Test: With the 2020 Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 Etap, the direct seller from Koblenz is launching a top-class gravel bike for this season. Even apart from the hotly-discussed hover bar handlebars, it has a lot of features and highlights to offer that make it an outstanding all-rounder.
Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 Etap: The facts
Frame material: Carbon
Wheel size(s): 700 tsp
Maximum tire clearance: 42 mm
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: Ja
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): No
bottle holder: down tube up, seat tube
Other: Special Topeak bag set available
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.450g / 1.610g / 3.060g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 8,35kg
Price: € 4.899
Sophisticated frame with innovative cockpit
It's been almost two years since Canyon caused a stir in the cycling world with the introduction of the Grail CF gravel bike. For a few days or even weeks, the daring bike was discussed up and down in forums, bike shops and during trips. The stumbling block: the so-called hover-bar handlebar construction – a technically obvious but visually daring trick by the designers from Koblenz. A second link “floating” above the actual top link was designed in such a way that it can flex strongly vertically and should noticeably improve comfort. However, this grip area is not only higher, but also slightly set back – the construction therefore also has a direct impact on the geometry of the frame, but more on that later.
Leaving the cockpit aside for a moment, let's look at the frame itself. This is made of carbon on the CF models and comes in two versions. The heavier, but cheaper SL variant and the Premium CF SLX model. According to Canyon, there should be at least 200g between the two frames - that's quite remarkable. Apart from the weight difference, the frames do not differ either visually or in terms of their features. Of course, they come with thru-axles, internally routed cables and lines, and mounting eyelets for mudguards are also on board. Luggage racks cannot be mounted, but Canyon, together with Topeak, have developed a bag set specially tailored to the frame to make transport on tours and in everyday life easier. Tire clearance is decent - Canyon allows the Grail up to a width of 42mm, which should satisfy most riders.
The geometry of the new gravel racer from Koblenz is also exciting. However, due to the hover bar, conventional reach and stack values cannot be applied as usual. Due to the grip area being shifted upwards and backwards, it is not possible to draw any reliable conclusions about the sitting position of the Grail CF using the traditional method of measurement. Instead, Canyon includes the new cockpit when specifying the values and therefore speaks of Reach+ and Stack+. Comparability with other bikes is therefore only possible to a limited extent, but the data still gives an idea of some basic handling characteristics: With the long wheelbase and the fairly slack steering angle, the Grail CF should remain extremely smooth-running even on rough surfaces, for example.
Geometry Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0
|seat tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Reach+ (in mm)
|Stack+ (in mm)
Only the best – for less than 5.000 euros
The Grail CF SLX 8.0 ETAP we tested is the top model of the 4.900 Grail model range at just under 2020 euros. The weight of our test bike in size M is corresponding - at 8,35 kg without pedals the scales stop. This makes the Grail CF SLX 8.0 ETAP one of the lightest bikes in our test field. On the one hand, this is of course due to the extremely light frame with approx. 830g and the associated carbon fork. On the other hand, there are no weight slips in the equipment either, without pointless lightweight construction being used. A highlight is certainly the Sram circuit, which combines the Force eTap AXS STIs with the X01 Eagle AXS rear derailleur and a 10-50 cassette. Wireless signal transmission, 500% bandwidth, great ergonomics and low weight - there really isn't much room for improvement here. One or the other could only be bothered by the gear jumps, which are somewhat coarser compared to traditional 2-speed drives.
|Grail CF SLX Disc
|Canyon FK0070 CF Disc
|DT Swiss GRC1400 Spline db
|Schwalbe G-One Bite 40mm
|Sram X01 Eagle AXS
|Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
|Ram Force 1 42t
|Sram Force HRD
|Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 CF
|Fizik Aliante R5
|Canyon CP07 Gravel Cockpit CF
|Canyon CP07 Gravel Cockpit CF
Let's jump straight to the next equipment highlight: The DT Swiss GRC1400 Spline db wheelset with its 42mm high carbon rims is not only visually stunning, but is also one of the lightest in the entire test field - despite its high rims. The properties of the special Gravel wheels are also convincing: The hubs come with the inner workings of the proven and high-quality 240s hubs and their toothed disc freewheel, the tubeless-capable rims have a generous inner width of 24mm and are therefore ideal for tires from 38mm.
