I have a confession: I love internet shopping. Maybe it’s because I live in the middle of nowhere, so going to a physical store is an all-day drag. Perhaps it’s because the FedEx guy is the closest thing in my life to Santa Claus.
Whatever the reason, the idea of buying my next bike online—no driving, haggling, or dealing with salespeople required—kept beckoning to me. Still, buying a bike isn’t like buying a shower curtain. There are so many options, from frame type to components to geometry. And whatever you get has to fit—both your body and your riding style. That’s a lot to judge from behind the glossy sheen of a laptop screen.
Luckily, Canyon, the German direct-to-consumer brand, has an entire USA-based customer service team devoted to one single task: To help you find your bike soulmate. And damn are they good at it.
How good are they? So good that before I knew what I was doing, I had a bike I adored sitting in my gear shed and a ton of miles added to my weekly training log.
I must say, I was not an easy customer. My first question: “Which type of bike should I buy?” Elyse Wartel, who drew the short straw when she answered my initial call to Canyon, had her work cut out for her.
See, my backyard is full of gravel routes, which I’d love to explore. However, every now and then I might hit a cyclocross race. With those two things in mind, I wasn’t sure whether the Grail, an all-road adventure machine, or the Inflite, a highly capable cyclocross bike, was the right steed.
Elyse patiently talked me through the advantages of both. The Grail, with its super compliant top handlebar, would ensure I stayed comfy all day, even on rough roads. The Inflight, on the other hand, would offer a snappy, light frame that I could bunny hop like a pro. Elyse was patient as I waffled back and forth. In the end, I went with the Grail.
Next, we had to figure out my size. I am all legs. In fact, my old road racing nickname was “Femurs,” and while that’s not particularly creative, it is, in fact, perfect. It also makes sizing a bike tricky. I have tight runner hamstrings (I haven’t been able to touch my toes in, oh, decades) so a steep seat-to-bars drop is off the table. Elyse was a bike fitting wizard. I gave her my height and my inseam, and she pulled up the geometries of both bikes.
After a few more questions, she decided a medium was going to be our best bet. While bike fitting is full of jargon (Stack! Reach! Seat tube angle!) Elyse was careful to explain every term and why it might matter to me. I never felt like something went whizzing over my head. “We’re here to support you throughout your journey,” she said kindly when I asked if I was asking too many questions.
Once we had settled on the style and sizing, it was time to place the order. Bikes are sent via FedEx, and while there is an overnight option, I went with the standard four-day shipping. In my Prime-warped brain, four days seemed like forever. But honestly, the waiting almost made things better. It’s that whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. By Friday morning I was giddy.
I had worried about the bike being damaged in shipping, but it emerged in spectacular condition. Canyon has bike packaging down to a science. Even if something does happen (which is rare), they’ll either send you a new bike or give you a discount for the damages.
Building the bike is straightforward, too. Yes, a torque wrench is involved, but the company provides it and tells you how to use it. It took me about 40 minutes to read the manual and assemble the Grail, but, dear readers, I am not at all a mechanically inclined person. Someone handier than I could probably do it in 20 minutes. With a final pump of my tires, I kitted up and headed out.
With my moment of truth on the horizon, I naturally looked into Canyon’s return policy. They offer a generous 30 days to play on your new bike and figure out if it’s everything you dreamed it would be. If it doesn’t work out, you can clean it up, pack it into its original box then send it on its way. “We pay for the shipping. It’s a really simple process,” Elyse told me. Even better, “it’s a money-back refund, not store credit.”
I assure you, though, returning your bike will be the last thing on your mind. I rode my Grail for three blissful hours the first day, bumping along dirt and gravel and even some singletrack. It felt like I’d been riding the bike my whole life—the way an old baseball glove feels against your palm.
The thing that felt best of all, though? It arrived at a price 15 to 20 percent lower than what I’d find in a store. And, it has a six-year warranty on the frame and two years on all Canyon brand components. That, friends, is how you go for a ride—without being taken for a ride in the process.