front and rear fender mounts are incorporated into every Grizl, and while most aftermarket kits can be made to fit, Canyon offers its own setup for a true plug-and-play installation. Either way, adding mudguards only knocks down the maximum tire size down by around 5 mm, which means any complete Grizl can accept fenders with the stock tires.

Up to three bottle mounts are included (two inside the main triangle, one under the down tube), along with one for a top tube feed bag. Cargo mounts are located on the side of each fork blade, and Canyon has printed the recommended torque values and load ratings directly on the frame. None of the load-bearing threaded inserts are just rivnuts, either. Each one is co-molded into the surrounding carbon so as to boost their capacity and reduce the chance they’ll come loose.

Canyon hasn’t incorporated any accommodations for a rear rack, but it has partnered with UK outfit Apidura for some custom bags. The feed bag includes a quick-access lid with a multi-position magnetic closure, the partial frame bag fits perfectly inside the front triangle, and the capacious saddle bag has enough room for a summer-weight sleeping bag (assuming you pack carefully). That’s maybe not enough for diehard adventure riders, but in fairness to Canyon, I’m not entirely sure that’s what “grizzlin’” is all about.

Canyon says the Grizl can handle a total of up to 21 kg (46.3 pounds) of additional gear, and helping to rein all that in is the option for upsized rotors. 160 mm-diameter ones come stock, but both ends can be increased to 180 mm if desired. This makes an awful lot of sense to me; 140 mm-diameter rotors have no place on a gravel bike.

Specific models for US markets and ROW, but no aluminum frames — yet

Canyon is offering the Grizl in two carbon frame versions — the CF SL and CF SLX — both featuring virtually identical external shapes and differing primarily in fiber content and lay-up schedules. Claimed weight for a medium Grizl CF SLX frame is just 950 g (painted, with hardware), while the SL is said to tack on another 100 g or so.

Interestingly, all of the Grizls are compatible with 1x or 2x drivetrains, but Canyon isn’t bothering with convertible internal routing. Instead, Canyon says the Grizl CF SLX is designed to be used exclusively with electronic drivetrains while the Grizl CF SL’s ports will only work with mechanical setups (although SRAM’s wireless groupsets will obviously work with either one, and confusingly, there’s an SLX model offered with Campagnolo’s Ekar mechanical groupset). Grizl CF SLX frames house the Shimano Di2 battery in the down tube just ahead of the bottom bracket, though, which unfortunately means that only the Grizl CF SL frames get that third bottle mount. SLX owners apparently will just have to stop more often (or go thirsty).

canyon, grail, etap, 2020

Five Grizl CF SL models and two Grizl CF SLX models will be offered for now, starting with the Grizl CF SL 6 with a Shimano GRX 400 2x groupset and DT Swiss C 1850 Spline DB 23 aluminum wheels, and topping out with the Grizl CF SLX 8 with either a Shimano GRX 815 electronic groupset or Campagnolo Ekar mechanical, plus DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline DB 28 carbon wheels.

Canyon isn’t keeping things the same on all Grizl models worldwide, though. For example, American customers won’t have access to the Ekar models, and US-bound models will also come with Maxxis tires and WTB saddles instead of the Schwalbe and Fizik stuff used elsewhere. Some models will even be offered in 1x variations with stock dropper posts actuated by the left-hand shifter.

Point being, it’ll be best to check your regional Canyon site for more precise information on spec, availability, and pricing.

At least for now, there’s no bare frameset option for the DIYers, regardless of region, nor is there a Grizl AL on tap at launch, although Canyon has at least confirmed that the latter is in the works.

Goin’ grizzlin’

I should preface these first impressions of the Grizl with a caveat: Canyon sent me an XS Grizl sample instead of my preferred S, although I can understand the confusion on their part. I typically ride an XS in the brand’s road bikes, S gravel bikes, and M mountain bikes (for various reasons). I’m often pretty tolerant of small variations in stack and reach from my ideal figures so that sort of thing wouldn’t normally be a big deal. However, the XS Grizl is built around 650b wheels and tires instead of the 700c ones fitted to larger Grizl models.

That all said, take the following with a grain of salt.

Canyon supplied a midrange Grizl CF SL 8 loaner, equipped with a Shimano GRX 800 mechanical 2x groupset, DT Swiss G1800 Spline 25 aluminum clinchers wrapped with 47 mm-wide Maxxis Rambler tires set up tubeless (50 mm actual width), and a variety of Canyon house-brand finishing kit. Actual weight without pedals or accessories was 8.70 kg (19.28 lb), and I ultimately settled on 23/25 psi front/rear tire pressures for my current 72 kg weight. My sample only saw as much tarmac as was necessary to get to the target off-road sections, which included a mix of handpicked dirt, gravel paths, and rocky singletrack — in other words, exactly what the Grizl is intended to do best.

Underbiking may very well be what the cool kids are doing, but having done plenty of that myself — including on my personal Canyon Grail AL — I’d argue that having the right bike for the job is much more enjoyable. In that sense, it seems to me that the Grizl has done a good job of achieving its aim of being more capable than the Grail, although I don’t expect a ton of people will be rushing out to replace their mountain bike hardtails with one of these. Underbiking is fun, but it’s not that fun.

Despite the fact that Canyon doesn’t seem to have incorporated any compliance mechanisms directly into the design of the frame itself, the Grizl is reassuringly composed when things get bumpy. I wouldn’t say that it comes across as exceptionally compliant, but the ride quality is nevertheless appropriately muted and nicely damped — think more planted and settled than pillowy soft and cushy, which is personally exactly what I want on rougher terrain so as to keep the tire patches firmly digging into the ground.

Much of the credit of course goes to those voluminous 50 mm-wide tires, but not all of it. The clever VCLS leaf-spring seatpost included on this Grizl model is highly effective, too, and while the 1 1/4″-diameter steerer tube and oversize fork blades don’t seem to yield much, I tip my hat to Canyon’s product managers for specifying particularly thick and cushiony handlebar tape to help keep things from feeling too far out of balance.

Canyon also doesn’t make a big deal of the Grizl being a “fast” bike, but it’s worth noting regardless that it doesn’t exactly feel slow or cumbersome — and its rather reasonable weight doesn’t exactly hurt, either. A close friend once confessed to me that his favorite all-time cyclocross bike was an old Time — not because it was lighter or stiffer than anything else, but because it was softer and flexier, and allowed him to continue putting power down while comfortably seated.

In that sense, the Grizl is an excellent partner if you’re looking to cover ground quickly (and yes, I do have to include the overused cliche of setting a couple of Strava PRs on a couple of my favorite gravel sections). That said, the frame isn’t mushy or soft at the bottom bracket. It’s for sure not an ultra-stiff rocket ship like so many modern road racing bikes, but the Grizl is still impressively eager when you want it to be, accelerating crisply if you’re racing to get home or surging uphill to clear a particularly challenging crux section.

Chassis stiffness is nicely balanced front to rear, which contributes to the bike’s predictable handling. Canyon easily could have gone the increasingly popular route here, with a super-long reach and ultra-slack front end for lots and lots of stability. Instead, the Grizl is long, but not too long, and it retains a rather agile personality that’s just as happy being flicked around obstacles instead of only plowing straight through them. The long wheelbase lends good stability when both wheels are sliding through a corner, too.

Overall, the Grizl is probably about as quick as I’d personally want a gravel bike to handle. It’s fun and nimble — even on tarmac — but not to the point of feeling like it’s tricky to hold a line when barreling through a section of loose rocks. That said, I didn’t have a chance to ride my sample loaded to capacity (or with anything on the fork mounts at all, in fact), so I can’t comment on whether the front end might feel a little too eager when you’re packed for a multi-day trip.

Speaking of bags, the optional packs that are made for the Grizl by Apidura are pretty nice, and reasonably capacious, although you’d still want to add a bigger handlebar bag and some bits on the fork blades if you’re really planning on heading out into the wilderness on an overnighter. I’m still a little disappointed in the frame bag, however. After all, if these are made just for the Grizl, why not go all the way with dedicated hard mounts so you can get rid of the mounting straps altogether?

canyon, grail, etap, 2020

Canyon says that’s to maintain more compatibility with larger frame bags if a Grizl owner wants to go that route, but I’d argue that dedicated hard mounts would clean things up while still offering that broader compatibility. It’s a small thing, sure, but it’s still a thing nonetheless, and more noticeable when you consider that companies like Niner are already doing it.

I give Canyon credit for going the traditional route with the separate handlebar and stem, though. While the double decker setup on carbon Grails may very well be popular, such an integrated setup just doesn’t provide enough versatility for what the Grizl is supposed to do — not to mention that I don’t find it to make all that much sense myself, either. The Double Decker setup on the Grail is flexy up top and stiff in the drops just as intended, but that’s also the opposite of what I want in the front end of a gravel bike so I’m doubly happy that it’s not on the Grizl (and a large reason why I bought a Grail AL instead of a carbon model).

I do still wish that Canyon went with a traditional 1 1/8″ stem clamp diameter, though. I get that the whole “OneOneFour” steerer is part of Canyon’s ethos, but if you’re going to make a big deal of making a bike more modular and customizable, using a weird steerer tube diameter seems rather silly.

