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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our trip to Guru

Montreal, home of the Canadiens, Expos, Mt. Royal, Notre Dame Basilica, Old Montreal, Guru, Rue St. Catherine, Martin Brodeur......wait a second, didn't the Expos move to Washington D.C.? Oh, yeah. And this Guru you mentioned, what's his name? No, not a spiritual leader, Guru bikes. Never heard of them? You will.
When Marty's was looking for another bike line to carry, many names popped up. One of the areas we wanted to address was the custom market. Guru was a name mentioned. So, we gave them a call. As luck would have it, they were having a dealer open house in 2 weeks and invited us up. No need to ask twice. I dusted off my passport and along with Jesse, Ben and Marc we headed out in Marc's Eurovan to the Great White North. Sorry Rush, no residuals here. You either Bob and Doug Mckenzie. One grumpy customs officer and seven hours later we arrived in Montreal.
Marc and I caught a Canadiens game that first night. The next morning it was down to business. We took a shuttle bus from our hotel in Old Montreal to the Guru factory. Guru makes custom, hand built bikes in four weeks. They've been doing this since 1997. We were met by the founders of Guru Tony and Robert. Nice blokes, sorry, bonne mecs. Tony gave us a tour of the factory. As you can see from the pictures, their carbon bikes are indeed hand made. He explained that they only use the best carbon, which incidentally comes from California, not Taiwan. Tony also explained that it is how you lay the carbon up that determines stiffness. He then gave us a tour of the rest of the factory. The welding station for aluminum and titanium frames, the paint booth, decal station, finishing station.....okay, if you're like me this is all well and good, but the bottom line is, how do the bikes ride?
Guru makes four road models. The top of the line Geneo and the Evolo are carbon frames. The Praemio which is titanium and the aluminum Venio. They also have four triathlon/time trial models. Crono, which is the top of the line, and Magis are made out of carbon. Merus is made out of titanium and the aluminum Ventus rounds out the line. Guess which ones I wanted to ride? If you know me, you already know the answer.
First up, Geneo. After taking ten minutes to dress for the cold, lightly snowing Montreal weather, it was time to put the Geneo through it's paces. This bike is light, but it's not stupid light. Just because you have a 900 gram frame doesn't mean it will ride nice. At 1,150 grams, the Geneo is plenty light. The ride quality is excellent. The bottom bracket is nice and stiff. The carbon frame did what carbon frames are supposed to, it soaked up the road vibrations extremely well. When you are going around corners at race speed, which I did, the Geneo goes with you. It doesn't want to go in a different direction. That is a good thing. Sorry Martha.
Next up? You guessed it, Crono. I was lucky enough to find a straight, flat road section. I tucked down on the aero bars and let the Crono do the rest. Like Geneo, the Crono is stiff at the bottom bracket. When you step on it the Crono responds immediately. Instantaneously I felt a surge in my speed. Going around corners at speed was also a treat. I felt very stable and at no time did I feel the Crono would come out from under me. Test rides over, it was time to tell Tony and Robert what a great ride the Geneo and Crono are. One last night in Montreal and one rooster sculpture for my mom later, it was time to pile into Marc's van and head South.
Something Tony said during our visit stuck with me. "I believe we make the best damn bikes in the world, but nobody knows who we are." That's passion, and it shows in everything Guru does. Now you know. But don't take Tony's or my word. Marty's has demo Guru bikes for you to ride. I'm not talking about a parking lot or a down the street ride. Take them out for a couple of days. When you return the bike, we'll be here to take your custom Guru order. It'll be ready in four weeks.


Photos courtesy of Marc

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