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Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: The best Canyon gravel bike in 2022

Joseph Delves
24 Feb 2022

A detailed comparison of Canyon’s two brilliant gravel bike ranges

The Canyon Grizl and Canyon Grail are both ultra-modern gravel bikes that offer versatility and fun across a range of price and specs. Keen on both but can’t decide which one is right for you? In this detailed comparison we’ll break down the key differences between the two bikes, making the Grail vs. Grizl decision an easier one.

First launched in 2018, the original Canyon Grail quickly won over riders with its mixture of versatility and affordable direct-to-consumer pricing.

A competent gravel bike that also does a superb turn as a do-it-all drop-bar bicycle, the Grail is equally at home bikepacking as it is being ridden to work. You could even pop slick tyres on and use it on the road.

However, even as the Grail continued to snaffle up a large share of the market, Canyon was working on something a bit more rugged. 

Emerging from deep in the woods, Canyon’s Grizl was a chunkier gravel bike with an even wilder streak.

The Grizl launched in May 2021, featuring bigger tyres, more mounting points, and builds featuring suspension forks – all things suggesting it was being aimed at more extreme kinds of off-road riding than the Grail.

So, two gravel bikes, each available in carbon and aluminium variants, each with slightly different priorities. But which is right for you; the Canyon Grail or the Canyon Grizl? Read on to find out…

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Key features at a glance

Canyon Grail

Canyon Grizl

  • A totally off-road-focussed gravel bike
  • More stable on rough terrain
  • Wide tyre clearance
  • Extensive mounting points
  • Read our Canyon Grizl gravel bike review

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Tyre clearance and mudguard compatibility

The Grail comes with 40mm tyres and can accept tyres up to 42mm wide. The Grizl comes with 45mm tyres and can accept alternatives up to 50mm wide.

Both bikes make use of Schwalbe’s G-One tyres. However, the Grail favours the faster-rolling G-One R, while the Grizl uses the knobblier G-One Bite for better grip in loose conditions. (Note: some models also feature similar tyres but from Continental rather than Schwalbe).

Tyre clearance is a good indicator of how far you can push a bike on more extreme trails. Wider tyres provide more grip, better cushioning, and can be run softer.

On the flip side, they’re heavier and generate more rolling resistance, something especially noticeable on smoother surfaces.

Bikes will come with a particular size tyre fitted, and most brands will also suggest a maximum that the bike can accommodate.

It’s worth considering that you might want to use some of the space between these two numbers for mudguards (fenders) – both the Grail and Grizl accept Canyon's proprietary mudguards (but not standard guards, unless you’re prepared to get creative with mounting solutions).

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Geometry

Frame geometry describes the angles and other measurements that make up the bike.

Without delving too deep into the details, bikes often tend towards feeling either nimble or stable. A nimble and reactive bike feels great when whipping around a flat corner but less fun when rattling down a loose and rocky trail.

Generally, the more rugged the terrain, the more you’ll appreciate stability over nimbleness. However, take this too far and the bike can feel sluggish.

To adapt a popular phrase, pick a horse (or bicycle) suited in stature to the prevailing conditions, and you’ll be onto a winner.

So how do the Grizl and Grail stack up? Both bikes are relatively upright in the interests of both comfort and slightly more rearward distribution of their rider’s weight.

Both also have reasonably long wheelbases for stability, and a mountain bike-esque combination of long top tubes and short stems.

Head angles and bottom bracket drops are almost the same on both bikes. However, the Grizl, being more off-road-focussed, is slightly taller in stack than the Grail.

Note that the Grail’s unconventional cockpit arrangement means the usual measurements of stack and reach don’t work for easy comparisons.

Canyon gets around this by using 'Stack+' and 'Reach+', which also take into account the dimensions of the bar and stem. It’s useful for comparisons within Canyon’s own range, but less helpful elsewhere as few brands adopt this approach.

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Handlebars

The Grail is famous for its biplane-like double handlebar, originally marketed as the Hover bar. This clever carbon fibre handlebar allows Canyon to combine a springy top section with a stiff set of drops and it’s fitted to all carbon models.

