Of course it is interesting that Canyon is jumping into the top of the gravel scene with two levels of carbon spec for their new Grail CF frameset. No argument there. But let’s just take a moment, and pore over that wacky double-decker Hover handlebar before we get back to the new bike.

Canyon gravel two-level carbon Hover handlebar

Canyon Grail CF Hover bar double-decker two-level endurance adventure gravel bike carbon handlebar alt-bar complete bike in shadow

images courtesy Canyon

Canyon has built bikes that could fit fat tires for a while. Even their road race bikes can squeeze in 30mm rubber. And they have geometry and ride characteristics for most any kind of road or trail riding that you will want to do. But gravel riding is about exploring, getting off the beaten track and away from the main roads. It is about not being limited in where you ride or in how long you are going to be out.

So Canyon wants riders to be comfortable for the long haul, so you can enjoy unfettered adventure by bike. That’s where the new Grail gravel bike’s crazy Hover bar comes in. It is designed to “float across beaten-up surfaces all day long, without beating up the rider.”

Double-decker handlebar hand positioning

Canyon Grail CF Hover bar double-decker two-level endurance adventure gravel bike carbon handlebar alt-bar descending in the drops

The unique two-leveled bar promises an endurance road feel & fit while riding in the standard position of the drops with your thumbs hooked over the lower crossbar – now almost a middle position – thanks to the combination of the Grail’s relatively short headtube (low frame stack) and the riser handlebar design. Then, in an even lower position at the bottom of the drops you can get back down to an aggressive fit to maximize your aero tuck.

Canyon Grail CF Hover bar double-decker two-level endurance adventure gravel bike carbon handlebar alt-bar descending on the hoods

But put your hands on the hoods or the bar tops and you sit more upright and comfortably, for more control, especially off-road.

Canyon Grail CF Hover bar double-decker two-level endurance adventure gravel bike carbon handlebar alt-bar riding on the tops

And in the thin upper crossbar section of the Hover bar that Canyon calls the floating ‘Flex Area’, the bar benefits from the elastic properties of the bar’s carbon construction to soft impacts and absorb road chatter. Claiming to add just 120g over a conventional carbon bar and stem combo, it sounds like an excellent alternative to more complicated suspension bar/stem (even fork?) solutions to smooth out those washboard roads.


Canyon Grail CF Hover bar double-decker two-level endurance adventure gravel bike carbon handlebar alt-bar tech details specs

The added benefit (and some speculation)… the slightly flared bar appears to be a bolt-on solution that could fit any bike with a standard steerer clamp. Canyon isn’t official about the clamp spec, but the way they describe the tapered 1.25″ steerer carbon fork is consistent with their other road bikes. The Hover bar stem combo is not yet available separately – exclusive to the Grail CF framesets & complete bikes for now – but that was the case also when they first introduced road bikes with their Aerocockpit & Ergocockpit bar & stem combos.

One curious note is the fact that the closed loop where the brake levers are attached means that band clamps can’t simply be slid into place. From the factory Canyon includes bands to work with Shimano levers (have a look at the frameset image in our Grail article), but it is unclear if they might be compatible with other lever bodies. Is the handlebar Shimano-specific? If you could remove the band clamps, you could probably use a Rotor Uno groupset which has open loop carbon band clamps to hold the levers in place.

If nothing else, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the same bar make its way onto a more affordable aluminum version of the gravel Grail in the future as well. Of course the bar requires some unique frame geometry to get your hands into the correct location, but I’m sure many riders would be happy to experiment with it, especially on bikes they feel have too little stack for their preferred riding style.



  1. Maus Haus on

    It’s a Bi-plane, however waiting for the red baron tri-fokker bars. Think about all the mirrors and electronics you can now mount! Wait,we could have two stems, two saddles… twin top tubes like a Torker. The possibilities are endless. The future looks twice as good now.

  2. lop on

    On a scale from 1 to Cafe Roubaix, how upset is Specialized that someone else is using their “Hover” name with regards to a bicycle handlebar?

  3. Dude on

    The effective stem (steerer to center of bar top) on that bar-stem combo is super short and steep though. Seems like it would only work if you had a really short head tube for the size and might not fit on a bike that wasn’t built around it. Which makes me wonder, do the new bikes have super short head tubes?

  4. SAWTOOTH on

    What is so cool about Canyon? Why is this brand so talked about? They seemed to have popped up out of no where into one of the most talked about brands like they’re an old brand doing cool stuff. Outside of the marketing, I don’t really see anything remarkable about their bikes.

      • SAWTOOTH on

        I know that the company exists and has been around for a few years. Wikipedia doesn’t mention why the press and cycling enthusiasts talk about Canyon all time within the last few years.

        Let’s see all the reviews and talk about Canyon before 2014… If just being European was enough to be talked about where is Colnago? Where are the articles about Cube?

      • Jeff Servaas on

        Why are they so talked about? Canyon offer some of the best bang for buck on the market. Look at the CF SL8 Grail. Full Ultegra groupset, modern wide wheel spec, only 8.4kg. Now look at other gravel bikes at similar spec levels: The Trek Checkpoint SL6 weighs 0.4kg more more and costs 27% more. Specialized Diverge Expert weighs 0.1kg more and costs 48% more. Norco Search XR Ultegra is 0.8kg more and costs 5% more while on special.

    • Crash Bandicoot on

      They’re fantastic values on the road side, they’re often very competitively priced in comparison with LBS brands but will include full groups and don’t throw a bunch of crap from FSA and cheap wheels on their builds. Also their warranty process is pretty good from my conversations with Canyon owners.

