Hey TR Forum,
I’m looking to take my gravel riding to the next level this year (2022). My objectives are prioritized as follows:
Recreational Riding in WV. (Plenty of steep extended climbing (12%-20%) and downhill bombing. A weekly rides of 40-60 miles with 5500ft + elevation. My current rig is a Salsa Journeyman Apex (1x11) and it stinks at climbing! The 700c set up is an absolute gut buster. The 650c set up climbs okay but stinks on the other stuff.)
Extended gravel touring and bike-packing. (When the weather cooperates I will do 100mi+ rides on the GAP-C&O and overnight loops in the Appalachian/Allegheny highlands – Mostly hostels or B&Bs not so much camping.
Occasional gravel races. (I need a bike that can comply on raceday. – 80 - 100mile races, Gravel Grand Fondos.)
I’m in my mid-50s, 6’ 3" and a baseline Clydesdale (+/- 200lbs)
My price range is +/- $3500.
I’m looking at Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 or Cannondale Topstone Carbon 5. Other?
I just went through this exact debate! Very similar priorities when I was shopping for a new gravel bike, although my main priority was something for unbound 200. I ended up going with the Grizl (just ordered a few days ago, delivery next month hopefully) largely because it was available and had slightly better value. However, I likely would have gone with the topstone if one has been available locally. So if you see value in the support from a shop post-purchase, maybe that’s enough for the topstone to win out. If you want more bike for the $, but no local support, maybe the grizl wins out.
You might take a look at the Fezzari Shafer Elite Rival XPLR AXS. It comes in at that price range and includes electronic shifting - a fairly significant upgrade over the 2 bikes you mentioned. It’s gotten some very positive reviews. They have a 30 day love it or return it guarantee and the frame has a lifetime warranty. I recently received one. I’ve only 2 significant rides on it to date, but so far I’m impressed with it. Cheers!
Not the models you are focused on, but I love my Pivot Vault! I spent a lot of time reading up and checking specs on quite a few gravel bikes before pulling the trigger and I’d choose the Pivot again. Rides well, Climbs well, and races well. Can’t complain about it at all. Good luck on your decision!
It’s not without some compromises, but once I got it sorted, by Topstone has been an awesome riding bike. I fit mine with Zipp 303s wheels and Roval Terra carbon post and handlebar. Not sure I’d go the Canyon route myself. My local dealer has been crucial at times.
Tour Int says the two bikes ride about the same on paper in the test size.
The Cannondale has a round seatpost, which would make it easier to mount bikepacking bags vs the canyon double spring post. The Cannondale looks to have about 5mm more ground clearance if you’re going over rocks.
The canyon is a lost (30mm) longer in front than either bike for toe clearance with fat tires. It’s also 10mm lower front if you want to slam that stem. It has nicer wheels, crank, tires, a lot better tire clearance, and bag mounts. Given the longer front, it’s probably better to take a surprise rock/root/pothole hit with, but would be harder to ride up steep, tight single track hills.
The 700 v 650 shouldn’t make a difference climbing aside from what tires you’re running the the diameter of the wheel/tire combo. 650b is just a wheel that’s 20mm lower than a 700c. If you’re running the same “40c” tires, the difference is about a 6% lower gear (roughly a half or one full cog in back)
I’ve been looking for a gravel bike for my wife. Given it’s been hard to find bikes, I’ve looked at a lot of different bikes in the hope of finding one.
I settled on the Grizl as it’s good value, is versatile, and can take 50mm tires. And looked like it had upcoming availability.
The main reason I didn’t like the Topstone was the 40mm max clearance - which for a modern gravel bike is a disappointment.
Up until yesterday, Canyon indicated that availability on the Grizl on the model and size I wanted would open up on Jan 10th. And I had also signed up for email alerts when it became available. So I was annoyed when I checked the Canyon website today (Jan 8th) and saw the model and size was listed as “sold out”. And I hadn’t gotten any email notification. Not cool by Canyon.
