Had to put this out asap, because.... wow. Just, wow.
OK, lemme explain. Everyone throws around limited edition whatever. I was at an Adidas outlet and saw Kobe Bryant jerseys with a special patch on the bottom, eliciting that it was limited edition—No. 684 of 5,000. Wow, really exclusive.
Then a frame showed up in our office from Guru today. The folks from Guru up and Montreal and I been talking about something special: a true limited edition model of the Crono, which is Guru's flagship full-carbon tri bike. The project is actually a collaboration between Guru (www.gurubikes.com) and Bay Area bike fit "guru" and longtime Triathlete contributor Christopher Kautz of PK Cycling out of Fairfax, Calif. Kautz's fittings at his immaculate studio (www.pkcycling.com) have hosted athletes ranging from pro triathletes to pro cyclists, his boutique environment a model for what should be any triathlete's first purchase when buying a bike... before pedals, helmets or carbon water bottle cages.
So, they were to do a limited edition bike based around a Kautz fit, and I would get to do a test. Usually it's "OK, cool," but I'd tested a Guru Geneo road bike before, so it was more like "OK, sweet." Ride quality for a Guru is remarkable, and the organic aesthetics, from the tube shaping segues to the paintwork artistry would put arguably as one of the most visually pleasing bikes in the world.
Back to this afternoon: I've been watching first round action on my computer all day, waiting for my Arizona Wildcats to play tonight. Those that know me know the NCAA tournament is all-encompassing. I'm insufferable about it. I was kicked out of high school algebra for bringing a mini TV to watch the Cats play back in 1988. Whatever. Nothing changes. I make the day as productive as possible, but find myself watching the action in the background of the monitor. It takes a lot to tear me away from any game this time of year.
So then this frame showed up.
I've seen limited edition bikes here and there, but this was the first time I'd seen anything like this. I'm giving you a sneak peek of the bike, which we'll be featuring in our July issue as a special review. What you see is a small taste. When we took back the foam padding, the first words were "holy s--t." The next were a flurry of adjectives during a call to Kautz, who has yet to see the creation, to tell him just how unbelievable this bike looks. I've been to a few strip clubs and have a wife that kicks their asses in the "easy on the eyes" category, so I know what gorgeous is.
What's impressive is that Guru founder Tony Giannascoli is one of the master painters who pushes back from his desk, dons a mask and applies coats of brilliant paint and clear coats to any of the bikes, as he did with our test rig. Talk about a man of the people.
So what's behind the curtain? Here's a taste.
The concept: make the finest tri bike, from function to aesthetics. Guru created its new benchmark foundation version of the Crono, then left creative control to Kautz. He wanted the bike to do certain things (which I will discuss in my review), but he had a look he wanted as well.
That look has a lot to do with motorsports. Particularly, McLaren Racing. Lewis Hamilton is the hottest F1 racer, but it's his ride that is visually striking. So, Kautz said: see this car? I'd love you to make that. Guru loved it.
To get an idea of concept inspiration that Kautz envisioned, do a bit of Googling on McLaren and the MP4-23. Meantime, here's a look at the mast and a bit of the seatstays.
Really, though, the pics don't do it true justice. The colors: indescribable, striking, gorgeous. Technically, it's a vermillion orange, and Guru reportedly had nightmares with it, not only mixing the right amount of candy apple red and candy apple tangerine to make it. Then there was the silver, which presented its own set of challenges.
The end result is easily one of the most remarkable paintjobs I've seen, whether on a bike, car, moto, boat, anything. Guru's reputation for elegant, aesthetic perfection was seemingly trumped by their own challenge. This bike has to be seen to be believed. We'll have it thoroughly explained and reviewed in our July issue, with our photog John Segesta giving it due photographic treatment next week at his studio.
And the limited aspect: This specific test bike is not part of the series, as it's only a test version. But there will be a limited, serialized run of just 25 bikes. The bikes will be professionally fit by Kautz, custom-created—as all Guru bikes are—with a special layup (I'll talk about this later), and spec'ed as Kautz sees to be the ideal spec. Again, more on this later. Every buyer will recieve a headbadge keychain with the specific serial number of your bike, as a memento.
Price: $11,000. Guru's motto is one soul at a time. This takes it to the n'th degree. So, what price for a soul that is yours alone?
This particular test bike is set up with the same treatment any PK/Guru customer will get in this bike, as Kautz took my measures a month ago.. my last emails to Kautz about fit were Feb. 12. And here it is: a full-carbon Crono, sitting in my office, with my exact custom measures, just a few days over a month later. Unreal turnaround for a custom carbon fiber bike. I don't know how they do it Montreal, but our managing editor, Cam Elford, got a tour of the factory up there, and will explain his facility tour in our July issue as well. Selfishly, I wish I'd seen it. I cannot tell you how excited I am to build and ride this bike.
Stats on this one, which is about a 56cm? 4.14 lbs, or 2.2 kilograms for frame, seatpost, headset, uncut Alpha Q fork with uncut carbon steerer and Ritchey WCS carbon stem.
Meantime, I thought this was too stunning to let sit while the games are on...there's no big upsets yet and my bracket isn't too tarnished, so I ain't missing that much. And if your team lost, well at least you have the hint of what this bike might ultimately look like to take your mind off it.