Canyon Grand Canyon AL 4.0 review£749.00

Light and well-equipped, but a bit dated

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Canyon has become a byword for value by taking distributors and bike shops out of the equation and shipping bikes direct to your door from Germany. The fact that the Grand Canyon looks decent but not dazzling for the price is a sign of just how aggressive the UK market is.

While it’s a sweet-riding bike for cross-country (XC) duties, the geometry and features are dated by current trail standards.

Canyon Grand Canyon AL 4.0 frame

Canyon doesn’t cut corners on quality and this frame is a looker, with tidy welding clear through the ‘lava red’ finish (black also available). Both main tubes taper and flatten as they head backwards to stop twist at the bottom bracket and allow some vertical flex ahead of the seat tube.

Subtly tapered A-frame chainstays lead to neat cowled dropouts for an old-school 135mm QR rear axle. The rear brake uses an ‘IS’ parallel mount, not the newer ‘post’ standard, and there’s no dropper post routing.

Geometry is similarly traditional and XC-orientated, with a 70-degree head angle, long 450mm chainstays and a very short 415mm reach (L).

While the Canyon’s 44mm head tube is set up with an internal lower bearing for the stock non-tapered fork, you could fit an oversize external bearing for tapered fork compatibility
While the Canyon’s 44mm head tube is set up with an internal lower bearing for the stock non-tapered fork, you could fit an oversize external bearing for tapered fork compatibility

Canyon Grand Canyon AL 4.0 kit

In classic XC style, a long stem (100mm) keeps the cockpit length reasonable and is combined with a narrow 720mm bar. Canyon supplies the slide-on Bracelet grips, which aren’t as secure as lock-ons in the wet.

The traditional theme continues with the Grand Canyon having a double crankset, which sits at the heart of a light-action 2x10 Shimano Deore transmission.

Brakes are also Deore, complete with a 180mm front rotor to boost power, and the ‘Centerlock’ rotors sit on ultra-durable, smooth-rolling Shimano hubs.

The rims are narrow, at 19mm, and the tiny tread of the Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres is designed for speed, not rowdy-terrain control, but they combine to create a light and responsive wheelset that suits the character of this 29er well.

Canyon Grand Canyon AL 4.0 ride

If you want a traditional XC bike, then the Grand Canyon is a beaut. Physics is in its favour, because compared to similar bikes it's pretty light, with the lowest-weight wheels wrapped in semi-slick tyres.

This means it accelerates with enthusiasm and maintains speed easily. The 2x10 drivetrain gives more gear options than the 1x set-ups on the other bikes, once you’ve worked out how to juggle the closer-ratio cassette and double chainrings.

It also provides the highest top gear for maxing out your speed on smoother trails or road sections. While the head angle is steep and twitchy, the stability provided by the long stem means the Canyon stays on line with less nursing and nudging on power climbs. The long back end also makes looping out less likely if you’re clawing up a super-steep pitch.

Lightweight, narrow-rimmed wheels and fast-rolling, tubeless-ready Schwalbe semi-slick tyres suit the XC character of the Grand Canyon
Lightweight, narrow-rimmed wheels and fast-rolling, tubeless-ready Schwalbe semi-slick tyres suit the XC character of the Grand Canyon

What it lacks in modern features and geometry, the Grand Canyon makes up for with a really smooth and cultured ride feel. It glides smoothly over small rocks and roots, sustaining speed and delaying fatigue.

The air-sprung RockShox Recon fork is usefully active too, and you can lock it out for smooth stuff. Schwalbe’s ‘Performance’-grade tyres use a dual-compound tread and higher-TPI carcass than its ‘Active Line’ rubber for improved grip and glide.

Add a Selle Italia saddle for similarly comfy and mileage-friendly contact, and it’s a bike that loves a long, fast ride.

What the Canyon isn’t so fond of is steep downhill, techy or high-speed stuff. The long-stem cockpit can’t react quickly or sensitively enough to tweak lines and regain traction when the wheels slip, and the steep head angle means the steering has much less of a tendency to self-correct than with a slacker front end.

Although the back end is long, the overall wheelbase is very short, which reduces stability at speed. The QR wheel attachment erodes front-wheel accuracy and the 100mm of travel doesn’t go far when it comes to controlling bigger impacts. With no way to fit a dropper neatly either, it’s definitely more suited to the climbs than the descents.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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