Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Diverge or Grail?

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Old 03-02-19, 08:12 AM
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DPlan
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Diverge or Grail?

I was set on getting a 58cm 2018 Diverge Comp E5 (105) for $1,699 or the 2018 all carbon Sport (Tiagra) for $1,899 as my first gravel bike. I do not own a ride bike, so I am kinda new. I posted in another topic about the specs of each bike and their pros and cons.

And then someone brought up the Canyon Grail, which is $2,069. The Grail is all carbon with ultegra hydraulic brakes and a 105 groupset.

My riding is going to mostly be done on pavement, with some gravel trails. I like a fun ride, but I also like to train and go hard, but the only sportif riding I would do could be some sprint tris, but nothing serious... yet?

My starting budget was around $1,700, but I can stretch it. I know that any of these bikes is probably more than I need and I will be happy with them all, but I want to get it right the first time. This will probably be not just my first bike, but my only bike.

Can anyone speak to the Grail? Or any other bike that I may have not looked at?

TIA
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Old 03-02-19, 08:52 AM
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I can tell you that the grail, like the specialized options, will be more bike than you need and therefore will not hold you back in any manner.

the fit of the two bikes(diverge and grail) is different due to the different geometry. This is where getting whichever bike fits best is probably the best approach since an illfitting bike will not encourage use.

geometry for a frame and bike play a bigger role than components when it comes to usability. If a bike doesnt fit, it doesnt matter if its draped in the best components money can buy because it doesnt fit and won't feel good to use.
When someone new is looking at bikes thpugh, the easiest thing to compare is price, look, and components since those are easily comparable. If fit isnt known, it can't be compared, but it's the most importsnt aspect of each bike.
Some gravel bikes ride relatively upright. Some gravel bikes ride relatively stretched. Some feel like a road bike on gravel. Some feel like a 29er on gravel. Etc etc.
a 105 drivetrain for a good price on geometry that doesn't fit me is worthless.
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Old 03-02-19, 09:44 AM
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That make sense to me! The issue with the Grail is that I won't be able to sit on one since Canyon doesn't sell in shops. I guess my only option is to test the Diverge and compare the geometry to the Grail's?
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Old 03-02-19, 09:45 AM
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+1 re: the concept that the bike must fit you comfortably above all else. A ride around the parking lot isn't enough - 5 to 10 miles on the frame that you are considering is a minimum. Don't worry about the comfort of the seat - that can be changed. Pay attention to reach (shoulders, elbows), rise (is your neck cranked too much?), etc. Some issues can be addressed with different stem length/rise and seat height, but the basic geometry is what it is.

Bike fit is tricky. I have a couple newer bikes that fit well and made me realize that some of my former bikes weren't right for me.
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Old 03-02-19, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by DPlan View Post
That make sense to me! The issue with the Grail is that I won't be able to sit on one since Canyon doesn't sell in shops. I guess my only option is to test the Diverge and compare the geometry to the Grail's?
pretty much- yes that's the best option.
canyon has a good return policy, but you can't actually ride the bike around, just sit still on it basically.

this is the downside of selling online direct to new cyclists- geometry is vital and there isnt an easy way to understand geometey or have a preference for a style of geometey without experience.

this issue is why a lot of times the advice for new riders isnto buy used or buy entry level. It gives the cyclist time to figure out what they like and dislike about geometey and components before spending more on the 'more serious' bike. Sell the original and the time spent riding is a small cost.

it's tough to naturally just know what feels good.
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Old 03-02-19, 10:36 AM
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If you live in Southern California, Canyon has a store in Santa Clarita. That's the only one I know of but there may be more. Some people take the chance and love them, others have to box them up and send them back all while their money is tied up waiting for a refund. There also seems to be a limited number of those discounted Grails so if you are inclined to try one you should probably order it soon.

