We had the opportunity to get a first look at the Grizl on a few rides ahead of the launch to share some initial impressions. While not having the time to do an all out gravel adventure that the Grizl is built for, we did some exploring closer to home to test the capabilities and comfort of the new gravel addition from Canyon.
Specification highlights: Our test model is the Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 which comes equipped with two-by Shimano GRX 800, DT Swiss G 1800 wheels, Schwalbe G-One 45mm rubber, Canyon's VCLS 2.0 seatpost and an alloy bar and stem. Weighing in at 9.3kg. At the time of publishing this model would set you back R 71,290 all-in.
The combination of more tyre volume and the unique flexy VCLS seatpost do wonders to soak up the bumps. It offers a remarkably smooth and comfortable ride feel. On even the bumpiest rocky or eroded fire roads we encountered, there was no teeth chattering road buzz.
In the spirit of “under biking” we threw it up and down a few mid grade single track trails for a bit of fun. It’s still a gravel bike after all so attention to line choice is critical, but the Grizl with the 45mm rubber does well to soak up the odd bump and is an absolute blast through flowy sections. The 160mm brakes are helpful in slowing things down when needed and the bike will support 180mm rotors if you want some extra stopping power when fully loaded.
On the tarmac transitions or even an occasional roadie stint, the Grizl does well to maintain some solid road bike composure. Handling is a little more sluggish than an out and out road racer, but it seems to enjoy smoother surfaces just as much as the dirt.
Overall the Canyon Grizl ticks all the right boxes when it comes to versatility and adventure. Plenty of mounting options, and a dependable no-nonsense setup with ample tyre clearance. It is a joy to ride and sports its own spark of personality in the unique colour ways on offer. Whether you're after an adventure ready gravel bike or just a versatile any road bike this one is worth a good look.
See the press release from Canyon below for some extra detail and insight into the Grizl origin story.
Much has been said of Gravel over recent years - defining, interpreting, trying to put a finger on just what ‘it’ is. But one thing's for sure. Gravel is fully established. And it's here to stay.
In 2018 we entered the Gravel market with the Grail. This is the bike that broke the internet thanks to its iconic Double Decker Cockpit, embodying a typically Canyon approach to a new world of riding.
The Grail is a benchmark Gravel bike for how it combines compliance and efficiency. Using carbon’s material properties, we achieve great comfort without resorting to mechanical suspension at both the cockpit and rear end. This is also what makes the Grail one of the lightest Gravel bikes on the market to this day.
Our experience with the Grail shows its strengths lie in blurring the lines between on-road efficiency and off-road capability. For those rides with a 50:50 balance between dirt and pavement, the Grail is the perfect tool. Kit it out with fenders and it’s the ideal ride for all-conditions, all-terrain cruising at any time of year.
Put simply, the Grail rips.
With the Grail now well established on the scene, we asked ourselves, what else do modern Gravel riders need?
One area we identified was modularity – giving riders the ability to customise their setup to how they want to ride, be that for bike packing, racing, or everyday fooling around, we wanted to give people the choice.
On top of that we saw the progression in Gravel riding with riders tackling more technical terrain and getting their kicks from what the cool kids call “underbiking.” We tried it. It was fun.
So, could we justify developing a second Gravel family to complement the Grail? Hell yes.
Unleashing the Grizl
The Grizl is our interpretation of a do-anything, go-anywhere, all-you-might-ever-need Gravel bike. With everything covered for unforgettable rides, from big days out to week-long trips, the Grizl brings tough Swiss Army Knife functionality to our proven performance DNA. The result is a Gravel bike that’s fast across mixed terrain, at home on the rough stuff, and ready for real adventure.
Here’s how we made it.
One Wheel Size. No Flip Flops.
We’ve always been firm believers that if you create a bike to run both 700C tyres and wider 650B setups, then you’ve probably cut a corner somewhere when it comes to geometry.
Instead, our approach is to offer the right wheel size to the right rider. Alongside offering seven frame sizes for one of the broadest ranges on the scene, smaller riders (frame sizes 2XS and XS) benefit from fit and handling proportional to their body size with a 650B setup, while the rest of the size range accommodates 700C.
650B for larger riders? Not for us. Any mountain biker can tell you of the debates that have raged on the topic of wheel size over the years, some former friends still don’t talk to this day – it was that bad. After the dust settled one truth remained – larger wheels are faster and roll better. Fact.
What about running wider tyres that lead people to run 650B in the first place? We’ll come to that.
More Cushion. More Pushin’.
