"The Canyon Gravel: ON is not for the faint of heart, but its premium components and crazy range are worth your attention."
Construction quality & design
Enjoyable on the go or on the go
In recent years, the gravel community has consolidated a bicycle culture that cannot be burdened with the unwritten rules of road cycling. This means hairy legs, fat tires, and the emphasis on enjoying the ride, not how fast you can finish it. E-bikes grow with a slightly less pronounced community of their own, but are more generally accepted than before, simply because they get more people on bikes. Although I know that there is a contingent of elcists dressed in lycra that could question these two statements, e-bikes and gravel bikes are here to stay. I greet the company.
So it makes sense that Canyon introduced it Grail: ON, his first entry into the US e-bike market. If you are not familiar with Canyon, you should be. It makes amazing bikes that are often the best high-end bang for your buck because the company works on a direct-to-consumer model. This means that you won't see any new canyons in your local bike shop, but don't worry. An incredible six-year warranty, 30-day return policy, and easy set up with all the tools included ensure a smooth shopping experience.
The Grail: ON: What is it and what is different?
The Grail: ON was born out of Canyon’s long-standing gravel favorite, the Grail, and makes more changes than just putting on an engine and battery and calling them good. And although the geometry of a bike with the Grail: ON is certainly not the sexiest topic, it is worth mentioning. Canyon considered what it would mean to throw a few extra weights and forces on a bike, and modified it accordingly.
This means that they thickened the side walls of this full carbon frame to cope with the additional abuse while at the same time lengthening the wheelbase and shortening the stem. These changes result in an e-bike that is far more maneuverable than others I've ridden. In fact, the smooth and responsive ride sometimes made me forget that I was riding an e-bike at all.
Outside of the frame and the engine, the Grail: ON's double-decker handlebar is the most important visual difference to other motorcycles. This multi-level drop bar looks partly from hammerhead shark and partly from medieval weapons. It may look crazy, but the result is an increase in comfort that you will soon learn to love.
For the Grail: ONThe integrated stem has been shortened, which brings the floating upper rod closer to the driver. That means a more relaxed and comfortable driving position. The top bar is doubly resilient and also dampens road vibrations when it gets bumpy. I can testify that I was quite skeptical of these claims, but spent more and more time at the top because it took the edge off uneven back streets.
Fat tires? No problem
The Grail: ONs tires also help to relieve bumpy roads. From 40 mm on the grail to 50 mm on the grail: ON, the Schwalbe G-One Bites are gigantic. When I pulled the Grail: ON out of its box, my first thought was that these things were way too big. With a tread pattern just below what I'm considering for a mountain bike, the G-One bites are large, aggressive, and can ride at just 30 psi. This means a lot of traction and additional suspension to absorb bumps, as well as more rolling resistance.
If you only drive loose gravel, this is not a problem. However, if you are like me and drive 80% paved roads with small pieces of gravel, rolling resistance becomes a bigger problem. To my great surprise, on my first outing, I pumped the front and back to 55 psi and was shocked when I was traveling at 21 mph. As the power for the Grail: ON stops at 32 km / h, the tires and the additional weight balanced quite well.
Where I noticed the grail: The weight of ON, which is just over 35 pounds for a medium, was on gravel descents. While I could still throw the Grail: ON around, I definitely drove the 160mm hydraulic disc brakes a bit harder than usual, and this is where the extra size of the tires really came into play. The same tires that I made fun of in my living room have worked well in the real world – I was thrilled to have the extra rubber I could work with.
Battery and motor
The culprit behind the weight of Grail: ON is of course the Bosch Performance Line CX motor and the replaceable 500 watt-hour battery. Canyon chose the Bosch unit because it can achieve a torque of up to 85 Nm, which is just under 63 pound-feet or roughly what an 800 cc motorcycle has.
In contrast to motorcycles, the Grail: ON has no gas – it is a pedelec or a pedal assistant. This means that the motor turns on when you pedal and supports you based on your cadence, the force exerted and the overall speed. The engine output is available in four versions. Eco mode is the least powerful, followed by touring, sports and the undisputed king of the hills, turbo.
