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Canyon Grail Gravel Bike Launches with Wild New Hover Bar

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The unique demands of gravel riding have spawned few innovations and more than a few gimmicks. The latest to jump into the gravel world is the German direct-to-rider brand Canyon, with its all new platform, the Canyon Grail gravel bike. The bike’s signature feature is the Hover Bar, an integrated bar and stem combo that attaches to a cross beam at the drops, allowing the tops of the bars to float – or hover – above the stem, which is intended to create a smooth and comfortable perch for your hands over the roughest of gravel roads.

PELOTON

We’ve seen front IsoSpeed from Trek, the Future Shock from Specialized, the Grit leaf spring fork from Lauf and the ShockStop stem from Redshift, all designed in the name of front end comfort, compliance and handling in mixed terrain. We have to hand it to Canyon, we did not see the Hover Bar coming, its the most novel response yet. For those of you that held a racing license in the late ‘80s it reminds us of the old Breakaway bar, if the stem attached to the breakaway bar.Canyon claims it offers 7X more vertical displacement than a traditional stem and bar set up. We imagine that is on the tops only, as the drops and hoods would appear to offer traditional bar and stem stiffness levels. The Hover bar adds just 120grams.

As we’ve seen with other platforms, a very smooth front end can result in an unbalanced ride if the rear end is harsh. To mitigate that Canyon is using its proven, two piece, VCLS 2.0 seat post, which allows for more vertical deflection. Despite all this technology, the biggest driver of compliance is tire volume and Canyon knows this. It has spec’d 40mm tires on rims with 22mm internal widths.

Compliance and tire volume are big parts of the gravel riding equation, but a bike’s geometry plays a huge role. The Grail shares geometry with no other Canyon bike. It has the same reach as Canyon’s endurance road bikes, but with less stack, yet more stack than its Ultimate or Aeroad platforms. The wheelbase is extended compared to Canyon’s disc road bikes, but with chain stays at 425mm should provide an relatively racey feel. The Grail comes in seven sizes, with the XXS and XS bikes utilizing 650b wheels.

Canyon offers only Shimano 105 and Ultegra builds, with two wheel options, DT Swiss C 1800 on 105 and Ultegra builds and Reynolds Assault ATR carbon clinchers on the Ultegra builds. In the name of true, go-anywhere ability, the Ultegra builds feature 50/34 chain rings and 11-34 cassettes for a tiny 1-1 low end, rock crawl ready, gear ratio. Canyon has also worked with Topeak to create a set of bags designed specifically for the Grail.

RELATED: Trek’s new gravel bike, the Checkpoint.

All the Grail models come with the new Hover Bar, the VCLS 2.0 seat post and Schwalbe’s 40mm G-One Bite tubeless tires. Most builds utilize the CF SL frame which weighs 1040grams, only the top of the line Ultegra Di2 and Reynolds Assault ATR build get the CF SLX frame that weighs just 830grams.

We’ll be heading to Canyon’s USA HQ very soon to get some miles in on the new bike and we have questions about the Hover Bar. Is it gimmick or real innovation? Compliance is great on the tops, but what about riding on the hoods? When the first two to three hours of a gravel race can be completed in a large, tight knit field, riders spend a lot of time on the hoods and drops to stay near brakes and gears. How does the Hover Bar feel then? Can it be used like the Breakaway Bar of old, as another aero hand position? We’d prefer that to bolting on a set of Tri bars. Don’t worry, we’ll report back with all the details. Stay tuned

The 2018 Grail range extends to six models in total: five Grail CF SL models will be available for sale in the US early April, including two women’s specific build, with the headline Grail CF SLX topping out the range. For more info head to Canyon.com

Grail CF SL 7.0 $2300
Grail CF SL 8.0 $2900
Grail CF SL 8.0 Di2 $3600
Grail WMN CF SL 7.0 $2300
Grail WMN CF SL 8.0 $2900
Grail CF SLX Disc 8.0 Di2 $4900
Grail CF SLX Frameset $2500