If there’s one component that has fuelled the Gravel revolution, it’s advances in tyre technology. Freed from the shackles of calliper brakes, we now have a broader range of widths and tread patterns available than ever.
Our logic with the Grizl was simple: the wider your tyres, the more you can get away with when you take the wrong turn onto a black trail. All Grizl models come equipped with 45 mm rubber as standard mounted on tubeless-ready rims.
But that’s only half the story – the Grizl will comfortably accommodate big 50 mm tyres mounted on 700C rims (650B only on 2XS and XS) for those wanting to go wider still.
For year-round adventuring, fender clearance is guaranteed with a 45 mm setup so you can enjoy the miles even when the weather doesn’t play along.
The advantages of added tyre volume are more traction and cushioning when riding over rough terrain, so you can let off the brakes down loose descents. Extra volume also comes into its own for heavier riders, or for anyone riding with packs that add weight to the overall system, providing a greater pressure window to find the balance between comfort, rolling resistance, and not bottoming out against the rim.
Yes, there is a slight weight penalty and pay-off in rolling resistance on smoother surfaces compared to a 40 mm tyre found on the Grail, but what the Grizl loses in on-road efficiency it makes up for in off-road capability – this is a bike that wants to get off the beaten track.
Mounts You Need. None You Don't.
More mounting options is a good thing, but too many and bikes start to look like some voodoo doll nightmare with rivets for needles. With the Grizl we set out to strike a balance with the right number of practical mounts people would actually use.
For this, we focussed on the fork with three mounting points for cages and small packs, or extra water bottles. Each leg can carry up to three kilos, and in case you need reminding, it’s handily printed on the side.
In the main frame triangle, we added top tube mounts for a more stable interface for top tube bags, cutting out the need for straps, plus we added a third bottle cage mount beneath the down tube (not on SLX models) for tools, spares, or just for more hydration when you’re seven hours into that three-hour ride your buddy planned.
Knowing from experience that bolts can go AWOL at the worst possible moments, we’ve subtly printed all the technical specs and recommended torque settings for when you reach the next hardware store. It’s the little things in life.
Integrated Clamp & VCLS
They say you should never change a winning system, and the combination of our integrated seatpost clamp twinned with flexible 27.2 mm carbon VCLS seatposts provides some of the best rear compliance in the business.
This proven system, comprising a simple synthetic insert and set screw construction, securely clamps the post 110 mm below the top of the seat tube to increase bending length, and with it the amount of seatpost deflection over rough terrain. There’s no added mechanical complexity, and it even saves around 15 g over conventional collar clamp systems.
Select Grizl models also feature our signature S15 VCLS 2.0 seatposts, with their standout leaf spring construction and floating saddle clamp, ensuring consistent saddle tilt, for even more seated comfort.
Add the Grizl’s higher volume tyres into the mix and you get a system that allows you to stay planted and get the power down over rocks and roots while other riders are getting bounced out the saddle. That saves you energy, which is never a bad thing.
Proven Gravel Geometry
What set the Grail apart (beyond that cockpit) when we launched it was its incredibly balanced geometry. Here was a bike with the mild manners needed to cope with rough and technical terrain, yet didn’t feel sluggish stringing together apexes down twisting tarmac descents. So why change it on the Grizl?
Just like the Grail, the Grizl boasts an extended wheelbase, 40mm longer than our Endurace models for added stability and additional clearance for bigger tyres. Complimenting this stability, the Grizl runs shorter stems than our road models, paired with wider bars (80mm and 440mm on size M respectively) for better responsiveness at the controls.
Stack and Reach figures also remain unchanged, making the riding position on the Grizl marginally longer and lower than on our Endurace lines, but not as aggressive as on the Ultimate.
The Grizl is built to handle off-road punishment by meeting our 1CX testing protocols that go beyond the requirements of standard road bikes. But to make a robust bike you shouldn’t have to sacrifice making a lightweight bike – riding fully loaded or not, every gram saved helps us along the way.
Topping out our Grizl line-up, the Grizl CF SLX employs more advanced materials and layup techniques to create a complete frame weight, including paint and small parts, of just 950 g – that puts many dedicated road platforms to shame. In full build, including load-bearing forks and hardy aluminium bar and stem combos, our Grizl CF SLX models tip the scales just above the 8.5 kg mark.
Ragging around off-road is fun as it is, but it’s more funner when you have a lightweight setup.
Another standout feature on the Grizl is the dropped driveside chainstay construction to allow broader tyre clearance without disrupting the chainrings. This incredibly sleek section of carbon is not only structurally enforced to handle drivetrain forces, but still manages to house internal cable and line routing to the rear derailleur.
