Canyon's new Grail gets clever in-frame storage and loses the 'Hover Bar'

Petr Vakoc riding the new Canyon Grail at SBT Gravel
Petr Vakoc riding the new Grail at SBT Gravel (Image credit: Canyon)

The first generation of the Canyon Grail that launched back in 2018 was the German direct-to-consumer brand's first dedicated gravel bike. It broke the mold of drop bar bike design, with its iconic two-tier cockpit hover bar, which I loved, and preferred over the more adventure-orientated Canyon Grizl, when that was launched in 2021. The launch of the Grizl gave Canyon two distinct opinions on what the best gravel bike should look be, with the Grizl designed as a ready-for-anything adventure gravel bike and the Grail slotting in as a fast and lightweight, gravel bike racing option.

However, the gravel scene has evolved greatly since the launch of the first Grail, with new gravel racing events launching almost daily, and the best gravel bike racers looking for even more performance from their gravel bike of choice. Events across the globe like Unbound or SBT Gravel, and the UCI expanding into the scene with the Gravel World Series, have pushed Canyon to develop its all-new Canyon Grail. 

Refined as an even more race-orientated gravel bike that gets completely overhauled with the hover bar dropped, a major aerodynamic upgrade, handling improvements, and a new integrated storage system.

Rider on the new Canyon Grail

The gravel scene has evolved greatly since the launch of the first Grail (Image credit: Canyon)

The new Grail has been Canyon's worst-kept secret and the all-new Canyon Grail was first spotted at Unbound 2023 ridden to victory by Carolin Schiff, with Tiffany Cromwell winning The Gralloch, and Peter Stetina, Jasper Ockeloen and other top-level gravel riders also being seen on the new bike. Canyon says the new generation Grail is a gravel bike that has all bases covered. Claiming it to be quick when you need it, rugged when things get gnarly, and has an adaptability that enables gravel riders to get what they need from their gravel bike riding. So having not had a chance to actually ride the Grail in a real-life test, I've waded through the Canyon PR machine's claims to explore what's new and how it differs from the old Grail...

Aero Gravel

Front end view of the new Canyon Grail

An aerodynamically efficient setup is demanded by the modern gravel racer (Image credit: Canyon)

Now that aerodynamic performance has become a thing in gravel racing and the speed of gravel races is on the rise, for example, Petr Vakoc at the 2023 SBT GRV clocked an average speed of 38kph over 227 kilometers, with 3,000 meters of climbing. As speed rises, so does air resistance, so an aerodynamically efficient setup is as paramount to a gravel racer as it is to a roadie.

Canyon is the first to admit that the double-decker bar on the old Grail increased frontal surface area to catch the wind, and this was one of the driving factors behind the fresh look of the new Grail and the aim to create a machine with an off-road speed-driven approach. 

Aero performance has been enhanced in a multitude of ways on the new Grail with the double-decker bar dropped and replaced with what they call the Double Drop bar (more below), which along with the semi-integrated cabling reduces frontal surface area drag significantly. Tube shapes are borrowed from the Canyon Ultimate, and applied across the frame, including a D-shape seatpost, that replaces the leaf-sprung suspension seatpost from before.

Close up on the cockpit of the new Canyon Grail

The iconic two-tier cockpit hover bar is gone (Image credit: Canyon)

Double Drop Bar

View of the Double Drop Bar on the new Canyon Grail

The new Double Drop Bar is said to be more aerodynamic (Image credit: Canyon)

As mentioned, the first-generation Grail broke the mold with its double bar cockpit, which made it a unique design, and offered a range of hand positions for great ergonomics, enhancing control and comfort on big days. On the new Grail, they say they have built on the ergonomics and control that made the double bar great but have created a system more compatible with performance gravel riders’ needs. 

Named after its swooping frontal silhouette, the new Double Drop Bar is said to be more aerodynamic than the previous double bar, and features a 5-degree back sweep on the tops and a subtle drop from the stem, to position hands naturally, reducing pressure on wrist joints and keeping elbows tighter to the body. A double flare with a 5-degree flare at the hoods that widens to 16-degrees at the drops, gives again a claimed better ergonomic position and control.

The Gear Groove is also a new interface at the center of the cockpit that provides a solid platform for a range of accessories, from the best cycling computers and phone mounts to full-on highly adjustable aero bars, cameras and the best bike lights.

