Canyon's first dedicated adventure and gravel bike, the Grail, launched last year with a carbon fibre frame and distinctive handlebar and impressed the road.cc review team.
It's been followed by the more affordable Grail AL, which switches to an aluminium frame and regular handlebar/stem setup. In the video below we go through the pros and cons of the £1,349 model equipped with Shimano 105 and tan wall tyres!
The launch of the Grail AL, with its regular handlebar and versatile and practical details, and not to mention starting at just £1,099 with a Shimano Tiagra groupset, mean that - on paper at least - it looks an ideal choice for anyone looking to sample some of the on-trend gravel, adventure and bikepacking riding, as well as being ideal for general road and mixed terrain riding and, thanks to mudguard and rack mounts, suitability for commuting too.
The frame is constructed from 6061 double-butted aluminium tubing with fairly industrial looking welds - it’s not the smoothest frame I’ve ever set eyes on - but is packing some neat details. There’s internal cable and hose routing, a tapered head tube, three bottle cage mounts, eyelets for fitting mudguards and even a rear rack if the idea of strapping packs to the frame doesn’t appeal to you. The fork is made from carbon to reduce the overall weight.
Geometry goes a long way to define a gravel bike, and as previously mentioned, Canyon has fitted the Grail with a shorter stem which has the effect of speeding up the steering. It gives the Grail fantastic agility on twisty trails: show it some singletrack and let the brakes off and I guarantee it’ll make you grin and holla for more!
As you’d expect from Canyon, the Grail offer very good value for money. The range starts at £1,099 with Tiagra but I’ve been testing the next one up, a Shimano 105-equipped model costs £1,349. Is it worth paying extra? You save a bit of weight but if you’re on a tight budget you get largely the same equipment and all the same fun factor and Tiagra is a solid groupset these days. While the hydraulic shifters are an ugly thing to behold, ergonomically they are fine.
As well as watching the video review above, you can also read a full in-depth review over on off.road.cc.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.