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Canyon Grizl 7 review

9 Nov 2022

A versatile aluminium gravel bike that’s on-trend without slavishly following fashion

Cyclist Rating: 
Cheap, Versatile, Well thought-out, Fun
Not the lightest

German direct-to-consumer brand Canyon makes two gravel bikes. First came the speed-focussed Grail in 2018, then the more rugged and expedition-capable Grizl that first appeared in 2021.

The Grizl sports a load more mounting points, more relaxed geometry, and clearance for tyres up to 50mm. Like its older sibling, it comes in a choice of materials. The higher-end Grizl CF is carbon while the more affordable Grizl AL on test here is aluminium. 

The aluminium Canyon Grizl 7 sits second from the bottom in this hierarchy. However, it still sports a Shimano GRX RX600 11-speed groupset, carbon fork, and DT wheelset. The Grizl has proved itself to be a fun and versatile gravel bike, so dive into our review for all the details.

Canyon Grizl 7 frameset

The top half of the Grizl’s chunky aluminium frame features smooth transitions between its tubes. In fact, it could almost be mistaken for carbon fibre.

This illusion is spoilt slightly by chunkier-looking welds around the bottom bracket, plus an overall weight that’s a tad heavier than some alternatives, although far from excessive – it’s in a similar ballpark to the Focus Atlas, for example. Overall the Grizl is a good-looking bike in a utilitarian way.

You get bolt-through axles front and back, plus mounts for every conceivable kind of bag or accessory. As befits a practical bike, the cabling is only semi-integrated.

The seatpost clamp is also external, which might look less slick but will cause fewer headaches down the line. Keeping the cranks spinning is a BB86 standard bottom bracket which is compatible with regular 24mm axles.

Canyon Grizl 7 geometry and sizing

Size 3XS 2XS XS S M L XL 2XL
Rider height (cm) <158 158-166 166-172 172-178 178-184 184-189 189-194 >194
Seat height 593-693 623-723 653-753 683-783 713-813 743-843 773-873 803-903
Seat tube 402 432 462 492 522 552 582 612
Top Tube 524 532 541 562 574 588 612 627
Head tube 115 122 135 121 141 166 186 205
HTA 69° 69.75° 70.5° 70.25° 71.5° 72° 72.5° 72.5°
STA 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstay 420 420 420 435 435 435 435 435
Wheelbase 1,007 1,009 1,012 1,044 1,045 1,055 1,074 1,089
Stack 512 522 537 556 579 605 626 644
Reach 372 377 382 397 402 409 427 436
Standover 709 730 752 780 807 835 860 884
BB offset 60 60 60 75 75 75 75 75
Stack+  602 612 626 645 670 697 717 738
Reach+  417 423 429 444 460 477 496 515
Stem 70 70 80 80 80 90 90 100
Bar width 380 400 400 420 420 440 460 460
Crank length 170 170 170 172.5 172.5 175 175 175
Wheel size 27.5in 27.5in 27.5in 28in 28in 28in 28in 28in

The geometry on the Grizl is pleasingly balanced and very comfy. A long top tube allows a medium bike to accommodate a short 80mm stem. This results in stable handling and a planted distribution of the rider’s weight, both things you want in an off-road bike.

Combined with a tall stack height, it’s easy on your back, while a relatively slack head angle and longish wheelbase make for planted handling. This also helps render the bike capable of carrying lots of bags without feeling sketchy.

At the same time, none of the Grizl’s key measurements is too outré. As a result, it’s never dull or ponderous to blast around on, something that can be an issue with other bikepacking designs.

At 5ft 11in (180cm), Canyon suggests that I take a size M. This is described as having a reach of 402mm. This slightly longer-than-average stretch is partly to keep your position correct while also accommodating a shorter stem to aid handling.

I found that the bike felt relatively relaxed and upright. This is good for gravel, but also means that riders between sizes could opt for a more road bike-like experience by sizing up. There’ll be plenty of standover on either.

The Grizl’s frameset is considered to be unisex incidentally, but Canyon does offer women’s-specific ‘WMN’ versions of the bike, albeit not in this exact spec. The Grizl 6 WMN is more affordable and gets 10-speed GRX gearing, for example. 

Canyon Grizl 7 build

The Grizl’s multitudinous abilities are reflected in the choice of handlebar. Unlike some off-road bikes that push for super-wide and flared designs, the Grizl opts for a relatively conventional bar measuring the same width you’d expect to find on a road bike (42cm for a medium).

Keeping it versatile, I found the bar wide enough to lever the bike around off-road without feeling like a human parachute when riding on the tarmac.

Similarly, tyre choice does much to define any bike. Although fashions for these things change rapidly, 45mm tyres feel like a sweet spot for this style of bike.

Riding on sedate trails, they provide enough cushioning to avoid banging the rims when riding over roots and ruts, something that makes forest training on a cyclocross bike with 33mm tyres occasionally miserable. At the same time, on smoother tracks, they do little to slow you down.

The tread chosen helps here. Schwalbe’s G-One Bite tyres feature an open design that provides little rolling resistance. Not too heavy, their volume and the ability to run lower pressures mean their comparative lack of knobs isn’t too noticeable, at least in the dry.

Handily, our test bike came set up tubeless, although the same process should be pretty easy for consumers. The DT Swiss Gravel LN wheels offer a 24mm internal rim width that supports wide tyres nicely. Most sizes of Grizl get 700c wheels btw, while XS and smaller frames use 650b to standardise handling across the range.

While super-wide single chainring drivetrains might be trendy, there are many benefits to the more traditional 2×11-speed system found on the Grizl. Shimano supplies the Grizl’s gravel-specific GRX groupset. This marries a sub-compact 46/30 crankset with an 11-34 cassette.

