Guerciotti is an established name in Europe, equal perhaps to legendary companies such as Alan. A few decades ago, Guerciotti sold one of the winningest frames ever made, co-branding a bonded aluminum Alan frame that dominated in Europe. National Champion Don Myrah piloted one for many years and still raced one when he returned to racing from decades-long hiatus. Others may remember then national Champion Jonathan Page racing on a Guerciotti in 2003-04.
Guerciotti cyclocross bikes were reintroduced to the US in 2011 and years later the Lembeek model went under a full redesign, incorporating disc brakes to suit growing European tastes for technology that had started to become dominant in America.
Fast forward to today and the Guerciotti Lembeek Disc presents the latest from the storied maker. We did a sneak peek of this bike late last year and are now presenting the full review here exclusively for our on-line readers. If you like what you see here, there are more reviews of both bikes and gear in our print issues, which you can get for less than one race entry fee.
The Guerciotti Lembeek Disc Frame
Unlike Elle Anderson’s pro bike we saw during the 2014-15 season, almost everything about our test model feels European. Certainly the color palate of the bike plays a role.
But there is more to it than the color. The bottom bracket is high with just 4.9cm drop. That’s old-school Euro, so if you have visions of pedaling through off-cambers, rock and root-filled sections and deep ruts, the Lembeek is for you.
Potential buyers should carefully look over the geometry though before picking out their size. The Lembeek's geometry is nearly the antithesis of a bike like the Cannondale SuperX. With the Lembeek's effective top tube at 54.5cm for our 57cm (Large) frame the Guerciotti’s top tube is actually 5mm shorter than Cannondale’s top tube for its 54cm frame. But with a slightly steeper seat angle, rider positioning is about the same.
With a taller seat tube that is already higher off the ground, and with a generous 155mm head tube, the Guerciotti has a compact, tall geometry that will likely be loved by cyclocrossers who crave Old World charm. In traffic during a race, or at an actual traffic light, you’ll have point your toe a bit more to reach the ground and stay upright. The bike's 42.5cm seatstays have become rather common on most cyclocross bikes, and we measured the Guerciotti’s total wheelbase at 103.2cm.
The Guerciotti Lembeek Disc Build
Our test bike was built just like the available US model, with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical 11-speed and Shimano CX77 mechanical disc brakes. Although it was popular for companies to use CX70 cranks to keep the price lower (and accommodate BB30 frames) the Lembeek features the latest Ultegra crankset, which is nice.
The rest of the build includes FSA alloy components for the handlebars and stem, and an FSA single bolt seatpost, which gives pause due to the possibility of the saddle shifting as we've experienced in the past with similar designs. The Lembeek rolls on Ursus Athon aluminum wheels and Schwalbe Racing Ralph cyclocross tires.
The Guerciotti Lembeek Disc Ride
Having spent many years racing on a bike with a high bottom bracket, I feel like testing a bike with Old World geometry is much like returning home for the holidays. Initial excitement and nostalgia is eventually met with the reminder that the world has moved on. The Lembeek is the only bike I have ridden with a higher bottom bracket than my old Giant TCX, and when throttling the bike through a cyclocross course, the advantages and disadvantages are apparent.
The Lembeek Disc has every inclination to dominate courses designed around punchy speeds and difficult features. I must have smiled every time I tested the bike on singletrack switchbacks and muddy off-cambers. Even though the cranks sit high off the ground, I struck a few rocks with my pedal, not due to the fault of the bike, but because the geometry begs a rider to find pedal strokes where they wouldn’t before and take risks on hasher terrain.
The bike's rear triangle reminded me, almost identically, of the Kindhuman Kudu reviewed in Issue 29. The massively stiff bottom bracket shell leading to thick chainstays allow for strong riders to throw loads of power into the pedals with the expectation that much of it will be transferred to the rear wheel. The drawback, of course, is that riders seeking a plush ride will be disappointed in a stiffness that tends to bounce and buck riders who are too tired to get out of the saddle when riding over bumps and roots.
The top tube is a pleasure to grab when suitcasing the bike. Its contours on the top and bottom fit my hand like an Italian leather glove. This well-crafted design, however, is undermined while shouldering the bike. This is due to the inexplicable routing of the rear brake cable, which is guided by bosses on the non-drive side at the bottom edge of the top tube; exactly the place that digs into your shoulder unless you’re carrying on the drive side. I don’t have a grudge that the cable is routed externally, yet due to the frame’s need for full-length housing, I highly recommend upgrading to compressionless brake housing if opting for mechanical disc brakes.
The Shimano CX77 brakes needed a mechanic’s love to get them dialed in just right (and I was given the English/Australian setup of right lever/front brake, which I found charming). I commend Guerciotti for putting together a workingman’s build on these performance frames, but I can envision many riders wanting to opt with hydraulic disc brakes. Once the brakes are tuned in, the combination of disc and Old World geometry is a winning combination for many technically challenging courses, such as the wooded area and Pro-only section of Cycle-Smart International.
Far from a “jack-of-all-trades,” the Lembeek Disc is born and bred strictly for the technical cyclocross course. Gravel riders need not apply given the combination of frame stiffness and high rider placement.
The Verdict on the Guerciotti Lembeek Disc
When I first saw Elle Anderson’s Guerciotti Lembeek Disc last year, I called it a combination of Old World experience and American sensibility. The last four months of testing the bike have only confirmed my first impression. My harshest criticisms of the frame are centered around the rear brake cable routing, and there are some weight savings to be had against some of the bike's heavier components, such as the bar and stem and the dreaded single-bolt seatpost.
These gripes aside, the Lembeek Disc is a ride that will rightly appeal to a growing audience: those who demand a bike that will be able to combat the toughest course elements. Whether you have a stogy, local race promoter that wants racers to simulate riding on the Matterhorn, or you want to sneak on a UCI course and try out a “Pro Only” section during your pre-ride, the Lembeek Disc will reveal its strengths. It should go without saying that the bike won’t ride these course sections for you, but it will certainly give you a boost in confidence to tackle them. Ride-everything cyclocross racers, aspiring bunnyhoppers and cyclocrossers with good remount hops will be pleased.
Guerciotti Lembeek Disc Cyclocross Bike Spec Highlights
Frame: Guerciotti Lembeek Disc
Weight: 18.7 (full bike), 11.7 (w/o wheels)
Shift/brake levers: Shimano Ultegra mechanical 11-speed
Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 46/36
Brakes: Shimano CX-77 mechanical disc
Cockpit: FSA stem and handlebars
Seatpost: FSA Single Bolt
Saddle: Selle Italia SL
Wheels: Ursus Athon aluminum wheels
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralph 700×33
MSRP: $3500 USD
More info: zarbike.com