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 unisex 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.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s long-term review conclusions
It seems like a long time ago that the huge cardboard box containing my Grail appeared on my doorstep.
I also was keen to choose a bike that wouldn’t cost the earth, because if I was actually looking to buy a gravel bike in 2022, this sort of price point would be my budget.
The Grail has definitely fulfilled this expectation; over the year, it’s always given a hugely enjoyable ride and has coped with being dragged up and down terrain it is definitely under-biked for.
My favourite moment on the Grail would be taking it bikepacking on King Alfred’s Way, slithering up and down the chalky, muddy hills of the South Downs.
The Grail is a well-designed bike, with comfortable geometry and well thought-out spec. Its modern component standards make it easy to swap parts in and out, and this lends it a huge amount of versatility. For example, I swapped the Grail’s gravel wheels out to road wheels, to transform it into an endurance road bike. I also then strapped bikepacking bags and 650b wheels to it instead, and have taken it on multi-night adventures. I found it excelled at both disciplines.
My version of the Grail cost £1,650, but the new 2022 Grail 6 is even cheaper, at £1,499.
The new version gets DT Swiss Gravel LN Wheels rather than DT Swiss 1850 Spline ones, a change from the Shimano press fit BB72 to a Ninja Token alternative, and a swap from Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres to Continental Terra Trail.
This last change is a shame because those are the highlights of this year’s Grail – but the rest of the spec is quite similar. In this sense, it has stayed as much of an affordable option as last year.
So, after a year behind the Grail’s bars, is it worth buying?
My Grail is looking a little worse for wear; the frameset is battered, the bottom bracket is making ominous noises, the brakes need bleeding, and as I mentioned in previous updates, the bearings on the DT Swiss wheels need replacing.
Of course, after a year and more than 4,000 miles of pedalling, this sort of wear and tear is to be expected, especially for a rider like me who prefers to leave mechanics to the last moment – though it is a shame that the wheels aren’t holding out a little better. All things considered, it was definitely worth its price tag.
To conclude, I really enjoyed riding this bike. It has a simple sense of fun to it and an impressive all-round performance that always brought a smile to my face and made for many miles of happy cycling.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s highs
The best thing about the Grail is its versatility. It’s an all-rounder that does everything pretty well, be that buzzing along on the road, taking on a multi-day bikepacking trip, rolling down muddy towpaths or riding around the city.
This versatility is down in part to the well-chosen spec on the bike. It has been thoughtfully designed, with comfortable geometry, and money spent where it’s most useful – on the groupset.
The GRX components are true workhorses, with flawless shifting even in terrible conditions, and barely a slip-up over the year. The brakes have been exemplary as well, even in the wet and mud, and are only starting to need attention now, after a few thousand miles.
The Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres are also a fantastic addition to the bike, offering buckets of grip in the wet, while still rolling easily on tarmac.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s lows
The DT Swiss wheels rolled well initially, but the bearings became sticky after a few months of riding. Luckily, DT Swiss has a good warranty service for its hubs, but for me, it felt a bit quick for the wheels to suffer wear and tear.
The Grail is happiest on the road, bridleways and hard-pack gravel. It’s pretty good in mud and the wet. However, it doesn’t take much to push it towards becoming overwhelmed, and you wouldn’t want to take it over anything rocky or overly rough and bumpy.
It depends on what you want to do with your gravel riding – if you’re looking for something that can properly shred, such as the Genesis Fugio 30, this is not going to be your bike. For a bike that does a bit of everything and covers the miles in a variety of terrain, the Grail is a good answer.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s long-term review verdict
The Grail is a versatile and fun bike to ride, an excellent choice if you want to go exploring off-road, while also having a bike that can keep up on the road. It’s an impressive all-rounder, with a broad-ranging performance that will satisfy the needs of many cyclists.
Older updates continue below.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s long-term review update three
The second part of my summer was focused on training for several gravel events – namely the Grinduro and the Dirty Reiver. For both of these, I was riding the Genesis Fugio 30, rather than the Canyon Grail, so the Grail has somewhat taken a back seat in the last few months.
Nonetheless, I’ve still been enjoying taking the Grail out on social rides and have been slowly preparing it for the winter to come.
I have been enjoying the Hunt wheels that are on the bike, and they continue to impress. The bike is noticeably light and speedy, and extremely comfortable, except over the roughest of terrain.
