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
A totally off-road-focussed gravel bikeMore stable on rough terrainWide tyre clearanceExtensive mounting pointsRead our Canyon Grizl CF review / Read our Canyon Grizl AL 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, only the Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by has a dropper post as standard. However, the rest of 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-focussed Grizl builds. These models use Rockshox’s 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 £1,449. However, even this offers a splendid Shimano GRX 400 10-speed groupset with a double crankset plus a solid DT Swiss wheelset. Move up to the £1,749 Grail 7 and there’s an 11-speed Shimano GRX 810 groupset.
The fanciest aluminium Grail you can buy is the £2,249 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 £2,399 Grail CF SL 7. With a twin-chainring Shimano GRX 11-speed 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.
The range tops out with the Grail CF SL CSR at £4,299 in Canyon//SRAM team colours, though the cheaper £3,749 Grail CF SL 7 eTap offers perhaps the keenest value by including both DT Swiss GRC 1600 Spline carbon wheels and SRAM Rival AXS 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 £5,099.
The most you can spend on a Grail bike, the Grail CF SLX 9 eTap costs £6,199 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/Ergon S15 VCLS split shaft 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 £4,799 CF 7 and ends with the £5,099 CF 8. It includes 2XS, XS and S sizes, all with 650b wheels, as well as 700c wheeled M, L, XL and 2XL frames.
Canyon Grizl AL
Photo: Joseph Delves
Like the Grail, the Grizl range kicks off with a choice of aluminium bikes starting at £1,449 for the Grizl 6. In fact, you also get the same mechanical Shimano GRX 400 10-speed groupset and DT Swiss gravel wheelset found on the Grail 6 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 a 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 sibling. Starting at £1,949 for the Grizl CF SL 6, spending more sees you get the option of a suspension fork along with Canyon/Ergon’s excellent flexible VCLS seatpost.
Suspension models start with the £2,899 Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by, which is also fitted with a dropper post. The range hits its zenith at £3,349, with the (non-suspension) Grizl CF SL 8 1by Ekar, unless you fancy the limited edition 1990s style Grizl CF SL 7 Throwback with silver alloy components and retro-inspired paint job.
Canyon Grizl CF 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 for a claimed 950g frame weight.
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 Grizl CF SLX 8 1by, which costs £4,399 and comes with Campagnolo’s distinctive 13-speed Ekar mechanical groupset. An alternative is the twin-chainring-sporting Grizl CF SLX 8 Di2, at £4,499, with a Shimano GRX Di2 groupset. Both come with DT Swiss GRC1400 Spline carbon wheels.
The Grizl range tops out with the £4,799 Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap Suspension. As you’ll guess by the name, it has a suspension fork, paired with a SRAM Force AXS XPLR groupset. It’s also equipped with Reynolds ATR carbon wheels.
Canyon Grizl vs Grail: Which is the best gravel bike?
Both pitched at similar price points and 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 on 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 for extra front-end comfort.
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Struggling to choose your next ride? Head to our buyer’s guide to the best gravel bikes for inspiration