Frame quality and handmade workmanship is the best reason
to own a Guru.
the 2004 Guru Cron-Alu last year and gave the bike high
marks. For 2005 Guru added a number of improvements
to the already successful Cron-Alu that have made it
an even nicer bike and raised the industry bar for aluminum
First off, let’s review last year’s
review: Guru frames are made by Guru in their own factory
in Montreal, Quebec by hand, one at a time. This is
unique in the triathlon bike world. Very few other manufacturers
are doing their own frame production in their own factory.
The benefits to the consumer are substantial.
First of all, Guru uses only the highest end Dedacciai
Force aluminum tubing. While most of the other industry
is using “mystery meat” aluminum, the Dedacciai
brand tubing used by Guru in the Cron-Alu and other
frames is highly sought after by hand made frame builders
throughout Europe and the U.S. Frame builders such as
Viner, Guerciotti, Cramerotti and many other old-world
Italian and European craftsmen use Dedacciai tubing
for their one-off custom frames highly prized by the
Italian Tifosi and top pro road racers. These are bikes
made the old-fashioned way, one at a time, by hand,
in the builder’s small factory.
Dedacciai tubing is lighter, stronger,
stiffer, more durable and more expensive than most other
aluminum bicycle frame tubes. While there are a large
number of hand built road frame builders using Dedacciai,
Guru is the only big frame shop using Dedacciai high
quality aluminum tubing in a variety of well designed
Guru is also the only big guys making
triathlon frames the old world way- new frame design
technologies and geometries made the old world way,
like a DeRosa, Colnago or Pinarello- in fact, actually
better than most of those.
Most modern, popular triathlon bike companies
won’t even tell you who makes their frames or
where. When you register your new Guru on their website
they send you a coffee table book with photos of the
factory, their factory, where your bike was made and
the guys who actually made it.
An additional benefit to this manufacturing
style is the customer has enormous control. Custom geometry?
No problem. Is Guru’s stock frame size perfect
for you except the top tube is 5 millimeters too long?
No problem. They can tweak their geometry within reason
to achieve the perfect fit, and they do it fast. Guru
triathlon and road bikes are not cookie cutter bikes,
with literally hundreds of paint combinations you will
likely never see another Guru exactly like yours. You
can spec your paint color and graphics package, custom
painted especially for you. While other companies are
taking 12 weeks to deliver stock bikes, Guru is finishing
most customs in less than 8 weeks.
We’ve sold Guru bikes for three
years now and have had a front row seat to their incredible
quality control, opulent paint finishes and fantastic
ride quality. In 2004 I used a Guru at Ironman New Zealand,
another Guru at the RBTT/Fatum Bank Triathlon in Curacao,
Dutch Antilles and continued to race on a Guru for the
first 1/3 of 2004. For 2005 I have two new Guru’s,
a metallic yellow Cron-Alu (the frame we are reviewing
here) and a new Guru Carbonio Tri. Through all the bikes
we’ve sold and ridden we haven’t seen anything
even resembling a minor problem. There have been zero
defects, and every bike has been delivered on time,
to specifications and with no problems. That is an unequaled
track record in this industry.
Guru has no less than six triathlon specific
models in their line up. The Cron-Alu is the least expensive
of the triathlon specific frames and the only one that
is all aluminum. It’s also my favorite.
We build the Cron-Alu with a variety of
component kits including Shimano and Campagnolo from
105 level components at about $1700 complete to the
most popular new Shimano Ultegra 10 speed version for
right around $2000 depending on the handlebars, saddle
and wheelset we build the bike with. This bike is also
fully worthy of Dura-Ace 10 speed or Campagnolo Record
Carbon at the higher price ranges.
The new Cron-Alu for 2005 has improved,
razor-shaped, bladed aerodynamic leaf-spring style seat
stays for better aerodynamics and softer ride quality.
