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Guru Crono Bike Review
By Greg Pelican June 2005 (see long term update below)
My past tri bikes have never compared to my best road bikes (Colnago C40, Look 481 or Serotta CSi).Sure tri bikes are fast and aero but not fun or comfortable to ride.The new Guru Crono has totally raised my standards for a tri bike!
In the past it was always a chore to train on my triathlon / time trial bike.I had a Cervelo P3 which was fast but very stiff, never fit perfectly (front too low and top tube too long) and the handling wasn’t what I would call refined.I never rode the P3 unless I had to.Not really a glowing testimony for what has become almost a standard in the industry.
In fact most aluminum tri bikes aren’t pleasant to ride.And even some expensive carbon fiber frames like the Aegis Trident ride have the responsiveness of a piece of plywood.
If you own one of these bikes I either pissed you off or caught your attention.But the bottom line is that there aren’t enough honest and frank bike reviews.When was the last time you read a negative review in a magazine?Are all the bikes great or are the magazines afraid of pissing off potential advertising customers?As a racer and shop owner I have the luxury of selling and riding what I truly believe are the best bikes in the world and I hope my first hand experiences can help others in their quest for the ultimate bike.
Guru has developed a strong and loyal following in the finicky triathlon market.Each frame is designed and hand made in their Quebec factory.Since each frame is essentially custom you can choose your paint scheme and even alter the sizing for a small additional fee.
Guru is one of the few custom builders that work with all materials, aluminum, steel, titanium and carbon fiber.Last year we built up a custom carbon Carbonio in tri geometry for a customer.The result was a light, stable and comfortable tri bike.I took it for a test ride and was really impressed.Our customer went on to post some great Ironman bike legs with the rig.So when Guru told me about a totally new carbon fiber frame called the Crono I was intrigued and wanted one.Inside Triathlon got their hands on the new Crono first and gave it the “Editors Pick of the Year” award.
Before I ordered the frame, I simulated the “stock” geometry on our Serotta Size Cycle.I had been through this exercise before to determine the optimum TT position so as expected I found the top tube on the stock 59 a centimeter too long.This is not because Guru chose an inappropriate length for the top tube, but simply because I have long legs compared to my torso!In any case it was not a problem as custom orders don’t upset Guru.I was out to build the ultimate bike, so why not make it perfect?One more custom detail… the frame features a cool extended seat post mast, but Robert from Guru gave me a heads up to check the dimension of my travel bike box to make sure the frame would fit in as my frame was on the large side.So I calculated the maximum distance the frame could have from the big chain ring to the end of the seat mast to fit in my Trico Ironcase.Guru followed up with a “blueprint” for the frame dimensions which included my custom top tube length and shortened seat mast to match my travel case.
About six weeks later I got my frame just in time for my first Duathlon.“Bones”, our head mechanic, built up the Crono with a tasty selection of parts.Campy’s Record 10 speed group was used for the drive train (including carbon crank) and Zipp’s new 606 tubular wheels.The 606’s are a mix of the proven 404 aero front wheel mated with a new deeper 80mm deep rear wheel.The wheels feature the new dimpled surface on the rim to further enhance aerodynamics.Bones mounted Tufo’s 215 gram Special S33 tubulars to the rims.Other bits include the excellent Vision Tech base and aero clip on bars.These bars have a really clean design and are nice and stiff when out of the saddle.Speaking of which, I chose the Arione tri for the extra padding and long length.I use the normal Arione on my road bikes and love the fact that you can slide back when climbing and more forward when the hammer is down.The finishing touches were from France.I choose the excellent Look HSC5 fork and new Look Keo pedals.The fork is one of the lightest made and even incorporates a carbon headset race.But light weight isn’t everything!I’ve use this and other Look forks before and they just have a great stable and predictable feel.And the Keo pedals are simply the best out there.The Keo is approximately half the weight of older Look Pedals with a thinner cleat yet has the same great day in day out reliability.
This is not a bike build for novice mechanics!Fortunately Bethel Cycle builds pro bikes everyday and I’m lucky to have guys like Bones on our staff.One of the features of the Crono is totally internal cable routing.There are no cables at all under the bottom bracket shell (externally).When you combine this with the internal routing of the Vision Tech bars you end up with a complicated build.But Bones took the project on in stride and the end result is a very clean and aerodynamic bike.
The shape of the Crono is very unique and hard to appreciate in a photograph.It’s a carbon fiber work of art.The down tube starts as a vertical aero shape and then twists to a horizontal shape near the bottom bracket to increase the drive train rigidity.The rear wheel is tucked into the radius arc of the aero seat tube and the large chain stays which taper as they head toward the rear dropouts.The top tube starts vertically wide near the back of the seat post mast and gets thinner toward the stout head tube.For sure this is a rare bike and people come over to admire it at every race.In fact at the Duathlon World Championships in Italy the whole US Team loaded their bikes onto a truck to travel to the start, and as you can imagine the hottest bikes in the world were represented, but my Crono got the most attention.
