Drop bars have always had a special place in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love mountain bikes. That feeling of flying down swoopy singletrack and rowdy trails on a mountain bike is truly hard to beat. But there is one thing that can beat it… Flying down flowy singletrack and rowdy trails on a drop-bar bike. Now that can get exciting!
My love of drop bars really took hold back in my SoCal Cyclocross days. The scene! The people! The courses! The costumes! The heckling! The community! Kyle Kelley in a skinsuit! And Dot Wong (IYKYK)! All of it. The weekly SoCalCross events felt like home, and everybody at the races was family (yes, even all you Mudfooters). Drop bars were central to all of that, and I was hooked.
Like most people who read The Radavist, I’ve always ridden drop bar bikes in a way they weren’t necessarily “supposed” to be ridden. Road rides often had dirt detours, and my friends and I typically could be found sliding around mountain bike trails on our cross bikes. It wasn’t so common to see road and cross bikes being ridden like that yet, and “gravel” wasn’t even a bike category.
But you know what? So many rad things are happening in the bike industry now because of people like us, people who were just riding drop bar bikes wherever and however we wanted because it was really freakin’ fun. “Gravel” is officially a thing, and it just keeps getting better. Hasn’t it been cool to see the bikes, events, teams, etc that have come to life because of people getting a little wild on drop bars?
Something I’m especially excited about that was inspired by the fun of drop bars is Flashpoint MVMNT. Flashpoint MVMNT is a collective of riders and brands all coming together with one common goal: welcoming new riders into the bike community. I am so honored to be a part of this crew with Kathy Pruitt, Nehemiah Brown, and Andrew Jackson. We are determined to break down the barriers that discourage people from riding bikes, and we are stepping up to create the changes we want to see in cycling. We want every rider to feel like they belong, no matter their skin color, gender, body type, cultural background, household income, or equipment preferences. The way we ride breaks the rules of traditional categories, and more than anything, we are focused on the fun that unites us all. And riding the Canyon Grizl is going to help us have a whole lotta fun…
Alright, so let’s get to what you’re here for. Let’s talk about that Canyon Grizl! My Grizl is a custom build featuring products from all of the Flashpoint MVMNT partners. As you know, product availability is nuts right now, and I built this bike with what I could get my hands on. In a couple cases, I would have made different spec choices, which I’ll get into below.
The Grizl is a brand new gravel bike from Canyon, and it’s the troublemaking sibling of the Grail. You know, the one that breaks the rules a bit more, pushes boundaries, and tends to have scabs on their knees. While the Grail is optimized for maximum speed and efficiency on pavement or smooth dirt/gravel roads, the Grizl is optimized for FUN! When you’re taking your drop bar bike down sketchy trails that leave you grinning so big your teeth are full of dust by the end of the ride, trust me when I say that you’ll be spitting out dirt for days after riding the Grizl. You’ll be smiling that big! This bike is super capable and likes to get loose.
The Grizl frame has lots of bells and whistles that make it more suited to big adventures and getting rowdy. You won’t find the controversial Double Decker Cockpit on the Grizl (which, by the way, I happen to love on my Grail), which means you have the freedom to easily setup your bars and stem to optimize your riding style. The frame offers the goldilocks of mounting options…not too few, not too many. You’ll find three mounting points on the fork legs, top tube mounts for top tube bags, a third bottle cage mount under the downtube, and fender mounts. As if that wasn’t enough, Canyon included all of the tech specs and torque settings right on the frame graphics to make life easy for you, which sure is thoughtful. All frames have dropper post compatibility with internal routing through the down tube and seat tube. All of this, and more frame details you’ll find in the build specs below, comes together to give you a bike that is super adaptable: set it up however is right for you and go ride! The Grizl comes in seven sizes from 2XS to 2XL. I’m riding a small Grizl CF SL frame. A Grizl CF SLX is also available, which is lighter weight (and a heavier spend) due to more advanced materials and layup techniques.
I would argue that tires are the single most important component choice on a bike. Simply by changing your tires, you can take your bike from a super efficient speed machine to something that can rip through loose, chunky dirt with ease. It’s the lowest cost way to completely transform your ride. I’m a big time WTB fangirl, and this build includes my all-time favorite gravel tire, the Nano 40c TCS Light/Fast Rolling in tanwall, of course. You can’t go wrong with Nano 40’s! However, tire clearance is one of the big benefits of the Grizl frame. All of the stock builds come spec’d with 45c tires, and it can fit up to 50c with 6mm of clearance on either side. Right now, I’m not really getting the maximum capabilities of this bike since I’m running narrower tires, and I’ll try swapping on the Riddler 45’s to increase the fun factor even more. With bigger tires, you get more traction and cushion when you want to kick the drop bar rowdiness factor up a few notches. Don’t even get me started talking about how tire pressure can also transform how your bike feels! For now I’ll just say I typically run 20-25psi on my gravel bikes.