I don’t have a ton to say about the spec otherwise, beyond what’s been said before in one way or another. Shimano’s GRX 800 mechanical groupset is superb stuff. Basically the gravel analogue of Ultegra, it works just as reliably and competently, albeit with more purpose-specific gearing and a clutch on the rear derailleur pulley cage for enhanced chain security. Shift quality is smooth and predictable, the brakes are powerful and easy to control, and the lever ergonomics are outstanding.

It’s a similar story with the DT Swiss wheels. They’re not quite as nice as the GR 1600 Spline DB 25 model I tested last year, and unfortunately are equipped with the company’s more pedestrian three-pawl driver mechanism instead of the venerable star ratchet system. But it works well all the same, and most people won’t mind too much.

And while I like both Schwalbe and Maxxis gravel tires, I dare say that the latter is viewed more favorably by American buyers at this rougher end of the gravel spectrum, so I think Canyon made the right call there. It’d be nice to see tubeless valve stems included stock, though, especially given that tubes don’t make a whole lot of sense for a bike like this.

I’ve got some reservations about the Shimano-equipped 1x setups Canyon has chosen for the Grizl CF SL 8 1BY, though, as Shimano’s current drivetrains just don’t provide nearly as wide a range as what’s currently available from Campagnolo’s superb Ekar 1×13 groupset, or even SRAM’s aging 1×11 mechanical drop-bar options. Canyon acknowledged as much when I asked, and without revealing too much, hinted that things might change in the months ahead. Exactly how I don’t know, but unless you’re a serious devotee of 1x drivetrains, I’d personally skip the Shimano version unless you ride mostly on flatter terrain.

Splitting hairs

The Grizl doesn’t try to wow you with any single whiz-bang feature, and obviously doesn’t incorporate any dedicated suspension elements like what you’d find in a Specialized Diverge, BMC URS, or even a Pivot Vault. But it nevertheless does what it does with a sort of unflappable composure that will more than suffice for most, and the lack of extra doodads will invariably be seen as a plus, not a minus. When you add in Canyon’s typically enticing direct-to-consumer pricing, the argument becomes a little stronger still.

Gravel does indeed exist on a spectrum, and given the explosion of the category, it’s no surprise to see that Canyon is trying to grab a bigger piece of the pie. I don’t see the Grizl as being entirely complementary to the Grail, though. At least from where I sit, there’s more than enough overlap that plenty of potential Grail owners will instead end up with a Grizl — if for no other reason than if they want to avoid that proprietary Double Decker handlebar setup.

The Grizl may be a little heavier than the Grail, and might not feel quite as close to a road bike, either. But it’s close enough, light enough, and I’d argue that the handling is still sufficiently entertaining that it could still pull double duty if need be.

If you’re looking within the Canyon catalog for a single drop-bar bike to do just everything (including go fast on tarmac), the Grail is most certainly it. But if you’re like a lot of other gravel buyers that are looking for something to supplement your dedicated road bike, the new Grizl is the way to go.

Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap 2020 first ride review – E-gravelling with an 85 Nm Bosch Performance Line CX motor

The cat is out of the bag: Canyon have announced their very first E-gravel bike, the Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap. This isn’t just a Grail CF with a powerful Bosch Performance Line CX motor and 500 Wh battery bolted on. Instead, it benefits from customised geometry and claims a more comfortable ride. Does the concept work? We tested it for you.

Even at a glance, it’s easy to spot the similarities between the Canyon Grail CF and its motorised brother, the Canyon Grail:ON CF. Carbon framesets featuring similar geometry, VCLS 2.0 suspended seatposts, Schwalbe G-One Bite tires and apart from the down tube and motor, a similarly futuristic look and design. And yes, the polarising Canyon CP07 CF double-decker hover bar has also been carried over to the motorised version of the Grail CF. But Canyon haven’t just bolted a powerful Bosch Performance Line CX motor and 500 Wh battery to the existing Grail CF. By changing some components and tuning the geometry, a comfortable, motor-assisted, off-road escape from the city is claimed to be easier than ever before. Does that work in practice? We were able to test the top-end Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap thoroughly before its official release and can tell you who this bike is and isn’t for.

The Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap in detail

As the name suggests, the top-end Grail:ON CF 8 eTap comes equipped with a wireless SRAM AXS 1×12 Force eTap group. Even with the additional cables for the Bosch Purion remote, the wireless shifting avoids a tangle of cables around the hover bar. The polarising CP07 double-decker cockpit is the same that is fitted to the non-motorised Grail CF. With its built-in flex area in the middle of the upper bar, it is designed to offer increased comfort and compliance when on the tops, while maintaining a stiff and direct feel when riding in the drops. Voluminous 700 x 50C Schwalbe G-One Bite tires, compliant seat stays and the Canyon VCLS 2.0 CF seatpost are supposed to generate additional comfort when riding off-road. Complementing the tires nicely, the DT Swiss HGC 1400 gravel wheelset comes with a generous 24 mm inner rim width – great!

While the rear wheel is built around 12 x 148 mm Boost spacing, the front uses a standard 12 x 100 mm thru-axle. While this no doubt makes sense for this bike, it does make swapping wheels more difficult if you only have a standard 12 x 142/12 x 100 mm road thru-axle wheelset at home. While the wheels and tires are tubeless-ready, our test bike came fitted with tubes. The Bosch Performance Line CX is difficult to hide, while the 500 Wh battery hidden in the voluminous down tube is fairly obvious, especially in comparison to the non-motorised Grail CF – there’s no attempt to hide that this is an ebike. The in-house developed carbon fork has a wider stance and complements the more massive lines of the bike well. If you plan to use this bike for commuting or like to ride in the rain, you’ll be pleased to see the provisions for mudguard mounts. The GPS mount fitted to our test bike isn’t part of the standard build but can be bought separately.

Components and geometry of the Canyon Grail:ON CF range

The Canyon Grail:ON CF is available in three different builds. The most affordable Grail:ON CF 7 with Shimano GRX 600 gearing is also available as a women’s specific WMN Grail:ON CF 7. Both cost € 4,999. The unisex Grail:ON CF 8 with a Shimano GRX 800 groupset and the Grail:ON CF 8 eTap cost € 5,299 and € 5,999 respectively. All models come with a 1x drivetrain, DT Swiss HG gravel wheels and the Bosch Performance Line CX motor. The same applies to the VCLS 2.0 seatpost, the CP07 cockpit and the voluminous 50 mm Schwalbe G-One Bite tires. The disc rotors are 160 mm front and rear, though the front can be sized up to 180 mm with the right adaptor.

Our test bike – the flagship Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap

Groupset SRAM Force eTap AXS, 1 x 12, 44 t Cassette SRAM XG-1295 Eagle, 10–36 t Brakes SRAM Force AXS, 160/160 mm Wheelset DT Swiss HGC 1400 Tires Schwalbe G-One Bite, 700 x 50C Seatpost Canyon VCLS 2.0 CF, 25 mm offset Cockpit Canyon CP07 hover bar cockpit, 440 mm / 75 mm Motor Bosch Performance Line CX, 85 Nm Battery Bosch PowerTube, 500 Wh Display Bosch Purion Weight 15.9 kg in size M Price € 5,999 Available immediately

The motor remote is well-positioned on the bars. You can actuate it regardless of where your hands are on the bars:

Canyon offer a total of seven different sizes, meaning no rider has to miss out. While the 2XS, XS and S sizes roll on 650B wheels and have shorter chainstays, sizes M, L, XL and 2XL roll on 700C wheels. The head angle and stem length has been modified to match each size and the crank length and bar widths are also size-specific.

Seat tube 432 mm 462 mm 492 mm 522 mm 552 mm 582 mm 612 mm
Top tube 534 mm 561 mm 569 mm 577 mm 585 mm 610 mm 620 mm
Head tube 110 mm 119 mm 137 mm 122 mm 143 mm 166 mm 189 mm
Head angle 70.0° 70.8° 70.8° 71.5° 71.8° 72.0° 72.3°
Seat angle 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstay 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 440 mm 440 mm 440 mm 440 mm
Wheelbase 1,023 mm 1,034 mm 1,043 mm 1,053 mm 1,059 mm 1,082 mm 1,090 mm
Stack 512 mm 524 mm 541 mm 561 mm 582 mm 605 mm 628 mm
Reach 392 mm 406 mm 409 mm 411 mm 413 mm 431 mm 434 mm

With a wheelbase of 1053 mm in size M, this bike has grown in length compared to the Grail CF. Together with the 15 mm longer chainstays, this E-gravel bike is supposed to offer an even calmer and more secure ride. A shorter reach results in a comfortable riding position, though the seat and head tube angles haven’t changed.

Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap first ride reviewConcept and impression of the Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap motor

It’s not just during our last gravel bike group test that we became aware of a significant truth in gravel: not all gravel is created equal. While for one person it might be a mix of asphalt and gravel paths, another might see it as a mix of gravel paths and easy singletrail. Add a motor and opinions will split yet again. The fact is, that less fit riders who ride mainly on gravel and forest paths will not only be able to double or triple their range onboard the Grail:ON CF, but can also ride with fitter friends and enhance their own riding experience. On top of that, sweat-free commutes to the office will be possible too, though that’s not to say that you’ll be limited to the 25 km/h assistance limit on the way home.

