- A high performance gravel ebike with carbon fiber frame, fork, and iconic double decker drop bar that introduces comfort and varied body positions. Sturdy 12mm thru-axles, tapered steer tube, and powerful Shimano ICE-Tech hydraulic disc brakes. This ebike is produced in seven frame sizes, but only four were in stock at the time of this review.
- Available in multiple geographies, this ebike ships with a 4th generation Bosch Performance Line CX motor in Europe or Performance Line Speed motor in the US offering Class 3 28mph performance. Both motors are known for reliability, responsiveness, and power. Combined with the internally mounted Bosch PowerTube 500, the bike looks great and weight is positioned low and center for optimal handling.
- Gravel specific Shimano GRX derailleur with one-way clutch to reduce chain bounce, a wide 11-42 tooth cassette for navigating varied terrain, and a narrow-wide chainring to reduce drops. Double bottle cage mounts are great, nice optional rear mudguard... but no front mudguard option from CANYON. Faster Bosch 4 amp standard charger included.
- Direct sales only, and shipping costs $150 to $200 extra. Many sizes for the CF 8 were sold out and the upgraded eTap version had even less at the time of this review. Battery locking core and charge port are positioned low on the non-drivetrain side of the bike, tempting you to either lean the bike up or lay it down on the derailleur side... Basic Bosch Purion display is not compatible with Bosch smartphone apps and does not offer USB charging.
This review was provided for free, but BOSCH provided two nights of free hotel stay in Vail, Colorado so that I could attend an event and test ride the bike. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased with you, this video and writeup are not meant to be an endorsement of CANYON products. I welcome your corrections, additions, and feedback in the comments below, and the CANYON electric bike forums.
- This was my first time reviewing a CANYON product, and I was very impressed with the range of sizes and quality of components. CANYON is a German company that has been around for many years and sells direct. The Grail:ON is an electric version of the Grail gravel bike, which stands out for its unique double decker carbon fiber drop bars.
- The Grail:ON comes in two flavors, and the CF 8 is the more affordable $5,799 USD model. If you pay extra for the eTap model, priced at $6,999, you get a SRAM drivetrain with electronic shifting and DT Swiss HGR 1400 carbon fiber rims that are lighter and more aerodynamic. The eTap model comes in a champagne metallic tan color with black accents vs. metallic blue with black accents here. Both models ship with the Bosch Performance Line CX motors in Europe, but are upgraded to Bosch Performance Line Speed motors for faster Class 3 performance in the USA.
- Beautiful frame, fork, stem, and handlebar design. The custom stem and double decker handlebar integration almost look like a triathlon bike with aerodynamic qualities… and the bike is extremely lightweight at 37.3lbs (16.9kg) for the Medium that I tested (with aftermarket platform pedals).
- Sturdy 12mm thru-axles front and rear add strength for off-road use, it’s exactly what I’d expect for a quality gravel grinder and I love that they use quick release maxles. The tapered steer tube gives more options for upgrading the fork to something like Lauf.
- When I first saw the seven frame sizes, I was floored! They even offer different wheel sizes to suit the frames (700c vs. 650b on the 2XS through Small) and different crank arm lengths (175mm vs. 170 on the 2XS through Small). However, three sizes were out of stock… I specifically asked the CANYON rep about this and he confirmed that they do actually produce seven sizes, but that many are only available in limited quantity and can sell out quickly.
- Even though the brake rotors are just 160mm here vs. 180mm on some competing electric road bikes and gravel grinders, CANYON chose Shimano ICE-Tech with aluminum carriers, carbon steel rotors, and calipers with heat dissipating fins. The design of the rotors circulates air and is designed to stay very cool. So, you get high performance without as much weight. The smaller size is less likely to get bent or dirty since it doesn’t stick out so far.
- The entire Bosch drive system (battery, charger, motor etc.) are UL certified and Bosch is the only company to have achieved this level for their ebike systems from what I understand. That means reliability and quality, which is especially nice on a high priced, high speed, performance ebike like the Grail:ON.
- My understanding is that the tires chosen for this model are off-road specific, and may guard against punctures a bit. They are also TLE (tubeless easy), so you can reduce some weight and ride at lower pressure if you decide to remove the tubes and add some sealant.
- Nice bladed spokes and upgraded aluminum alloy rims reduce drag and weight, but the premium carbon fiber rims on the eTap are definitely a step up. I do wish that CANYON had been able to integrate the rear wheel speed sensor into the disc brake setup the way that BULLS and some other manufacturers have done, to keep the wheels balanced and reduce sensor read errors resulting from loose magnets and debris.
- While I was not able to remove the battery from this ebike during my review, because it was not on hand with the reps who brought it to the event, it appeared that the cover and integration were done very well. Some covers add a lot of weight and can easily be taken, but that did not appear to be the case here. I cannot confirm, but I suspect that they were using an ABUS keyset that may offer keyed-alike compatibility for aftermarket folding locks etc. (double check, please comment here if you know, the CANYON rep I called did not know for sure).
- The Gen 4 Bosch Performance Line Speed motors are smaller, lighter (6.3lbs vs. 8.8lbs), use standard sized chainrings vs. a reduction gear (so no drag here), deliver more power (85nm vs. 63nm of torque), and support over 120 RPM (pedal strokes per minute) compared to the Gen 3 motors, so they perform great all around and won’t struggle as you downshift in preparation for a climb. This is one of my favorite motors of all time.
