Yes - it's another matt black race bike - but it doesn't need to be. If you buy Guru's Evolo-R you can have it exactly as you want it, and we are talking custom handbuilt carbon loveliness here.
A 'muscular performance machine' is how Guru describes the Evolo-R, 'a true race machine designed to be super stiff.' The designers have achieved this by putting material where the frame is going to see high forces placed on it - the steering, down tube, bottom bracket and chainstays. Using a mixture of Computer Aided Design and FEA (Finite Element Analysis) software the frame design and carbon layup can be tweaked to provide the required performance.
The actual build process is all a bit secret squirrel as Guru have developed their own methods for creating the various frame sections without a continuous seam in the carbon fibre. This eliminates any weaknesses in the structure, creating a stronger frame from the same amount of material. Each section is then cured and machined if necessary to ensure a perfect fit, before being bonded together. Our frame here is flawless and it's this high quality and labour intensive build process that you're paying for.
But all of the above is totally irrelevant if the theory doesn't transfer to the road. Thankfully it does, rather impressively in fact. The first thing you notice about the Evolo-R is how comfortable it is, not something I expected from such a race orientated frame. It does get a bit choppy on really rough surfaces due to the stiffness of the frame but it's but it's bearable.
Guru uses a high modulus carbon composition in the Evolo-R (70-30 fibre to resin) which results in a composite that absorbs more high frequency vibrations than one with a higher resin percentage. This means the designer doesn't have to make any sacrifices in performance to add comfort; the material does it for him. The carbon layup can also be adjusted to suit rider weight and power output to further increase the ride quality.
The damping properties make for a very efficient ride; the Evolo-R has an almost steel like feel that's planted even when the speed reaches silly levels. It certainly inspires confidence and means you can really push it, I reached the limits of my ability before I ever found the Guru's.
The steering tracks really well; even minute shifts in body weight see the bike change line instantly and without fuss. The triangular profiled top and down tubes merge into one behind the head tube which added to the tapered steerer keeps the front end very tight.
Accelerating, sprinting and climbing out of the saddle doesn't show any flex in the bottom bracket area. The Evolo-R uses a press fit BB30 and the junction of the down and seat tube is just as impressive as that at the front of the frame. Add to this the large section chainstays and it's easy to see why power to the rear wheel is so direct. The rear triangle is also very small which helps with power transfer while the chainstays are narrow in relation, providing a little bit of give for rear end comfort.
Happily the Evolo-R isn't a one trick pony. You don't have to be pushing it flat out all of the time. You can make a slightly more relaxed journey and the Guru is just as responsive and fun to ride. The majority of these frames are never going to be raced - sportives, fast day rides and Sunday morning chain gangs are more likely to be their arena and the Guru will take all of these on without issue.
The beauty of the custom geometry is that the frame can be created to suit every aspect of your riding, whether that is body proportions, flexibility, fitness level, objectives etc. All Guru dealers in the UK are Cyclefit partners, Cyclefit being the London based specialists in made to measure bike frames and who supplied our test bike. A Cyclefit appointment will allow a technician to assess every part of your cycling profile from general bike fit to your riding style, build... well, everything basically, that has an impact on your cycling. From this information tweaks can be made to frame angles, tube lengths, carbon layup and so on so that your bike responds in exactly the way you want it to. There is a charge for this of £195 but it is worth the extra outlay to get a spot on fit from day one.
If you don't fancy going down the custom route Guru do offer what they call their Fast Forward geometry - off the shelf basically. Our test bike was one of these and came with a 55cm top tube, 16cm head tube and with 72.6/73.5 frame angles. The stock frame is made using exactly the same process as the custom option and if you still decide on a Cyclefit appointment the technician will work out stem length, bar width etc. to get you as close to a perfect fit as possible.
And there are yet more options. Do you want it painted? Personalised? What colour graphics do you want? Guru has a colour selector on their website so you can play about with how you want your bike to look. It's worth a go as its amazing how a different paint colour really changes the look of the whole bike due to the varying profiles and angles of the frame.