A Bosch Performance Line CX motor, already updated to Bosch’s 2020 firmware release is at the heart of the E-gravel bike, making the bike an off-road rocket with 85 Nm torque on tap. You can find more information about the 2020 software update at our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE. With so much power available, the motor, which was originally designed for eMTBs, is probably best used in ECO or TOUR modes for the majority of riders. In this setting, the Grail:ON CF accelerates linearly while requiring enough input from the rider to elicit a light sweat when riding actively. Ride faster than the 25 km/h assistance limit the motor modulates its power down before fading away completely at 27 km/h. In ECO mode, the transition from E- to muscle-powered riding feels a lot more natural than the more powerful modes. The reengagement of the motor is similarly smooth. In contrast, as you fly past the assistance limit in Turbo mode, the transition feels anything but natural. You’ll suddenly have to deal with a lot more input required from your legs than you were only moments before. If that happens on a slight incline, it can feel a bit like a slap in the face. Get through those two or three seconds, keep on pushing forward and you’ll quickly forget about that though. Once you’re up to speed, the Grail:ON happily stays there. Sprint from a standstill with full motor power and you’re catapulted straight to the 25 km/h threshold. This is how Mario Cipollini must feel in the pedals – breathtaking. Exceed that magical threshold and the pedalling resistance flattens off between 25 and 27 km/h, before abruptly increasing as the motor’s assistance disappears completely above 27 km/h. Due to how the motor modulates its power at the threshold, relaxed riding results in a very natural ride feel. However, more active riding overwhelms that illusion, sapping some of the joy from sprints with the motor fading in and out a bit of a distraction. But, after all, an E-gravel bike isn’t really designed for sprinting. Unfortunately the Grail:ON doesn’t feature the progressive eMTB mode which regulates the assistance of the motor based on the rider’s input. Your local Bosch dealer will be able to add this functionality for you. The only question is whether they will be willing to do so if you turn up with your direct to consumer ebike.

Tuning tips: Get your local dealer to install eMTB mode

The motor assistance modes are selected via Bosch’s Purion display, which is mounted on the left side of the bars where it displays your essential ride data. The control unit can be actuated without any issues from all positions on the Hover bar. As practical and utilitarian as this positioning is, we would have wished for a more sleekly integrated solution. The typical hum of the Bosch Performance Line CX motor is noticeably audible. However, after some time getting used to it, it becomes less present.

How far can you ride on the Canyon Grail:ON?

There’s no blanket statement that we can make regarding range as it depends on countless factors including temperature, rider weight, route profile, the assistance mode used, tire pressure and distance ridden above the 25 km/h threshold. You can read more in an article by our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE which discusses the truth about lab tests.

This is how the Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap rides

On the flats and in particular on asphalt roads, you’ll quickly pass the 25 km/h assistance limit if riding sportily. Accelerate past it and the weight of 15.9 kg is noticeable, though once you reach your cruising speed, the Grail:ON stays there surprisingly willingly. However, if you’re in a group road ride you’ll find it (very) hard to keep up. This is where the concept of the large battery and motor reaches its limits as a result of the system’s high weight. Leave the paved roads and Canyon’s E-gravel bike feels very happy – it’s right at home on gravel. Here, the 700 x 50C Schwalbe G-One Bite tires together with the VCSL 2.0 suspension seatpost and the DT Swiss HG 1400 wheels generate lots of comfort. In addition, this is where the advantages of the motor concept really come to the fore. Stay on the top of the bar in the flex area and vibrations and small bumps are effectively absorbed, with a good balance of comfort between the front and rear. Unfortunately, if you prefer to ride in the drops you might end up cursing the hover bar design. Due to the additional strut, you’ll end up with an unusual platform to rest your thumb on and next to no damping for your hands. The Grail CF 8 eTap is intuitive and good-natured in its handling and with its stable ride feels secure and not at all demanding. Relaxed cruising is just as possible as more aggressive riding at high speeds. The relaxed riding position is also well suited to long days in the saddle.

Turn off the gravel and onto the trails and you’ll benefit from the bike’s agile and direct steering. However, it does impact on fast direction changes. Your thumbs will also suffer while riding in the drops, eliminating any of the thrills of rooty sections. You’ll be better off staying on the hoods. Annoyingly we had the motor turn off more than ten times when hitting hard bumps while riding. While the motor usually sprung back to life immediately, the desired assistance mode usually had to be reselected. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to determine whether this was symptomatic of a loose contact or a more serious problem during the timeframe of our testing. That said, during numerous tests for our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE of exactly the same Bosch motor, we’ve never experienced any problems. Canyon will be figuring out what was going on to remedy any issues before going into series production.

Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap conclusion

The Canyon Grail:ON CF 8 eTap is a high-end E-gravel bike equipped with the best parts and a powerful motor at a fair price. It targets less fit gravel fans who want to go out for longer rides and are looking for the requisite tailwind on steep climbs. With its predictable and balanced handling and plenty of comfort off-road, it’s perfect for new gravelistas. Due to the bars and high weight, trail demons will be less happy here.


  • value for money
  • predictable and intuitive handling
  • rear end comfort
  • riding position for long distances


  • varying comfort depending on hand position on bars
  • high weight
  • motor turned itself off when hitting bumps on the trail

For more information head to

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Words Photos: Jonas Müssig

Bicycling and E-Bike Information

Looking to exchange four wheels for two? Bicycling is a great way to experience the South Rim. Cyclists can enjoy approximately 13 miles (21 km) of roads and Greenway Trails that allow for more intimate explorations along the rim. If you get tired, load your bike or e-bike on one of the park’s bicycle-friendly shuttle buses. there is a bus stop every one-half to one-mile along the 13 mile-stretch.

Bicycles and e-bikes are allowed on all paved and unpaved roads on the South Rim. Be good to yourself and the environment – ride instead of drive.

Regulations: Open Areas to Bicycles and E-Bikes

Open Areas to Bicycles and Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes: The following are open to bicycles and Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes:

(a) Greenway. South Rim Residential Sections: The South Rim residential greenway system.

(b) Greenway. VC to Entrance: The greenway beginning south of the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and continuing south, parallel to South Entrance Road / Highway 64, to the park boundary, south of the South Entrance. This includes the spur greenway trails into Trailer Village and Mather Campground.

(c) Greenway. VC to SK: The greenway beginning south of Grand Canyon Visitor Center and continuing east to Pipe Creek Vista and the South Kaibab trailhead.

(d) Greenway. VC to Village: The greenway beginning south of Grand Canyon Visitor Center and continuing south of Village Loop Road to Grand Canyon Village.

(e) Hermit Road Greenway: The Hermit Road Greenway beginning at Monument Creek Vista and continuing to the junction with Hermit Road (approximately ¼ mile east of Hermit’s Rest).

(f) North Rim Bridle Trail: The Bridle Trail on the North Rim, between the North Kaibab Trailhead and the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Roads Open to General Motor Vehicle Traffic:

All roads open to general motor vehicle traffic are also open to bicycle and Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bike use.

Regulations: Closed Areas to Bicycles and E-Bikes

Closed Areas to Bicycles and E-Bikes:

All other areas of Grand Canyon National Park remain closed to the use of bicycles and e-bikes, including the section of greenway directly on the rim between the greenway intersection to the southeast of Mather Point and the Bright Angel Trailhead on the South Rim.

Regulations: E-bikes

E-Bikes: The term “e-bike” means a two-or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.).

  • Class 1, and Class 3 e-bikes are allowed in Grand Canyon National Park where traditional bicycles are allowed.
  • All e-bikes are prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited.
  • Except where the use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike (Class 2) without pedaling is prohibited.

Bicycling on the South Rim: Hermit Road

Scenic Hermit Road follows the canyon rim for 7 miles (11 km) and is one of the best places in the park for cycling. Most of the year, private vehicle restrictions eliminate most traffic. Shuttle and tour buses do utilize the road, so cyclists should pull to the right shoulder in a safe location, dismount and let buses pass.

The Hermit Road Greenway Trail, between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest, provides a 2.8-mile (4.5 km) bicycle path away from the road and, in places, along the rim of Grand Canyon.

Bicycling on the South Rim: S. Kaibab Trailhead Yaki Point

Looking for a scenic, yet shorter cycling opportunity? Follow the paved Greenway Trail to the South Kaibab Trailhead and then ride along Yaki Point Road to Yaki Point. Access the Greenway near Grand Canyon Visitor Center and follow the South Kaibab Trailhead signs. In about 2.4 miles (3.9 km), you will come to the trailhead parking area.

canyon, grail, etap, 2020

From here, turn right and follow the trailhead road until you come to Yaki Point Road. Make a left and follow it 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to Yaki Point. There are plenty of spectacular canyon views along the Greenway Trail and once you reach Yaki Point.

Like Hermit Road, private vehicle restrictions eliminate most traffic. Shuttle and tour buses do utilize Yaki Point Road, so cyclists should pull to the right shoulder in a safe location, dismount and let buses pass.

