Manufacturer’s claimed weight versus reality

When I started racing in the early ’80s everyone confidently claimed that their bike weighed 21 lbs, and I’m confident that they all were more in the 23 lbs range, or at least all of my racing bikes were. 21 lbs just sounded like what a racing bike should weigh. And then there was the day in 1990 when everyone who worked at The High Wheeler Bicycle Shop gathered around to witness the shop’s first Ritchey P-23 mountain bike get hung on the shop’s fish scale — somehow a bike that was supposed to weigh 23 lbs came out at over 25 lbs.

We all know that the “manufactured claimed weight” is often not the real weight. That’s why the Weight Weenie Listings has columns for “claimed” vs. “real” weights — they are often quite different.

741 gram Guru Photon at Interbike

741 gram Guru Photon at Interbike 2009

I decided to write this blog because in the past month we’ve heard from two of our great customers that their custom Guru Photon frames were significantly heavier than they thought they would be. At the last Interbike there was quite a buzz in the weight weenie community about the Guru Photon frame, and I even posted a photo on this blog of a sexy Photon frame on a scale at 741 grams. The frame was a 54cm, and it included the integrated seat mast and rear derailleur hanger. On Guru’s Photon web page they describe the Photon frame as “tipping the scales under 750 grams for a 54 cm”. This didn’t seem like an outrageous claim — they had two pre-production frames at Interbike, one frame was in a glass case hanging on a scale, and one frame was floating, almost literally, around the booth so onlookers and journalists could fondle and admire it. Some companies refused to let me weigh their pre-production frames, for fear of reality not matching up with their marketing machine’s claimed weight, but the Guru representatives were more than happy to let me put the frame on a scale and blog about it.

Guru Photon real weight

Reality -- 894 grams

So let’s jump to reality 6 months later. This friend of mine, who wished to keep his name out of our blog, is as gram conscious as them come, and he ordered his custom Guru Photon frame from a Denver Guru dealer almost immediately after Interbike. He’s working on a project bike so to him every gram is sacred. He opted for the non-integrated seat mast, choosing instead to use a traditional and very light seat post, in an attempt to make the project bike lighter. He designed the frame geometry to be as compact as possible, so that the seat tube, seat stays and head tube would be as short as possible. It’s hard to say what “size” the frame is, but I’d call it a compact 56 based on the top tube and head tube lengths he sent me. He was told that the frame would be under 700 grams due mostly to the fact that he opted out of the integrated seat mast. Imagine his dismay when he unpacked the frame, stuck it on his scale, and saw this — 894 grams. 894 grams is a light frame — don’t get me wrong. But my 58cm Cervelo R3-SL is an honest 845 grams, and it’s larger and less expensive, too.  MSRP on the Guru Photon is $4,900 and MSRP on the R3-SL is $3,995.

Then about two weeks after this friend sent me photos of his Photon on a scale, we received a call from a great CyclingTechnology.com customer who was also greatly disappointed with reality upon receiving his Photon frame. His small (54cm) Guru Photon frame, also sans integrated seat mast, came in about 100 grams heavier than he was told it would. These are bike geeks who are willing to spend $907 on a 65 gram AX-Lightness stem as opposed to $69 for a 115 gram Ritchey stem from ExcelSports.com (far better deal). And if you’re willing to spend an extra $800 on a crazy light stem to save 50 grams, you’re spending $16 for each saved gram. At this “grams-per-dollar” rate, saving 100 grams is worth $1,600, and saving 200 grams (894 gram Guru frame compared to the customer’s expected 690 grams) is worth $3,200.

Now Guru is not the only company that suffers from this problem — Ritchey back in 1990 did the same thing with the P-23. It seems that most major companies, like Trek, Specialized and even Cervelo, don’t publish frame weights, and you have to go look at independent reviews to fine out reality. So were these customer naive in believing they would get sub 700 gram frames? Or does Guru need to revise it’s “claimed weight” to match reality?

13 thoughts on “Manufacturer’s claimed weight versus reality

  1. I’m very curious about the thing in the BB shell. Is it a screw?
    Do you have a better pic. Anyway, seems to be very very far from the 55 top-tube with ISP at 767g that is listed on WW…

  2. Pingback: Real World Guru Photon Weights « Asterisk*Cycles

  3. Just got this from the first Guru customer:
    “The frame was built for a 68kg rider. I wish I knew the 58.5 tt would carry such a weight penalty — a 57 would be fine with a long stem. But even still it is a purchase I regret, given all the lighter frames available for less money. I hope none expects a sub 750g frame from Guru, or that they’d ever confess to over-hyping their bikes.”

