Currently reading: Electric bike review: Canyon Grail:ON
Don't think you're up to cycling on gravel? This is the bike that democratises off-road for every cyclist

What does it cost? £4699 (as tested - Grail:ON CF 7)

What is it?The Canyon Grail:ON is an impressive electric gravel bike that promotes the ethos that gravel, and cycling, is for everyone. It’s something of a do-it-all bike. German brand Canyon has built the Grail:ON after years of pioneering in the gravel scene, and has created an e-bike that makes you want to ride not just on gravel, but everywhere. 

What is it like? Gravel, by nature, is seen as a discipline that was popularised by people who ride for the sake of riding, not necessarily for Strava QOMs. And this bike encapsulates that feeling, by inspiring you to want to ride it, not just on the Downs but to the shops and the office. 

The electrical assistance doesn't make you super-fast, but that's not what this bike is about. It's more about flattening the curve and softening the weaknesses that cause you to slow down - setting off and slowing down at junctions, cornering, and climbing. Overall, it's about improving your overall efficiency while allowing you to still enjoy the essence of cycling, and of course, gravel.

And by doing so it opens the door to many that might feel left behind. The addition of a motor to a bike is so much more than giving someone a helping hand up a hill; it means that people who might have been previously unable to ride distances or off-road due to injury or health conditions, now can.

The Grail:ON is stable, in part due to the mid-drive motor position which helps in off-road applications. It’s also got a more upright riding position than some other gravel bikes, leading to less shoulder strain and opening up the ability to ride for longer. It's got the option to go low, by taking out the headset spacers and sitting on the drops. This means you can ride the same bike to work as you can on a South Downs epic. 

Those handlebars are something of a discussion point within the industry. Do they provide as much comfort as they claim? I'd say yes. At first, I thought they were a bit gimmicky, but the more you ride, and the harsher terrain that you ride, you realise that that the flex area is working to reduce arm fatigue.

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I rode the bike across the North Yorkshire Moors for a bit of exploration and took it confidently down stuff I would hesitate to with my mountain bike. That's how stable it is. It delivers confidence, and that brings out the best in the rider. The bars also reduce arm pump significantly. With my unassisted gravel bike I'd not be able to move my arms the day after an 'epic' ride, but hereI was pleasantly surprised I could still lift my coffee cup with ease. 

This is not to say these bars are faultless. On the demo XS bike the top bars measured 42cm, which is wider than I usually ride (38cm). Given this is an XS bike I would have liked to have seen a smaller set of bars, but I can appreciate that wider is generally seen as more stable when riding off-road. Secondly, the drops: I, as do many others, like to spend a good amount of time in the drops, but my hands were too small to confidently reach the brakes or shift gears. Canyon boasts a good choice of hand placements on these bars, but I didn't find that to be quite the case. 

The Bosch motor is a fantastic choice. It’s super responsive and intuitive thanks to the torque sensors in the cranks. The only gripe with this motor is the whine. Remember those RC cars you had as a kid? It’s like that, but constant. Of course, the way to beat it is to either turn the bike off or pedal faster. But for those of us who buy an e-bike to use the electric assist, it's a small irritant, and one that's worth paying for such a receptive motor with fantastic battery life. 

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The range is brilliant. After testing over a couple of days and getting less worried about cycling through the modes and finding myself abandoned somewhere near Whitby, it took 70 miles to even drain it to a quarter. This peace of mind means a lot of people could use it for a week’s worth of commutes and not have to worry about charging it.

It's this versatility that differentiates Canyon. It's not just a suave gravel bike, but something that makes you want to ride every day. The components are reasonably well specced for the price, and the frame is compliant yet stiff when it needs to be thanks to the carbonfibre composition.

It rides well on the road, too. I didn't dread the end of the bridleway, and to be honest, it wasn't that much slower than my winter road bike – although I'm not sure if that says more about me than the bike. 

Where can I buy it?Canyon operates directly to the consumer so their bikes are only available from their website. 

How does it arrive?In a well thought out box with all the tools and links to instructional videos you'll need to get started. 

VerdictA brilliant all-rounder. A commuter, gravel and adventure bike rolled into one, paired with an intelligent motor system and a battery that lasts for days. Just beware if you have small hands. 

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Move Electric verdict: Four stars out of five

Words and pictures by Rebecca Bland

Canyon Grail:ON CF 7 specification

Cost £4999

Frame size tested XS

Weight of bike 17.1kg

Groupset Shimano GRX RX600/RX812 mix

Wheels/tyres DT Swiss 27.5" wheels, Schwalbe G-One Bite 50mm tyres

Motor Bosch Performance Line CX (Gen4)

Battery Bosch PowerTube 500 Wh

Range 40-80 miles according to the Bosch Range Assistant

Assistance levels Eco, Tour, Sport, Turbo

Charge time 4.5 hours

Included extras Bosch Purion display

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Comments
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Old But not yet Dead 7 December 2021

With all the research money spent on giving us hi tech bikes, why are we still seeing low tech Shimano style exposed vulnerable and unreliable gear systems. Is there really no alternative in wheel systems viable to match every other advanced part of the bike.

Old But not yet Dead 7 December 2021

With all the research money spent on giving us hi tech bikes, why are we still seeing low tech Shimano style exposed vulnerable and unreliable gear systems. Is there really no alternative in wheel systems viable to match every other advanced part of the bike.

Andrew1 6 December 2021
Can we have more pictures with the lovely lady on the bike?