If you settle on the Grizl, my advice would be to check the Canyon website every day for availability, so the same thing that happened to me does not happen to you.
FWIW, my top choice for gravel bikes is the Specialized Diverge. Great tire clearance, right geometry, future shock. But no sign of when they’ll become available again. I was lucky enough to find a Trek Checkpoint coming available at the end of Feb. so I ordered that for my wife. It’s a nice bike. Almost as nice as my Diverge!
The only thing not nice on the new carbon CP are the yuuuggee tubes. They took the Domane-sized downtube and put them everywhere. If you’re someone who can rub your seat post with your thighs, you’ll definitely want to give it a test ride before signing for it. It might be the least aero frame out there!
What’s tubes would you be concerned about hitting with your legs? The down tube is for sure big, but you wouldn’t hit your legs on that one.
Regarding aero, I’d like to see data before I make any judgments of if any aero penalty is meaningful.
Based on the OPs goals/needs (and certainly my wife’s!), the aero characteristics of the frame are likely not very important.
FWIW, Trek says the new Checkpoint is more aero than the earlier gen:
“Trek says the new SLR is more aero than the outgoing Checkpoint SL, thanks to both frame shaping and internal routing.”
That really doesn’t mean anything without numbers….sure it may be more aero than the previous Gen, but if the previous Gen was as aero as a barn door, it doesn’t necessarily mean the current Gen is “aero”.
That said, I’m a pretty big aero geek but I wouldn’t sweat aero in gravel too much……a “nice to have” but not a “must have”, IMO. Get a good position on the bike and ride it.
I don’t think there’s any data on either the roubaix or CP. They’re both big round tube bikes, so the outlook isn’t so good. They might actually have decent numbers head on because of the wide fork interrupting the wind first head on. I think Trek claiming it’s more aero because they cleaned up the cables / headset area and put ergo shaped handlebars on it. I agree that aero is a low low priority here unless you’re using this as a road bike too - which the Domane would better serve someone.
As far as the tube sizes, I think I was looking at an SLR. The seat tube/top tube junction was a lot larger than my gen1 SL. My thighs rub the seat post if I put my rear brake light rubber band in the middle of the post, so this left an impression on me. If you look at the photo above, that junction is about 2x+ the with of that 31mm tube. I know from shopping for frame bags that I’ll hit anything wider than 65mm-ish with my knees and mid thigh is another no-gap area, but im fine lower than that. . It might not be anything, but I’d give it a second look.
Yep. I measured my Domane. 63mm. I’d expect the Checkpoint is similar. The top tube/seat tube junction is low enough however where it doesn’t rub inner thigh. I’m guessing the Checkpoint will be similar for my wife - but TBD I guess. Unfortunately, bikes are in such short supply right now it’s hard to find one even for sizing purposes.
@genfreechris One thing to be aware of is the Grizl has a more aggressive posture than many other Gravel bikes. On the size I was looking at for my wife (XS/52), the stack is about 2.5cm lower than the Diverge. Not ideal for the style of riding my wife will do, so I would’ve had to change the stem to compensate for that.
I’m a bit surprised Canyon went this route with the Grizl geometry. I would have expected them to be closer to the geo of their Endurance road bike.
“Rider positioning is fairly aggressive regardless, with an overall stack-to-reach ratio that’s a bit more upright than the Ultimate family of road bikes, but longer and lower than the Endurace collection of endurance road bikes.”
I jumped on an XL Grizl last month when it became available. It’s not a comfort geometry, but it’s not aggressive either. I had read the stack/reach info on the site before ordering and was a bit concerned, but, honestly, it’s a super comfortable fit. I had a Shafer on order, but cancelled it (long story). The stack differential there is about 5 mm for an XL and identical to the Grail. I viewed it as a Grail with a normal handlebar setup and more tire clearance.