4000km on a Canyon Grail

bikes 31 May 2021

I love bikes, but for me to want to own a bike, and spend hours riding it, it needs to be different to the rest: Cannondale's Lefty forks (I love my Hooligan), Evil's Hagar with its DH-inspired geometry on a gravel frame, or Canyon's bizarre handlebar on the Grail.

I spent a year not buying the Grail, carefully thinking about it, and impatiently waiting for it to come back into stock. I was worried that the lack of adjustability in the headset area would make it non-viable, but decided to trust in the 30-day returns policy and their fit calculator. Two years on, it's the most comfortable bike I have.

TL;DR?

I love this weird bike. It's reliable, resilient, incredibly comfortable, and fast.

What have I used my Grail for?

The Grail is marketed as a gravel bike, which translates as 'real-world comfortable road bike'. I've used it for some gravel, a lot of road, and with the help of Tailfin's panniers, a lot of commuting. I've put it on a trainer (Garmin/Tacx Neo 2T) after breaking my arm, without issue.

What changes have I made to the original build?

Computer mount

I've used the original Canyon product, but as it doesn't have an underside mount I stopped as soon as the days started to shorten. I've broken a Barfly under/over spoon with Garmin's UT800 light on it, and settled for K-Edge's re-designed under/over mount, which has moves the 'under' mount closer to where the mount attaches to the frame, and puts the computer on the other side of a hinge. This reduces the stress on the piece.

The bike with the Barfly mount, that later snapped.

Power meter

I like power data, and as the bike came with Shimano, I couldn't (easily) use my preferred SRAM/Quarq power meter, so I tried something new: a Powertap G3 hub-based power meter. Whilst I miss the L/R power data, the hub power meter 'just works', and provides speed data too, eliminating one sensor. The only devices that don't seem to be compatible with it are Suunto devices, which is on their code, and not the G3, the issue being they pull power data, but not speed.

Oval chainring

My Grail is a 2x system, and I replaced the smaller front ring with a Carbon Black oval. I wanted to have an oval on both, but could never get the shifting to be reliable.

Tyres

My Grail shipped with the Schwalbe G-One Bite, which were fine, but given that I only ride on dry ground, I switched them for the standard G-One. Along the way, I tried the Panaracer Gravel King SK Knobbys and Slicks, mostly for the colour. Whilst the both rolled very well, I found them to be terribly puncture-prone. Those colours, though...

Saddle

After realising I wasn't aero enough (is anyone, ever?) I lowered the handlebars by 5mm, and to increase my comfort (read: decrease numbness) I swapped the saddle for a Fizik Transiro Mistica.

Panniers

Using Tailfin's system, I've been able to attach excellent panniers to an otherwise mountless bike. This is accomplished by swapping the rear through-bolt axle for Tailfin's, and done. It's a really wonderful system; I can't say enough good things about it.

Frame bag

I'm very clear on this: I do not like the Topeak/Canyon bag for the grail. The zips are annoying to use, it feels poorly made (one of the zip pulls came off in the first week), and sometimes the material catches on my legs when I'm riding. The material that covers the zips flaps in the wind. It's going to be replaced, but it's working, so I'm loathe to (just yet). I think one from Apidura, as they're wonderful.

The Grail's handlebars, after being lowered by 5mm

What problems have I had over 4000km?

  • Hmm... flats? I've had a few flats.
  • I've changed the cogs once, along with the chain due to normal wear.
  • It was incredibly annoying to find a way to satisfactorily attach a light to the front of the bike due to the handlebars, only really satisfactorily solved by my recent K-Edge, and even with that I'm limited to GoPro-style friction lights.

What's next for my Grail?

Deep section Vs? As per The Vegan Cyclist, yes, please! A new frame bag, too. Sometimes I think eTap would be fun, but the Di2 is perfect, so I rarely think about that. The bike is as close to being perfect as I could imagine.

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