The Canyon Grail was first released back in 2018 as a carbon-only bike, but this iteration is built with aluminium at a much more affordable price.
Canyon pits this as a do-it-all bike for adventures, long days out and hardy commutes. We’ve reviewed the men’s version of the Grail 6, awarding it 4.5 out of 5 thanks to its versatile performance. I wanted to find out whether the WMN’s version has the same scope.
It certainly looks eye catching, with those tan wall tyres setting off the rather nice burgundy colour of the frame.
The bike’s geometry has been tweaked slightly to make it more comfortable for female riders, but it still retains the endurance style comfort from the rest of the Grail range.
One of the standout features is the DT Swiss wheelset, shod with excellent Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres. These fast rolling, versatile tyres are a real spec highlight.
Overall, it’s a simple, versatile, excellent gravel bike that offers a well thought out spec to make you want to get out exploring.
Canyon Grail AL 6 WMN Women’s specification and details
The Canyon Grail 6 has an aluminium frame and a full carbon fork, and out of the box my small model weighs 9.4kg without pedals.
The women’s version of the bike comes in ‘Rosewood Red’, which translated from marketing speak is a lovely burgundy.
The frame has mounts for three bottle cages, and it comes with one Canyon branded bottle cage as stock. The Grail has bosses for mudguards on the insides of the seatstays and the fork, but it has lost its mudguard mounts, which means you will be very limited when it comes to choosing pannier racks.
The frame is partially internally routed, with the cables running through the down tube and appearing again either near the headset or bottom bracket.
The wheels are DT Swiss 1850 Spline, made out of aluminium. They aren’t super light, but they are tubeless ready, and offer an internal width of 22cm, which is well suited to a wide variety of road or gravel tyres.
It comes with Schwalbe G-One Bite 40mm tyres, which are a good all-round choice for gravel – they do a bit of everything well. However, should you want something a bit more gnarly, the frame offers enough clearance to get bigger rubber in there, if you wish.
The Grail uses Shimano GRX across the board. The gearing has been chosen with gravel riding in mind, and comes with a 10-speed 11/34 cassette at the back, and a 2x 46/30 crank at the front.
GRX isn’t a complete range, so there is a mix of levels: the cranks are GRX600, Shimano 105 equivalent, whereas the cassette is GRX400, Tiagra level equivalent.
The finishing kit is completed mostly with Canyon own-brand parts. The bar is a Canyon HB Ergobar and the stem is a Canyon v13. The seatpost, which is also Canyon’s own, is made from carbon. It’s completed with a Selle Italia X3 Lady saddle.
Canyon Grail AL 6 WMN Women’s geometry
The geometry of the Grail isn’t the super-slack angles you’ll have seen on some gravel bikes, such as the Focus Atlas. It is, however, quite long and low – the reach is 390mm, while the bottom bracket sits at 75mm.
This should result in a bike that feels stable and confident to ride off road. The fairly steep angle of the head tube means the bike retains a road-bike like steering, though.
My colleague Matthew has twice reviewed the Grail and both times found the length too short. Although Canyon’s website recommends I ride a size XS, given Matthew’s thoughts when he tested the Grail, I decided to size up to a small.
This is a women’s-specific version of the Grail, and it is claimed to be “fine-tuned to women riders”. This means that, though the geometry of the bike is unchanged, Canyon has given this bike narrower handlebars, a shorter stem and a women’s-specific saddle.
My size small bike comes with 700c wheels, but the XS and 2XS small versions of the women’s model are stocked with 650b wheels, which should help smaller riders, with better handling and control off-road.
|Seat angle (degrees)||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||70||71||70.8||72.3|
|Seat tube (cm)||43.3||46.2||49.2||52.2|
|Top tube (cm)||51.6||53.1||55.5||57.7|
|Head tube (cm)||11.7||13.3||13.3||12.4|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6||6||7.5||7.5|
Why did I choose this bike?
While I haven’t always been the keenest advocate for gravel riding, the past year has really shown me how many adventures can be had from your front door, as long as you have a bike that can do a bit of everything.
The key to gravel riding is definitely its versatility. I love being able to swap between road, bridleway or singletrack, and then hop back onto road without being swamped by slow tyres and weighty suspension. It’s a lot of fun and sometimes quite a challenge, and a great way to discover new places around where you live.
The Canyon Grail seemed to me to be a great choice for getting out exploring worry-free. It has a functional and hard-wearing spec and, most importantly, features Shimano’s gravel-specific groupset GRX and a pair of DT Swiss wheels.
The frame is aluminium, which is sturdy enough to take a bashing but not as heavy as steel. The bike has a simplicity I appreciate, meaning you can focus on the more important task in hand – getting out riding.
The price point also seemed important. At £1,649, it is considered an entry-level bike, and I thought it would be nice to review something at the more affordable end of the gravel spectrum.
Canyon Grail AL 6 WMN initial setup
Canyon bikes are direct-to-consumer only, so it will arrive in a box on your doorstep rather than through a bike shop.