- I really appreciate the narrow-wide chainring that was chosen for this bike, because it really grips the chain and reduces the potential for drops when riding off-road. CANYON added an aluminum alloy chainring guard as well, so your pants won’t get dirty or snagged, and it acts as a bash guard to protect the chainring and chain.
- The Bosch motor controller measures rear wheels speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque over 1,000x per second for very fluid ride feel (even better for generation 4 here), and you also get shift detection, so the motor backs off a bit when it detects gear changes to reduce drivetrain wear.
- The Bosch Purion display and integrated button pad lack some features and menus, but is very easy to read and understand. I found that it performed well during my test rides, and is a step above some competing displays from other companies.
- Great attention to detail all around, comfortable grip tape, saddle, and they included a long rubberized slap guard on the right chain stay vs. letting the paint get chipped up. My favorite parts have to do with comfort, and that includes the carbon fiber double decker handlebar that introduces some flex and vibration dampening, along with the splayed carbon fiber seatpost that almost acts like a suspension post.
- Excellent battery charger, Bosch has designed a compact, relatively lightweight (1.7lb) charger that delivers fast 4 amp charging and uses a durable proprietary plug interface that won’t get mixed up with other chargers in your house and also plugs into the battery and frame charging port without the use of a dongle… it’s one of my all time favorite chargers in the entire space. Some companies opt for the cheaper 2 amp charger from Bosch, but I’m glad CANYON did not, given the higher capacity 500 watt hour battery used here.
- While the stem and double decker handlebar save weight, look awesome, and might introduce some aerodynamic qualities, they are not adjustable and upgradable the same way that a standard stem and independent handlebar are. Good thing there are three hand positions to rotate through.
- The lack of availability for all seven frame sizes frustrated me, maybe that has more to do with supply chain constraints during 2020/2021? Four sizes were available for the CF 8 while only two were available for the eTap at the time of this review.
- Very high standover height on this frame, it’s only available in high step and the top tube isn’t sloped down very much. The splayed seat post offers some comfort, but it cannot go down as far and significantly raises the minimum saddle height. You could always swap it out for a rigid post, this is not an uncommon issue for seat post suspensions and may not be super relevant to riders who are seeking out such a sporty bike.
- It costs $150 extra for standard ground shipping to the contiguous USA, or $200 for express. If you live in Hawaii, Alaska, or Puerto Rico, the price jumps way up to $650!
- This is a direct to consumer electric bike, which means you cannot test ride it easily in shops… or get the same kind of fitting and post purchase support. Thankfully, since CAYNON chose Bosch drive systems for these models, many independent dealers will have the ability to help service the motor and provide battery replacement. The company also uses Shimano and Fazua drive systems on other electric bike products, which might not be as easy to service.
- The bike doesn’t come with a kickstand, which I completely understand (weight savings, won’t introduce rattling), but it doesn’t have provisions for a stand either. Consider a clamp-on stand if you find that leaning the bike feels precarious when charging or storing.
- Unlocking the battery pack or plugging it in to charge (while mounted to the bike) requires you to bend way down to the bottom bracket on the non-drivetrain side of the bike… This is the safest side of the bike to lay down in order to keep the derailleur from getting bent. Bosch, CANYON, and others should really consider putting the locking core and charge port on the drivetrain side, in my opinion. This ebike doesn’t have a kickstand, leaning it against a wall seems precarious (especially with a long cord attached for charging), and I dislike having to bend way down and stabilize the bike when plugging in. Removing the battery to charge separately is also possible, but that requires the key to unlock and then balance the bike and remove the battery which is actually more time consuming and difficult than just plugging in the charge cable. Do consider storing the battery separately to reduce exposure to extreme cold and heat, and maintain at least 50% when not in use for long periods.
- CANYON opted for the lower capacity Bosch PowerTube 500 vs. the new 625 watt hour, so it costs less and isn’t as heavy, but won’t go as far and cannot maintain the higher speeds for as long. I’m not sure that you can upgrade to the PowerTube 625 because it’s physically longer… I suspect they use the 500 because it fit into the more compact frame size options.
- As with most drop-bar electric bikes, the button pad is not reachable in all hand positions. I found it somewhat awkward to use when riding, and I wished that they chose the Kiox because it’s compact but has a USB charging port and is compatible with the Bosch smartphone application. You can upgrade to this and other displays for more money and some help from a local shop.
- The Bosch Purion display does not have a battery percentage readout, average speed, max speed, or clock, and lacks the ability to connect with a heart rate monitors. At least it shows your range estimate in addition to the 5-bar battery capacity infographic… so you can plan your rides easier. Hold the – key to cycle through menus to see range. Despite being mounted near the grab points on the handlebar, there are some hand positions where it can be very difficult to reach.
- I don’t think that the bike comes with pedals, perhaps they expect most people to use clip-in or buy their own, it’s a minor thing but worth mentioning, this is how many high-end bikes are sold.
- As with most high powered ebikes, the motor drains the battery faster and produces more noise here. You can listen to the ride portions of the video review above to gauge this for yourself.
- Official CANYON website
- Official Warranty Details
- Bosch 4th Gen Motors (including the Performance Line Speed)
- Local CANYON bike shop directory to find a CANYON dealer near you for fitting and test rides