by Mark Alker
February 18, 2014
Totally predictable handling, dead stable and as confident on twisting singletrack as any other bikes we’ve tried around this price
Bizarrely, despite very different frame shapes and parts specification all three bikes in this test weighed in at 25.8lb/11.6kg. Extra small and small sizes of the Grand Canyon get 27.5in wheels, our medium (17.5in) one gets 29in. We like this approach, superficially because big wheelers often look slightly out of proportion with small riders on board, less superficially because smaller frame sizes on 29in bikes often have compromised geometry in an attempt to fit the rider properly between the wheels without front wheel toe overlap.
Opinions varied on the outward appearance of the Grand Canyon. Battleship grey with vivid green highlights doesn’t do it for everyone. But we couldn’t find much fault in the detail. Fork through-axles aren’t rare on £1,200 bikes but it’s a highlight to get one out back too. The Fox CTD Evolution fork looks like the other obvious highlight: the CTD (Climb/Trail/Descend) thumb shifter is a little extra bonus on an air fork with rebound tuning. Mavic’s Crossride wheels are unusual on a bike at this price too: their durability repute is good, the spokes are readily available and they’re shod with fast rolling (but still grippy in all but the worst mud) 2.2in Continental X King tyres. Avid’s Elixir 5 brakes are more reliable and easier to service/adjust than they once were and we are always happy to see a 180mm rotor up front. The 3×10 drivetrain is a mix of XT (mechs) and SLX (shifters and crankset). A 700mm flat Ritchey bar suits the bike’s character, as does a firm Selle Italia saddle and Ergon bolted grips. The seat post and stem are both decent Iridium (Canyon’s house brand) offerings.
The frame simply does what it needs to do. The fat tapered head tube is short enough to allow a low bar position if that’s what you like, but with washers for extra stem adjustment if you don’t. The double-slotted seat clamp will prevent crimping and the big quick release lever has a very tight cam action. There’s lots of standover clearance, there are two sets of bottle cage bosses, the rear brake hose runs via threaded clamps under the top tube and the gear cables run inside the down tube, but are easy to access under the bottom bracket. A neoprene chain stay wrap is fitted.
Be aware that tyres on off-the-peg bikes are not always precisely the same as tyres bearing the same label when you buy them on their own. We didn’t have any issues with traction on the first relatively dry ride but on the second wetter ride we were aware, as we were with the Schwalbe tyres on the Merida, that the Conti’ X Kings were not as grippy as versions we’ve tested previously. Oh, and while we’re talking of disappointments, the Fox Evolution Series fork was suffering from notchy stiction during every ride, even after we’d lubricated the seals at the top of the sliders: the RockShox offerings on the other two bikes were plusher in both compression and rebound. However, we’re confident that Fox and/or Canyon would be keen to sort that particular problem under warranty. Apart from that, no problems. The handling was totally predictable, dead stable and as confident on twisting singletrack as any other bikes we’ve tried around this price. But the less than perfect fork feel detracted from the fun when the going got rough.
The overall trail character of the Grand Canyon is very easy-going compared to smaller wheeled bikes, totally confident rather than exciting or dynamic. It’s the way most 29in bikes are. Some are slightly more lively than others but they’re rarely as lively as a bike like Merida’s Big Seven.
That’s not really a criticism. It’s just the way it is: add a couple of inches to the wheel and tyre diameter of a bike and it rolls more easily over the bumps and holes. The fast, easy roll and the otherwise excellent selection of componentry almost made up for the disappointing fork performance… but not quite. While lubing the stanchions before every ride helped there was still some noticeable stiction in compression after a couple of weeks of regular rides. OK, it’s a tiny issue that we know can be solved with servicing, but that’s not what you want to be doing just after getting a new bike in a box, knowing that your local bike shop won’t be that happy to see you turning up with a bike you haven’t bought there. It’s a pity, as the Canyon seems like such a good deal otherwise.
- Frame // Butted Aluminium
- Fork // Fox 32 Float CTD Evolution 100mm Travel with lockout
- Hubs // Mavic Crossride
- Rims // Mavic Crossride
- Tyres // Continental X King 2.2in
- Chainset // Shimano SLX 40/32/22t
- Front Mech // Shimano Deore
- Rear Mech // Shimano XT
- Shifters // Shimano SLX
- Brakes // Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brakes 180/160mm rotors
- Stem // Iridium
- Bars // Ritchey Comp Flat 700mm
- Grips // Ergon
- Seatpost // Iridium
- Saddle // Selle Italia Special Edition
- Size Tested // Medium (17.5in)
- Sizes Available // XS, S, M, L, XL
- Weight // 25.8lb without pedals