This is pretty convenient, especially as the pandemic continues, but it does mean you miss out on the advantages of collecting from a bike shop and you’ll have to set the bike up yourself, and fit yourself on to it.
Despite this, Canyon made the Grail easy to set up and get started on straight out of the box. All that had to be done was to pop the front wheel on, raise the saddle and I was ready to go.
The Grail’s wheels and tyres are tubeless-ready, so getting them set up tubeless shouldn’t be too difficult, and I recommend it. The bike came to me tubeless, and I have appreciated dropping the air pressure to allow for more traction off road. It definitely gives peace of mind against punctures when running over rocks and roots too.
As it comes without pedals, I also added my Shimano touring pedals to it. I used these mostly because they are the ones I had to spare, but also because of their double-sided versatility, which turned out to be useful with all the icy weather we’ve had recently.
Canyon Grail AL 6 WMN first ride impressions
The Grail is easy to get started on, and a real joy to ride. Having been out and about on it now for about a month, my overall impression is that it is a bike that perfectly answers the ‘I wonder where that path goes?’ question.
The Grail arrived on my doorstep during a wet and cold January, so I really got to push its boundaries from the start. So far, I can absolutely vouch for its off-road ability – I’ve taken it through snow, ice, mud, roots, rocks and the potholed back roads around Bristol. It’s handled everything remarkably well.
A particular shout-out goes to the tyres, the Schwalbe G-One Bites. Despite not being designed exclusively for wet and slippery conditions, they have performed really well in wetter areas, and have handled some rocky bridleway descents, a bit of root hopping, and still roll easily along the road without noticeable drag.
The tyres are 40mm, but there is plenty of clearance for fitting wider tyres if you wish, and I probably will.
I was glad of the extra frame clearance afforded to me on my most recent ride, though – as I made my way along the edge of a field, it began to get muddier and muddier. With each turn of the wheel, more and more mud clung onto the tyres and the frame, and by the time I made it to the other side, I had ended up taking half the field with me, much to the delight of some passers-by. The wheels kept turning, which is admirable and nothing if not an example of what a workhorse this bike is.
The ride feel is buzzy, energetic and responsive. At 9.4kg it’s not the lightest gravel bike, but there isn’t a noticeable drag.
On road, it powers along happily, and off road there is a simple fun to the way it handles, sliding around on the mud. I did find the Grail to be a little harsh over some of the rockier terrain, and on long days, the larger hits will definitely wear out your arms. Overall, though, the Grail reacts well to different terrains and speeds, easily transitioning between them.
The smoothness of the GRX shifting definitely contributes to this. It’s my first time using Shimano GRX, and I have been impressed by the groupset’s performance. The gearing is 11/34 on the back and 46/30 on the front, which is nice and low, and I found that I could spin up most things without too much trouble.
It’s a shame Canyon dropped the 11-speed from last year’s model range – if I was going to carry luggage, I would want an even lower gear to help with some of the steeper ascents.
One detail that is disappointing is the lack of rack mounts. I am a fan of racks, and it seems like a bit of an own goal not including these. I’m planning on testing out some saddle mounted racks and bikepacking bags, so will let you know how these work with the bike.
The overall impression of the bike is that it is hard wearing and versatile, great for long days out. I found myself enjoying the responsive ride of it, and how good natured and fun it was when sliding down muddy hillsides and bumping up rocky bridleways. It is easy going and simple, and it definitely made me excited to get out and about exploring.
Canyon Grail AL 6 WMN upgrades
Though I really like the Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres, I am going to swap these out for something gnarlier. The countryside around where I live is pretty much exclusively ankle-deep mud, and I would prefer a tyre with a bigger tread – something like the WTB Nano or the Trevil Rutland. I am planning on going back to the stock tyres once summer dries everything out, though.
I’m quite interested to try out some rack combos too, despite the lack of rack mounts.
There are a number of racks that bolt to the seatpost, seat rails or thru-axle, and in particular I’m interested in the ones offered by Tailfin.
I’m hoping to do lots of weekend trips and some longer ones as well as the weather gets better, so I’ll be really investing some time in seeing what luggage works on this bike. I will also try the Grail with bikepacking bags, to see how these work with the bike and how it feels with weight added on.
|Price||AUD $2349.00EUR €1499.00GBP £1649.00USD $1699.00|
|Available sizes||XXS, XS, S, M|
|Cranks||Shimano GRX RX600|
|Fork||Canyon FK0070 CF Disc, Carbon|
|Front derailleur||Shimano GRX RX400|
|Handlebar||Canyon HB 0050 Ergobar AL|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano GRX RX400|
|Saddle||Selle Italia X3 Lady|
|Seatpost||Canyon SP0043 VCLS CF|
|Shifter||Shimano GRX RX400 2s for right, Shimano GRX RX400 10s left|
|Tyres||Schwalbe G-One Bite 40 mm|
|Wheels||DT Swiss C 1850 Spline db, Aluminium|