No matter what you do, everyone runs into the problem of an ill-fitting bike sooner or later. Sometimes, it happens because you bought a “killer deal” and thought you could just make it work – swap a stem, shove the seat forward, good to go, right? Other times it doesn’t matter what you buy, your legs are a 61, but your torso needs a 56, and now you’re riding like superman. Custom-made bikes have long been a staple of the touring community, with their emphasis on steel bikes. But morphologically weird triathletes have, historically, had few options. Unless, of course, they’ve heard of Guru Bicycles.
Located in Canada, Guru has been building custom geometry bikes for longer than a lot of us have been competing in triathlon. Starting with the Chrono in 2004 and continuing with their modern Cr-line, the 301, 701, and 901, you can get a completely custom carbon frame built to your specific fit requirements, and the process is remarkably simple. You go into your local Guru dealer, get your fit coordinates, choose your colors (both geometries come with custom paint), compare to their geometry, and discuss with your fitter if a custom solution is right for you. If it is, place your order and six weeks later your custom-made bike arrives; set it up and go ride!
Let’s face it, humans just aren’t aerodynamic. In fact, we’re such poor airfoils that we represent 70-80% of the total drag we experience on the bike. We’re big, ungainly creatures that simply didn’t get to where we are in the food chain by being fast; we got there by being smart. Guru applied some smarts to the problem and concluded that getting the rider into an optimal position was much, much more important than saving a few watts by hiding a brake or tucking a wheel, and so they began offering bikes that fit the rider by doing custom bikes off a single general shape.
A Cr.901 is not fully formed as a single piece, often referred to, incorrectly, as a monocoque frame. Instead, each tube is sized and laid out, fitted together, then wrapped for stiffness and blended together into the bike you receive. What this allows Guru to do is play with geometries in order to achieve a bike that works for your body, whatever your needs may be. Short head tube? Sure. Long top tube? Why not. Need a specific seat tube angle? They can do that. Guru is dedicated to making a bike that works, should you need it, to deal with your morphology.
Our review bike, the Cr.901, is a stock frame size; something Guru made widely-available a few years ago (it was only a dealer floor-model option prior). Don’t worry, though, no matter whether you purchase a “stock” size or a completely custom bike, about $850 more, it is built by hand in-house at Guru’s facility in Montreal. It is also hand-selected, as we found out after sending in our size selection and fit coordinates to Guru, who came back with suggestions on what might fit us the best. We had chosen an XL (58.5cm, according to their geometry chart), as it appeared that we might need the extra saddle height it would provide. However, Guru’s in-house fitter had taken a solid look at our coordinates and concluded that our fit would be best served on a Large (56.5), but would swap the stem to accommodate our reach before it ever left their hands. This sort of accommodation is possible due to their process of making every bike just like their custom bikes; there’s something to be said about riding a bike from a company that’s willing to work with you on an individual basis.
The first thing we have to say about our Cr.901 is that the paint is striking. The fluorescent yellow really comes out against the grey of the bike, giving it a great “race bike” look, and the component spec doesn’t disappoint, either. We selected the Ultegra Di2 component set, $8,750 for the complete bike, which comes very nicely equipped with Reynolds Strike wheels, an Adamo Road, and a Profile Design all-carbon cockpit. The Adamo saddle and Profile Design setup, a Svet basebar and T4+ Carbon extensions, are standard throughout the Cr.901’s range, which means that you get a very nicely equipped bike, no matter what groupset you select. The bike is configurable with Ultegra or Dura Ace mechanical, as well as Di2 for both levels. The cable routing is fairly standard, and the seat post uses the single rail Ritchey-style system to take the XLAB SONIC or any other 10mm rail rear carrier solution.
Our initial rides have taught us one important thing about the Guru, it has a very quick turn-in, and will catch you by surprise if you’re not ready for it. Dropping into a corner in the aerobars will find you at the apex much sooner than other bikes in the category, which means that your exit is also going to be faster. Of course this takes a few turns to get mentally set for. The ride is pleasantly smooth, and the all-carbon setup damps a hair behind “plush.” It doesn’t quite feel numb, don’t get us wrong, but there’s a line between smoothness and a lack of communication, and the Cr. 901 is somewhere in that area. That being said, we aren’t complaining about it – in fact, we’re only noting it because some readers may prefer that sort of bike and don’t like a busy ride. If this is how you like your bike, then it’s time to visit your local Guru dealer.
It all really comes down to simplicity with the Cr.901. The brakes are standard, and they work great. The wheels are staples of the transition rack, they have worked for countless athletes, including ourselves. The cockpit is straight out of the Profile Design catalog, and works fantastically. Everything just works, and it can be had in a custom size. What’s not to like?
We are enjoying the bike, and will be for a little while to come. And while we don’t need a custom geometry, we can absolutely see where it would come into play. Stay tuned for our final thoughts in a month or so, and in the meantime, we’ll put some miles in and see if we can’t talk ourselves into a 901 in Aerogeeks colors.