Great price; solid components package; excellent seatpost; sturdy geometry.
Post is a little finicky to adjust for angle (this is a one-time thing, though)
Canyon often does an excellent job of delivering a lot of bike for the money, and the new ‘ready for chunky gravel’ Grizl is no exception. The second-tire Grizl CF SL 8 comes with Shimano’s excellent GRX 810 group, DT Swiss G 1800 Spline DB 25 wheels and 45mm Maxxis Rambler tires with room for more. While not as light or lively as a straight ahead gravel race bike, the Grizl is still fairly agile and fun to ride, and the longer — and more loaded — you go, the comfier it gets.
I tested the Grizl CF SL 8 over the course of a few days in Colorado, netting about 12,000 feet of climbing and descending on pavement, dirt roads, jeep roads, and trails. I tested the bike with three of the custom Apidura bags Canyon will soon be selling as well. A full review will follow after a few more rides, including the Roll Massif Wild Horse Gravel this weekend, but here are my initial impressions.
Canyon Grizl frame details
There are two Grizl frames: the CF SL that comes on five Grizl models in the U.S. and the lighter CF SLX that comes on the top-end $4,899 model with Shimano GRX Di2. The geometry is tuned for long gravel days, with a long wheelbase (1,037mm on my size medium, which is roughly a 56cm), long top tube (574mm), and huge clearance (up to 50mm), but a relatively steep head tube (72.25) and a short stem (80mm) to prevent the steering from feeling sleepy.
Related: Three Canyon Grails in three days
Mounts abound on the top tube, down tube, and fork legs. Rubber and metal armor adorn the chainstays and bottom bracket area.
Grizl SF SL 8 parts package
Two humble parts deserve praise: the flexing seatpost and the wide and comfy handlebar. Like many Canyon parts, the seapost has a mouthful of a title: S15 VCLS 2.0 CF. What you need to know is that it flexes for up to 20mm of vertical deflection but without tweaking the saddle angle. Should you want to tweak the angle of the saddle, the adjustment is a bit of a chore, but either you’ll never have to do this step (it comes level for the stock WTB Volt saddle), or you’ll only need to do it once.
I’ve loved this seatpost on the racier Grails, and I love the application here for bikes designed for chunkier terrain. This, to me, is what gravel technology should be: smart, purpose-built, but not overly complicated or heavy. You can flip the head for 13mm or 25mm of setback.
The bar is basic but well done. The HB50 Gravel AL is an alloy piece (44mm wide for size medium) with a bit of flare, and a wide, slightly ovalized top that disperses pressure on the palm nicely. There’s nothing cute about the design, so you can clamp on computer mounts or aero bars or wine-bottle holders or whatever the heck you like.
All but one of the Grizl U.S. bikes comes with Shimano GRX 2x groups, which may seem out of fashion but I happen to appreciate this. If the purpose of the bike is long hauling, then you want to be able to find just the right gear, not settle for spinning or mashing.
The GRX 810 group has 48/31 crank with an 11-34 cassette. It’s not quite Jeep gearing on the low end, but it’s close.
The 810 levers and 160mm rotors with GRX calipers are a delight. Shimano’s Servo Wave braking is a delight, engaging quickly and then transitioning to a sensitive, powerful modulation. Descending rutted, muddy roads in the snow with nearly frozen hands, I always had full confidence in the brakes.
The DT Swiss G 1800 Spline DB 25 wheels have an inner width of 24mm, which plump the stock 45mm Maxxis Rambler tubeless tires up nicely. The wheels aren’t race-light, but I’d still put them in the ‘performance’ box. The smallest two frame sizes get 650b versions, and the rest are 700c.
Apidura X Canyon bags
Canyon partnered with UK bag maker Apidura for three bags to go on the Grizl. They aren’t yet available, with bike-related shortages and all these days. I like the frame bag, with its waterproof material, slim pouch on the left, and full pouch on the right. It gets in the way of tall bottles a bit, but everything fits with a little wrestling. Be careful with the zippers and mud, though. I basically destroyed a nearly identical Apidura bag at The Mid South in 2020 when mud clogged the zipper teeth.
The top tube bag is cool… if you don’t get out of the saddle. For me, it bugs me because it hits the inside of my knees when standing and rocking the bike. That’s annoying. But the construction is good, with a magnetic closure that’s easy to flip open and closed, and a padded base that protected my phone even when railing chunky descents.
The enormous rear saddle bag I haven’t really spent much time with.
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 vs the competition
So it’s not all about price, but it’s a major thing, right? If you look at very capable carbon gravel bikes with 45mm of clearance, you have options like the Trek Checkpoint SL 5 for $3,129 — but that comes with the lower-tier GRX 600. Or, with the same GRX 810 group and DT Swiss wheels as the CF SL 8, you can get the Salsa Warbird Carbon GRX 810 for $4,299.
The Grizl skews a bit more light bikepacking than either of those bikes, but not so ‘hey, let’s go ride the Tour Divide’ as the Salsa Cutthroat C GRD 810, which can take up to 2.4in tires, offers oodles of mounts and sells for $4,599. The Cutthroat is substantially taller, too.
On the cheaper end, you can consider something like the Felt Broam, where the top end is a $2,199 model for a bike with 45mm tires, but that has an alloy frame, GRX 600 parts, and weighs more than 23 pounds.
All that to say, the Grizl nestles in between a gravel race bike and an all-out gravel bikepacking bike — and the thing is a great value.
Grizl CF SL 8 initial verdict
I get more excited about race bikes than endurance bikes, be they on the paved road or the gravel road. This is despite the fact that the great majority of my riding on both surfaces is JRA — just riding along — and an endurance bike is probably better suited to the task. I love how the Grail bikes ride, especially the light, top-end models. I say that as context for how I approached the Grizl. And on smooth dirt roads it’s a touch slower than a gravel race bike for sure.
But… on rougher roads and trails, all that extra rubber pays dividends with a smoother ride, both up and down. And the long wheelbase calms things down. It does make the bike a bit stubborn in sweeping paved corners, but that’s not what it’s made for.
I plan to race this bike next week as built at Wild Horse Gravel, which has ample climbing and some fairly chunky and technical descents. Years ago, I did the Paris-Roubaix sportive on a Mason Bokeh with 47mm tires. All that rubber definitely felt heavy on the first paved half, but oh so creamy smooth for the cobbled second half, during which more than one rider yelled at me, half-jokingly, for ‘cheating’.
Is the Grizl overkill or ‘cheatingly’ smooth? Time will tell, but I’m leaning towards the latter.