Monday, August 26, 2013

My New Mistress: Added a Guru CR901 to the stable!

As promised, it's time to officially introduce my new ride!  I've been waiting to post something until I had the bike in my possession and had at least spent a bit of time on it.  I've had it for 4 days and have fit in 3 rides, so I think I can give a decent early review.

Anyway, here it is; my new Guru CR901 courtesy of Shama Cycles:

 The new ride, sitting outside of Shama Cycles, ready for pickup!

 Standard Shama setup, pulled right off my Guru Merus.

Big improvement in cleaning up the front end; largely due to the TriRig Omega brake.

So first, a quick overview, skipping a few details...
Frame: Guru CR901
Aerobars: Hed Corsair
Drivetrain: Sram Red (with new Red Yaw front D)
Chainrings: Quarq Q rings 54/42
Crank/PM: Quarq Elsa
Front Brake: TriRig Omega
Rear Brake: TRP R970EQ Magnesium
Pulley Wheels: Tiso Ti
Chain: KMC X10SL Silver
Wheels: Hed Jet 9 Front/Jet FR Disc Rear
Tires:  Currently S-works Mondo Open Tubulars, switching to Vittoria Evo Triathlon

Before I get into a review of the bike itself, I'll answer the question that my wife has asked me about 100 times over the past 2 months: "Why do you need a new bike again?  Didn't you say that the titanium bike we bought last time would last you forever?".  Sheepishly, I must admit that I did claim that my Merus would be a lifelong bike....and I stand by that!  But, holding to the N+1 theory* on bikes(explained below), it was time for a new one.  Primarily, I wanted to get into a much more aggressive position, which I really was struggling to do on the Merus.  Moverover, the ride quality and aerodynamics of a frame upgrade made it worth it to me.  Not many others would agree, but I don't go to work in order to hoard my money...

My Merus served me well and I had some great times on it.  I did 3 40k TTs on it, all of which were under 60 min.  I posted a modest 2:30 bike split at Timberman 70.3 last year and it's really served me well on the local circuit as well.

 Really I had a pretty good position on the Merus, but it felt a bit compact and cramped.  I also wanted to go lower and out a bit more.  I considered a lot of options.  The new Cervelo P3 was very tempting from a value perspective; superb aerodynamics for a great price.  I'll admit that the Boardman AirTT was attractive, but I might be prone to influence after seeing it win Kona last year.  But finally, I decided to stick with the guy who has taken care of me for 4 previous bikes.  Philip Shama probably thinks I'm the worlds easiest sale, but with what I was looking for on position, the CR901 was the best way to achieve my priorities: 1. Position, 2. Ride Quality 3. Aerodynamics.  (1 & 3 being part of the same equation)

My position on the CR901 is better than it's ever felt.  I did 70 miles solo on my second ride on the bike and spent the entire ride in my aero bars.  Incredibly comfortable and smooth.  The idea is to keep this position for 112 miles:

It may not look like it, but it's a big change from before.  A lot longer.  Body position is better, but more importantly, I'm much more comfortable.  Just need to spend the time in the saddle to really make this my "all day" position.

Aerodymics should be significantly improved as well.  Check out the cables on my Merus above.  Now look at this:

Yes, small cables (and straws) create an disproportionate amount of drag. This is a blantantly stolen image, but it's needed to make the point:

Add to that the frame and position aerodynamics, and it should be a measurable improvement in speed for any given power output.

Finally, it's time to answer the question of how it rides.  I've had the luxury of riding nice bikes for the past few years.  I own a custom carbon KirkLee road bike and the Merus, and I've ridden Guru steel and Ti road bikes.  I also used to own an Orbea Ora, which was my first ever "real" bike...meaning one meant to be ridden on the road. 

I can honestly say that I was stunned by the ride quality of the CR901.  Waaaaay beyond my expectations.  I thought it would be a marginal improvement in ride quality over the Merus, with the added aero benefits of position and frame drag.  Boy was I wrong.  This bike is butter smooth and with the comfort level, it's great for all day riding.  I didn't expect it to contrast so much with the titanium frame, but it did. 

Halfway through my first real ride!

Yes, I think there are a good number of stock frames on the market that provide better aerodynamics.  Yes, those frames may provide a better overall bang for the buck, assuming one fits well on the stock frame (which most do).  That being said, I feel confident that this bike is going to optimize the process of translating my fitness and training, into race results.  I think 'fit', despite being harped on a lot, is still overlooked by most folks.  Custom is a luxury, but having a frame that fits my position and riding style to a T is something I put a lot of stock into.  It needs to translate into race results, but early returns look good.  And if nothing else, I'll look good while riding it too!

* N+1 is the answer to the question "How many bikes does a person need?" where N=the number of current bikes.

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