This article originally published on BikeRadar
Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) was an early convert to disc brakes in cyclo-cross having made the switch full-time last year. He's now moved from his old cable actuated Avid BB7 Road SL calipers to SRAM's new full-hydraulic Red 22 HRD set-up and with a full season of disc under his belt, he and his mechanic continue to figure out ways to extract the most out of the technology.
Disc brakes can offer some advantages over rim brakes, particularly when using carbon rims or when conditions get sloppy. Accelerated pad wear in extremely wet and muddy conditions proved to be an issue last year for some but Powers' mechanic, Tom Hopper, says that SRAM has made some improvements in that area.
"[SRAM has] improved the durability of the organic pads this year but they're still not quite as harsh feeling as the metallic ones."
Hopper says Powers also prefers to run different rotors depending on the conditions. He uses the current Avid HS1 option in the dry but the older G2 rotors when it's wet. Naturally, those rotors are matched to the corresponding wheels and tires for a particular set of conditions, too, making for easy all-in-one swaps on race day.
"We found that [the G2 rotors] perform better in the mud so those are the rotors we're running with the [Dugast] Rhinos," said Hopper. "With the Typhoons, we're going with the slightly lighter HS1. I think it's just the surface area of the rotor contacting the pad. Jeremy just likes the feel he gets from the brake."
Either way, team wheel sponsor Easton doesn't actually offer a disc-compatible carbon tubular so Powers' wheels are custom made, using deep-section EC90 Aero rims paired with six-bolt M1 hubs borrowed from the company's mountain bike parts bin. Hopper said new wheels built with Easton's recently announced wide-format carbon rims should be replacing these within a few weeks. Though Powers isn't likely to enjoy any of that new model's claimed aero gains, we expect the wider tire bed to provide better casing support at low pressures, which could boost cornering performance.
Aside from the specially etched headset top caps ('J-Pow!'), the custom gold-and-black Crankbrothers Candy 4ti pedals, and the special team paint job, Hopper says the rest of Powers' rig is standard-issue, off-the-shelf gear. The carbon Focus Mares CX Disc frame is unchanged from what Power ran last year and features the same new-school, low-and-slack geometry as before – impressive given the fact that the canti-equipped Mares CX frame on which it's based is actually several years old.
Components have been upgraded from last year to SRAM's latest Red 22 HRD group but a few CX-specific tweaks have been carried over. Derailleur cables and housing are fully sealed setups from Gore Ride-On despite the fact that the company discontinued their after market availability last year. As with most 'crossers, Powers has also passed on the standard Red cassette in favor of the more conventional PG-1170 model, which is heavier but less likely to clog with debris.
Interestingly, Powers has switched from his usual 46/39T chainrings to slightly smaller 46/36T ones and he's also moved his saddle several millimeters further forward than before. Whereas last year's bike used an all-alloy cockpit, he's now integrated more carbon fiber with an Easton EC90 SLX3 handlebar and EC90 Zero seatpost – perhaps in a bid to shave a few extra grams.
Fi'zi:k finishes off the build with its grippy bar tape and a cushy Aliante VS k:ium saddle.
Total weight as pictured is 7.81kg (17.22lb) – about 460g heavier than last year's bike.