Last weekend, Kansas played host to the biggest gravel event of the year – Unbound Gravel. The weekend was made up of a total of six events, spanning everything from a 250-mile junior race to the gargantuan 352-mile epic that is Unbound XL.
Among these races, were the 100-mile and 200-mile pro events, both of which were won by women aboard a brand new Canyon prototype gravel bikes. Camouflaged beneath a black and bronze paint job, is what looks like a potential successor to the Canyon Grail. Only this time, there aren’t any double-decker bars in sight.
Slated for release this fall, the new Canyon has already won three races, including its debut in the UCI Gralloch Gravel race beneath the legs of Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) who again raced it to victory in the women’s pro Unbound 100 race.
At the brutally muddy and challenging Unbound event, Caroline Schiff gave Canyon its second win with a dominant solo effort in the women’s pro 200-mile event.
So, what do we know so far? Well, this is certainly a bike that is still in development. Canyon has remained pretty tight-lipped around the new model, and as such most information comes down to some eagle-eyed observation.
The first and most obvious redesign, is the extinction of the double-decker handlebar that is associated with the Canyon Grail. And we’re certainly not alone in thinking that’s, well, a good thing. In place of this, Canyon looks to be testing an all-new, gravel specific, one-piece aero cockpit.
The bars, which weren’t used by all Canyon riders at Unbound, appear to feature a wide stance with what looks like around 20-30mm of flare. They also have a wide aero profile on the top and of most interest, swoop down from the stem.
We think this is the Canyon’s new way of engineering some vertical compliance to the bikes front end. With the tops dropping down from stem to hoods, the new carbon bar should act like a leaf spring, which in theory suspend the front end somewhat.
Extinct too, is Canyon’s split seatpost design. The mud-hoarding seat post has been replaced by a a more aero looking seatpost, as seen on some of Canyon’s road models. We can’t comment on whether the new post will have any fore-aft compliance, but we think Canyon is looking to move the Grail more into the gravel race bike category, prioritizing speed over comfort.
The seatstays look to have been reworked too, with an all-new looking junction at the seatpost. The seatstays themselves now present a slightly more flowing line from head tube to rear axle, which may give the bike a slightly lower standover height.
In keeping with the race bike theme, Canyon seems to have been pretty tight on clearance. With no official figures from Canyon at this time, it is hard to say, but the 42mm IRC Broken Plus tires on Schiff’s race-winning machine didn’t look to have a huge amount of wiggle room, particularly round the back of the seat tube.
What’s also not clear is the front end. At present, the fork looks almost identical to the current generation Grail. This could be an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach, or potentially the totally blacked out front end is Canyon hinting to us that further development is yet to come.
We will be keeping a keen eye out on any developments on the new Grail, so stay tuned for updates in the future.