The Canyon Grizl is a full-carbon gravel bike built with adventure in mind. With mounts for various accessories including mudguards (fenders), and clearance for tyres up to 50mm wide, the Grizl is a burlier counterpart to the Canyon Grail CF SL, a bike made famous by its unique cockpit setup.
The Grizl has entirely normal handlebars and the model on test here features a full Shimano GRX RX810 1× groupset.
It’s keenly priced by current bike industry standards and, more importantly, it’s an absolute delight to ride, offering versatility, up-to-date geometry and heaps of fun on mixed terrain rides.
Before we jump into the review, don’t miss our news story with full details on the 2021 Canyon Grizl range.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by frameset
The Grizl CF SL 8’s carbon frame is matched to a stout full carbon fork with a tapered 1 ¼in to 1 ½in steerer, one that’s shared with the more expensive CF SLX models.
Ample luggage mounts and generous tyre clearances are the bike’s key selling points, and the Grizl CF SL has bosses for three bottle cages, a top tube bag, and two cargo cages on the fork, with each side rated for 3kg of luggage.
According to Canyon, the second-tier CF SL frame is around 100g heavier than the top-tier CF SLX, which is said to weigh 950g including paint and hardware (the difference varies depending on your chosen paintjob).
The more affordable frameset is slightly less stiff and only the SLX is officially Shimano Di2-compatible because the battery mounts inside the down tube. However, the presence of this mount costs you a set of bottle cage bosses – there are none under the down tube of the SLX.
The Grizl accepts Canyon’s own mudguards but fitting standard fenders will be a challenge because there’s no bridge across the seatstays.
Handily, Canyon has printed full bolt and torque specs next to every single mount on the frameset.
The frameset is designed to take 45mm tyres (as fitted on stock builds) with fenders, or 50mm without – that’s a useful amount more than many of the gravel bikes currently on the market.
The rear clearance is created by longish chainstays (435mm on 700c bikes, 420mm for 650b) with a very visibly dropped driveside, which sports a large metal protective plate to guard against damage in the event of chain suck.
Canyon matches wheel size to frame size, so sizes S to 2XL are meant for 700c only, while 2XS and XS are 650b.
With Endurace-like lines, the Grizl is unmistakably a Canyon, and it uses a very similar hidden seat clamp design to other models that’s accessed from the rear. The clamp sits 110mm below the top of the seat tube to allow more fore-aft flex in the seatpost.
The frame is designed to accept 1× or 2× drivetrains but as this model has the former, the bosses for the front derailleur mount are blanked off.
While the Grizl has a press-fit bottom bracket rather than a threaded one, the bike is considerably more mechanic-friendly overall than many of those hitting the market just now.
The cockpit arrangement is pretty standard (okay, the 1 1/4in steerer is less common, but stems are easily sourced from a number of brands) and the cabling is internal but not hidden entirely from view, so there’s no mucking about with proprietary headsets to accommodate awkward routing.
It’s also got standard 12mm road thru-axles (unlike the Focus Atlas for example, which uses a weird not-yet-widely-adopted road boost ‘standard’), so wheel compatibility is straightforward.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by geometry and sizing
Taking into account stem lengths and differences in cockpit layout, the Grizl’s geometry is very similar to the Grail’s, and that’s no bad thing because the latter struck a great balance between agility and reassuring stability.
|Seat tube (mm)||432||462||492||522||552||582||612|
|Top tube (mm)||532||541||562||574||588||612||627|
|Head tube (mm)||121||133||118||138||164||185||204|
|Head angle (degrees)||70||71||71||72.25||72.5||72.75||72.75|
|Seat angle (degrees)||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5|
|Stem length (mm)||70||70||70||80||90||90||100|
|Bar width (mm)||400||400||420||440||440||460||460|
|Crank length (mm)||170||170||172.5||172.5||172.5||175||175|
The combination of a long reach, short stem and moderately wide bar is key here. It’s a trend borrowed from mountain bikes and it gives confidence off-road and helps create the necessary toe clearance for those large tyres too.
For context, the medium Grizl’s wheelbase is around 40mm longer than the Endurace road bike, at 1,037mm, which is 8mm more than the Grail.