  4. That Ritchey stem won’t be 115 grams, either, especially in 31.8 mm….. with aftermarket Ti bolts it might (just might) get close @ 8cm.

    That said, I agree with you, even assuming a miscommunication on what is “promised” for a particular custom bike, that the Interbike display is quite misleading. There is no “standard” for bike frame mass: if you’re going to lead on value in lightness than you need to be clear on how you quantify that value. Otherwise, do like Cervelo and Cannondale and Trek and Calfee and Crumpton do and don’t claim anything.

  5. A wise customer would have waited to see what production frames were actually weighing, instead of relying on Interbike weights and manufacturer data at Interbike.

  6. Sad story. He should have returned the frame as Guru said one thing and didn’t keep their promise. Even if you buy a cheap frame almost 200g heavier is too much difference.

  7. I remember a tale (can’t say if it was true or not) that Greg LeMond used to take like ten cranksets of the same brand and weigh each of them, and have the lightest one put on his bike. The weight varied, it was said, based on how worn the machinery was that produced the cranksets (or any other part, for that matter). The more worn the manufacturing machinery was, the more metal was left on your part.

    Before this year’s Everest Challenge (two-day stage race with 29,000 feet of accumulated vertical gain), I replaced my rear tire, which was pretty worn (though not completely worn out), just to hedge against puncturing in the race. On a lark I weighed the old and new tires (both Conti 4Ks). The new one was a full ounce heavier! On that basis I left the old front tire on there.

  8. Well I can’t speak for everyone else but I have a 54cm TT Photon and it weighed in at 761. not too far off the mark.

  9. I know this is a old topic compared to my post date, but I just thought I could chime in on the Photon weight.

    I just got a closeout Photon frame in stock 54cm size with intergrated seat mast. Weight on my scales were 839 grams without headset (includes hanger, cut seat mast, english BB, and braze-on). Im a bit dissapointed from a weight weenies standpoint, since obviously this frame was advertised as 750 grams in stock form.

    Im not hugely bummed, since I got this a a great deal of a price (cheaper than a Scott Addict frameset), but its still a mark against Guru for not even coming close to claimed weight.

    If I didnt have a matching Guru Pista to go with this, I would be trying to return it to the vendor; or at least trying to exchange it for a lighter one.

  10. Yeah, I know quite a few people who have ended up being disappointed with their Guru Photon frame weights. I do think that 839 grams is still very light for a custom frame, but that’s pretty far off of the advertised 750 grams, especially for a 54cm. You won’t have a problem making a UCI illegal bike with that frame, however.

  11. Hi All,
    Just wanted drop a note too. I ride the Photon too. Totally like it. Their custom fit suits me like a glove. I ride a 57 frame, and it weighs approx 875 with a thicker BB for added stiffness. That helps in the sprints, but also in going uphill. Added with the custom fit the rides downhill are super. Concerning the weight, I never expected to get the sub 750, since that was for the smallest frame. So, the way I see it, this frame is very lightweight AND custom fit! You don’t get that with Scott or Cervelo!

  12. Just recieved my guru evolo. 52cm frame custon built, custon paint job.
    The bike is really cool rides well. I am very very very happy with my guru.
    My thought was that due to me getting older that a really nice bike that was very light would keep me on the pace. (My 1992 Bauer was 12.2kgs )
    So when I saw that the photon weighted in at 780grams, my thoughts at the time was that evolo would come in at 1-1.2 kg for frame.
    What I ended up with was that the frame came in at 1.5kgs.
    I have twice email for their frames weights ex factory.
    Still waitng. Are they going to reply to my emails ??
    Bernie

  13. Good morning, I have tried senting emails to Guru head Office and their local dealer (Auckland NZ).
    Both havn’t replied to my emails over my concerns, that what I was told that my Guru Evolo would come in under 1000 grams. There statement clearly states that 54cm Evolo frame is 1050 grams.
    What concerns me that I have been misled about the actual weight. My Evolo 50cm came in at 1500 grams.
    I paid $4,400 NZ for this frame.
    Its sad to think that Guru goes this low to sell their bikes.
    I don’t have a issue with the finish all ride quailty of this bike.
    I could of brought a good 50cm frame for half the price for that frame weight.
    Is their anyway or anything I could do to sort this issue out,
    I personality would like help in making Guru accountable for these weight claims.
    Lynton

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