As an owner of a Diverge I will say it rides more like an endurance road bike. Not too racy, but also not fully upright like a hybrid. But the reality is that the pricing structure of the Diverge line is a bit expensive when compared to other similar bikes.

Personally I wouldn't consider a bike with mechanical disc brakes. 10spd vs 11spd offers some issues with road cassette choices as road 11spd requires a different hub. So I guess along with what type of riding you would do the question of do you like to tinker with your bike comes into play. If you see yourself never doing much to the bike than ride it then you should stretch your budget now and buy something a little nicer than the bikes you linked up. At the $2500 mark the 2019 Diverge line has a very nice bike available. The Trek Checkpoint is also another contender at that price point.

As for what else to buy, have you considered a hybrid bike? Specialized just came out with the Sirrus X-comp. 38c tires, carbon frame, flat bars, 1x drivetrain. Out of stock from specialized but I have seen lots of retailers in my area have them in stock. And the price is right at your budget.

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/me...=239583-159152

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Old 03-02-19, 01:38 PM
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You are facing a similar challenge I recently went through. I am going from FS MTB to a gravel bike.

I test rode (limited ride/parking lot) the Diverge, Checkpoint, Revolt and a couple others. I wish I could have test ridden the Canyon Grail, I was very interested in the Grail but wasn't willing to take the risk.

Each bike you look out has its pro and cons.

Not sure what your LBS situation is in your area. The more bikes you can touch, sit on and ride (even in a parking lot) will help you make an informed decision. As others have mentioned, fit and preferred riding position is key to loving or just liking your bike.

In the end, I went with the Trek Checkpoint. The Trek Checkpoint is relatively new to the gravel scene. There aren't very many reviews. There are positive and negative comments made in regard to the Checkpoint on the forum. Most of the negative comments are from those who have never ridden the Checkpoint. My point here is, don't get too caught up in opinions.

You can't go wrong with the Diverge. Try as many gravel bikes as you can.

Good luck on your adventure.

Mike
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Old 03-02-19, 01:53 PM
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Canyon USA headquarters is in North San Diego. You can just roll up and take any of their bikes for long rides.
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Old 03-02-19, 03:59 PM
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OP - you might want to check your local Craigslist offerings - some areas of the country have a pretty nice selection of used bikes on CL - depends upon where you are and the time of year. Bikes depreciate faster than a rock dropped from a plane. For $500 to $1000 you may find some attractive possibilities that are only a few years old with modern technology and few miles - people who bought an expensive bike and then decided it wasn't right for them - exactly what you are trying to avoid!

Test-riding a CL bike should be possible if the seller is serious. But, as with anything CL or ebay - buyer beware and you need to know what you're looking at - particularly carbon frames and forks as any dings/dents could be more of a concern than on an alloy or steel bike. You could have a LBS check-over a CL bike for you for a modest charge.

If you provide your location some of the BF members on this posting might be willing to look at your local CL for any possibilities.
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Old 03-02-19, 04:07 PM
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Are there any demo days for Canyon Bikes in the US that have been announced?
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Old 03-02-19, 04:08 PM
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I don't own a gravel bike. But, I have experienced the Canyon idea. I purchased two of their high end fitness bikes (RoadLite CF 9 LTD) sight unseen last Dec. My wife and I love the bikes and wouldn't hesitate purchasing another Canyon bike. If interested you can check out my thread in the hybrid section Well here goes.... a couple of new Canyon Roadlites
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Old 03-02-19, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gus6464 View Post
Canyon USA headquarters is in North San Diego. You can just roll up and take any of their bikes for long rides.
Exactly what I was going to suggest (though i do not know if you can actually ride them there). Where are you located? If in California, Canyon is on the exhibitors list for this year's huge Sea Otter Classic expo in Monterey. That may be an opportunity to ride one as well. Or any other big events, even big races throughout the country. You'd have to contact Canyon to make sure that's possible.