According to Canyon’s sizing guides, I should ride a size small, but at 174cm tall with my saddle at 71cm (bottom bracket to top of saddle) I’m invariably happier on a medium, as tested here. On the small Grail, I felt like I was dangling over the front hub, less able to stretch out comfortably and get my weight low when needed.
Sizing is personal to an extent, but this drives home how important it is to do your homework when you’re shopping for a bike online, where you will probably not have the chance to take it for a test ride.
If you’re between sizes, consider getting a bike fit and make sure you really dig into the geometry numbers and compare them to your current bike.
With the Grizl, you might be thrown by the long reach and top tube numbers (402mm and 574mm respectively), but you need to account for the very short stems fitted as standard – my medium test bike has an 80mm, which is 20mm or 30mm shorter than a typical road bike stem.
The stack figure of 579mm for a medium is in the realm of endurance road bikes, although not as towering as popular models such as the Specialized Roubaix.
The Grizl’s frameset is unisex but Canyon is offering one build – the Grizl CF SL 7 WMN – that’s explicitly women’s-specific, with different finishing kit. This is available in sizes 2XS to M, while other models come in 2XS to 2XL.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by build
The Grizl CF SL 8 1by features a full Shimano GRX RX810 groupset with a 40-tooth chainring and 11-42 cassette.
The wheels are very gravel-friendly DT Swiss G 1800 Spline db 25 aluminium clinchers. These have an internal width of 24mm, which is a great match for chunky gravel tyres – in this case, 45mm Schwalbe G-One Bites.
Canyon ships bikes with tubes but all parts are tubeless-compatible, you just need to add valves and sealant (sold separately).
The cockpit comprises a very normal alloy bar and stem, while the seatpost is Canyon’s distinctive leaf-spring S15 VCLS 2.0. Its two-part construction is designed to offer lots and lots of flex – more on that later.
As it’s a gravel bike, you get a gravel-specific (of course) saddle in the shape of the Fizik Terra Argo R5.
The complete bike weighs 9.2kg without pedals, a pretty decent figure given the fat tyres and broad rims.
Canyon offers a set of bikepacking bags for the Grizl designed in collaboration with Apidura. The top tube bag bolts directly to the frame, while the seat pack and frame bag use straps.
Recognising that bags have the potential to ruin your lovely paint, Canyon supplies frame protection stickers as standard.
This is a really nice touch, but I found that the stickers provided didn’t quite match up with the areas at risk from the top tube and frame bags, although there are enough surplus stickers in the set that you should be able to work around this.
While I’m nitpicking, the frame bag makes access to the front bottle cage tricky. Canyon and others sell side-loading cages though, which would entirely solve that problem.
Riding the Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by
The flex offered by the VCLS seatpost was immediately evident when I first jumped on the bike.
I don’t have a huge amount of post on show with my setup – a side-effect of opting for the medium frame – but, between the post itself and that low seat clamp, it really works.
The flex is such that I needed to compensate for sag slightly by increasing my saddle height and, even with my relatively seat-forward position, I needed to adjust the nose down slightly too, because sitting caused it to tip upwards slightly.
The post provides a useful reminder that while clever compliance-adding frame tech is useful and welcome, a bendy seatpost is still one of the most effective ways to make a more comfortable back end, along with the right tyre pressures.
On that note, low is the order of the day here. At my weight of 53kg, mid to high-twenties psi feels about right. If in doubt, I like to consult a tyre pressure calculator to get a starting point – SRAM’s is a good example.
Grizl on the road
The first test for any gravel bike is: how does it fare on the road when I’m riding to the woods?
Here, the Grizl is entirely inoffensive. The bar is wide but not comically so, and it doesn’t have much flare so feels quite normal.
At the same time, the Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres aren’t too draggy on tarmac. They’re a fatter version of the ones fitted to the Grail, and they remain a favourite of mine, offering a really good balance of grip on gravel and dirt without being too slow elsewhere.
Despite its longer geometry and gravel-friendly tweaks, the Grizl is perfectly happy on tarmac and with skinnier, slicker tyres it would be even more so.
Grizl on gravel
Gravel is of course where the Grizl really shines, and it’s ideally suited to typical UK gravel riding that takes in a mix of actual gravel and dirt, whether that’s light singletrack, forestry roads or something in between.
