Each of us has a personal philosophy, despite whether we've consciously identified it or not. A personal philosophy is your unique take on the world; a mixture of opinions, values, moral scaffolding and likes and dislikes that come together to form the soup that is your worldview. Experience, culture and the people we spend our time with help to shape and form our personal philosophies, and after just under 30 years on this planet, here's mine: In life, there's nothing more fun than going fast on two wheels.
I've had a need for speed ever since I took my first ride on my dad's dirtbike, tiny hands gripping the handlebars as we cruised our cul-de-sac, which in my mind was a race course of epic proportions. Since the age of four I've been riding bikes and motorcycles of varying degrees of power and precision, and after testing it for a few months, I think I've found my new favorite ride: Canyon's Grail:On CF 7.
We at Gear Patrol have waxed eloquent about Canyon's other steeds before; it's no secret that the German-based DTC bike manufacturer makes a pretty sweet ride. What I like about the Grail:On CF 7 in particular is its strong marriage of Canyon's spot-on geometry and handling with Bosch's quiet and powerful electric motor. Below, I'll get into the nitty gritty of what makes this electric gravel bike rock, but suffice it to say if you're looking for a snappy, responsive and plain old fun ride in 2023, this bike should be at the top of your list.
The Canyon Grail:On CF 7, at a glance:
- Weight: 16.70 kg
- Material: Carbon (CF)
- Motor: Bosch Performance Line Speed drive system
- Torque: 85 Nm
- Battery: 500 Wh
- Components: 11-speed Shimano GRX812 gravel shifting; 44-tooth one-by FSA carbon crankset; 11-42 cassette; hydraulic disc brakes
What's good about Canyon's electric gravel bike
The bike's handling is precise and responsive
I rode Canyon's Grail: On CF 7 on winding back roads, fire roads and mountain bike trails near my home in San Diego County. True to its gravel bike name and geometry, the Grail:On CF 7 excelled both on-road and off, and was snappy, responsive and precise whether I was railing down rutted-out trails or cruising down single-lane country side streets. Canyon gave its newest electric gravel bike the works when it came to geometry: it's built for stability and clearance, thanks to a longer wheelbase (1.034mm for the XS I rode) and extra chunky 50mm tires. The shorter 75mm stem, wider handlebars and flared drops allowed me to maintain control and precision in tight corners and bombing hills, floating through technical sections that had given me grief on other bikes.
I found Canyon's unique (and divisive) double-decker carbon cockpit — which was designed to minimize the weight from traditional suspension forks — to perform as advertised. It put me in an upright, comfortable riding position without a super long stem, and the flex increased comfort through more challenging sections of terrain. It may look funky at first glance, but once you give it a try, my guess is an misgivings regarding the irregular shape will be dispelled.
The battery and motor are performance-driven
Canyon's Grail:On uses Bosch's fourth-generation Performance Line CX Speed drive system, which delivers punchy power at a moment's notice. (This comes in handy on steep ascents and situations that require quick maneuvering.)
What isn't ideal about the Grail:On CF 7
This bike isn't designed for long, multi-day rides
This may not be a con in most rider's books, but I like a bike that I know can keep up with me on multi-day bikepacking adventures. Canyon's e-gravel bike is a double-edged sword in my book: it's fun and easy to ride, and each time I got on for a quick afternoon spin after work, I was tempted to take it further and on longer rides. That's because the bike is crazy fun to to ride: thanks to the upright riding position and responsive motor, I imagined myself riding for days on end on my new gravel bike.
However, the Grail:On CF 7 wasn't designed with my multi-day daydreams in mind; it was built for the weekend warrior, the after-work evening escape and the quick lap with friends. A full charge for the 500-Wh battery takes eight hours, which is fine — if you're plugging it in at night in the comfort of your own home. Trying to plan charging stations on bikepacking routes, however, is a headache with this bike I'd rather avoid by using another, quicker-charging bike (or a no-nonsense, non-electric bike).
The Canyon Grail:On CF 7: the Verdict
I already gave it away at the beginning of this story, but it's worth repeating: although Canyon's semi-new electric gravel bike comes at a bit of a premium, ringing in just under five grand, for the precision, responsiveness and all-around playfulness of the bike, in this rider's opinion, each one of those dollars would be well-spent picking one up for yourself.