EUROBIKE´11: Demo Day Report: Canyon “Grand Canyon AL 29: by c_g

Some time ago I presented you with my ride experiences of the FOCUS Raven 29″er (here) and with the one on the BERGAMONT Revox 9.2 (here). With this bike, the CANYON Grand Canyon AL29 we complete the trio of new hard tails before I continue reporting back with the full suspension bikes.

1 Grand Canyon 29

When it comes to “Bang For The Buck” CANYON is one of those companies that are hard to pass by. By their in house designs, customer direct selling scheme and buying power, they usually come out being a very good value. Additionally they invest heavily in R&D and testing which makes them an innovative force in the biking industry as well. You may like CANYON or not (for most US readers, you may not even know them :)) but they are doing a great job in most every sector of the business.

That said, CANYON has always been very reluctant to step up to big wheels, always saying “the time isn´t right yet”. This year timings (or demand :)) must have been right because the bike’s slogan reads:

7 Grand Canyon 29

The Grand Canyon AL 29″er is our new trail and touring hard tail. The bike is ideal for long distance riding, but demonstrates its true abilities on particularly demanding technical trails – trails which one would not have hitherto dared to venture down on a hard tail and regardless of whether riding uphill or downhill.“

(reads like some converts here, doesn´t it ;))

5 Canyon 29RIDE IMPRESSIONS: The CANYON Grand Canyon AL 29 has been on my list for demoing and good fortune made this bike available for me on short notice, so off I went without much info beforehand. Being a first attempt at 29″er and an alloy hard tail my expectations had been mixed and not too high, but boy … what a surprise.

Very soon into the ride it became clear: This bike is built for maximum propulsion and speed. With the slightly long effective top tube, the low front and the steep seating angle, the bike simply begged to be ridden all out fast … very fast. Among all the bikes of that day, the Grand Canyon for me has been the fastest accelerating and speed loving bike of them all. Also, the seated/standing pedaling transition was very smooth and easy – it is fun in any pedaling style.

To my surprise the frame actually felt torsionally every bit as stiff and direct as the very best carbon frames – a lot better than I had expected. Despite the large diameter seat post I could still feel a whole lot of compliance in the frame, by my guess originating from the minimalist seat stays – indicative once more that it is not the materiel deciding about the ride feel, but the design and execution. What we end up here is a really decent execution.

2 Grand Canyon 29

Steering was on the stable side, but not slow or sluggish. There was a lot of weight on the front and that further enhanced the stability. I liked it and having ridden plenty of bikes, wanting to feel like 26” bikes, this was a welcome change. I like to have my bars rather low in respect to the seat and my sample was exactly that. However; for some the forward weight distribution may just be a tad too much. Reversing the stem to positive rise or taking a frame size smaller would probably remedy this.

I had expected the bike to be a handful in the sketchy sections but again to my surprise I felt perfectly confident and secure … despite the low front and slightly forward weight distribution.

Climbing has been good, too. With a wee bit of weight transfer I made it up even the steepest parts. Really good for what is, (as I found out later), a very short chain stay length of 433.9 mm. 6 Grand Canyon 29

Overall I can attest the Grand Cayon AL 29 to be a very good bike for a 29” first timer. To me it felt not as much a tourer as the marketing slogan says but more a competitive, speed driven bike. Stiffness and compliance had been very good for an alloy frame.

PHILOSOPHY AND TECH: Upon returning from the ride, I talked to the Canyon designer M. Staab who told me the bike was “designed to benefit the most from the 29″er´s abilities such as rolling over rough grounds, riding stability and superior traction. It is not designed to ride like a 26” bike. …

What?? You can imagine at first I wouldn’t believe my ears :).

The GRAND CAYON AL 29 is based on a hydroformed 7005 alloy frame with loads of features that show only on the second look. By the first glance the bike looks very understated. Here is a short list of those features (the common suspects but some others, too):

-Shortest possible tapered head tube with integrated head set
-Designed for 100 mm of suspension travel
-Post Mount disc brake mounting on the asymmetric chain-/seat stays
-142/12 Thru-axle rear
-The massive down tube and top tube provide plenty of and interface (thus stiffness) to the head tube, seat tube and bottom bracket.
-Short 433.9 mm chain stay length
-The patented MAXIMUS seat tube (with direct mount front derailleur flares out massively towards the bottom bracket as well. By the slight offset it can be executed without bending, but still maintaining enough tire clearance and a very clean look
-PressFit bottom bracket with huge junctions to all other tubes
-Minimalistic VCLS (Vertical Comfort, Lateral Stiffness) seat stays (commonly found on Carbon frames … haven´t you been waiting for this one :))
-Provisions for Adjustable seatposts (“Dropper seat posts”)
-Steep 74° seat angle for optimum performance on the climbs and slack 70° head angle for plenty of stability.
-All shifting cables run internally (accessible by a port in the bottom bracket)
-Plenty of tire clearance for up to 2.4”

3 Grand Canyon 29

For an alloy frame this is pretty impressive engineering, me thinks (and since it transfers to such a positive ride – even more so).

MODELS & AVAILABILTY: In terms of spec’ing CANYON has put some thought in that as well. All bikes (there will be three versions) share a through axle front, a 22/36 double chain set (In my opinion one of the most universal configurations for 29″er) and custom built DT-SWISS wheels (built around 370 hubs and X430 rims). For the detailed specs, see the table below – but you can already see there are no cost saving shortcuts anywhere to be found.

10 Grand Canyon specs

The top end bike ridden, the Grand Canyon Al 29 9.9 SL (claimed weight of 10.9 kg) comes with top end spec consisting a FOX´s F32 FIT Terralogic fork (tapered and with 15 mm thru axle), a mix of XX / X.O and XT shifting and braking, Ritchey WCS components and other high end stuff.

8 Grand Cayon 9.9

The Grand Canyon AL 29 9.9 features the identical fork and wheels but one step lower shifting and braking (X.O, X.9 & Deore).It is said to weigh 11.3 kg.

The third one is the Grand Canyon Al 29 8.9 (claimed 11.2 kg) that goes for a DT-Swiss XRM 29″er fork and yet one step down in components (SLX and Deore with a X.O front derailleur and FORMULA RX brakes) – still an absolutely trail worthy spec. Both the 9.9 and 8.9 will come in black/white or white/blue, the 9.9 SL only comes in black/white.

Unfortunately CANYON didn’t have the pricing and availability dates for me yet (I will insert, when communicated), but knowing their pricing structure, I bet they will be hard to beat.

VERDICT: SO where do I stand in terms of the CANYON Grand Canyon AL 29? Being not too much into alloy hard tail frames the Grand Canyon has been a positive surprise, both by ride characteristics and handling. While maybe being a bit too aggressive in terms of weight distribution the bike is one fast machine for the seasoned XC or marathon pilot. I really liked it. For sure Canyon has already done a whole lot of things right with their first 29er.

When you are looking for a race worthy complete bike and like to go fast – you better keep an eye on the bike, they are bound to be great value.

9 Grand Canyon Carbon

PS: Mostly unnoticed, just above the show bike of the Grand Canyon AL 29 there was the next generation 29er hanging, Alaban Lakata´s race bike in the form of a beautiful CANYON Carbon 29er.

Still more from Eurobike coming soon…….