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2005 Guru Cron-Alu.
By Tom Demerly.

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At around $2000 or much less depending on component kit the Guru Cron-Alu is a fine deal and uinque for its exceptional hand made qualtiy and incredible variety of build options and finishes. The frame in this photo is my new bike for 2005.

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Frame quality and handmade workmanship is the best reason to own a Guru.

We reviewed 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 triathlon frames.

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 triathlon frames.

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.


Click this photo to enlarge it for an idea of the deep, complex quzlity of this beautiful paint job.

We are building custom Hed "S" bend front ends on F19 elbow pads for best fit and comfort.

The new bladed rear end with its leaf spring seat stays and aerodynamic seat tube for 2005.

The integrated seat post binder bolt is strong and simple. This is another example of the many colors: Deep, opaque racing red.

A close up look at the seat stay welds onto the seat tube and the incredible paint quality. Click this photo for a closer look at the nice quality.

A three quarter view of the new seat stays shows how thin they are.Tthis is the key to good ride quality.

The proven trapezoid-shaped top tube imporves stiffness in the larger frme sizes.


Dedacciai Force 7003 aluminum tubing is among the most sought-after frame tube sets for hand builders around the world.


The Gurur Cron-Alu can be built with any number of component kits, wheels and handlebars.

The outside of the giant 35 mm chain stay that gives the rear end excellent stiffness on climbs.


The depth of the chain stays gives them mass and stiffness to resist pedal forces on steep climbs and big accelerations.


With well over 100 paint combinations and prices starting at well under $2000 the Cron-Alu is built to suit and quite a bargain.


Meticulous finish work and exciting graphics are a cut above any other manufacturer.


Another look at the rear end of the new 2005 Cron-Alu with a beautiful racing red paint scheme.
 
 
 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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