Aero Load System

Close up on the new Aero Load System of the Canyon Grail

Canyon says the Aero Load System storage offers comprehensive storage (Image credit: Canyon)

The Aero Load System storage offers what Canyon says is a comprehensive storage system that makes the Grail faster. The new system allows riders to store everything they need and is made up of two core elements. The Load Down Tube Storage (as the name suggests) is a compartment on the downtube that has the capacity for a Canyon-themed selection of tools and accessories like the Canyon 6-piece Mini-tool, Canyon Load Tool Pack with tire levers, CO2 cartridge, CO2 Inflator and TPU inner tube (other tools are available). 

The second part is the Canyon Load Fidlock Quickloader, an innovative frame bag that is rapid to remove and install. No more fumbling around with straps, as the Quickloader locks into place behind the head tube thanks to three FidLock magnets. The Quickloader can be used for storage of tools, food, spares or anything else seen as essential for any gravel ride or race. Canyon claims the Aero Load System covers the essential bases and reduces the need to carry parts elsewhere, like in a saddle bag or packed in jersey pockets adding to the aerodynamic performance, which again they say when tested back-to-back in the wind tunnel with the first-generation Grail, it saved a significant 9.1 watts at 45kph, on a bike only tested with identical specs. 

Geometry

The new Canyon Grail kitted out ready for adventure

Canyon has aimed to achieve extra stability while maintaining agility on the new Grail (Image credit: Canyon)

The first-generation Grail was a great handling bike, receiving a 4.5 out of 5 stars in our review when Bike Perfect Editor, Rich Owen tested the Canyon Grail CF SL 7 eTap. Although, it was fast and agile, he noted it lacked performance when things got rough. In developing the new Grail, Canyon wanted to increase the stability across the rough stuff while maintaining agility. 

Canyon says a bike’s handling cannot be characterized by just a single value, it is the interplay between multiple factors. Among these various factors is chainstay length which impacts wheelbase length, where typically longer equals more stable, and then there is head tube angle, where typically slacker equals more stable. Fork offset impacts the responsiveness of the bike, where more offset means a shorter trail value, which results in faster response. In mastering these various parameters Canyon claim to have nailed the ideal balance between agility and stability.

To achieve the goal of extra stability and maintaining agility on the new Grail, Canyon has slackened the head tube angle by a degree (71.5 degrees on Small to Large) and lengthened the wheelbase by 27mm. They also aimed to maintain a consistent trail value of 69mm on most sizes to keep steering responses consistent across the sizing range.

Comfortpost

Close up on the new the new Comfortpost onn the Canyon Grail

The new Comfortpost removes the negative impact on power output that deflection and movement can cause (Image credit: Canyon)

Rear compliance is also critical for riding long gravel missions and the innovative S15 VCLS 2.0 leaf-sprung seat post that was on the previous Grail (and also on the Grizl) is replaced with what they call the Comfortpost. Canyon adds the new Comfortpost removes the impact on power output that the deflection and movement of the S15 VCLS 2.0 seatpost gave some larger or more performance-focussed riders.

Comfortpost is equipped across the new Grail range and claimed to offer even more compliance than the road seatpost fitted on the Canyon Ultimate, and is a considerable 42 grams lighter than the S15 VCLS 2.0 system. Riders wanting to tune their ride with a stiffer or lighter setup can also use the standard Ultimate or the superlight 70g CFR SP0064 seatposts.

Tire clearance and gearing

Carolin Schiff winning Unbound 2023

Carolin Schiff won the 2023 Unbound on the new Grail (Image credit: Canyon)

Elsewhere the Grail offers a highly customizable performance gravel package with additional features like Defend Fast Fenders. Canyon say they are the new benchmark for removable mudguards, apparently fast to mount and fast to remove, and work with up to 42mm tires and offer a claimed complete coverage.

The patented Load Fork Sleeves allow riders to attach additional bottle or cargo cages – a solution that is an alternative to conventional fork mounts which require reinforcement through additional material around the inserts, and therefore extra weight. The fork sleeves merge with the notch on the inner side of the fork for the perfect fit and can carry up to 3kg load on each side. 

Standard mounts on the top tube and underneath the down tube round out the features spec on the new Grail making space for strapless top tube bags or a third bottle cage. 