My tires are paired with a Zipp 303s Tubeless Disc Brake carbon wheelset. These have a nice wide internal width, which really improves ride quality since it increases the contact patch of your tires in the dirt. My size small frame fits 700c wheels, which is exactly what I’d choose to ride. Canyon says they like to offer the right wheel size to the right rider, so S-2XL frames get 700c wheels, and 2XS-XS get 650b.
I’ve got a pretty blingy drivetrain on this bike with all the fanciest goodies from SRAM. I prefer the 1x mullet build, so I’m business in the front with RED eTap AXS shifters, and party in the back with an XX1 Eagle AXS rear derailleur and cassette. I love the simplicity of the 1x system and the massive range of gears my 10-50 cassette provides. The SRAM Red crankset is equipped with a single 38t chainring and to top it off, a Quarq power meter. Truth be told, if I didn’t already have the RED groupset, I would have chosen Force AXS or the new Rival AXS for the Grizl. The Grizl is my party bike, and I don’t need all the fanciest, lightest components on a bike that might get a little beat up. At some point I’ll probably swap this RED group onto my Grail since it’s more of my race bike, and put a Force/XO AXS or Rival/GX AXS combo on the Grizl. You don’t need the blingiest products to have a super sweet bike!
Hydraulic disc brakes are a must, and I’m running SRAM RED eTap HRD brakes. Right now I have 160mm brake rotors, but the Grizl can fit up to 180mm rotors. This is a benefit if you’re doing long, sketchy descents where you need maximum braking power, or maybe you’re on a fully loaded bike packing trip and need some extra stopping oomph (especially if you’re an over-packer, like me).
People #willtravelforgravel, ammirite? That means we’re often riding in areas we aren’t familiar with and getting ourselves waaay out there. Good navigation is key, and that’s why I love the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM. The navigation capabilities are top notch and so simple. You can easily connect your ROAM to a Ride with GPS account, and when you create a route in Ride with GPS, it automatically syncs to your ROAM. Then you just select that route on your computer, and off you go with turn-by-turn navigation that is easy to follow. I especially love the live tracking feature. Just share a link from your phone, and people can see exactly where you are in realtime. It makes trailside meetups super easy, and it’s an added layer of comfort knowing somebody can find you if things go wrong.
Just gotta give a shoutout to my trusty Crankbrothers Candy 3 pedals! I still have these from back when I worked at Crankbrothers, so these are at least 6-7 years old and still going strong.
Are bento boxes and big saddlebags still dorky, or have we realized that making it easier to carry gear on all-day adventures is actually pretty sweet? Either way, I’m a fan of the Apidura x CANYON packs that were developed for the Grizl. They are just the right size for big gravel rides where you need to bring plenty of extra food and layers, without needing full-on bike packing bags. Who else raced in the infamous Grinduro CA hailstorm or 2019? I totally would have used these to bring an extra rain jacket, puffy jacket, gloves, socks, thermal layer, and a thermos full of a strong Hot Toddy. You know, survival rations! Personally, I’d like to see a nice handlebar bag added to their collection of frame, saddle, and top-tube packs. I would use the handlebar bag and small frame pack on pretty much every ride, and add the top-tube and saddle packs for extra big or wet weather days, plus extra space for a #trailbouquet.
At the end of the day, bikes are fun, and they are fun no matter what bike you’re on. It’s so great that we now have so many options and price points that let us find a bike that’s juuuuuuust right. The Grizl is a super fun addition to Canyon’s gravel lineup, and I’m excited to spend more time on a drop bar bike that’s truly all about having a good time. With the bike setup options we have these days, there is nowhere drop bars aren’t “supposed” to go, so just get out there and GO!
Big shoutout to Giro, Canyon, SRAM, Zipp, Wahoo, Thule, and Wilderness Trail Bikes for supporting Flashpoint MVMNT. We are so excited to make great things happen this year and can’t wait for countless fun rides on the Grizl! Make sure to follow @flashpointmvmnt to keep up with the good times.