If you go for the Fast Forward stock option it'll set you back £2800 with a stock finish; this is Tier 2. For Tier 1 which includes a single colour paint finish is £3100. The custom option is £3300 which you can customise till your heart's content, or you hit your credit limit.
All Gurus come as frameset only, so obviously components are your choice. On our test sample Mavic's Cosmic Carbone SL wheels were the icing on the cake. They really suited the Guru's frame for stiffness and speed keeping the average up. The great thing with Mavic wheels is they'll take a battering and the Carbone's here can be used day in day out on rubbish road surfaces without you wincing over every bump. They came with the Exiliath braking surface that Mavic have started using on their top end aluminium rims. Coupled with the corresponding pads the braking surface is designed to work the same wet or dry thanks to the coating and a swirled pattern roughening up the braking surface and boy does it work. You can forget discs on road bikes in my opinion - this is the future. After using it both here and on the Fondriest TFZero's Ksyrium SLR's I'm definitely a convert. The downside is that you do tend to get through pads rather quickly and an issue with how badly they stall at certain yaw angles - I've never known a medium depth rim suffer so much as these.
Groupset wise, we've got full Ultegra and Deda supply the finishing kit. Their Presa carbon bars were lovely to use with a traditional shaped drop - stiff while still absorbing any road buzz that managed to make it up through the frame. The Superzero seatpost was easily adjustable and the Fizik Arione perched atop is always a pleasure to sit on.
Shimano's Ultegra is only just shy of Dura Ace's performance but obviously a fair bit cheaper. The carbon levers have a really light shift action which after riding Campag can feel a touch vague at times. On the plus side though, the gears do hold adjustment over a long time. The compact 50/34 chainset was a bit of a waste as the inner ring was hardly ever used and a few times a 53 would have come in handy - but as I've said the build is entirely your choice.
Overall weight for this little lot is 7.6kg, and as this is a stock Fast Forward frame you're looking at about £5450.00 to have something like this sat in your shed.
The Evolo-R has got some stiff competition, most notably the TFZero tested a little while ago and although the Fondriest just about shines through as the better bike it is up to £400 more expensive in terms of stock frame prices. Going for the custom option should see the performance of the two becoming even closer though.
Overall, the Evolo-R is a beautifully engineered frame and fork which delivers a great ride on all but the roughest of surfaces. The price is high but it's reflected in the overall finish and owning a bike of this quality being fully customised in size and finish makes it worth every penny.
Fully customisable carbon beauty that just urges you to go fast.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Guru Evolo-R frame and fork
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
High modulus carbin fibre is used to create sections of the bike which are then machined and bonded to each other by hand.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The Evolo-R is a performance bike aimed at racing and fast paced rides. Guru say it's a muscular performance bike that puts stiffness first.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The finish of the frame is spot on and you can see the amount of man hours thats gone into creating it. Ours looked great in the naked carbon finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
High modulus carbon fibre with a 70/30 carbon/resin mix.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Fully custom or here for the Fast Forward options http://www.gurubikes.com/frames/categories/road/evolo-r#
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Our medium has a 55cm top tube which is pretty much the norm and the rest matches accordingly.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, its a very well damped ride on all but the roughest of road services.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, its pretty much spot on.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well, yes it's efficient.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Evolo-R tracks very nicely and changes lines as soon as you ask it. It's very confidence inspiring.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Fizik Arione saddle is always comfortable and the Deda carbon bars took a lot of road buzz out.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The frame itself is so stiff component choice has very little effect.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Cosmic Carbone wheels are very fast and the brakes mean slowing can be left until the last second.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The Mavics work very well, they're light, fast and very durable. Wet weather braking is superb and the grip levels from the tyres are evry high.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Deda bars have a shallow drop and traditional curve that should suit all hand sizes.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Whatever I happen to be testing My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.