As for 5-10 miles minimum test riding a potential new bike... I've never had that opportunity. It's ideal of course, but you can work around that. It's kind of chancy of course, but I've bought bikes with only parking lot riding, and close observation by staff to insure i have the right size of course. Then a bike fit afterwards with saddle, pedals, cockpit adjustments (generally free from that shop). I also consider what I've read in reviews, and knowledge I've gained from my personal riding history (I started back in 1983 though).

If I was getting into a totally new realm of cycling (say road to gravel), i might consider a bike that meets basic criteria like fit, good feel on a parking lot test ride, generally positive reviews, etc, but on the lower end or mid of the price scale, or at a discount (last year's model, etc). Or rather, not with the intention of being THE bike, especially if one is new to cycling altogether. Ride it for a year or so, see what you like and don't like. Develop relationships with other cyclists and shops. More research. Then sell that first bike and move into something better with the personal knowledge you've gained. Even better, sell to a buddy who will became your new riding partner. Just an idea.

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Old 03-02-19, 04:56 PM
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I wish I was in CA right now. Unfortunately, Chicago, IL. Brrrrrr!!!!
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Old 03-02-19, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
At the $2500 mark the 2019 Diverge line has a very nice bike available.
Is the only difference really between these two bikes the hydraulic brakes and $600?

specialized.com/us/en/mens-diverge/p/154305?color=227305-154305

eriksbikeshop.com/Specialized-2018-Diverge-Sport-Carbon-Road-Bike/PR3E12690/Product
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Old 03-02-19, 05:22 PM
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I'm going to be the contrarian here and say that if you go by the fit guide of a major manufacturer, for the most part you are going to love the bike. When you get into the $1500+ category of bikes you are buying more bike than most people need. Especially as your first road bike you are going to love anything in this price range from a respected manufacturer.
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Old 03-02-19, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by DPlan View Post
Is the only difference really between these two bikes the hydraulic brakes and $600?

specialized.com/us/en/mens-diverge/p/154305?color=227305-154305

eriksbikeshop.com/Specialized-2018-Diverge-Sport-Carbon-Road-Bike/PR3E12690/Product
The difference is: flared/adventure handlebars, carbon seatpost, slightly better tires, and of course hydraulic brakes. The 2019 has slightly improved geometry as well. In reality it's only a $400 jump based on msrp, but once the added discount applies it's a few more bucks.

I always try to wheel and deal when buying a bike, it never hurts to ask for a 5%-10% discount.
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Old 03-04-19, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by DPlan View Post
That make sense to me! The issue with the Grail is that I won't be able to sit on one since Canyon doesn't sell in shops. I guess my only option is to test the Diverge and compare the geometry to the Grail's?
Those Canyons are amazing bikes. Do a search here on Canyon Grail - there is a fair amount of discussion.

There is next to zero risk test riding one in your own home. Order one, unbox, and give it a test ride. I would at least ride a couple of miles on dry pavement - keeping it in "new" condition. I did that with canyon and a couple of bikes at local bike stores.

The only "cost" is
- the time to box and unbox the bike (which is not trivial, but not not difficult - just time consuming) .
- the carrying time of the $$$ on your credit card. If you purchase at the beginning of your billing cycle, you should be able to return it before you actually have to pay for it.

Personally, there is a fair amount of difference in agility, stability, and acceleration in this category. I thought the checkpoint had a good blend of stability and agility (steepish head tube with long wheelbase), I thought the diverge was a little too stable for me (not agile enough) and I don't like the low bottom bracket. But you may like a bike for the same reasons I dislike it.
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Old 03-04-19, 01:21 PM
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@DPlan: I'm in a similar situation and in the market, having done a lot of research.

I'm still considering the Grail, as people are raving about it, and it is a really nicely spec'd bike for the price. Something hugely important about the Grail is that you cannot swap the stem and bars, as is very common to do while fitting a bike if you are of anything but average proportions. If the reach is too long or too short, or you're in between sizes you're stuck. I am one of the fortunate few that can ride most 58 cm bikes right off the show floor. If this is not you, beware of the Grail.

