Guru Photon frame - First look

Hand-built goodies from Canada and the UK

Guru Bikes have been making custom carbon fibre, aluminium and titanium frames in-house at their Montreal factory since 1993, the year the company was founded by engineering student Tony Giannascoli. All of their bikes are hand-built to individual customers' specifications.

Just delivered to us by UK distributors Axel Imports is the Photon road frameset (£3,999), which we first saw at last month's Bespoked Bristol show. Guru claim it's the lightest custom frame in the world, with a 54cm size coming in at around 750g (including integrated seatpost). The full build shown here is 5.95kg/13.02lb on our scales – well under the UCI limit of 6.8kg.

The Photon is made from North American-sourced “military grade” HS-40 carbon, with a 70:30 fibre-to-resin ratio – a content “significantly higher” than other carbon manufacturers, according to Guru. This is said to produce an unprecedented stiffness-to-weight ratio. 

Guru only sell framesets but Axel Imports can provide tailored component packages. The build shown here, with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset, New Ultimate stem and handlebar, and Industry Nine i45 wheels, would cost just under £6,000. 

Riding: first impressions

This particular Photon was built to be tested by Jamie Wilkins of Procycling magazine. This is what he thinks of it so far:

The Guru Photon takes custom building to new levels. This bike began with a visit to BikeLab in Poole for a fitting session, followed by a questionnaire about my riding. Guru allow the buyer to define the levels of stiffness, comfort and the balance between the two where a compromise is necessary. I dabble in racing, and generally ride everywhere like I’m in a race anyway, so I asked for it to be very stiff with a 70/30 balance in favour of stiffness over comfort.

You can have a regular or integrated seatpost – as I have very long legs for my height I went for the integrated post knowing that it wouldn’t be too short for the next owner. There’s even the choice to position the bottom bracket higher for more pedalling clearance through corners. That got ticked. Finally, you can choose the third colour (the white and black bits are fixed) from a decent, but not vast, palette. I chose platinum.

After around 600km on it so far, I’m very impressed with the Photon for several reasons but most of all because it’s exactly what I wanted it to be. The fit is excellent, feeling like home from the first mile. It’s very stiff from front to back, responding brilliantly to hard efforts, and it’s reasonably comfortable too. It damps out road vibration very well and only feels firmer over bigger hits.

It would be very interesting to ride a Photon built for maximum comfort. The i9 wheels shown were only for pictures – we’ve been riding the Photon on Mavic R-Sys SLRs and Swift Carbon R50s, both of which are light and stiff to suit the frame’s character.

This is an expensive bike but £6,000 isn’t the rarefied stratosphere that it was five years ago. For that you can have your dream spec build on a frame that’s tailored to your riding as well as your shape. If you could ever call a £6k bike good value, then this is it.

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