If you’re prepared to possibly wait a bit for a bike-in-a-box delivery, the Grand Canyon AL SLX 9.9 is an incredible ride for the money. The obvious highlight is the gold Kashima-legged Factory-series Fox 32 fork providing beautifully smooth, consistently controlled suspension. You even get ’automatic’ bump sensing Terralogic damping for set-and-forget sensitivity levels.
The 2x11 Shimano XT transmission gets a Side Swing front mech and a direct-mount rear one for equally slick shifts at either end. While one of the XT brakes was erratic at first, bite point settled down after a couple of rides and the 180mm rotor provides plenty of power.
You’re going to be getting between technical sections extremely quickly too thanks to DT Swiss wheels and Continental RaceSport tyres that create light rolling stock. The Mountain King, X-King treads also create an all year, all conditions rubber mix of rear-end velocity with reassuring front-end traction.
Not just a racer
It’s not just the tyres that take the capability of the Canyon outside the course tape either. The front centre and reach of the frame are generously long and the 69-degree head angle naturally encourages you to attack corners and descents hard rather than switching to the defensive. It’s a surprisingly forgiving and fluid feeling bike that flows beautifully through rocks and roots rather than choking and clattering off every stopper.
Even the Ergon grips and Crankbrothers cockpit and seating are noticeably more comfortable and shock shrugging than their counterparts on the other bikes and it’s also got a port for a dropper post.
Don’t get too carried away though as the fragile tyres still need TLC in sharper situations even if you turn them tubeless. It’s also worth noting that the £1,299 Grand Canyon AL SLX 8.9 comes with a rider- rather than auto-controlled 110mm fork for a slightly slacker and more confident ride (but with significantly heavier wheels).
While enjoyable trail capability is a bonus, the Grand Canyon is designed first and foremost to be blisteringly quick and it never disappoints. Power transfer is efficiently direct, and it’s pretty light despite the longer frame and 29er wheels. Factor in the way it carries the speed it gains so easily, even on technical trails, and it really is a stunningly rapid and enjoyable machine.
Canyon, which started as a German XC racer’s dad selling spares from a car trailer in the pits to pay for petrol money, has obviously not lost sight of its roots with the Grand Canyon. It’s not just good value on paper, it’s an absolutely outstanding ride, from the weight-saving rubber bottle mount plugs and contemporary race geometry right through to the ultra light responsiveness and speed-sustaining smoothness of the frame.
You’ll have to be prepared to be patient for delivery, and look guilty if you have to take it into your local shop for a fix up, but the Grand Canyon is a truly stunning speed machine.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.