The new seat tube is bladed, aerodynamic and incorporates
a clean, integrated seatpost binder bolt. The entire
rear end of the bike has been redesigned for 2005 and
is a very nice improvement that makes the bike stiffer,
more comfortable and maybe even marginally more aerodynamic
depending on how much you buy into the value of aero
tubes. Another benefit is it is a much racier looking
bike with it’s radically bladed, wing shaped seat
stays and big, beefy, rotor-blade looking seat tube.
Ride quality between the ’04 bike
and the new aero 2005 version is very substantial. The
new ’05 is much ballsier on climbs, cornering
and muscling out of the saddle. The ride quality is
much better. I will always argue the majority of ride
quality comes from things other than the frame, but
there is a noticeable character difference between the
’04 bike and this sleek, aero, mean looking 2005
version. I chalk most of that up to the leaf spring
seat stays. Cervelo uses a similar design to great advantage
on their P3 family. If Guru took the design cue from
the Cervelo P3 it was a good move- it works just as
well on the Cron-Alu as it does on the P3.
Because I own the store I could have bought
any of the tri bikes from Guru’s excellent six
bike triathlon quiver. I took the Cron-Alu because it
is light, comfortable, stiff and their stock 51 cm frame
with 700c wheels fit my long-torso, 5’9”
built perfectly. It is a relatively simple frame- all
aluminum with basic design elements, but it is beautifully
executed. To me, the details matter quite bit, and the
details on the Cron-Alu are superb. Every weld is clean,
the frame is symmetrical and simply designed with split,
externally routed, top tube rear brake cables, and the
finish is deep, lustrous and meticulously applied.
I like conventional (external) cable routing
as opposed to internal cable routing for a few reasons.
First, you have no holes in your frame. Holes for cable
routing are opportunities for problems to start. The
problems run the gamut from minor, such as phantom clicking
and ticking noises from internally routed cables banging
against frame tubing on rough surfaces and cable guides
popping out at the hole where the cable dives inside
the tube- to major, such as a convenient place for a
frame to fail if a luggage handler steps on your flight
case or you crash on a training ride. Also, water and
road film gets in through the cable routing holes. Changing
rear brake cables and derailleur cables routed internally
is more work than the external ones and the cables can’t
be cleaned and maintained as easily- which means they
usually aren’t maintained. Sharp edges of some
internal cable routing systems gouge cable housings
and make brakes and derailleurs perform less crisply
since the housing doesn’t move freely.
The relatively conventional frame design
of the new 2005 Cron-Alu means this bike is not a total
stranger. It rides like the best bikes I’ve owned
over the past two decades, but it is built better and
uses current geometry. This may not be a visually sensational
bike from a distance, but when a trained eye gets close,
the details are very impressive.
The closer you get to any Guru frame the
better the bike becomes and you can’t say that
about many bike manufacturers. The Cron-Alu in particular
is like meeting a great girl- the more you get to know
her and the closer you get, the better it becomes.
My Cron-Alu is a more standard Guru paint
scheme, Guru calls it “Full Classic on Pearl Yellow”.
What is hard to describe or visualize about Guru paint
schemes are their incredible depth, quality and “wetness”.
The colors aren’t just one color, but a calliope
of light and reflection through layers of clear coat
and metallic pearlescent. I got yellow because it reminded
me of the sunny places I’ve raced: Curacao, Thailand,
Nice, France on the Cote d’ Azure, Hawaii. This
is a summer bike, or a bike that makes its own summer,
and that is nice year-round. Logos on the Guru Cron-Alu
are not decals, they are painted on, again, by hand.
The masking and hand finishing of the decoration is
full-on Ferrari quality, if not better.
If you buy into the philosophy that frame
quality is the most important technical feature of a
bike, and that hand made quality and great finish details
are important to you, you’ll probably like the
Guru Cron-Alu. It is worth a close look, and the closer
you look, the better the 2005 Guru Cron-Alu gets.