But how does it ride?I have always been able to tell if a bike is special in the first 100 yards of the first ride.And I had to laugh when I read Guru’s interesting coffee table book which states exactly the same thing.This bike is special.The initial response is that no energy is wasted as you push the pedal down yet at the same time the bike just flows.2000 miles later my opinion has not changed.The bike just feels natural in every situation and that may be the highest compliment I can give.At 17.5 pounds (with pedals, cages and computer) the bike climbs fantastic.It is also very stable on descents and in hard cornering and it’s smooth and comfortable.In case you think I’m spouting the typical bike review rhetoric here are three real world examples…
In preparation for the Worlds I did some long training rides in the tough Litchfield Hills.There is one loop I have been doing for years that is 50 miles and had almost 5,000 feet of climbing.I have done this route many times over the years going flat out on my lightest road bikes.I never expected this, but I found myself climbing just as well on the Crono as my exotic road bikes and posted my best time on this route by over 10 minutes with a lower average heart rate!
The Duathlon Worlds were held in the spectacular Dolomite Mountains.And the bike route featured a 20K climb where the last 1.5K to the pass was super steep and twisty.We turned around at the top and it was like being shot out of a cannon straight into the first of several 90 degree switchbacks.On my first practice run I was wondering if I should have brought my road bike, but the Crono’s handling inspired confidence and with a few practice runs I was picking my braking points and apex like a Formula 1 driver.The Crono climbed and descended as well as a road bike and had the huge aero advantage on the flatter sections of the course.
The CATS Tri Sprint Series takes place on Wednesday Nights in Northwestern Connecticut. The bike course is fun, twisty and hilly.One night there was another challenge!A section of the course was freshly chip sealed.For those of you not familiar with this ugly New England cost saving measure, it’s a way to resurface a road without repaving.Just take a hot summer day add hot oil, gravel and some sand and let the cars pack it down.Bikes should avoid these roads for about a month, yet here I am racing flat out on my tri bike on fresh chip seal with a Zipp disk, 404 front wheel and tubulars with 160 pounds of pressure!Well I put my Cyclocross experience to good use (where riding through sand traps is par for the course) and attacked and relaxed at the same time.The Crono just floated over the chip seal.I ended up with the fastest bike split and won the race.
In conclusion if you are looking for the ultimate triathlon or time trial bike, you really should check out the Guru Crono.I don’t know of another tri bike that offers this blend of manufacturing quality, lightweight - aerodynamic design, awesome ride quality AND custom sizing.
It's been about three years since I wrote the preceding Guru Crono review. For sure a lot has changed since then. Cervelo improved their lineup with two popular carbon bikes the P2C and the P3C. Both of these bikes have improved the ride quality over their previous aluminum counterparts. And the sport of triathlon is red hot with USAT membership surpassing 100,000 in 2007.
Over the past three years I have received countless emails and calls about my Crono review. Granted, at the time it may have been the first review written on the bike, but by now the secret is out! Anyway I thought it would be good to add a long term update to the review.
This spring I got a new 2008 Crono. My original was an excellent bike, so much so that I decided to get the latest edition! The current bike is very similar but now features an integrated aero seatpost. This time around I opted for the standard carbon lay-up, not the stouter extreme lay-up designed for heavier riders (I'm only 155 lbs.). Last fall I visited Guru's impressive state of the art factory in Quebec and got the chance to ride the standard layup Crono. It felt fine, very close to my old bike, but a little lighter, and the ride was even smoother.
I also went with the standard issue True Temper Alpha Q aero fork. They make great forks and we have had great feedback from customer and excellent long term performance on bikes equipped with Alpha Q forks.
We built the bike up with Campy Record, now with the sweet Record Ultra Torque cranks in 177.5 length. And the bars are the very adjustable Zipp Vuka Clip with S bends. I didn't stick with the Vuka Base Bar as I don't like the very setback hand position, nor the lack of an angled up grip area which makes it hard when climbing out of the saddle. So instead I opted for the Blackwell Research Carbon base bar. This bar is aero and nice and stiff and puts my hands in a more natural position coming of the clip ons. And in my quest for the ultimate aero setup I got a new Zipp Sub 9 Disk and 808 front wheel. I even have a Bongrager speed bottle for bike legs 40K and less.
The bike rides like an old friend and the position is perfect. It should be! I'm a bike fitter and the Crono is custom inclusive so I can get whatever size I need at no extra charge. I am so comfortable on the Crono that I actually have a hard time choosing between my tri bike and my best road bike when going for a long ride. For sure I'll cover more miles on the Crono!
In February I went down to Florida on a vacation - training trip down and got to ride the new bike about 300 miles in very windy conditions. I even raced the Florida season opener Duathlon, finishing second overall. The bike was comfortable and fast. But again as I found with my first Guru what separates the Crono with other tri bikes is that it just handles superb! It has a responsive drivetrain and corners like it is on rails. In fact I sometimes ride the Crono on our club's group road rides when I'm training for a big duathlon, and I feel like I can maneuver in the group just like when I'm on my road bike. This bike just makes you want to go fast!
At our bike shop the Crono has been our top selling high end tri bike for the past two years. The combination of awesome technology, excellent build quality, custom paint options and the ability to tune the fit and the ride to each customer all at a fair price make this bike hard to beat!
I'm looking forward to racing on the Crono this season. I'll get a chance to test it out for real at the Duathlon National Championships in Richmond in two weeks and I'll be back in Italy for the Duathlon World Championships in September.
Best wishes for your season and drop me a line or call if you have any questions or if you need help.