The wheels have semi-slick WTB Byway tyres on at the moment, which were fine in the dusty trails of the summer, but are out of their depth now we’re approaching the wet leaves and mud of autumn.
I’ve got some 650b Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres on the way; I loved the 700c versions of these tyres, which came specced on the Grail, so I’m looking forward to tackling winter with the 650b equivalents.
A bit of flair
One new update I’ve made to the bike is swapping out to a flared handlebar in an attempt to increase stability at speed and improve comfort. I admit I had never been that keen on flared handlebars – they have always looked a bit unnecessary to me.
However, having ridden the Genesis Fugio 30 – that’s fitted with flared bars – in the Dirty Reiver and Grinduro, I found myself loving the flared design. As I’ve come into gravel from mountain biking, there is something very familiar about riding with wider bars too.
I ordered the FSA Compact Road Adventure handlebar, which has a moderate 12-degree flare. I didn’t want anything extremely wide, so the handling remained similar, but the added flare does really improve handling and comfort off-road, making the bike feel even more capable and fun. I’m more confident tackling high-speed descents now too.
Summer’s last hurrah
As a farewell to summer, and to celebrate my birthday, me and my twin sister took a few days out to ride a few days of the West Kernow Way, a multi-day bikepacking route in Cornwall.
Of course, the three days we rode were mostly in heavy rain and wind, so there was a fair bit of sitting in cafes and hiding under trees waiting for the worst of it to pass, but the route was pretty incredible, taking in some of the most rugged parts of the UK coastline.
The bike, as ever, was fun to ride, and handled a coating of sand, mud, bog and wet with no complaints. Having said that, the bottom bracket is starting to get a little creaky, which under the circumstances is understandable, so I have a day of cleaning planned, where I’ll give it a much-needed service.
I am aware that December, when I have to give the Grail back to Canyon, is just around the corner. I’ve absolutely loved riding it so far, and I think I’ll really miss it next year.
Older updates continue below.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s long-term review update two
The long evenings and (reasonably) dry summer have been great news for gravel rides and, other than a 10-day Covid stint locked in my house, I’ve been out and about a lot on the Grail during the height of summer.
Since my last update, the biggest change I’ve made to the Grail has been swapping the wheels.
One of the main reasons for this was that the DT Swiss hoops that came specced on the bike were struggling with sticky hub bearings.
I’ve been dragging them across rocky, muddy, grimy terrain for the last eight months, so this was perhaps not that surprising, but was slightly quicker than I’d expected.
Luckily, the wheels are covered under DT Swiss’s 24-month warranty period, so the bearings should be replaced by DT Swiss free of charge.
Wheel swaps for different riding types
My first wheel swap was to a pair of Mason-Hunt 4 Season disc wheels, with 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tyres, to turn the Grail from a gravel bike into an endurance road machine.
This was for a summer solstice challenge ride that BikeRadar video manager Felix and I did last month.
We attempted to cycle the entire 17 hours of sunlight on the longest day of the year. It was a big day out and we ended up riding 132 miles, which is by far the longest ride I’ve ever done.
Adding road wheels with 28mm tyres made the Grail feel much speedier on the tarmac because of their lower weight and rolling resistance. They did lose a bit of comfort compared to the larger stock tyres though.
I think if I ever wanted a good commuter or endurance bike, putting these wheels on would be a good option.
Since then, I’ve switched onto a pair of Hunt Bikepacking carbon 650b wheels (1,450g claimed weight). Swapping to 650b wheels is something I’d always planned to do because I wanted to have larger tyres for more off-road traction.
These wheels have 22mm-deep, 30mm-wide rims, are built with Hunt 4 Season Disc J-bend spoke hubs and have a RapidEngage six-pawl freehub, and I have put some WTB Byway 47cm slick tubeless tyres on there.
So far, I’ve really enjoyed using them. They make a glorious whooshing sound as they go along, accelerate ridiculously fast downhill, and the rear freehub engages very smoothly.
A few weekends ago, I went down to Devon with some friends to do a bikepacking loop of Dartmoor. The larger tyres are great for extra traction over rough ground and I especially appreciated this while riding across some of the rocky stream crossings en-route.
