E Bikes Reviewed

Canyon Grail:ON CF 7 review

Canyon’s radical Grail design, with its angular frame and unique bi-plane style cockpit, was divisive when it launched as a gravel bike. The electrified Grail:ON version, however, looks like a much more complete machine.

The sculpted frame and integrated cockpit balance well with the oversized down tube, which hides the 500Wh PowerTube battery, while the oversized bottom bracket with its Gen 4 Bosch motor makes for a muscular, futuristic electric gravel bike and at £4599.00 is aggressively priced.

This CF 7 build is very well thought out. Aside from the hugely powerful motor, you get Fizik’s excellent Argo saddle sitting atop the cushioning comfort of the leaf-sprung VCLS seatpost.

The bike rolls on DT Swiss’ hardy HG1800 alloy gravel bike wheels. Smartly, Canyon uses smaller 650b wheels on the extra-small and small sizes, moving up to 700c wheels on the medium-sized bike and above.

Up-front is perhaps the most contentious part of the Grail design: the Biplane CP07 cockpit. This setup has a lower bar feeding into the integrated stem, anchoring mid-way on the hook of the drops, while the higher wing is designed to flex in the centre.

The offset wings make it hard to fit a bar bag easily and mounting a bike computer is a little awkward too.

Yes, the bar does offer flex in the centre of the top wing, which is fine for when you’re cruising along spinning. However, it feels just like any other bar when riding on the hoods or the drops, only a little more awkward.

Initially, I thought Canyon’s use of the simple Purion head unit was a bit of a cost-cutting measure when it could have used Bosch’s smart Kiox head unit and remote control, as on Cannnodale’s Topstone Neo Lefty. However, that would have been a challenge to fit to this bar setup.

The Purion, with its left-sided buttons, mounted on the far left of the lower bar, is within easy reach of your thumb when riding on the hoods or drops.

The display offers simple information, displaying current power mode and battery level. On the bottom edge is a Walk+ button. Activate this when you’re wheeling the bike and it’ll give a little assistance – useful if you’re pushing up a steep slope.

Canyon Grail:ON CF 7 ride impressions

Putting aside the Grail:ON’s opinion-dividing looks, what I absolutely love about the CF 7 is just how great it rides when the going gets rough. The 50mm Schwalbe G-One Bites roll surprisingly briskly on tarmac and excel on dirt and shale.

I was also impressed with the bolder tread pattern that gives real cornering confidence in damper conditions too.

The bike’s comfort levels are great, especially at the back end, where the brilliant shape of the Argo saddle and compliant post combine to eliminate vibrations, jolts and jarring.

It is, however, when you combine these elements with the punch of the Bosch motor that things get really impressive and enjoyable.

Through the four simple settings: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo, the motor injects assistance from a gentle push in the back through to a brutal punch that gives you the potential to ascend steep off-road climbs that simply wouldn’t be possible on a standard non-assisted gravel bike.

The Eco setting provides the lowest assistance level but the highest potential range (according to Bosch’s own range calculator, around 88 miles).

At the other end of the scale, Turbo mode serves up power far beyond its nominal 250w rating, but this shortens range to under 30 miles.

If you’re looking to get as much range as possible, Turbo should only be used sparingly… no matter how much fun it is.

As with all of the best electric bikes, the electric motor only engages when you pedal and – more importantly – it will stop assisting at 15.5mph according to the current law for ebikes (though the EU law allows for a 10 per cent margin, so that could be as high as 17.5mph).

Ultimately, the Grail:ON’s power delivery is impressive and it integrates the Bosch system as well as any ebike I’ve ridden. The range really impressed too: I maxed out the CF 7 at best with 88.25m/142km, taking in 3,018.3ft/920m on a test ride that included fewer than 5 miles/8km of tarmac.

The Grail:ON is yet another shining example of why electric gravel bikes make so much sense. The aid to grip afforded by the addition of power means you can stay seated on steep low-traction climbs, and makes for the potential to take on a gravel bike route you’d have to bypass on a non-powered bike.

The best reason for choosing the CF 7 is that it’s just a huge amount of fun to ride.

Any bike that puts a smile on your face the moment you get on board and has the potential to keep you smiling all day is a winner in my book, and I wholeheartedly recommend the Grail:ON.

Want the latest Electric vehicle news in your inbox? Sign up to the free EV Powered email newsletter...

Richard Alvin

Managing Editor of EV Powered who has a passion for electric converted classic cars - currently converting Lottie the Landy a 1965 Series II ex RAF Land Rover to electric power and the person responsible for two wheel reviews at EV Powered.