Pricing, availability and spec

The new Canyon Grail is available now in a plethora of various builds, groupset and wheel combinations. With spec details and pricing below on a selection of the eye-catching builds. There are three different carbon spec levels – the top-tier CFR, the CF SLX and the CF SL. Both the CFR and CF SLX bikes include all the top cockpit and integrated storage features mentioned. The more affordable CF SL includes a handlebar with conventional accessory mounting bolts under the stem and does not include the Load Internal downtube storage. 

There is also a limited launch-edition GRVL DZZL artwork first seen storming to victory at Unbound Gravel on the Grail CFR of Carolin Schiff, and is a run of just 70 bikes worldwide. Check out Canyon.com for ordering and exact despatch dates.

Grail CFR LTD

Side view of the Canyon Grail CFR LTD

(Image credit: Canyon)
  • Frame: Canyon Grail CFR
  • Fork: Canyon FK0118 Disc
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red XPLR eTap AXS D1
  • Shifters: SRAM RED eTap AXS HRD
  • Stem/Bar: Canyon Cockpit CP0039
  • Crankset: SRAM Red AXS D1 1x
  • Seatpost: Canyon SP0072
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Argo X1
  • Brakes: SRAM Centerline X, 160mm F/R
  • Wheels: DT Swiss GRC1100
  • Tires: Schwalbe G-One RS Evo, 40mm
  • Color: GRVL DZZL
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 8.4 kg 
  • Price: $8,999 / £9,500 / €10,000

Grail CFR AXS

Side view of the Canyon Grail CFR AXS

(Image credit: Canyon)
  • Frame: Canyon Grail CFR
  • Fork: Canyon FK0118 Disc
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red XPLR eTap AXS D1
  • Shifters: SRAM RED eTap AXS HRD
  • Stem/Bar: Canyon Cockpit CP0039
  • Crankset: SRAM Red AXS D1 1x
  • Seatpost: Canyon SP0072
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Argo X1
  • Brakes: SRAM Centerline X, 160mm F/R
  • Wheels: DT Swiss GRC1100
  • Tires: Schwalbe G-One RS Evo, 40mm
  • Color: Mars Attack or Hale Bopp
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 8.4 kg 
  • Price: $7,999 / £7,649 / €7,999

Grail CFR Di2

Side view of the Canyon Grail CFR Di2

(Image credit: Canyon)
  • Frame: Canyon Grail CFR
  • Fork: Canyon FK0118 Disc
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-RX815
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano GRX Di2 RX815
  • Shifters: Shimano GRX Di2 RX815
  • Stem/Bar: Canyon Cockpit CP0039
  • Crankset: Shimano RX810 2x
  • Seatpost: Canyon SP0072
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Argo X1
  • Brakes: Shimano GRX Di2 RX815, 160mm F/R
  • Wheels: DT Swiss GRC1100
  • Tires: Schwalbe G-One RS Evo, 40mm
  • Color: Mars Attack or Hale Bopp
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 8.3 kg 
  • Price: $6,999 / £6,699 / €6,999

Grail CF SL 8

Side view of Canyon CF SL 8

(Image credit: Canyon)
  • Frame: Canyon Grail CF SL
  • Fork: Canyon FK0117 Disc
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX822 12s
  • Shifters: Shimano GRX RX820
  • Stem/Bar: Canyon Cockpit CP0045
  • Crankset: Shimano RX820 1x
  • Seatpost: Canyon SP0072
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Argo X5
  • Brakes: Shimano GRX RX820, 160mm F/R
  • Wheels: DT Swiss G1800
  • Tires: Schwalbe G-One R, 40mm
  • Color: Quicksand or Stone Grind
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 8.74 kg 
  • Price: $2,999 / £2,899 / €2,999

Grail CF SL 7

Side view of Canyon Grail CF SL 7

(Image credit: Canyon)
  • Frame: Canyon Grail CF SL
  • Fork: Canyon FK0117 Disc
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX820 12s
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX820
  • Shifters: Shimano GRX RX610
  • Stem/Bar: Canyon Cockpit CP0045
  • Crankset: Shimano RX610 2x
  • Seatpost: Canyon SP0072
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Argo X5
  • Brakes: Shimano GRX RX610, 160mm F/R
  • Wheels: DT Swiss Gravel LN
  • Tires: Schwalbe G-One R, 40mm
  • Color: Quicksand or Stone Grind
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 9.22 kg 
  • Price: $2,699 / £2,599 / €2,699
Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.


Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm