Grizl_CQ-25.jpg
Long Term Review

2022 Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension (Gravel)

Words Cooper Quinn
Photos Cooper Quinn & Deniz Merdano
Date Jun 10, 2022

What makes a mountain bike a mountain bike? As you think about your answer, go back 18 seconds ago before you typed NSMB.com into your URL bar, hit enter, and clicked into here. By now, you’ve seen the title image, all your subconscious biases have kicked in, and it's too late to think objectively. But I’ll bet you’re thinking, “That is not a mountain bike.”

And you’d be right.

Despite front suspension, knobby tires, a dropper post, hydraulic disc brakes, a wide range 1x drivetrain, and being perfectly adept on a reasonable amount of mountain bike trails, no. Even if you put really wide drop bars on it, the Canyon Grizl is not a mountain bike. It's not a mountain bike in 2022 and it;s not a mountain bike from the 90s (or 80s, either.

I’d argue it's not the drop bars that are the differentiator, either. Because this was a mountain bike way back when, and this is a mountain bike now. It's not tire size – look at all the emerging genres (or perhaps just assigning category names to bicycles that already existed) like monstercross. You could make an argument we’ve come full circle and reinvented the ATB in some cases, but I'd say pretty definitively that most folks will agree the Grizl is a gravel bike pure and simple.

*Click here for Cooper's First Impressions of this Grizl of a bike.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 4

Mountain bike trails. Not a mountain bike.

What then makes a mountain bike a mountain bike? Or in this case, a gravel bike a gravel bike? In my mind there’s no clear singular defining characteristic; bikes exist on a continuum and there are large amounts of overlap between geometry, componentry, and usage. But we must assign labels. It's human. While I contend this is a gravel bike, the only method I can use to say why, is to paraphrase United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s description of hard-core pornography.


“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["gravel bikes"], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the bicycle involved in this case is that.”

Defining who a gravel bike is for is less difficult. If there’s a Venn Diagram of bicycle riders, gravel exists at the overlap point of many circles – mountain bikers, road riders, cyclocross, casual and hardcore tourers… the list goes on. It's easy to explain the popularity when you look at what customers are well suited to a strange road/mountain hybrid bike with some of the best attributes from both worlds. They’re efficient at covering long distances at a good clip, more comfortable than their dedicated road-going cousins, don’t mind rough surfaces or mixed conditions, and are capable of reasonably technical trails as well. This jack of all trades and surfaces nature suits most cyclists (it should go without saying that a gravel bike isn’t likely to replace your mountain bike, but most cyclists – even offroad cyclists – aren’t necessarily mountain bikers in the NSMB.com sense.). Lycra, baggies, jorts, flat bars, flat pedals, drop bars, clipless pedals, 1x, 2x… gravel cares naught, there’s a space for you.

Which brings us in a roundabout way to the Canyon Grizl: it's time to follow up on our First Look.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 25

If I can escape a few moments early, I can incorporate this trail into my commute home. My route requires a fair amount of tarmac, but the more dirt I can cover the better. And even when it's pouring rain, it sure beats sitting in traffic.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 27

I don't own jorts, but I do own lycra, and The Gravel Shoe (just for my friend Jerry). Horses for courses.

Changes

After much whingeing by yours truly in that first look, the front derailleur is gone and at the back of the bike there’s now an 11 speed, 11-50 tooth cassette by Garbaruk mated to a 42 tooth front ring – there’s a full review on that here.

I’ve swapped the handlebars to something with a bit more flare. I wanted to keep this bike a bit racy, so the new Easton EC90 AX adorns the front of the bike in a non-Ferrentinoish 42 cm width. These aren’t much wider than the stock Canyon bar, however they’re much lighter and have significantly more flare which I find more comfortable. This bar has been a good upgrade – comfortable amounts of flex and vibration damping, and the shape works well for me.

I’ve also switched the saddle to my personal favourite – the Reform Seymour. These featherweight (197g), made-in-Vancouver carbon saddles feature internal wiring (a whopping 7 grams of it) and can be custom molded to your tuchus via a plug that re-heats the carbon resin just enough to temporarily soften it and conform to you. Think ski boot fitting, but for your bike. Sure they’re spendy, but pinching pennies for an uncomfortable saddle is like cheaping out on a mattress. The only fool is you.

Just below that saddle is an important change as well, the Fox... er… sorry, the EASTON EA70 AX dropper post. The astute among you will notice the similarities between this post and the Fox Transfer SL, because they’re the same thing. The post is controlled by Easton’s very clever dropper remote, accessible from the hoods and drops.. You can run the cable either way through the seatpost, which comes in handy for various activation methods. The post is ridiculously light, the action on it is smooth and light, it only locks at the top and the bottom, and I’d put one on my mountain bike if they made it longer.

Goin’ Grizlin’

I’ve got a lot more miles on the Grizl now than my first look; some impressions have changed and some have stayed the same. Overall, I still really like this bike. It's comfortable, fast, and generally a bit of a riot to rip around on. It’s a bike that’s stable on high speed road descents as well as traditional gravel, and the geo is friendly enough to get technical if you like. I’ve had it on a mix of pretty much everything, and where the Grizl really excels is exactly where you’d expect – mixed surface paths and gravel trails. I realize that may sound like a silly thing to say, but it's right at home ripping around on dirt.. Power transfer is excellent, and I’d say the next big upgrade I’d look at would be some lighter wheels to accent the acceleration.

That’s not to say you can’t get rowdy on the Grizl – its geometry means it's capable here, too. If you need to duck around traffic on the multi-use path by chucking yourself off a three or four stair set, go for it. If you’re underbiking, mountain bike lite-ing, or generally riding rough technical trails, the party post is an excellent addition (Canyon also has several Grizl models that include a dropper) and makes steep and technical terrain much less “ohgodohgodohgod” and closer to something approaching “wheeee”, but probably said with apprehension.

In my initial review, I didn’t quite ‘get’ the 30mm travel Rudy suspension fork. I wasn’t sure if it was for me; by my estimation the fork was geared towards folks out there on enormously long days, and built to add a measure of comfort. And while I still think that’s still probably true, I was wrong. It's also great when things get up to or beyond where you should probably be on a gravel bike. It takes the edge off surprise hits, rough terrain, small drops, cute little jumps and the like. I’m running significantly more pressure than recommended for my weight in an effort to reduce bob at the expense of small bump compliance. I’m using the Rudy as something to save me when I’m stupid, not to save my hands after 16 hours. It's still heavy, complex, and expensive, but it's also very fun.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 21

Are there better bikes for this terrain? Absolutely. Is it still fun to incorporate technical sections of singletrack in the midst of long rides, connect in interesting ways, or charge into the unknown on the little path you saw out of the corner of your eye? Most definitely.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 10

My usual routes on this bike involve a lot of mixed surfaces, urban backroads, potholes, and train tracks. This bike excels. But this is NSMB, so here's a lovely picture from the green room.

Gone Grizlin’

I covered the Apidura x Canyon bags in my first look, and they’re holding up well. I haven’t had an opportunity to get out for any overnights yet (the weather up here in the PNW has been particularly PNW-y all spring), but the frame bag and fuel tank bag see extensive use, in fact I’ve never taken them off, and I’d recommend them as an easy add on to your purchase. Snacks, camera, and clothing have all remained dry. Apidura also has a great program for repairs, and I’m all for companies that stand behind their gear and will repair – or teach you to repair - instead of replace.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 8

You can, and should, do skids. Lots of skids. Relatively low traction tires make for a fun time if you want to push things.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 26

Reset for the photographer? More skids.

Conclusions

Should you buy a Grizl? If you’re looking for a gravel bike and there’s a Grizl in your budget (there’s builds from $2,149 to $6,599 CAD) it’s a great, flexible platform. It's not too racy but it's fast, it's good for adventure and comfortable going slow, and there’s build kits to suit most folks. Which is who gravel bikes suit; most folks, even if they don’t know it yet. Certainly you don't NEED a Grizl - your mountain bike can cover all the same terrain, but it'll be slower, harder, possibly more uncomfortable, and will just be a less enjoyable experience on the same ride. If you do get one, just skip the Canyon water bottles and cages, ok?

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 22

Shoutout to Mission Workshop for making a bag in the USA that's waterproof, padded for a laptop, and secure enough to have fun with. They cost a pretty penny but this bag has done hard commuter duty in all weather since 2018 and still looks fresh.

deniz merdano canyon grzzl gravel cooper 2

I know, it's weird, I even climb in the drops sometimes. I find it gives me much better control in technical or steep terrain.

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Comments

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+9 Chad K silverbansheebike Cooper Quinn Niels van Kampenhout Morgan Heater Larrabee Andy Eunson Matt L. Dan

Cool bike. Bars look kinda narrow, though...

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+5 Mike Ferrentino Chad K Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman Dan

Haha, the human need to categorize. Is a hotdog a sandwich?!

Nice write-up, cool to see this bike with the changes. Looks like a fun ride

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 silverbansheebike

Maybe it's just bread and meat that can be delicious with many different variations and accouterments according to personal preferences and taste?!

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Niels van Kampenhout Cooper Quinn 4Runner1 Timer bushtrucker imnotdanny

nsgb.com...

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 pedalhound imnotdanny

You love it.

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 bushtrucker tmoore Morgan Heater

Think I would rather have an ebike.

Reply

imnotdanny
imnotdanny
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Cooper Quinn Jerry Willows Chad K Andrew Major

#jerrywillowshatesmybike

Reply

slimchances57
slimchances57
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Larrabee Endurimil shenzhe

With the "Quiver" marketing scheme, the cycling industry has created and sold the necessity for narrowly focused bikes for every conceivable terrain or cycling discipline [real or imagined] . Basically, a time trial bike for every occasion: Dirt. Dirt uphill. Dirt downhill. Dirt off cliffs. Road. Road climbs. Smooth flat road. Dirt roads. Muddy dirt roads, etc, etc.... And all the bits, baubles and apparel that's required to "optimize" one's performance in whatever discipline one is focusing on @ that moment. An arrow and wardrobe for every kind of hunt. Huzzah!

Human beings are marvelously versatile and adaptable to a given situation, or eventuality with amazing compensatory gifts for managing their body's direction and speed while in motion. On or off a bike. A good/great rider can handle any kind of discipline or terrain with something less than the optimal TT bike for what generally amounts to a minority of a most bike rides. A good hunter can use any number of methods and weapons to subdue their prey.

"Gravel bikes" are both the latest attempt to create yet another discipline and TT bike, and conversely, they're the middle finger at the plethora of different TT bikes in many a "serious" cyclist's "quiver" the industry has hawked as a necessity for a successful ride: A bike that come cover a WIDE range of applications, useful for any hunt.

It's not the quiver, nor the arrow, nor the bow, that make a successful hunt, it's the hunter.

Reply

Larrabee
Larrabee
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 slimchances57

slimchances57:

Thanks for that breath of fresh air. Amen brother (or sister).

Reply

ohio
ohio
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cooper Quinn

Sure, there are more niches or subcategories than ever, but bikes are also so much more versatile than ever. This is good news - we can have more fun, in more places, on fewer bikes. My gravel bike does road better than any of my old road bikes, and does boring Mt. Tam singletrack better than my overgunned enduro bike. My overgunned 170mm enduro bike pedals better than any of my old trail bikes, and does downhill almost as well as my old DH bikes. The newest gen of 150mm, slacked out trail bikes are even more versatile and basically can ride anything off-road from rolling XC to DH park, and still make it fun (if not competitive).

It's pretty easy to have two bikes (say, a rigid Grizl and a Stumpy Evo) and be able to have fun and keep pace on any surface in the world (short of snow or sand). That's rad. 

Side note - the ski world has paralleled this. My 108s can cover everything from railing groomers to powder in the trees and are light enough for BC. Still need two pairs of boots/bindings to get what I really want both in resort (boot stiffness, safety) and BC (lightweight, articulation), but can ski essentially the same planks x 2,  so I'm never having to relearn.

Reply

MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cooper Quinn

What would I read about when not riding if there weren't so many types of bikes? Ever narrower categories gives me something to dream about without feeling like I have to replace something I have and like. It's really another hobby unto itself. 

Also, I have fun on different trails with each bike, and some of us do care about having just the right tool for the job. I may be able to ride almost anything on my hardtail, but I have a lot more fun on fast rotght trails on an enduro bike, or more fun on jumps in my DJ, or cover a lot more ground on the gravel bike. Horses for courses.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
5 months, 2 weeks ago
+1 MTB_THETOWN

A good hunter is able to succeed no matter the quiver, yes. However, a quiver that fits the hunter, the prey, the environment of the hunt, will allow the hunter to succeed more easily, with less expenditure of energy, both physical and mental.

Also, you think the good hunter is going to just continue to use generic or less suitable tools? This always annoyed me with the old "a good carpenter doesn't blame his tools" metaphor. A good carpenter just doesn't work with bad tools. Even the best carpenter ever can't make dull chisel work as well as a sharp one, so the tool will get modified: it gets sharpened so that it's not a bad tool anymore. You have to complete the metaphor: A good carpenter doesn't blame their tools, they make their tools better. The good hunter, or good rider, will do the same.

I can, and did, ride the same terrain on a late 90s hardtail that I do today on a 20+ years younger 140mm trail bike that fits much better; but I can go further and farther on the new bike because I don't have to account for the bike's shortcomings, and can try alternate lines with a greater margin of error because the new bike is a better tool for the job.

So yeah, don't blame your tools when it was a user error or limitation, but also don't suffer through ill-performing tools when there are better made, or just more suitable, options.

Reply

taprider
taprider
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cooper Quinn

so how would it be with a flat bar and long inner bar ends?

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cr4w

The big challenge - or expense - with swapping to flat bars is replacing the drivetrain and brakes. 

So while the geo might work, it's gonna be expensive. Also the 1.25" steerer here means you're much more limited on stem choices, so geo may be harder to adjust especially if you're looking to go short. I tried (admittedly not THAT hard to source a shorter stem to try and came up blank). 

My personal gravel bike geo is designed so you can run flats or drops; when I built it up I waffled which way to go. I'm glad I went drops, and would encourage others to go that way or try it even if you're like me and primarily a mountain biker. I'm a proponent of having more separation between bikes, if you have multiple bikes. It just makes it more obvious which bike you're taking on a particular ride, and what terrain you're riding on that ride.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+9 Cooper Quinn Chad K silverbansheebike Morgan Heater Timer Alex Hoinville bushtrucker Twin8 ohio

I moustache you if you’d consider trying this? Just a bar and re-tape away.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Cooper Quinn Larrabee Spencer Nelson

Finger hovering on the downvote...

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Man… they say ‘never meet your heroes,’ but still, you don’t like single-speeds or alt-bars?!?!

Downvote away. #JerryWillowsHatesMyBike and you can too!

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cooper Quinn

I have a love/hate thing with both singlespeeds and alt bars, Andrew. I had a solid decade of one speeding, and a strong evangelical phase that hit the wall about five years before I helped put on SSWC 2002. Even if it is not part of my current riding, I still hold it near and dear. But mustache bars... they sit somewhere between actual waxed mustaches and Jones H-bars on my list of things to avoid at all costs.

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 bushtrucker

Cost aside the main issue with swapping drops to a flat bar is you probably need the next frame size up unless you plan to run a 90's NORBA-esque stem or the drop bar bike was too big for you to start with. I'd also wonder why you wouldn't just get a hardtail MTB at that point with some fast rolling rubber?

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Chad K

Plenty of good gravel options out there with flat bars that aren't hardtail mountain bikes - they're different beasts. 

Sizing/geo is definitely what you'd need to think the most about before you went swapping, though. 

In my first look I said "But beware, the first person to joke about how “gravel bikes are just 90’s XC bikes” in the comments owes me a beer."

I think the equivalent in this piece (especially in the wake of Mike's Wide Handlebars on Wednesday) is "Anyone who says 'Why don't you just get a hardtail?'" owes me a beer." ;)

Reply

Timer
Timer
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Could you elaborate on the "different beasts" part?

I don't really get it, and I have ridden road, XC hardtail and rigid gravel bikes. The gravel bike is quite different from the XC bike, but only if I treat it as a roadbike that can go on surfaces other than tarmac. But that is not what this Canyon is about.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Lowcard

"The gravel bike is quite different from the XC bike" That's.... that's it. You've got it. They're very different. 

This bike is objectively BAD at being an XC bike, as pictured in some of these shots. Its very good at being a gravel bike and mixed surfaces. Sure it has suspension and a dropper, but my point is that doesn't fundamentally make it anything other than a gravel bike, it just maybe shifts the strengths and weakness around a little, but within the same category.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 taprider

Based on my experience with heat molded hockey skates and snowboard boots, I'll buy that that saddle is wonderfully comfy for pedaling, but I have to wonder how it would be off-road with that lack of side padding. Maybe I'm overestimating the amount of "leg-steering" that is done on a typical gravel ride, but I do know that a saddle like that will literally leave marks on your inner thighs if used for mountain biking. A similarly constructed (the plastic/carbon base with padding kinda laid on top, leaving base material visible and touchable on the edges) Spesh Power Arc left me bruised and battered after a weekend of DH-ing and enduro-ing. Great for pedaling, it lives on the commuter now, but MTB needs something with sides no matter how good the top is.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I mean everyone is different - especially down... there - but considering these have won multiple EWS races.... [shrug]

So while it may not work for you, it works for some.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

And it's not about the shape or the top padding matching the down there. The heat molding alone makes it much more flexible fit-wise than a typical foam padded saddle of any shape. It's the construction and lack of anything on the sides, and that applies to anyone with legs, no matter the different shapes down there. After experiencing a couple similarly constructed saddles, I could not recommend that style to anyone for MTB, no matter what the top is like. 

That's why I was asking what it's like for gravel. Maybe there is less leg steering required considering the fit and geo of a typical g-bike and the riding done on it? 

Re: EWS wins, you tried to tell me that those pros have drastically different bike fit/geo (they go together) requirements than us normies, so why would I care what saddle they like?

Reply

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cooper Quinn Mike Ferrentino JVP

As a counterpoint, i have a specialized power saddle on my mtb and have never noticed any inner thigh issues, but I don't do the thigh steering thing.

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Morgan Heater Cooper Quinn

Same here. Specialized Power Expert on my Epic Evo, and I like that weird sawn off thing so much I'm thinking of buying a couple more for the other bikes.

Reply

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cooper Quinn

Yeah, I would try an even shorter nosed saddle. So much more room to move around.

just6979
Justin White
5 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Oh for sure short saddles are awesome. I've tried a bunch: Fabric Line S (pedaled OK, but hard sides and top cover separated from base very soon*), Spesh Power Arc (pedaled great, but very hard sides), PRO Stealth (pedaled good, good sides, but cracked the base after just a few rides).

Since I couldn't find a proper short-nose MTB saddle, I ended up with a relatively short Ergon SM Enduro. I've also heard the WTB Deva is a nice choice for a shortish saddle with good side padding.

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I'd say the HTA and saddle of top EWS racers is equally relevant to consumers.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
5 months, 2 weeks ago
0

"I'd suggest the geometry needs of Jesse, Remi, and ALN are different than 99.99% of riders."

"His setup (or Jesse's, or Remi's, or ALN's) just isn't actually that relevant to most folks."

From you, in response to something specifically about HTA. Is it relevant or not? What is?

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 2 weeks ago
0

It feels like you're trying to use my words against me here, so allow me to rephrase and clarify. 

I'd say the HTA and saddle of top EWS racers are equally irrelevant to consumers.

Consumers generally don't ride like top EWS racers and therefore have different geometry needs, and everyone's saddle needs are different.

earleb
earle.b
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

So this is the bike you are racing the BCBR Gravel event on?

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 slimchances57 Bikeryder85 Matt L.

Unlikely. That event sounds hard, and I'm a millennial.

Reply

heckler
Sven Luebke
5 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I just have trouble adding the extra weight of a dropper and suspension fork to a nice lightweight ripper, when my hardtail has that (well, not even a dropper).  One bike with a creaky steerer is enough.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Chad K

Yeah I'd note that while I really like the fork and dropper, my personal gravel bike has neither. 

If I add one, I'd probably add the dropper first.

Reply

syncro
Mark
5 months, 1 week ago
0

the VP of the local trail org advocating skids, tsk tsk tsk.

Reply

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