So what's the deal with Canyon's unique new Hover bar?
The Hover bar is Canyon’s totally unique integrated carbon cockpit that the new Grail gravel bike was designed around.
The Hover bar (otherwise known as the ‘Canyon CP01 Gravel Carbon) was developed in a bid to improve front end comfort and control without the added complication and weight of a Future Shock-style system or a suspension fork.
The bar looks totally bizarre at first glanceJack Luke / Immediate Media
Unlike every other drop bar in existence — where the stem attaches to a clamping area in the middle of the tops of the bar — the Hover bar places the tops of the bar above a stem that connects to an additional bar that in turn connects the apex of the hooks.
If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is, and I highly recommend you closely examine the included photos to actually begin to understand what’s going on.
Why is it that shape?
Early prototypes focussed on making an area for thumbs to hook aroundJack Luke / Immediate Media
Canyon developed the Hover bar for two reasons: to provide a long-distance friendly upright riding position without resorting to using a super-long head tube or high-rise stem, and in a bid to improve front end compliance.
Hooking your thumbs around the extra bar is very comfortable when descendingJack Luke / Immediate Media
This unsupported ‘floating’ section of the bar allows the tops and hoods to flex far more than a regular cockpit. According to Canyon, this setup makes the Hover bar seven times more compliant than the brand’s H31 Ergocockpit — as used on brand’s Inflite cyclocross bike — with only a 120g weight penalty over the same bar.
Why did Canyon not use suspension to improve comfort?
This super thin flattened area in the centre of the tops is what allows the bars to flex so muchJack Luke / Immediate Media
Canyon claims that it explored the possibility of developing an ‘active’ suspension system like Specialized’s Future Shock — as used on the Roubaix and the Diverge — or using one of the increasing number of gravel suspension forks on the market, but in the end it decided that a simpler passive system would meet its needs while keeping weight low.
Canyon’s official line is that although it would be possible to swap out the Hover bar for something else, it strongly cautions against doing so.
The primary issue is the incredible stack/rise of the Hover bar (81mm to the centre of the tops!). The Grail is designed around the upright riding position afforded by the shape of the bars, which means that using anything but the highest rise stem on the Grail would result in an insanely aggressive position.
Aero gravel might be a thing now, but I think taking track bike geometry to the world of gravé might be a step too far. The non-standard 1 ¼ steerer also massively reduces the number of stems available.
The Hoverbar is designed to look best in its highest positionJack Luke / Immediate Media
Using anything but the Hover bar would also ruin any of the nice integration at the front of the bike. Whether or not this matters to you comes down to how much value you place on aesthetics.
Canyon did point out that it would be possible to run any of its H-series integrated cockpits on the Grail — such as the aforementioned the H31 Ergocockpit — which would nicely integrate with the front of the bike, but again, this would still result in an insanely aggressive position for a gravel bike.
What about mounting a GPS or lights?
The bar ships with a proprietary Garmin mount that bolts onto the underside of the stemJack Luke / Immediate Media
Mounting a GPS is no problem as the Hover bar ships with a proprietary out-front mount that attaches to the bottom of the stem.
However, if you use a bag on the bars, this will be obscured, so you will have to resort to using a band-on mount.
As for lights, the answer isn’t so clear — as there’s no round section of the bar, you won’t be able to fit anything that doesn’t use a band-on mount. There is also no eyelet on the front of the crown of the Grail, so you won’t be able to fit the vast majority of dynamo lights.