Friday 26 June 2020

Bike review: Canyon Grail WMN AL 7.0

Following on from the Cube Nuroad gravel bike that I tested and reviewed for Cyclist, I have tested another gravel bike, the Canyon Grail women's bike. The Canyon Grail was first launched in 2018 as a carbon fibre version. Since then an aluminium version has become available, making it a more accessible price point, at £1,699, than the carbon fibre bike. The thought of a women-specific gravel bike was something to look forward to, particularly from a company that prides itself in researching women's geometry. 

However, I must say upfront that the geometry of this bike is no different from the men's bike, which is now referred to as a unisex bike.

The colours are different with his being silver, and hers being claret, and there is a women-specific saddle, the Sella Italia X3 Lady. A  comfortable saddle is useful, I guess.

Canyon marketing department have said that from their research, women riding a unisex gravel bike is less detrimental in its handling than when riding a road bike. When doing gravel riding the technical and changing nature of the terrain, as well as constantly changing speed means that the positioning and the handling on this bike varies, so a women-specific geometry becomes less important than on a road bike. 

As a company they have taken women's measurements across a wide range of women of varying shapes and sizes, and have found that the unisex measurements caters to this range. So the stem of the bike is shorter than would be expected and the reach for a man and a woman of the same height would be the same, where normally the women-specific bike would have had a shorter reach.

So, that's the explanation regarding the lack of women-specificity in the women's Grail. It's not so much a case of shrink it and pink it, but just be bold and burgundy.

That aside, the fit of the Grail was fine for me when I took it out on my local trails and I found that the reach and the width of the handlebars were perfectly fine. 

The bike came with 40mm tyres on 700c wheels, which is standard for gravel bikes. 

The frame does allow clearance for wider tyres though, if you prefer something fatter to allow for lower tyre pressures and a more comfortable ride. 

You can also put on smaller, 650b wheels and get even wider tyres on the smaller sized frames. This also avoids the possibility of your toe overlapping the wheels when negotiating twisty trails. 

It is recommended that to get the best fit with tubeless tyres it is good to have the same make of valves and rims - in this case DT Swiss. And the Schwalbe G-One tyres seem to be the most popular tyres used on these types of bikes and in the Canyon Grail this is no exception. 

Still on the subject of wheels, the rims come ready to fit tubeless tyres - recommended when doing gravel riding as punctures simply repair themselves and there are no annoying interruptions to deal with punctures during the bike ride.

When pedalling along I was struck at how smooth and reactive the bike felt. At 9.37Kg the bike is lighter than the Nuroad that I tried, but is not the lightest gravel bike. It is more mid-range in terms of weight. 

However, the groupset on the bike, a Shimano GRX810 helps in the pedalling and smoothness of the ride, as this new groupset is specially designed for gravel bikes. 

This gearing is an 11-speed 11x34 cassette with the double 30/46 chainring. That's a good range of gears to get up the short sharp ramps that I crested on local trails in Surrey and Kent.  

As mentioned earlier, the saddle is the cut-away Selle Italia X3 Lady. For me, this saddle was comfortable and did the job. I would recommend it, but I know that saddle comfort is a personal thing for each rider. 

There are mounts to put on mudguards if you don't want too much of a splattering off-road or on-road.

The one gripe that I do have is the lack of means to carry luggage. Bike packing is quite fashionable, and so with that there is space to put a rack - though it is limited space. One rack that is recommended is the Tailfin, though it would be a case of shopping around to see what other racks fit. 

As someone who is more used to old-school panniers there are no mounts for this type of carrier mechanism, which is a shame. And putting a seatpost rack on, is not ideal given that it is made of carbon fibre.
I would therefore be interested to know how others do bike packing with the Grail. 

Overall, the "women's" Canyon Grail was a comfortable, enjoyable ride. and felt like a bike I could depend on as I went around the Surrey bridleways and woodlands. The disc brakes and smooth changes across the wide range of gears meant that I had the tools needed to deal with varied, undulating trails.

Related posts

No comments: