Cheap and Versatile
Bikes This Good Are Never This Affordable
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Model: Grail AL
Availability: Available Now
Unique Features: Aluminum frame, 1x groupset, incredible value
Upshot: Canyon’s Grail AL represents incredible value. For less than $2000, it offers a spec that doesn’t have any glaring compromises, including a robust frame and a set of tires and wheels that could take you anywhere you want to ride.
Who It’s For: Cyclists who want to try gravel without taking out a second mortgage.
Insight: It’s not uncommon for road bikes to cost more than I have ever spent on a car. My office right now is home to a bike on which the frame, just the frame, costs $8,000. For less than 25 percent of that price, Canyon’s Grail AL is an astonishingly capable bike for everything from cyclocross to centuries to full-on singletrack shredding.
Alloy frames are often criticized for a harsher ride feeling than carbon models, but the cushy Schwalbe G-One tires do a great job of keeping road buzz at a minimum and offer plenty of grip in the dirt. The single chainring drivetrain is beginner-friendly and low-maintenance, as is the aluminum frame, which will handle those early “finding your limits” crashes much better than a carbon chassis. I recently tested the Grail on everything from fire roads to singletrack via the smooth tarmac of Laguna Seca Raceway and was impressed with how well it handled everything I could throw at it. For a bike which costs less than many wheelsets, it offers an incredible amount of fun.