When it comes to attachments, we come back to the Canyon CP07 Gravel Cockpit CF with its hoverbar. The handlebar-stem unit on our M-frame is 440mm wide and 70mm long - these values increase or decrease depending on the frame size:
stem length: 60mm (2XS) | 70mm (XS-M) | 90mm (L-XL) | 105mm (2XL)
handlebar width: 400mm (2XS) | 420mm (XS-S) | 440mm (ML) | 460mm (XL – 2XL)
Regardless of the frame size, the other key data of the cockpit are:
stem angle: -15 °
reach: 70 mm
Last but not least, there is still the seating area: The tried-and-tested, light and elegant Fizik Aliante R5 saddle is mounted on the Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 CF post, which is said to offer a great deal of comfort thanks to its construction of two carbon sheets and is therefore very good compared to the counterpart on the front fits.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel: The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 Etap
The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 Etap already looks great. With the distinctive but at the same time pleasing frame shape and the also striking but not too garish paint finish, the Koblenz bikes should appeal to many gravel bikers. For some people, the hover bar is still an optical no-go, even if efforts were obviously made to integrate it as elegantly as possible into the frame and bike design. Admittedly, we also found it really difficult to look at first, but we got used to it surprisingly quickly. To get straight to the point - the performance should probably reconcile many critics with the optics.
Speaking of performance, then of course we first have to look at the geometry of the Canyon Grail CF SLX 8.0 Etap. As already mentioned, not all values can be compared due to the innovative hover-bar cockpit. Nevertheless, one can anticipate that this bike offers a successful mixture of sporty riding characteristics, good comfort and smooth handling. One effect of this special interaction between cockpit and frame geometry is the fact that the seating position on the Grail CF is not nearly as sporty as the sleek look would suggest. You are positioned quite centrally and in a position on the bike that is also suitable for touring.
The outstanding comfort of the Canyon gravel bike is impressive from the very first meters. While this is partly due to the hover bar construction, reducing it to just that would be doing the bike an injustice. Frame, seat post, wheels, tires - when it comes to comfort, one cog fits into the other and pulls the shake tooth out of rough terrain. Especially with fine vibrations on forest roads or gravel, you literally float along. Of course, the hover bar plays its part too. The difference to the classic handlebar is striking, especially on the mentioned terrain with fine, persistent vibrations. We would also like to use these advantages in really rough terrain or on trails - but here we prefer to have our hands near the STIs or the brake levers.
With the Grail, Canyon has managed not to buy comfort with a lack of stiffness or vice versa. Also due to the light LRS system, the bike moves forward immediately when you put pressure on the pedals. There is no trace of inertia here. The fact that there were more nimble wheels in the test is also due to the relatively long wheelbase - but that's not meant to be judgemental, because this orientation also makes the Canyon Grail CF pleasantly smooth-running.
No matter how high-quality the equipment on the top model of the carbon grail may be: you don’t have to waste a lot of words on it. The circuit works reliably, offers a huge bandwidth and brings along ergonomically successful STIs. Wheels, tires, saddle - we have nothing to complain about in any of the built-in components. However, there are smaller deductions for the only limited accessory compatibility: As mentioned, mudguards can be attached if desired, but things are not looking good with luggage racks. The fact that Canyon offers a special bag set together with Topeak is a small consolation for those who also want to take longer tours under the tires on the Grail.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
Test: The Specialized Diverge is entering its sixth year in 2020 and has lost none of its original fascination as an adventure and gravel bike. The top model Diverge Expert we tested impresses with outstanding comfort, also thanks to the Future Shock System. Specialized Diverge Expert 2020: The facts Frame material: Carbon Wheel size(s): 700cc (650b compatible) Maximum tire clearance: 42mm / […]
Test: The Salsa Warroad Carbon wants to bridge the gap between road bike and gravel - with an endurance all-road concept that combines a light and agile frame, high-quality attachments and lots of attachment points for bike packers and touring riders. Salsa Warroad 700c Ultegra: The facts Frame material: Carbon Wheel size(s): 700c (650b compatible) Maximum tire clearance: 35mm (700c) / 47mm (650b) Axle dimension (f/r): […]
Test: The Corratec Allroad A1 is a smooth-running gravel bike with a comfortable seating position and versatile mounting options. The equipment gives no reason for criticism and is also convincing in practice. With its excellent rolling properties, it is also very well suited as a commuter or touring bike. Corratec Allroad A1: The facts Frame material: Aluminum Wheel size(s): 700c Maximum tire clearance: 40mm […]