The Canyon Grail is a new gravel/adventure bike – gradventure if you like – that has had people talking since it was first revealed last month, largely because of its radical handlebar design. The handlebar was originally going to be called the Hover Bar but Canyon is now calling it the Grail cockpit instead.
What’s the rationale behind the design?
Well, with a standard handlebar you can induce most flex when your hands are down on the drops and least when your hands are on the tops. Canyon argues that this is the opposite of what you want, saying that you need the least flex when you’re going for it down on the drops, and the most compliance when you’re riding with your hands on the tops.
With that in mind, Canyon has come up with this entirely new double-decker combined handlebar and stem where the top deck isn’t connected directly to the stem. This means Canyon can add some flex to the tops in order to absorb vibration and chatter without it resulting in even more flex when you’re down on the drops, which is what would happen in a conventional system.
How much compliance do you get? Well, this certainly isn't like the suspension system you get on a mountain bike. It’s not even close, but Canyon says that you get seven times the vertical deflection of the brand’s H31 Ergocockpit with the addition of just 120g of weight and no extra maintenance.
Moving on from the Grail cockpit, the bike also comes with Canyon’s VCLS 2.0 seatpost, which is a two part leaf spring design to provide some flex with the saddle tilt remaining constant. The clamping point isn’t at the top of the seat tube, it’s positioned well down in the frame to increase the effective bending length of the post.
The wheels and tyres are always central to determining a bike’s comfort and Canyon Grails have rims with a minimum 22mm internal width and they’re fitted with 40mm-wide Schwalbe G-One Bites. Both the front and rear wheels are held in place by 12mm thru axles. The rims and the tyres are tubeless so you can run lower pressures without the risk of a pinch flat if you hit a pothole hard.
The geometry is fairly close to that of Canyon’s existing Sport setup that features across its Endurace endurance road bike range, and although you have some height adjustment on the Grail cockpit, it’s limited to 15mm. Canyon uses a long wheelbase for stability and then specs a short stem to add some agility to the steering.
This model, which weighs 8.45kg (18.6lb), is the CF SL 8.0 SL – so there’s two lots of ‘SL’ in there. Why? Well the Grail comes in two carbon-fibre platforms, the CF SL that we have here and the superlight CF SLX version. Then you have the ‘8.0’ bit of the name that refers to the spec level. In this case it’s Shimano Ultegra, but there are three Ultegra versions of the Grail CF SL, the 8.0 with mechanical shifting (£2,349), the 8.0 Di2 with electronic shifting (£2,999), and this 8.0 SL (£3,249) which has mechanical shifting with a wheels upgrade – these are Reynolds Assault ATR Discs.
The carbon-fibre Grail range starts with the £1,999 Shimano 105-equipped Grail CF SL 7.0, although aluminium Grails will be available later in the year.
For more info on the Grail range head to Canyon’s website.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.