If you become tired of cycling, you can catch the Orange Shuttle ( Kaibab Rim Route ) at Yaki Point, The South Kaibab Trailhead, or Pipe Creek Overlook, put your bike in the front rack, and ride the bus back to the Visitor Center.

South Rim: Park in Tusayan Ride the Shuttle

Want to leave the long entrance lines and parking frustrations behind? Ride the Tusayan (Purple) Route Shuttle into the park, then cycle along the park’s roads and Greenway Trails.

The Tusayan (Purple) Route will be in service between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 2023.

If you are looking for a fun, mostly downhill ride back to Tusayan – pick up the Greenway Trail near Grand Canyon Visitor Center and follow the signs to Tusayan. It is a 6.5-mile (10.5 km), downhill ride on a smooth, paved trail.

You can also ride your bike or e-bike into the park from Tusayan, but be prepared for a steady, 6.5-mile uphill ride and no services, including water or cell phone coverage, until the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

You must have a valid park entrance pass to ride the Tusayan Shuttle. For more detailed information about the Tusayan (Purple) Route, and how to purchase a park entrance pass, visit this webpage

South Rim: Bicycle Rental Tour Info

Bright Angel Bicycles visit the link for their current hours of operation.

Don’t have a bike with you? Rent one from Bright Angel Bicycles, adjacent to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Bright Angel Bicycles provides rentals and guided bicycle tours between mid-March and October 31. When the weather permits, rentals and tours may be offered at other times of the year. check their website for current availability.

There is also a small coffee bar and café with a grab go menu targeted toward hikers, bikers and pedestrians. The café is open year-round.

South Rim: Bicycle Repairs

Cyclists should always carry a small repair kit. However, if you cannot repair your bicycle, Bright Angel Bicycles offers these services.

Bicycling on the South Rim: Rules of the Road/Safety

Cycling is a great way to experience the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; however, please remember the following rules and guidelines:

Cyclists, including e-bikes…

  • Are subject to the same traffic rules as automobiles share the road with vehicles
  • Should use extreme caution when riding on park roads. shoulders are narrow vehicle traffic is heavy
  • Should ride single file with the flow of traffic. there are no designated cycling lanes
  • Must wear a helmet
  • Should see and be seen. wear bright colors
  • Must load and unload their own bikes and/or e-bikes from park shuttle buses
  • Should safely pull to the right side of the road, dismount and let buses pass (applies to Hermit and Yaki Point roads only)
  • Must yield to pedestrians let them know you are approaching from behind with a bell or calm voice
  • Should bring sufficient water and snacks
  • Should acclimatize – the South Rim is at 7,000 feet (2,134 m) above sea level
  • Be prepared for possible weather changes

Bicycling on the South Rim: Touring/Camping

Traveling to the South Rim via bicycle?

Bicyclist campsites are available at Mather Campground on a first-come, first-serve basis. Bicycle/backpacker sites are 6.00 per person, per night.

NO cars are allowed.

The South Rim of Grand Canyon averages 7,000 feet / 2,134 meters above sea level. The North Rim averages 8,000 feet / 2,438. Visitors with respiratory or heart problems may experience difficulties. Exercising at this elevation can be strenuous. Please use caution and when engaging in any physical activities and use care not to push yourself. Always check the weather before exercising outside.

Bicycling on the North Rim

The North Rim also has cycling opportunities to allow for more intimate explorations through this delightful, forested landscape.

Bicycling on the North Rim: Bridle Path

The Bridle Path is a hard-packed, multiuse trail that traverses the forest in the North Rim developed area. It is a 1.9 mile (3.1 km) trail that connects the North Kaibab Trailhead with the Grand Canyon Lodge. Please refer to the North Rim Map for more details.

Bicycling on the North Rim: Arizona Trail

The Arizona Trail segment on the North Rim provides great mountain biking opportunities. The trail traverses 12.1 miles (19.5 km) of forest inside the park. The trail continues north of the park boundary in the Kaibab National Forest.

You can access the Arizona Trail on the North Rim from the North Kaibab Trailhead parking lot. The trailhead is at the south end of the parking lot. Before embarking on this easy to moderate trail, please review important information at the following web site.

North Rim: Bicycling to Point Imperial or Cape Royal

Riding along the Point Imperial or Cape Royal roads is not recommended and is extremely hazardous. Both access roads are narrow, have minimal shoulders, and have numerous sharp corners, which can lead to blind spots for both drivers and cyclists. Vegetation along the roads also minimizes line of sight for all road users. There are other cycling opportunities along the North Rim, as outlined above.

