Ultralight Guru Photon – The Final Reveal!
by Jim Weaver, Service Manager, Fit Werx VT
THE FINISHED BICYCLE
So, we have completed the build of our ultra-light Guru Photon. As you can see, it looks BAD, and not in the negative sense of the phrase. The all-black look reminds me of a stealth aircraft, such as the SR71B Blackbird, or the Stealth Fighter. So, our goal was to produce a bike that would come in under 12 pounds. So what is the final bottom line? 11 pounds, 12 ounces, ready to ride, WITH pedals. That is LIGHT.
How does this bike ride? Well, riding such a stiff, light bicycle takes some getting used to. There are few wasted motions on this bike. It responds to the rider’s every input, intended or not. The feeling of this bike, compared to most other bikes, is similar to when I got my first “modern” bike, back in the early 1980’s. I was coming off of a 1970’s vintage, very flexy steel Motebecane, and got on a new Cannondale, the ones that helped introduce drainpipe-sized downtubes to the market. The Cannondale was much lighter than the Motebecane, and that very stiff frame was far more responsive. The first time I rode it I almost went straight into the ditch. It took a few rides to get used to the responsiveness of the Cannondale, and my riding technique greatly improved as a result. Well, I did not almost go into a ditch with the Guru, but my impression was reminiscent of my feelings from so long ago. This bike is very responsive. It will reward the skillful rider many times over, but the sloppy rider must be wary. With a bike like this, you must clean up your act! It takes off like a gunshot, benefiting from that stiff frame, very stiff crankset and wonderfully light and responsive wheels. It may not ride as smoothly as my Parlee Z2, a frame renowned for its ride qualities, but it is it not as rough a ride as some might expect, given its light weight. The wheels, seatpost, saddle, and stem all do their job in helping to buffer the frame’s inherent stiffness, and help filter out those annoying road vibrations and small shocks.
In summary, I feel like this was a bike that met all its goals that were set from the outset; we created a sub 12 pound bike that is exceedingly light, very responsive, fast and nimble bike, but still has the durability and compliance to stand up to everyday use on our less than velvety New England roads. My vocabulary lacks the superlatives necessary to describe the quick handling performance of this menacing-looking machine. It also feels like it could climb a telephone pole if I asked it to – BUMPS Series riders should take careful note.
Not all that many years ago, if I had said I could build a practical bike for 11¾ pounds, I would have been laughed at and told that the thing would fall apart the moment I rode it out of the driveway. Technology is now allowing us to build better and better, and lighter and lighter, bicycles that can function as everyday rides. Amazing! Are you ready for yours?