Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 review

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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
canyon grail cf slx 8

Pros

Cons

  • 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 

The Bike

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.

canyon grail cf slx 8
SL=Super Light, SLX=Super Light Extreme

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 The other drivetrain option for the SLX is SRAM AXS if wireless electronic gears are your preference to the outdated cables of Di2.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.

The Ride

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.

canyon grail gravel bike
What. a great looking bike! If I had the AXS model, I probably wouldn’t give it back…

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.

Overall

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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Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 Di2 review
  • Gribs
    Full Member

    What’s special about the seat post that stops a non canyon saddle being used? Or is the caption wrong and it’s a weird shaped seat post?

    MSP
    Full Member

    I bought one.

    The text is wrong, only the seatpost designed for this bike will fit it has a D profile so a standard round seatpost just won’t work, but I have replaced the saddle with a specialized power comp.

    I disagree with the review of the downtube storage though, the multi tool and pump are so minimal as to be barely adequate, and the storage snake/bag is also a bit too small to be that useful, it is a struggle to get an innertube into it. The fidlock bag looks like it will be good, but won’t be in stock till next spring.

    The mudguards are good though, and feel quite solid.

    The handlebars are good and very comfortable.

    Also IMO the colours are really dull, but that seems to be a trend across the whole industry.

    onewheelgood
    Full Member

    Yes, it’s like a Giant D-Fuse post so only the manufacturer’s posts can be fitted, but  both this and the Giant have standard clamps so any saddle will fit – except an I-Beam :-).

    I’m interested in the Di2 comments though – what problems have there been? I have Di2 on my road and gravel bikes and never had a issue with either – 11-speed Ultegra and GRX.

    amandawishart
    Full Member

    Sorry, that is a typo and I meant seatpost not saddle.

    The Di2 had a loose connection the battery, the cable didn’t ‘click’ in to place as it should, so I electrical taped it. That worked for a couple of rides, and then I went back to experiencing it showing no signs of life completely at random. I rode in -2degrees and took the battery out to warm it up, which worked on that occasion. Another time I set off for a ride and got as far as the first gate before it cut out, so I turned around to go get a functioning bike and the gears came to life when I got to my front door.. I wish there was a pattern or consistency to the failures that would make me able to fix it, but it’s just intermittently failed.

    As for the downtube storage – mine has 2 x CO2, a CO2 pump, a tube (easily fits in the snake bag), pump and multitool, which is more than it could carry with zero downtube storage. I don’t want to be putting sandwiches in my bike, just the sort of tools you always want on a ride, so to me that’s a really useful space.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

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