Gunnar's the name of a dog, but it stands for a whole lot more than that. Gunnar's the shop dog at the Waterford factory in Waterford, Wisconsin. He stands for a legacy in design leadership that stretches back to the 1930's, when Schwinn Bicycle Company started building it's world-renowned Paramounts. The Schwinn Paramount achieved and maintained a near mythical status all the way into the 1990's, when the factory was spun off from Schwinn as Waterford Precision Cycles, under the leadership of Richard Schwinn and famed designer Marc Muller. Waterford continued the Paramount tradition of innovation and craftsmanship. In 1998, Waterford created the Gunnar line to highlight its most innovative designs at more economical prices, starting with the versatile CrossHairs, which revolutionized both cross bike and commuter bike design. Each Gunnar is hand-crafted in the same factory (and in many cases by the same hands) that build the elite Waterford custom designs.
The beauty of Gunnar is that it offers Grace Bicycles the ability to give clients on a budget an alternative to the cookie-cutter production bikes built in the Far East. Despite today's fascination with carbon fiber bicycles, Gunnars are still built with steel tubes. But this is not the steel you might remember from your youth. It's the new generation of heat treated air-hardening steels that is twice as strong and durable as the classic 4130 chromoly alloy used in elite bikes for decades. Yet it still offers what many riders feel is the benchmark for the perfect balance of ride quality, durability, and light weight. Gunnar offers an extremely wide range of options for achieving the perfect fit and ride quality while staying within a reasonable budget. Starting with their offering of several stock sizes and at least 7 color choices for each model, Gunnar allows the rider to come as close as possible to a custom fit without the custom price. Finally, if the client so chooses, Gunnar offers customization above and beyond their stock offerings, that approach that of a fully custom Waterford.
We realize that the decision to order a custom bicycle is not one that's done lightly. If you'd like to find out more about Gunnars, and the benefits of a designing and building a custom bicycle, feel free to email Roy at roy(at)gracebicycles.com. He can set up a quiet time to meet at the store (or at home or even our local coffee house) to answer the questions you have, and guide you through a process of discovery that will help you make the best decisions about your next bike.
Visit the Gunnar web site to learn more about these beautiful frames.
Below are some pictures of proud Gunnar riders:
R.D. asked us to design a bike that was extremely durable and versatile because he was going to use the bike to commute to work as well as do some long-distance riding and moderate touring. Furthermore, the occasional dirt trail foray was not out of the question. To add a further wrinkle, R.D. is 6'4". We used the Crosshairs cyclocross bike as a platform, used Gunnar's custom geometry options to optimize his riding position, and added custom frame features such as triple brake options (disc, linear-pull, and cantilever).
This bike was one of Gunnar's first disc-compatible Crosshairs
D.F. thought long and hard about upgrading to custom geometry for his Roadie. In the end he opted for custom geometry to optimize his bike fit. His Roadie has seen him through a dramatic increase in his riding, and has been his trustworthy partner as he started racing.
This next bike was fun to design and build. P.D. wanted something funky, something different. On a budget, of course. We based his Gunnar on the Crosshairs cross platform. The bike was designed with custom geometry, because P. is just a shade under 6'4".
P. wanted to be able to use this bike either as a single speed/fixie, or as a multi-speed derailleur bike. On top of that, he wanted to be able to run disc brakes if the mood struck him. For the rear dropouts, we asked Waterford to use Paragon's sliding dropout system and ordered two sets of dropouts: one with a derailleur hanger and disc brake mounts, and the other with no derailleur or disc mounts. Carl Schlemowitz of Vicious Cycles built the steel rigid disc-compatible fork.
Because P.'s bike is based on a cyclocross platform, he can run up to 45C tires, so he can do some light trail exploring as well.
Paragon sliding dropouts with disc brake mount
B.N. owns two Gunnars. He rides a Roadie for fast, long road rides, and a Crosshairs for light touring and commuting. Below, his Crosshairs sports classic barend shifters for simplicity and reliability.
Going old school with bar end shifters
The photos don't do this Candy Cherry Red paint job justice; it's the deepest, richest red we've ever seen
Although S.F. had a large choice of production carbon frames in the price range she was looking at, she chose the classic benchmark ride that only steel can give. And, like all the bicycles we build from scratch, she benefitted from a comprehensive dynamic bicycle fitting.
K.G. is one of our favorite customers. We watched her progress from a near novice rider to an Ironman triathlete, a road racer, and most recently, a cyclocross racer. Because we had fitted her to previous bikes, it was a straightforward process to set up her Crosshairs so she quickly felt at home on the bike.
K.'s Flamingo Strut paint has a prismatique top coat that gives her bike a pearlescent shimmer.
T.C. added a Gunnar Rock Hound hardtail MTB to his stable. For precise, nimble handling on XC trails, the Rock Hound shines, and its simplicity reduces maintenance as well.
S.G. works for Bose, a company known for pushing speaker and headphone technology beyond established boundaries. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would appreciate a carbon fiber bicycle, given that carbon represents cutting edge technology in the bicycle industry. However, after riding a number of demo bikes, he settled on a steel Gunnar Roadie. He likes the solidity and presence that only a steel bike can give.
A.L. is a Clydesdale rider who wanted a bike that not only fit properly but was also extremely durable. We decided on Shimano Ultegra components and a Thomson seatpost and stem. We were also able to use a Race Face Cadence 46cm width handlebar to accomodate his wide shoulders, open up his chest and be more comfortable.