This combination results in a very easy-to-spin gear at one end of the spectrum, the jumps between each ratio remain small enough they’re unlikely to cause upset.

At the other end, the 46-tooth chainring combines with the 11-tooth smallest sprocket to give a large enough gear that you won’t spin out too readily, even if you’re using the bike on the road. This should allow for maximum pedalling efficiency across various situations.

Riding the Canyon Grizl 7

Relatively short and upright, the Grizl instantly feels eminently chuckable. As you’d expect from this style of bike, it’s easy to pop over ruts and roots, while the large tyres provide plenty of insurance if you mess things up.

There’s also tons of grip when run at low pressure, while their volume almost puts you into XC mountain bike territory regarding cushioning.

That said, it doesn’t feel too slow on semi-paved or tarmacked surfaces. It’s perhaps just a sign of my lack of fitness, but it took me a while to clock the sub-compact 46/30 crank. In general, my early impressions were of a bike that did two things very well.

First, it feels very competent on rougher terrain, thanks to the tyres and geometry. However, due to the close gearing provided by its twin chainrings, and relatively standard handlebars, it doesn’t possess the clunky and cumbersome feeling of more extreme gravel designs.

You’d perhaps expect this quality to be slightly undone by the bike’s moderately chunky weight. However, I rarely had time to ponder this on the punchy climbs near me. Instead, the stiff frame made for efficient sprinting, while the lowest gear ensured I rarely found myself stalling.

Given my preference for running a rack and drybag rather than a saddle pack, I was also more than stoked to find conventional pannier mounts at the back. Repeated on the front fork, these also mean you can run mudguards (fenders), although the bike lacks a seatstay bridge so the easiest option here will be to opt for Canyon's own guards. 

Guards might seem a niche choice for sporty riding, yet my friend who has an earlier version of the bike describes their effect on his enjoyment of winter riding and his laundry bills as life-changing.

Who is the Canyon Grizl for?

For the average rider, the Grizl could serve a lot of roles. Imagine it as a Venn diagram, and you’d find circles labelled bikepacking, gravel, and cyclocross heavily overlapping. However despite being marketed as a solely off-road-focussed bike, there’s no reason you couldn’t swap the tyres to something slick and add touring and road riding.

Obviously, anyone trying their hand at racier pursuits will butt up against the limitation of the bike’s steady-going handling or middling weight. Still, there’s no reason you couldn’t use it for almost anything required of a drop-bar bike.

The size of the tyres means you have to concentrate to work out what the frame is doing with regard to absorbing vibration. Made of chunky aluminium tubes, the frame itself is unlikely to offer much in the way of damping.

However, floating above broad 45mm tyres, this is rarely an issue. Plus, its relative stiffness helps keep the whole assemblage heading exactly where you point it. With a sloping top tube, the saddle sits well proud of the frame, which probably helps keep your bum happy as a lot of seatpost is exposed and therefore able to flex.

The clearance front and back means there’s the option to squeeze in mudguards or upgrade to wider 50mm tyres. You also get a bevy of mounts including traditional pannier and mudguard mounts, three sets for bottle cages, and snack box fixings on the top tube.

A neat touch is that Canyon has detailed the required bolt specifications on the frame near every mounting point, taking the guesswork out of sourcing and fixing in the right fasteners should the rider wish to make the most of the mounting options the Grizl 7 offers.

Canyon Grizl 7 verdict

I was a little surprised at how well-rounded a bike the Grizl proved. Sitting alongside Canyon’s Grail, this quicker and lighter bike features a more speed-focussed geometry along with narrower tyres and fewer mounting points.

Although I’ve enjoyed riding it in the past, I couldn’t help but wonder if its more road-adjacent design might now be slightly out of tune with what people want from a gravel bike. Certainly, the gap between the Grail and the Grizl didn’t prove as large as I’d suspected.

Piggybacking on a friend’s long-term experience with the Grizl, I know it’s a durable beast. This friend also owns most people’s dream garage. It’s located in the mountains and contains a couple of full-suspension bikes, a motocross bike, and the Grizl, which gets used for everything that suits a bike with drop bars.

I think that best sums up the Grail 7. It’s a rugged workhorse of a bike that somehow never seems to teeter too far in any one direction.

Always ready to be pressed into action, swap the tyres and you can do pretty much anything with it.

It all makes you wonder if other designs aren’t mistaken in going too radical in their trail-going capabilities or too cautious in trying to remain fast on more accessible surfaces.

Instead of chasing either end of the spectrum, Canyon seems to have concentrated on creating a tool for mucking around on that sits somewhere in the middle. The result is an all-around great bike.

Canyon Grizl 7 spec

Brand Canyon
Price £1,799 / $2,199 / €1,799
Frame Aluminium 1,785g claimed weight
Fork FK0087 CF Disc 430g claimed weight
Weight 10.66kg
Sizes available 3XS, 2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
Levers Shimano GRX RX600
Brakes Shimano GRX RX600
Rear derailleur Shimano GRX RX810 GS
Front derailleur Shimano GRX RX810
Crankset Shimano GRX 46/30
Bottom bracket Token Ninja Lite BB4124 BB86
Cassette Shimano HG700 11-34 11-speed
Chain Shimano CN-HG601 11-speed
Wheels DT Swiss Gravel LN
Tyres Schwalbe G-One Bite 700c x 45mm
Bars Canyon HB0063 Ergo AL
Stem Canyon V13
Seatpost Canyon SP0057 VCLS
Saddle Selle Italia Model X

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Photos: Joseph Delves