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The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 is a gravel bike for the racers. If you are a competitive gravel rider, this is your fast-track ticket to the top step of the podium.
- Brand: Canyon
- Product: Grail CF SLX 8 Di2
- From: Canyon
- Price: £4,799
- Tested: by Amanda for 1 month
- Mudguards are a fantastic and speedy fit (no bolts)
- Frame storage is huge, and holds a pump securely
- Tidy cockpit with great stock bars (especially compared to the previous model’s double-decker ones)
- Di2 has been extremely unreliable
- The additional accessory mounts for computers and lights are limited. Needs a solution for people that own existing lights
- There are no rack bolts on the rear, and my Tailfin rack needs a UDH adapter
At a glance, this bike is a vast improvement aesthetically to the previous model. The toptube has lost its hunch and the double decker bars have gone in the bin where they belong. The finish is faultless, right down to the custom frame bag following the line of the paintwork.
Looks aside, the frame alone is full of handy features. Downtube storage that is accessible one handed with a winter glove on, and the cover doubles as secure housing for a pump and multitool. Both items that you don’t want to be digging around in bags for. There’s a long innertube bag tucked further down, and the Di2 battery is mounted at the entrance to the storage area for convenience.
There’s a bunch of optional extras that are really well designed and improve the overall experience, but they aren’t cheap. The mudguards are secured in place with clips and a thru-axle that goes through the centre of the existing axle, meaning there’s no need to take wheels off, adjust bolts or faff in any way. The frame bag is a Canyon LOAD FidLock QuickLoader, and it offers enough space for snacks and some spare gloves. The Canyon GEAR GROOVE Computer Mount is another extra, and probably quite essential given the unique shape of the bars that don’t allow for standard mounts.
I have been testing a size Small, and the frame comfortably fits two bottles and a frame pack. You could increase storage with a bolt mounted toptube bag, too. It’s all about neatness, aerodynamicity and secure fits.
This particular model is the SLX 8 Di2. SLX is the lighter, stiffer grade of carbon fibre, 8 is the model number and Di2 is the drivetrain. The other drivetrain option for the SLX is SRAM AXS if wireless electronic gears are your preference to the outdated cables of Di2. Yes, the cables are internally routed, but I can’t help but feel there’s going to be more reliability issues with wires than there would be from an AXS drivetrain. I have a personal preference for AXS, and to justify it, the mobile application for Di2 is in dire need of a redesign for function as much as form. AXS is slick and foolproof.
Two things that really stand out to me is how comfortable I feel both standing up pedalling, and churning away flat miles on the drops. These are my two biggest weaknesses on gravel/road bikes, as I tend to find hoods unstable when I’m out of the saddle and I feel cramped and unnatural riding drops unless I’m freewheeling. The width of the stock bars (420mm) on the Grail may be a contributing factor to the stability I feel standing up, also the effective reach being slightly longer than I would usually opt for with a gravel bike. The drops are shallow and don’t feel like a huge transition in my riding position, just slightly more tucked.
The frame, in particular the front end, seems quite stiff, which makes for great power transfer and means it rides really efficiently on the road, but it isn’t the most forgiving ride when descending off-road. I had to double check my pressures on the first ride, as it felt as though I had them far too high, but it was actually just a stiffer bike than I’m used to. That said, there’s no chattery feedback through the pedals and I never feel ‘rattled’ by it, just aware that I’m on rough terrain. Some gravel bikes give you a giddy excitement on the trail, whereas this gives you the giddy excitement on the climbs.
The Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 is sold as a performance gravel bike, and it is exactly that. It’s slick, silent, tidy and more aero than previous models. Descending is not particularly noteworthy, but also not worth complaining about. If the Grail is on your shopping list I’d hope that you’re looking to ride 50/50 tarmac/gravel at a sporting pace, with no expectations for gnarly gravel rides – you want the Canyon Grizl for that. If I’d have tested the AXS model I expect I wouldn’t have wanted to send it back, however the unreliability of the Di2 has really tainted my experience.
Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 Specifications
- Frame // Carbon
- Fork // Carbon
- Wheels // DT Swiss GRC1400 Spline
- Front tyre // Schwalbe G-One RS Evo 700x40c
- Rear tyre // Schwalbe G-One RS Evo 700x40c
- Chainset // Shimano RX810
- Drivetrain // Shimano GRX Di2 RX815
- Brakes // Shimano GRX Di2 RX815, 160/160mm
- Stem // Canyon Cockpit CP0039: One-piece carbon cockpit
- Bars // Canyon Cockpit CP0039: One-piece carbon cockpit, 16° flare, 5° backsweep
- Bar Tape // Canyon Ergospeed Gel
- Seatpost // Canyon SP0072, ?mm
- Saddle // Fizik Terra Argo X3
- Bottom Bracket // Token Ninja Lite BB4124
- Size tested // S
- Sizes available // XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Weight // 8.45kg (9.90kg with mudguards, downtube pump, multitool, tube, 2xCO2)
- Head angle // 71.5°
- Effective seat angle // 73.5°
- Seat tube length // 480mm
- Head tube length // 145mm
- Chainstay // 425mm
- Wheelbase // 1,034mm
- Effective top tube // 569mm
- BB height // 75mm BB drop
- Reach // 394mm
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