Canyon talks about “underbiking” and I get it – relatively tame singletrack that might feel underwhelming on a mountain bike with suspension becomes a technical delight, as maintaining momentum over roots and bumps takes concentration and accuracy.
Perhaps it’s psychological to a degree, but the extra tyre width the Grizl offers on bikes like the Grail does inspire extra confidence.
When you’re dabbling at the rougher end of the gravel spectrum, the extra rubber on the trail gives you slightly more leeway and encourages you to test the limits of what the bike can do.
The long geometry works beautifully, yet never feels unwieldy. The bike is ultra-stable riding hands off, but hunker down in the drops, keep your weight low, and you can pick your way through awkward, twisty trails.
As ever, though, don’t be fooled into thinking the Grizl is an actual mountain bike, because it isn’t.
It doesn’t have suspension or a dropper and the riding position is still essentially that of a road bike – I failed dismally in my one attempt to ride down a moderately difficult trail with some actual drops.
I should probably mention gearing. As with any 1× GRX setup, the Grizl doesn’t offer super-low gears, and committed stuff-haulers may wish to go lower.
I can’t really complain though – there are multiple 2× Grizl builds to choose from as an alternative and the cheapest GRX RX400 model is the lowest geared of all with a 30/34 bottom end (and a rear derailleur that officially accepts a 36-tooth large sprocket if you need to go lower still).
What makes a great gravel bike?
Gravel bike reviews so often come down to searching questions about the nature of the genre. Is it a road bike that can do more? A drop-bar mountain bike? Or something in between?
Canyon acknowledges that there’s no such thing as the perfect gravel bike, but if I were designing one for my riding, it’d probably look a lot like the Grizl.
The appeal of gravel bikes is their versatility and their ability to broaden your riding horizons. Naturally, spec and value are important, but good geometry and thoughtfully designed frame features are essential too.
I want a gravel bike to do a bit of everything well, and put a smile on my face at the same time.
I really hesitate to score any bike five stars because there are compromises inherent in every design. A bike could always be that bit cheaper or specced with more exotic components, but as bike reviewers we have to look at how the complete package stacks up against the competition and think about where we’d spend our own money.
The Canyon Grizl isn’t necessarily the best gravel bike I’ve ever ridden – the Specialized S-Works Diverge would be a strong contender there – but for the money, it’s an exceptionally complete package that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by overall: my goodness it’s fun
The Grizl is downright excellent. It’s got just about all the best bits of the carbon Grail with none of the weirdness or constraints imposed by the funky cockpit.
Canyon won’t thank me for saying this, but I can’t help wondering if the brand may have inadvertently killed the Grizl’s biplane-barred sibling.
Out of the box, the Grizl is ultra-versatile and there really are no misses on the spec. With a spare set of tyres or two, it’d be about as close to the ideal one-bike garage as I can imagine.
If it were my money, I’d likely opt for the 2× model, but this 1× build is very well suited to general riding as long as you’re not carrying heavy loads.
I’d consider dropping down the range to save some cash because the more affordable GRX components are still excellent and I doubt I’d miss the wider rims too much (cheaper models get narrower ones).
Saying that, I do think the leaf-spring VCLS seatpost adds real value, so it wouldn’t be an easy decision.
Whichever Grizl you choose, you’re not going to be disappointed.
|Price||AUD $4249.00EUR €2699.00GBP £2949.00USD $2849.00|
|Available sizes||2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL|
|Bottom bracket||Token BB86 press-fit|
|Brakes||Shimano GRX RX810|
|Chain||Shimano HG701 11-speed|
|Cranks||Shimano GRX RX810 40t|
|Fork||Canyon One One Two to One One Four CF|
|Frame||Canyon Grizl CF SL|
|Handlebar||Canyon Ergo AL HB0050 440mm|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano GRX RX812|
|Saddle||Fizik Terra Argo R5 150mm|
|Seatpost||Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 27.2mm|
|Shifter||Shimano GRX RX810|
|Stem||Canyon V13 80mm|
|Tyres||Schwable G-One Bite 700×45mm|
|Wheels||DT Swiss G 1800 Spline db 25|