All modes are limited to 32 km / h in the US and are selected via the simple but effective Bosch screen, which gives you information about your current speed, range, performance mode and battery life. Of course, you can step over this top speed of 32 km / h on your own and turn off the support if you want to treat yourself to a little more training.
I was not a big fan of Bosch motors in the past because I found them jerky and louder than I expected. The unity in the Grail: ON changed my mind. The smooth delivery never surprised me and at the same time impressed me with the sheer force. My only criticism of the Bosch system is the display. It shows everything that is needed in terms of the engine, but I'm definitely looking forward to the day when I don't have my special bike computer for GPS on board and have to follow my training.
When it comes to the Grail: ON's range, Canyon estimates that a 210-pound driver will reach a range of just under 70 miles. The range of e-bikes is difficult to quantify due to all the variables in the game, but I was surprised to see that I blew their estimate out of the water and approached 110 miles in eco mode. Admittedly, I'm 170 pounds and mostly drive on paved country roads with a mixture of hilly and flat terrain. However, if you have a battery that lasts that long, the eight-hour charge will be a bit more bearable.
Have a nice trip
How well that helps also with downtimes when charging Grail: ON only sees sitting there. It shouts: "I am different!" much more than it does "I'm an e-bike!" and that will surely be appreciated. No matter whether it is the super clean internal cable routing or the Starship Enterprise frontend, the Grail: ON is an eye-catcher and offers more than just a reasonable share of second looks and inquiries. But it's really the combination of outstanding parts and parts that brings the whole package together.
I talked a lot about the tires, but the DT Swiss bikes are also worth mentioning. With hubs that are padded to absorb the extra torque from the engine, the HGRC 1400 wheelset gives your ride aerodynamics and power. The fact that aerodynamic gains are likely to be wiped out by these monster truck tires is irrelevant. You look great!
The seat post is another Canyon specialty worth mentioning. The leaf spring design smoothes the ride even more than the frame already. When you add the Fizik Argo Tempo saddle, you have a true two-wheeled throne that uses some of the most intelligent design technologies available to the cycling community today.
Speaking of technology: I used the Sram eTap version of the top-class Grail: ON. This means wireless shifting for the 12-speed 10-36 cassette, which is driven by a 44-tooth FSA chainring at the front. While the eTap drivetrain worked flawlessly, there is one strange thing: it uses batteries. The wireless derailleur uses its own battery, so it is not connected to the entire bike.
This means that theoretically I am running out of batteries in the derailleur and I cannot shift while the engine is still fully charged. The Sram batteries last two to three weeks. As long as you charge them with bike lights and headunits, you should be fine. But I wonder if this system would have been better served with a Shimano Di2 setup that still has a hard-wired connection and could be integrated into the bike battery.
The bike has a six-year warranty on all Canyon parts and components, and a two-year warranty on all e-bike parts, including the Bosch motor and battery.
The Grail: ON is a first-class gravel bike with an e-bike motor. The Grail: ON offers drivers multiple performance modes while using premium components combined with a frame that has been expertly optimized to meet the highest demands. It is everything I would expect from a world-class manufacturer like Canyon. And with the Grail: After winning a Red Dot Award for bike design in 2020, I'm clearly not the only one who believes this.
Is there a better alternative?
The closest competitor is Specialized Turbo Creo SL Comp Carbon at $ 6,750. But with the Specialized, you'll miss out on electronic shifting, improved wheels and tires, and buy a much less dramatic aesthetic. If these things don't inspire you, you might consider them Giant uprising for $ 4,200 as a cheaper option.
How long it will take?
The durability of the Grail: ON definitely depends on your use. While carbon fiber is not known as the most durable material in the world, the built-up thickness that the Grail: ON uses should keep problems at bay. In the meantime, Bosch is known for building electric motors with batteries that are officially designed for 500 charging cycles and allow you to use them for years before you need to replace them. Firmware updates are offered annually by Bosch dealers to keep drivers up to date with the latest improvements to the Kies software.
Should you buy it
Yes. If the price of the $ 6,999 eTap model is a bit too high, you should definitely check out the standard Grail: ON CF8 model. The CF8 has a mechanical gearshift and slightly cheaper DT Swiss wheels, but otherwise has the same benefits as big tires and frame designs for $ 5,799.