    • Dinger on

      Also results in a low standover on the frame. Still, if you buy this and need to change the bar/stem for sizing purposes, the great price evaporates..

  5. Heffe on

    Just say no. Their ‘endurace’ bikes look pretty damn cool and the geometry is nice. They could have continued in that vein for cross and gravel, but no. Why did they have to get all weird and hyper-conceptual with the cross bike and now this monstrosity? It might be a cool riding bike, but it doesn’t look like you can just take control of the spec and put your choice of bar and stem on there, so no… just no.

  6. Gillis on

    I appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking here. No it doesn’t work on every frame, but possibly with a negative rise stem it could. If it works as advertised, it seems to be a simpler solution than some suspensions stems, steerers, or forks (ie no moving parts). Obviously aesthetics are the big talking point here, so ymmv on this one.

    • Gillis on

      Oops, my bad, I missed the integrated stem. I suppose if they offered it as a bar only then that would work, or maybe a few neg-rise options.

  7. RCSpeed on

    So if the lower bar/ stem is what is actually connected to the bike…and the drops are a upward continuation to the upper deck…how the hell is that suppose to make it more comfortable and reduce vibration?
    This observation is based on the outer drop has now been stiffened X2 due to the double decker situation reinforcing the bracing on the lower stem which is what transfers the load into the bar. SO you can make upper middle flex all you want but in the end it is only reinforcing the bar overall stiffness…not making it have more flex…

    • stansmonster on

      The compliance would while holding the top flats since the middle of that section can flex down like a leaf spring. There likely isn’t any extra compliance while holding the hoods.

  8. Skip on

    Am I the only one that thinks this thing looks like a broken wrist waiting to happen?
    The is worse than completely vertical bar ends…

  9. Ricky Bobby on

    Where do you mount a light? computer? Dumb… I use my CX bike as my commuter, my occasional single track bike, my mixed surface bike, my road bike, my CX bike…

  10. Chader on

    “it sounds like an excellent alternative to more complicated suspension bar/stem (even fork?) solutions to smooth out those washboard roads”

    I don’t see how, when a solution like the Redshift ShockStop stem adds more compliance and adjustable compression at that. Then add the fact that you can still select from a variety of lengths and rises (positive and negative. Oh, and you can use any bar shape, size, width, flare, etc. that you fancy.

    I don’t see how locking the bar into only one width, flare, reach, drop and rotation angle AND not stem adjustability at all… is an “excellent” thing. Maybe if you are the perfect size for it, but how often is that the case?

    Looks like an unnecessary complication and massive restriction for very limited gain when compared to other options. The only thing is has going for it is the “simplicity” angle, and that is worthless to many when you look at the restrictions that come along for the ride.

  11. Frippolini on

    Perhaps the idea behind the double-decker bar is good, perhaps there’s even logic behind it, and perhaps it has advantages in gravel settings I’ve a traditional handlebar; but it’s so freaking ugly that the ugliness just neutralizes all other potential advantages.
    Never on my bike.

  12. john on

    People are already making fun of the haters that were so quick to hate that now some references are like “this is actually pretty cool” that haters are slowly deleting their twitter feeds to end up on the good side of the story. I don’t care what you think and I’m pretty classic for that stuff, I find this bike very cool.

  13. mudrock on

    If they made the top section the same reach as the bottom, then the bottom section would be a good useable option for time trial mode, but with the way it is now you can’t use the lower bar without danger of breaking your wrists. If they offered this with a clamp section that could be used with a standard stem, and fixed the reach so it was same top and bottom, it would be a hit with gravel and Tour Divide racers.

    I can’t believe all the negative comments. Bike riders are so hidebound.

  14. bsimon1970 on

    The lack of adjustability is a major shortcoming. Don’t like the reach? Too bad! Don’t like the angle of the drops? Too bad!

    Maybe the kinds of people who buy bikes online don’t care about such things.

  15. Tom on

    when big boys get on this thing I think they might run into headset bearing problems, given the super short effective head tube length.

  16. FFM on

    “First we made a bunch of extra space for accessories. Then we flattened it all out so it’s useless. Second there’s the added benefit of making tape jobs an absolute nightmare. Lastly we integrated the stem to make configuration as limited as possible. Operators are standing by!”

  17. sebm on

    While I don’t like the design of the handlebar, I find the overall design of the frameset quite good and surprisingly light (claimed to be 865gr and 400gr for the fork). More importantly I’m wondering if this evolution in their frameset’s design (handlebar excluded) will be reused at least in part in for their next main road framesets.

  18. SYD on

    This could be a blast to ride, and definitley keep you feeling fresher on long hauls. Lots of options out there for “handlebar purists.” As far as I’m concerned, new ideas are always welcome in the world of cycling.

  19. Ryan on

    If this is a solution to a problem, it’s a problem I don’t have. Interesting to look at, but that’s about it as far as I can tell. I think someone thought up the design, then spent a long time figuring out what it was good for.

  20. Bartthebikeman on

    Anyone serious about their riding and splashing a few grand a bike would certainly like to able to fine tune their riding position. It’s not really possible here and you can’t really test the bike before making a buying decision.
    Besides, in the context of suspension travel offered by wide tyres run at sensible pressure, it doesn’ t really matter if the bars are going to flex by extra 1mm, on the tops…

  21. Martin Brown on

    Hideous beyond belief, not adjustable in height, and no reason why it should be more compliant than regular handlebars, unless you have your hands top center. (And what person buying this bike/bar would have their hands their except for a very tiny percentage of their time on the bike?)


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