Canyon Grand Canyon AL 3.9 review£499.00

A great value ride that's a little bit old fashioned when it comes to handling

BikeRadar score4/5

With their excellent component choices Canyon’s bikes have always offered a bang for your buck that is hard to beat and this aluminium framed big wheeler is no exception.

Though it only packs 100mm of travel, the coil sprung RockShox XC30 has excellent damping, maintaining impressive composure through rough and rocky sections. There’s a bit of twist and twang from the long legs, but it’s easy enough to keep the 29erwheels going where you want. You also get remotely adjustable rebound damping to help tame the return speed. We’d really rather see a more adjustable air spring rather than the fixed coil to allow you to compensate for different rider weights, but at this price point that’s a very rare sight on any bike.

It’ll happily dissect swooping singletrack all day long

The 720mm wide Crank Brothers flat bar is a useful ally when it comes to keeping the bike pointed where you want it, though the overlong stem pitches your weight forward, making an already steep 70° head angle more of an issue on more technical descents. 

Thanks to their direct sales model, Canyon has managed to put an excellent value bike together
Thanks to their direct sales model, Canyon has managed to put an excellent value bike together

We can’t help thinking it’s a real shame that Canyon didn’t opt for slightly more relaxed geometry as this would have really helped with descending confidence, but as it stands the bike is very much cut from traditionally twitchy cross-country racer cloth.

If you like swooping through twisty, flatter trails then it certainly won’t disappoint, with a low bottom bracket for stability and a short headtube that allows you to weight the front wheel and still get the bike turned in easily.

It’ll happily dissect swooping singletrack all day long, but if you want to explore your limits and push hard then things might get hairy, even with the added stability that the big wheels bring.

While the Crank Brothers bar is decently wide at 720mm, we thought the stem was a bit long
While the Crank Brothers bar is decently wide at 720mm, we thought the stem was a bit long

Heading uphill, the 13.6kg/29.9lb weight of the bike makes things a pleasure relative to the often lardy competition. You get a durable and impressively smooth nine-speed Shimano Alivio drivetrain with a usefully wide 11-36T range cassette at the rear. That’s paired to an Alivio chainset with a trio of rings that have the ratios properly geared to suit the larger diameter 29er wheels.

The chainset also uses a much more durable splined bottom bracket axle, so there’s much less chance of you rounding it out and writing both chainset and bottom bracket off than with cheaper square taper models.

The triple chainset uses a durable splined bottom bracket
The triple chainset uses a durable splined bottom bracket

Shimano’s trusty M355 brakes take care of the stopping competently. They’ve got decent power and good feel, even if the extremely long lever body can take a while to get in a comfortable position.

The Continental X-King SL 2.2” tyres roll quickly and provide good mixed-surface grip on dry surfaces, but they can be a handful in the wet or mud thanks to a hard compound rubber mix and shallow, densely packed tread.

The Alex rims have proved durable in the past, while the Shimano hubs will last well as long as you keep on top of maintenance and make sure their cup and cone bearings are fed grease regularly and kept tight.

If you're into swooping singletrack rather than technical terror, then this bike will be right up your street
If you're into swooping singletrack rather than technical terror, then this bike will be right up your street

All in all, it’s a shame that the Grand Canyon is so XC focused. A bit more length in the frame, a longer travel fork and a shorter stem could transform it from traditional cross country fodder to something capable of taking on much tougher trails. If you like a super sharp and lively ride and care about covering ground quickly rather than technical thrills, then it’ll still hit the spot and Canyon’s direct sales model means it offers great value too.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

Jon Woodhouse

Technical Editor, UK
Jon's been working with bikes for as long as he can remember, from spanner monkey to product tester. He's always looking out for new kit that'll give an edge when the going gets rough and is happiest experimenting with geometry, rubber and suspension.
  • Age: 32
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 62kg / 137lbs
  • Waist: 79cm / 31in
  • Chest: 92cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: If it involves dirt and bikes, Jon is there, whether big days out in the mountains or steep and technical plummets in the woods. It's all good.
  • Current Bikes: Mondraker Foxy Carbon, BTR Fabrications Custom hardtail, Scott Spark 700 Plus Tuned
  • Dream Bike: Nicolai Ion 16 Longest, made from carbon
  • Beer of Choice: Franziskaner Weissbier
  • Location: Monmouth, South Wales, UK

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