Bicycling on the North Rim: Rules of the Road/Safety

Cycling is a great way to experience the North Rim; however, please remember the following rules and guidelines:

  • Are subject to the same traffic rules as automobiles share the road with vehicles
  • Should use extreme caution when riding on park roads. shoulders are narrow vehicle traffic is heavy
  • Should ride single file with the flow of traffic. there are no designated cycling lanes
  • Must wear a helmet
  • Should see and be seen. wear bright colors
  • Must yield to pedestrians let them know you are approaching from behind with a bell or calm voice
  • Should bring sufficient water and snacks
  • Should acclimatize – the average elevation on the North Rim is 8,000 feet (2,438 m)
  • Be prepared for possible weather changes

Bicycling on the North Rim: Touring/Camping

Traveling to the North Rim via bicycle?

Bicyclist campsites are available at the North Rim Campground on a first-come, first-serve basis. Bicycle/backpacker sites are 6.00 per person, per night.

NO cars are allowed in the bicycle/backpacker campsites.

VIDEO and Photo Feature: Canyon Grail Gravel Bike with Hover System – Sea Otter 2018

Arguably one of the most controversial gravel bikes on the market, the Canyon Grail is either loved – or hated. Within hours of the bike’s announcement, the internet was covered in Grail related memes and a ton of publicity – good and bad. No matter your take on the bike, the Canyon Grail is a marketing department’s dream! JOM of the Gravel Cyclist crew caught up with Devon, Canyon’s Director of Marketing, to get the inside scoop on the Canyon Grail.

Don’t forget to Like the Gravel Cyclist page, follow G.C. on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We are also on !

Canyon Grail Gravel Bike Photos

Above, the Canyon Hover handlebar. You’re going to love it. Or hate it.

canyon, grail, etap, 2020

In person, the Hover handlebar looks sharp, but definitely isn’t for everyone.

Canyon has a history of producing clean and aerodynamic road bikes, with cables well hidden from the wind. The Grail isn’t so clean aerodynamically looking head on, and one has to wonder if they’ll clean up this area of the bike in a future release?

This variant of the Canyon Grail features the company’s VCLS 2.0 carbon leaf spring seatpost.

Watch this space. We hope to procure a Canyon Grail for a long-term review in the near future!

Комментарии и мнения владельцев on “ VIDEO and Photo Feature: Canyon Grail Gravel Bike with Hover System – Sea Otter 2018 ”

I don’t see integrated cockpits like this and the ones on aero bikes as very practical for someone who is not getting a new bike every year like the pros. In 10 years when you need a new bar or need to change your fit will that be possible? Not only is the stem integrated with the bars but the frame only works with these bars as well. I personally want a bike I know I’ll be able to get parts for for a long time. I’ve crashed and needed new bars and recently changed my position on my 1985 Cannondale and had no problems getting parts, I don’t expect that the same would be true for this bike.

It will still be interesting to see how you like it. If this bar idea catches on it certainly could be made so that it worked with a standard stem and avoided the issues associated with integrated bars.

I agree with the above comment; if you don’t like the bar that comes with the bike you are locked out of ever changing it. This type of non-standardized design may provide some specific advantages out of the box, but isn’t suitable for the needs of the vast majority of riders over time. Cost/benefit analysis says NO.Also… if you are at SOC, can you just wander over to the SRAM booth and see if, you know, there is a new mountain etap group, or a 1 x 12 road group over there? No news from SRAM is quite surprising!

I can’t tell if someone was having a medical emergency in the background or if it was a rutting moose.

Probably a rutting moose having a medical emergency…….

One of the vendors was giving away vuvuzelas…

I agree – integrated cockpits suck for mere mortals. When I went to Belgium in 1962 as a 19 year old amateur to race as one of the first American’s to cross the pond after WW II, I was surprised to see older riders with road bikes with their handlebars installed upside down. This allowed them to ride in a comfortable upright position. You can do the same if you so desire — and it will cost a heck of a lot less then that Canyon abortion. BTW, I’m not liking Canyon lately. There business model is to sell online direct to the consumer in the USA. Thereby cutting out support for a dealer network. Instead, I’m told that they are flooding pro teams with free bikes and support. This raises Canyon’s market profile, and saves them the expense of supporting a bricks and mortar dealer network. In the long run, we consumers will suffer if this new business model is adopted by the industry. We all need good local bike shops!

Somehow, it doesn’t actually look as odd in video as it did in previous stills I’ve seen. Also, is it just me, or does anyone else shake their heads when they see someone wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap turned backwards?

JOM says:

The bike definitely looks a lot sharper in person. As for the baseball cap… each to his / her own I guess!

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