You should look at Norco. Both the Threshold (CX racer) and Search (gravel endurance bike) are spec'd nicer than the Specialized or really any of the bigger brands. I'm leaning in this direction at the moment.
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Old 03-04-19, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethetown View Post
@DPlan:
You should look at Norco. Both the Threshold (CX racer) and Search (gravel endurance bike) are spec'd nicer than the Specialized or really any of the bigger brands. I'm leaning in this direction at the moment.
Nice to see Norco listed as an option. Just a note... the Norco Search is different than the Norco Search XR.

I have a 2018 Norco Search XR 105, steel frame, carbon fork, with RedShift StopShock stem just added a month ago. It came with 700c wheels and Clement XPlor MSO 40c tires, just added new 650b x47 wheels/tires. I'm loving my bike. Their carbon models are nice.


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Old 03-04-19, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethetown View Post
@DPlan: I'm in a similar situation and in the market, having done a lot of research.

I'm still considering the Grail, as people are raving about it, and it is a really nicely spec'd bike for the price. Something hugely important about the Grail is that you cannot swap the stem and bars, as is very common to do while fitting a bike if you are of anything but average proportions. If the reach is too long or too short, or you're in between sizes you're stuck. I am one of the fortunate few that can ride most 58 cm bikes right off the show floor. If this is not you, beware of the Grail.

You should look at Norco. Both the Threshold (CX racer) and Search (gravel endurance bike) are spec'd nicer than the Specialized or really any of the bigger brands. I'm leaning in this direction at the moment.

I heard that you can swap the stem/bars on the carbon model with different sizes from Canyon. Also the alum Grail has a conventional bar/stem setup.
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Old 03-04-19, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by tdilf View Post
I heard that you can swap the stem/bars on the carbon model with different sizes from Canyon. Also the alum Grail has a conventional bar/stem setup.
Yes you can, but they charged me $400 for the privilege of doing it myself.
they do seem to allow some customization in Europe (from what I have read), but they don't in the US.
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Old 03-04-19, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethetown View Post
@DPlan: I'm in a similar situation and in the market, having done a lot of research.

I'm still considering the Grail, as people are raving about it, and it is a really nicely spec'd bike for the price. Something hugely important about the Grail is that you cannot swap the stem and bars, as is very common to do while fitting a bike if you are of anything but average proportions. If the reach is too long or too short, or you're in between sizes you're stuck. I am one of the fortunate few that can ride most 58 cm bikes right off the show floor. If this is not you, beware of the Grail.

You should look at Norco. Both the Threshold (CX racer) and Search (gravel endurance bike) are spec'd nicer than the Specialized or really any of the bigger brands. I'm leaning in this direction at the moment.
Thanks for the info! I went to my LBS to see the Diverge yesterday and the guy also showed me a 25% demo of a carbon Cannondale Synapse with 105 and hydraulic brakes. Not the same bike as the Diverge, but very similar geometry for about $2k. Itís an endurance bike and most riding will likely be on pavement... I guess we will see.

I am going back to store in a week to ride both.
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Old 03-04-19, 04:14 PM
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I've posted this before, but this is an interesting Canyon Advertisement (aka "includes paid promotion") from GCN comparing the Grail to the inflite.

And as I've said before, the differences moderate a lot when you set them up the same (2x drive train and 40mm tires). Many people don't even race CX on 33mm tires anymore.
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Old 03-04-19, 04:44 PM
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Can the Inflite take a 40mm tire?
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Old 03-04-19, 06:21 PM
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@ericzamora - Nice looking bike. Inspiring me to go that direction. @gus6464 - I watched the Canyon promo video and they said it'd be hard to squeeze 40mm especially in the rear. You'd then lose mud clearance.
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