The downside is it's a one-piece assembly, so you can’t change the length of your stem or the width of your bars to adjust the fit without replacing the entire cockpit.

It also doesn't work well with some third party accessories such as lights, although Canyon offers some options of its own.

The more affordable aluminium Grail models have more conventional (and less restrictive) aluminium drop bars.

By comparison, all the models of the Grizl use a more traditional drop handlebar setup, albeit in fancy carbon fibre on more expensive models.

Neither the Grail nor the Grizl features the massively wide flared bars now popular with some gravel riders.

The argument for such designs is better handling for technical off-road riding. The disadvantage is they’re less well-suited to road riding, and to some eyes more aethetically challenging.

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Frame mounts for bikepacking and touring

Carrying stuff in bikepacking bags or via a rack and panniers is crucial for many gravel riders. In this way, the Grail and Grizl differ pretty drastically.

Despite making an excellent touring bike, the Grail misses out on rack mounts. This mean’s it’ll take strap-on bikepacking bags, but not panniers.

You do get a third water bottle mount on the down tube, plus those hidden mudguard mounts, but that’s it.

The Grizl is somewhat better equipped, with mounts for additional bags on its top tube and, for non-suspension models, the fork legs.

Canyon has even gone so far as commissioning a unique set of bags from bikepacking experts Apidura for the Grizl. Add in the extra squish provided by the broader tyres, plus its slightly longer wheelbase, and the Grizl is the better choice of loaded off-road touring.

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Dropper compatibility and suspension

What is a dropper post, and why might you want one on a gravel bike? A recent import from the mountain bike segment, a dropper post is a mechanical seatpost you can lower via a switch (or ‘remote’) on the handlebar.

This is useful as it allows you to swap between an effective saddle height for pedalling and a lower saddle height for tackling scary sections requiring more standover.

Currently, none of Canyon’s gravel bikes has a dropper post as standard. However, the Grizl range does have the necessary ports on the frame to fit one later if you desire.

Instead, a suspension fork is what you’ll find on the most trail-focused Grizl builds. These models use Rockshox’ slimmed-down Rudy fork to provide 30mm of travel.

Making for a supremely smooth ride, whether the extra weight, cost, and ongoing maintenance commitment are worth it will depend on your own preferences.

Canyon Grizl and Grail Ranges compared

Both the Grail and the Grizl come in multiple aluminium and carbon versions. The Grail range even boasts the option of motor assistance in the form of the Grail:On e-bike and, if past performance is anything to go by, an electrified Canyon Grizl:On will appear at some point.

Otherwise offering similar price points for both bikes, each range also comes with different groupset options, along with choice features including carbon wheelsets, flexible seatposts, and different handlebar setups. Below you’ll find a quick run-through of each.

Canyon Grail AL

The entry point to the Grail platform. As their suffix suggests, the Grail AL has an aluminium frame.

The cheapest Grail going is the Grail 6 at £1,499. However, even this offers a splendid Shimano GRX 10-speed groupset with a double crankset plus a solid DT Swiss wheelset.

Also worth checking out is the £1,949 Grail 7 AW. The AW stands for all-weather and means this single-chainring GRX build arrives with mudguards and a waterproof Canyon LOAD top tube bag.

The fanciest aluminium Grail you can buy is the £2,149 Grail 7 eTap which uses SRAM’s wireless electronic Rival XPLR eTap AXS gravel groupset.

Canyon Grail CF SL

The super-light CF SL range is made of carbon fibre and features Canyon’s radical double-decker handlebar.

Offering comfort and stiffness, this biplane bar necessitates some extreme design work to the front of the frame to accommodate it.

The range starts with the £2,449 Grail CF SL 7. With a twin chairing Shimano GRX groupset, it offers the cheapest way to get hold of the carbon version of the Grail.

With a total of six models in the CF SL range, there are plenty of groupset options to choose from, with electronic Shimano or SRAM drivetrains proliferating on the more expensive options.

Topping out with the Grail CF SL 7 Race at £3,899, the cheaper £3,399 Grail CF SL 7 eTap offers perhaps the keenest value by including both carbon wheels and electronic shifting.

