|Canyon's new Grizl gravel adventure bike.|
Canyon Bikes, the direct to consumer brand, has announced a new 'gravel adventure' bike (I'll comment on that later here) which has a carbon frame for now, but will have a less expensive aluminum framed model in the range later on.
There is room for 50mm tires without fenders and 45mm tires with fenders. The bike comes with fork mounts for extra bottles or the "Anything Cage" type racks. Models will be offered in 1X or 2x drive train set ups with Di2 Shimano GRX 800 being the top of the range for the time being. GRX 400 ten speed equipped Grizl's go for just North of 2G.
Comments: Hoo boy! A Canyon gravel rig without the ding-dong, two-tiered handle bar/stem unit? Yes! But enthusiasm may become a bit tempered here since Canyon uses a 1 1/4' steer tube diameter, meaning that 'normal' stems do not retrofit to this bike. Yep! Gotta get a Canyon stem or pretty much nothing else. This means things like a Redshift ShockStop stem will not go on this bike. That's kind of a big deal if you are aiming this bike at the rougher side of gravel travel.
Secondly, the geometry chart for the Grizl lays out a bizarre set of numbers. A big bottom bracket drop here which is 75mm on larger sized bikes in the range. Then if you notice the head tube angle- a crazy steep 72.5°! Remember early 29"ers? Those bikes had 72° - 73° head tube angles and shorter offset forks which were roundly criticized for some poor handling traits. This led to 29"ers getting progressively more slack in the head tube angles to, where now with adventure based 29"ers, (what few there are), we have anywhere in the higher 60's for head tube angles with slightly longer offsets. Wouldn't it make more sense then to have a slacker head tube angle and longer offset fork on a gravel bike than something in the 72+ degree range? While one should not completely dismiss a bike solely based upon the numbers, this is a bad look for Canyon, in my opinion.
There is a lot to like here about the new Grizl, but there are a couple of critical concerns which, even though the price seems attractive, would make me choose elsewhere. I'd like to see a 71° head angle here on larger sizes with a 50+mm offset fork. I'd like to choose my own stem, thank you, and not some over-sized stem which, if you buy into the bigger diameter = stiffer component handle bar theories, is the wrong direction to go here. These opinions are based upon a lot of years of testing bikes and riding gravel roads. Your mileage may vary.....
I get that Canyon thinks this design is a more MTB flavored gravel option, but would they design a hard tail XC/Adventure bike like this? (The answer is no: All their XC oriented hard tails are sub-70 degree head angle bikes.) So why put goofy geometry, which has proven to be sub-standard elsewhere, on an "adventure gravel" rig? I don't know......
|When do we go to "MTB Drop Bar Bike" and forget about "gravel"?|
Slicing Up A Segment:
As mentioned above with Canyon, many marketing departments are busy trying to sell you more than 'just a gravel bike'. Now you have to have a racing gravel bike, or an adventure gravel bike, or whatever other nuanced version of the 'all-road' bike (that was never meant to become a mountain trail going rig) type of bike. The companies selling these rigs are trying to appeal to those who are not into the extreme geometry/activities version of mountain biking. A style of mountain biking that some of these very same companies helped to grow over the past 20 years.
I've written about this many times before, but the high-end, decent handling, comfortable hard tail MTB with a rigid fork pretty much died out in the late 2000's. 29"ers represented the last good bikes in this category. Bikes like Salsa's El Mariachi, Niner Bikes SIR 9, (which is still around), Redline's Monocog, and others with rigid forks made great 'all-arounders'. But they fell prey to expensive, longer travel suspension forks, the 'long-low-slack' geometry trend, and 1X drive trains that limit speed on flatter terrain and smoother down hills. While those bikes are great, they came in at the expense of those previous hard tail designs which disappeared.
Instead of a return to what was great about hard tail MTB's, we see companies trying to reach back into this category via 'gravel' with drop bar designs. Bikes similar to Fargos, but more 'road-ish', if you will. It's as if 30+ years of great hard tail MTB design never happened. I find it odd, but more than this, I find that companies trying to invent more niche categories within the umbrella of 'gravel' rather telling.
First of all, most trends in cycling end up this way because the marketing wonks still haven't figured out how to get the non-cycling public interested in cycling. You know, things might grow more if we just made our streets safer. Things might grow for cycling if we had less emphasis on cars and more on the alternative forms of moving folks, cycling included. Tie in the physical and mental health benefits, the other pluses of cycling, and grow the pie from that angle. Your new "more MTB-ish grav-grav bike" is not going to do diddly-squat in terms of making 'new cyclists'.
Sorry- not sorry.
|Not what you want to keep seeing......|
A Quick Update On The Guitar Ted Lube-Off:
I thought I'd give you all a quick update on how things are going with the lubricants in this edition of the 'Guitar Ted Lube-Off', my simple look at what lubricant is best for a bicycle chain being used for gravel grinding.
You might recall that I am using NFS 'Blue Devil" lube and the SCC Tech Lube. I used both lubricants on new Wippermann chains and one, the SCC Tech, is on the noble GX5 and the Blue Devil lube is on the pink MCD.
Well, NFS says you'll get a bit of a dark residue off their lube but that it doesn't 'gunk up' and collect dirt or whatnot. Yeaaaaahhhh......hmmm....let's just say I have not experienced that, not yet anyway. There is a gunk building up very slightly on the jockey wheels and cassette, but I'll give this a few more long rides and then we will see. It has been very dusty out there, so this is a good test of the lubricants.
The other lube, the SCC Tech, well, that is also leaving a black mark after I do the "\Finger Swipe Test". But again, I'm going to give both of these lubes some grace here and keep on keeping on for a while. I figure on doing about three good rides on each before I give any more first impressions. So far? Not super impressed with either of these lubricants versus DuMonde Tech and Muc-Off C3 Ceramic lubricants. But we will see soon....
|All manner of parts are still rare and hard to get, like rims.|
Parts Shortages Persist:
Obviously by now you've all figured out that 2021 is not a good time to be looking for a new bicycle. (Well, in case you haven't....HELLO!) The parts for bicycles are also still hard to find as well, although this changes now with sporadic supplies and quick depletion of that supply due to pent up demand. So, here's the latest.....
Chains and cassettes are still super hard to come by. There was a spurt in supply late in the Winter but most bike shops grabbed what there was for upcoming seasonal repairs and stock lists as of this writing show nothing available. Last year it was 7-8 speed stuff but this year everything is really hard to find.
Another perennial out of stock item is tires. 26 inch tires have had a run on them since the beginning of 2020 and it hasn't let up. The good news is that a stock of 26"ers just hit the states and has reached distributors and shops right now. I suspect that this bubble of supply will be gone in a couple weeks or less. You know things are bad here when powerhouse distributor, Quality Bicycle Products, puts up the pile of Maxxis 26"ers they got on all their social media channels. Twenty-six inch tires! Something to get excited about in 2021? Who'd a thunk it?
Crank sets are non-existent, chain rings as well, and square taper bottom brackets are due late Summer. So, yeah......doing repairs is even getting dicey. This situation with regard to local bicycle shops is getting really tenuous. If we cannot sell new bicycles because there are none and if we cannot repair your old bicycles because parts are nonexistent, what then?
Strange days indeed.
That's a wrap for this week. get out and ride if ya can!