It helps to be able to run lower psi too, and I’m sure I was very annoying as I smugly squidged off on my 47mm tyres, finding all the off-road parts very easy compared to the 28mm and 35mm tyres my friends were riding.
They had the upper hand once we reached the lanes, though – I found the tyres much slower on tarmac and had to work harder to keep up because of the added rolling resistance.
Fitting 650b wheels to the Grail has also changed the handling somewhat.
The biggest change to the geometry is that the bottom bracket is lower with the 650bs fitted. It now sits at 260mm, whereas before it was at 280mm, giving it a lower centre of gravity and slightly more planted and stable handling.
I appreciated the extra stability when riding down rocky descents on the Dartmoor Loop, especially with the added weight of bikepacking bags. The lower bottom bracket does mean I’ve had more pedal strikes, though.
I’ve got a few more little adventures planned for the rest of the year, so I’ll let you know more about the wheels in my next update.
Older update continues below.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s long-term review update one
Canyon claims its Grail is a ‘go anywhere’ adventure bike, and since my last update, I’ve put it through various misadventures to test this out.
Most recently, I completed King Alfred’s Way, a four-day bikepacking loop in central England, and rode around the Gower Peninsula in Wales. In total, I’ve put around 2,000 miles of off-road-y goodness on it since it arrived.
These miles have included everything from flinty downhills, slippery chalk, bogs, fire roads and the odd hill.
I’ve continued to be really happy with the Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres, which are perfect for versatile riding and still feel speedy now the trails have dried out a little.
Handlebar bag trials
Having never tested the bike out with bags, I was interested to see how it would handle the extra weight. It rides well with bags strapped to it, retaining its stable handling even in mud and off-camber.
On my size of bike (S), there is a good amount of space for bar bags and saddle packs, but having met someone with an XXS version of the same bike, it’s clear this space runs out quite quickly, so I’d definitely recommend considering sizing up if you want to bikepack.
On this note, one quick change I made to the Grail was to swap the stem of the bike to shorten its reach.
I’d chosen to go for the size small bike, rather than the extra-small that Canyon recommended for me, and I found sizing up fitted me well, other than the reach being a bit long.
Changing the stem seemed like an easy fix, but I discovered a little late that finding a stem shorter than the 70mm version already on the bike, and compatible with the 1 ¼in steerer tube, was not going to be an easy task.
After hours of trawling through various websites, I did eventually find a Giant Contact stem, which was 50mm and 1 ¼in diameter. Mine was shipped from the depths of China, which took about a month but was definitely worth it.
I now find it much more comfortable braking down technical descents and don’t feel too stretched out after long days.
I have also called in some new carbon 650 wheels from Hunt, but haven’t yet tested them out, so I’ll let you know what the bike is like with those fitted in my next report.
Overall, I am still very impressed by the Canyon Grail. It has great handling, is fun and playful without feeling slow. It’s quite a workhorse, even with a lot of extra weight attached and several days worth of mud gluing up its components, and I’m looking forward to taking it even further afield as the summer continues.
Older updates continue below.
Canyon Grail 6 WMN Women’s specification and details
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.
Overall, it’s a simple, versatile, excellent gravel bike that offers a well thought-out spec to make you want to get out exploring.
Alloy frame, with a carbon fork
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 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 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.
I made some changes to its cockpit to compensate for sizing up in the range, shifting the saddle forward on its rails slightly and changing the angle of the handlebar. This was all very simple to do. To further improve its fit, I’m aiming to get a shorter stem later in the year.
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 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 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||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $2349.00EUR €1499.00GBP £1649.00USD $1699.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 9.4kg (S), Array, kg|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Canyon|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, XXS, XS, S, M|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Shimano RT70|
|Cranks||br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, Shimano GRX RX600|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Canyon FK0070 CF Disc, Carbon|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Aluminium 6061|
|Front derailleur||br_frontDerailleur, 11, 0, Front derailleur, Shimano GRX RX400|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Canyon HB 0050 Ergobar AL|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, Shimano GRX RX400|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Selle Italia X3 Lady|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Canyon SP0043 VCLS CF|
|Shifter||br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, Shimano GRX RX400 2s for right, Shimano GRX RX400 10s left|
|Stem||br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, Canyon V13|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Schwalbe G-One Bite 40 mm|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, DT Swiss C 1850 Spline db, Aluminium|