Free from the constraints of heritage (or sense?) bicycle brand Canyon have really pulled out the stops with this one. Yesterday their new Grail model officially broke cover, and the reaction has been a marketeers dream. The exposure has been massive.
Why’s that then? Well have a look.
Looking at this bike produces probably the closest physical and mental reaction I can think of to that of watching 2girls1cup. It starts kinda racey but then goes all horribly wrong and German with people doing things they really really shouldn’t. (No comment on whether I have or haven’t watched the aforementioned video).
Here is why:
The hover bar.
Canyon have decided that everyone has been doing handlebars wrong. Forever. And I have so many questions.
How do you do a bike fit? If I was spending £2400 on a frame set I would like to be able to specify stack, reach, and bar width that fitted me. An integrated bar stem combo like this doesn’t allow for it. There are four different combos available.
How do you upgrade the groupset? Lets say you buy a frameset and want to fit your SRAM group? Nope. The bars only come with premounted (yes the bars are made with the shifter mounts on them) shimano only shifter clamps. Its a gravel bike, people will crash this, what about a snapped shifter? new bars is it??
How much shock absorption is there? Well there’s no actual data that I can find on the Canyon website only the statement ‘Compliant on the tops, the unique floating top section exploits carbon’s to absorb chatter and vibration being transmitted through the riders body’. So this new tech is to give better compliance through the tops. 90% of the pictures on Canyons website depict riders on rough terrain riding on the drops. There is one picture of people riding on the tops. Next to none are benefiting from this, my experience of gravel riding involves being nearly constantly on the hoods or drops for maximum bike control. In fact Canyon claim that your hands have a locked in position when on the drops due to the additional bar. To me that says one position, I like to move my hand positions to avoid fatigue, and that means uncomfortable. Moving the mounting section of the handlebar that much closer to the drops in fact reduces the leverage on the drops and actually increases stiffness and reduces compliance. Unless they have chosen to make this bar from chocolate…..To increased the shock absorption to the rider you need to increase the suspension to the sprung section of the bike (anything connected tyres onwards), not just to the riders wrists……oh and only to the riders wrists when they are on the tops.
Can you reach your Garmin? I understand an out front mount, but one that’s another 6 inches away?
Why didn’t they route the cables better? The Grails aero cockpit has all the looks of integrated cable system possibility but with cables running in a lopsided way from a floating bar. surely a single truck into the stem would have worked better?
How do you successfully wrap those bars? wrapping around a set of shifters is ugly enough. It also uses a lot of bar tape, now you have another ugly joint how long does the bar tape have to be!
Was the bike specifically designed to be aero? If so I think they left out a few bits. An aero fork to down tube combo would have been a great start. But hey I’m sure most gravel rides happen at 20mph+ so aero capability is a must.
How do you clean the crud out from behind that integrated stem? Its and adventure or gravel bike. They get dirty, and that will make a hell of a grinding noise if it gets something in there.
Canyon have done a great job of grabbing the headlines with a quite frankly disgusting solution to a problem that isn’t there. But hey maybe that was the idea? isn’t that what Canyon do? market bikes? they don’t manufacture. The frames expensive enough to wash its face if someone buys it (and yes there’s plenty of Brewin Dolphin sportive riders who will chomp at the bit to buy this fad bike) and if not then everyone’s still talking about it.
Canyon Grail, obvious joke coming up, Canyon Fail.