Canyon Grail CF SL 8.0 – Yup We Bought Gravel Bikes!

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[Malorie] I’m going to give you a little insight into the life of the Gages. We live in a small mountain town west of Colorado Springs. Our yard consists of deer, foxes, squirrels, and the occasional coyote. We live in a 800 square foot cabin that smells like pine trees. The moment you enter our home you are greeted by warmth and the delicious smell of homemade cookies. It is a small cabin, but love has made it a home for us. Since moving in together, we have had to play tetris with our bikes. Currently, they reside in our over-sized bathroom with the handle bars alternating back and forth to create space. So you may be wondering why in the hell would be buy two more bikes? Well, that answer is simple, we want more access to all roads including paved and dirt. Charlie and I love riding the road bikes but find ourselves craving more. We pulled the trigger and got these sexy Canyon Grail gravel bikes.

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Canyon is a bike company that is direct to consumer. That means that they do not put their products in bike shops and the consumer gets a great deal on an expensive bike. Basically, they take out the middle man. We did extensive research before purchasing these bikes and decided that Canyon was the way to go. The bikes that we purchased are full carbon build (minus carbon wheels) and has a unique handlebar. Canyon calls this handlebar the “hover bar” and it has a flex component within the bar to help with small bumps. I am not an engineer so I don’t know if there is an advantage to the hover bar, or if it’s just a crock of shit. Only time will tell, but I will admit that I am in love with riding my gravel bike. It provides Charlie and I with the best of both worlds. Riding on dirt roads and traveling for miles without fatigue has been a life saver for us. You don’t have to worry about getting run over by crazy drivers and you get to travel down roads that take you into the depths of the woods. The remote locations are so serene and peaceful that I find myself getting lost in time.

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Before we decided to purchase gravel bikes I had a long discussion with Charlie because in my mind there is no difference between road and gravel bikes. I asked Charlie why would we need to spend even more money when we could simply put beefier tires on the road bikes? He tried to explain to me about the different geometry and the flex created within the frame of the bike. To me, it was a bunch of bullshit. I could not wrap my head around the fact that two types of bike (mind you, they look identicle) could be extrememly different. Well, Charlie was right. There is a HUGE difference in the way companies construct road and gravel bikes. The first thing I noticed was the extreme comfort I felt on the gravel bike. My road bike is almost eight years old and the geometry is slightly different than current road bikes. I have ridden my Trek all over the Bay Area, Colorado Springs, and even taken it on some gravel. Riding on the road with the Trek is great; it is fast and relativly comfortable for long rides. Little ol Trek is not good on gravel though. Every little rock, bump, or washboard felt like pure hell. So when I hopped on my new gravel bike and rode her down one of the worst gravel roads we have, I was pleasently surprised. Granted, it does not have suspension like the mountain bikes we have or even a hard-tail, but the engineering behind the bike allows for the rider to enjoy more technical gravel riding. Another perk to the gravel bike is the ability to run a wider tire on it. This helps with traction and overal comfort due to tires adding suspension to the bike. One last thing I will mention is the geometry of the gravel bike. It is really relaxed (not MTB style) but WAY more comfortable than the road bike. When I would ride my Trek for miles I would get really bad upper back/neck pain that would burn. It felt like there was a little leprechaun between my scapulas’ having a bon fire. With the gravel bike I don’t have that problem as bad or as frequent.

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We have big plans for these Canyon Grail gravel bikes, and plan to race them. We have our eye on Dirty Kanza 2020, BlackFly Challenge 2020, and so many more. This has opened up a new world for Charlie and me, and we are stoked to put many miles on these bikes.

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[Charlie] Yeah, what she said. Seriously though, these new bikes are awesome. I don’t think we’ve ridden them enough to provide a proper review of them, but our first few rides have been very pleasant. I hate to say it, but since we’ve gotten the gravel bikes, I haven’t been on my mountain bike nearly as much. It might just be because the gravel bikes are new and shiny so we’ll see if that changes, but for right now, I crave gravel rides. My notes on my laptop consist of gravel races from July throughout the rest of the year and my Strava is full of routes I’ve created for the bikes. Later on we’ll provide our thoughts on the bikes and gravel riding in general but for now I’ll leave you with some of the pictures I’ve gotten since we’ve started riding the new bikes. Enjoy!

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