It’s an exciting time on the Gravel scene right now. New components are popping up all the time inspired by all kinds of use cases and ride styles; there’s more choice for how you want to build your bike than ever. Because the Grizl is a bike with principles, we ensured modern Gravel riders have the options they require to run the setups they want, which is why we took care of the following:
Dropper Post Compatibility
For more confidence down technical trails, there’s internal routing through the down tube and seat tube so you can run a dropper if you want. The USA-specific Grizl CF SL 8 1-By even has an 80 mm dropper post equipped as standard.
1-By & 2-By Gearing Options
There’s no definitive answer to the 1-by vs. 2-by debate – because both work and when it comes down to it, it’s a matter of taste. The Grizl works with both.
Bigger Disc Rotors
If you’re riding fully loaded, especially across hilly terrain, you can really benefit from the extra power and control of larger disc rotors. The Grizl comes with 160mm rotors as standard on most sizes, but will also accept 180 mm rotors when needed.
Apidura x Canyon Collaboration Packs
Whether you’re out for a sunset blast or a longer escapade, the days of trying to stuff everything into sagging jersey pockets are thankfully over. Performance bikepacking gear provides a more convenient and practical way to carry all the spares, nutrition, clothing and other bits we could possibly need close-to-hand on rides long or short.
Founded in 2013, Apidura is a pioneer of ultralight, rackless packing systems and has built a strong reputation for lasting quality using technical materials and precision crafting techniques. It’s with good reason Apidura packs can be found on the bikes of many of the world’s best ultra-distance riders, alongside discerning bikepackers the world over.
The Apidura x Canyon Collaboration was established to develop a set of packs for the Grizl that can be used for any ride, not just those once-a-year week-long escapes.
The Apidura x Canyon Packs are as ready for adventure and as performance oriented as the Grizl. Drawing inspiration from Apidura’s Race and Backcountry Series, the packs are lightweight, waterproof and rugged enough to tackle anything from the hour-long spin before work to a 200-mile gravel race. The range consists of:
A 5 Litre Saddle Pack
Two sizes of Frame Pack (2.4 Litre for frames 2XS-L, 4 Litre for frames XL-2XL)
A 1 Litre Bolt-On Top Tube Pack
The set is made from Apidura’s proprietary and ultralight Hexalon material, with a completely waterproof welded construction. Abrasion-resistant panels and mud-proof zips provide enhanced durability and internal lash tabs keep contents secure and rattle free no matter the terrain. The system is tailored to the Grizl for optimal fit and minimal obstruction while riding.
Pricing (May 2021)
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GRIZL AND THE GRAIL?
Both are gravel bikes. The Grail is optimized for smoother off-road surfaces and the Grizl better suited to rougher terrain. The Grail is more efficient on-road but slightly less capable than the Grizl off it, while the Grizl is more comfortable on the rough stuff but not as fast on the smooth.
CAN I FIT WIDER TIRES IF I MOUNT 650B WHEELS?
No. On frame sizes S-2XL, we optimized the Grizl’s geometry and handling around 700C wheels. When developing the frame, 50 mm was the maximum width we set out to achieve. Even at 650B the maximum width is still 50 mm. So there is no benefit of switching to smaller wheels.
HOW MUCH EXTRA CLEARANCE IS THERE IF I FIT 50 MM TIRES?
The Grizl can house 50 mm tires with an additional 6 mm of clearance on each side.
We do not recommend using bigger tires. This will reduce clearance and can result in paint or even frame damage if mud or grit carried by the tires contact the frame.
CAN I UPGRADE THE BRAKES IN ANY WAY?
The Grizl comes with 160 mm discs in all sizes. If you want more braking power and control, you can mount 180 mm rotors. 140 mm rotors are not compatible.
IS THE FRAME ONE-BY COMPATIBLE?
Yes, all frames are one-by and two-by compatible.
IS THE FRAME DI2 COMPATIBLE?
Only the SLX version (R083-01) is Di2 compatible. This frame has a battery mount inside the downtube and front derailleur cable exit in the seat tube. This is why SLX frames don’t have a third bottle cage mount underneath the down tube.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN GEOMETRY BETWEEN THE GRAIL AND THE GRIZL?
We apply the same geometry concept to both bikes. In terms of handling, both the Grail and Grizl have significantly longer wheelbases than the Endurace road bike, 40mm on a size M, for extra stability on rough surfaces. To keep the steering responsive, we offset this with 20 mm shorter stems than on our road models, while 20 mm wider bars increase leverage for steering input, and ensure more balance when things get bumpy.