Canyon Grail CF SLX

The Grail range’s non plus ultra. The CF SLX uses a slightly different carbon layup to ditch a few grams and supposedly add a little more stiffness.

Otherwise similar to its cheaper carbon peers, the two bikes in the range both offer excellent build lists. Rolling on matching DT Swiss GRC1400 Spline wheels, the most affordable of the two is the 11-speed Shimano GRX Di2 equipped Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 at £4,999.

The most you can spend on a Grail bike, the Grail CF SLX 9 eTap costs £6,299 and comes with a single-ring version of the 12-speed SRAM Red XPLR eTap AXS groupset.

Besides electronic shifting, on these two models you’ll also get an excellent and very comfortable Canyon S15 VCLS carbon seatpost. Shifting backwards as you hit bumps, it treats your bum with the tenderness you’d hope for from two of Canyon’s top-flight bikes.

Canyon Grail:ON e-bike

The Grail, but electric. Buried within a carbon frame, Bosch’s Performance Line CX motor adds assistance for long-distance adventures or speedy hill-filled loops.

Besides a slightly swollen down tube housing the battery, features like posh carbon wheels and the double-decker bar carry over from the conventionally powered models.

Encompassing seven different versions, the Grail:ON range starts with the £4,699 CF 7 and ends with the £5,799 CF 8 eTap.

Curiously, this is the only section of the Grail line that still includes a women’s-specific model, the Grail:ON CF 7 WMN – the rest of Canyon’s range is nominally unisex.

Canyon Grizl AL

Like the Grail, the Grizl range kicks off with a choice of aluminium bikes starting at £1,499. In fact, you also get the same mechanical Shimano GRX groupset and DT Swiss gravel wheelset found on the Grail bike.

Covering both men’s and women’s versions, upping your spend to £1,949 also unlocks the first suspension model. Called the Grizl 7 Suspension, it employs Rockshox’ Rudy gravel fork to offer 30mm of suspension.

Canyon Grizl CF SL

The carbon Grizl loses some weight and adds a little in cost versus its aluminium siblings. Starting at £1,949 for the Grizl CF SL 6, spending more sees you get the option of a suspension fork along with Canyon’s excellent flexible VCLS seatpost.

The range hits its zenith just below the £3,200 mark, with multiple possibilities offering you a choice of either a suspension fork or an electronic groupset.

Canyon Grizl CG SLX

Once again, the SLX line represents the very fanciest iteration of the Grizl platform. You’ll get a frame popped out of the same mould as the cheaper bikes but using fancier carbon and a slightly different layup process.

With three options available, you’ll also have to decide on the direction you want to take with the bike. One very cool route is the rigid Grizl CF SLX 8, which costs £4,499 and comes with Campagnolo’s distinctive 13-speed Ekar mechanical groupset.

The two remaining options include the twin-chainring-sporting Grizl CF SLX 8 Di2, also at £4,499. This gets a rigid fork and a Shimano GRX Di2 groupset.

Finally, the very poshest Grizl you can grab is the Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap at £4,849. Sporting Rockshox suspension, a SRAM Force XPLR eTap AXS 12-speed groupset, and Reynolds ATR carbon wheels, it manages to be both very lovely and still excellent value.

Canyon Grizl vs. Grail: Which is the best gravel bike?

Each pitched at similar price points and each using similar components, the choice between Grizl and Grail is going to come down to the sort of riding you want to do.

If you’re excited by more extreme styles of off-road riding or want to carry a lot of kit into the wilderness, then pick the Grizl.

It’s a great gravel bike and is still far from mediocre on less technical terrain or tarmac.

However, if you prize speed on smoother surfaces or fancy trying a bit of gravel racing, you might benefit from the lower weight and rolling resistance offered by the Grail. With slicker tyres, it’s also a great touring bike, even if it does miss out rack mounts.

Happily, even within the Grail and Grizl lines there’s plenty of variety. For example, both ranges provide the option to pick between single or double chainring groupsets.

Looking to each platform, there’s also the option to select a suspension fork on the Grizl or benefit from the carbon Grail’s unique handlebar setup.