Katie Compton (Planet Bike-Stevens Bikes) had better like red, white and blue – because after scoring her sixth consecutive US elite national cyclo-cross championship last December she gets to wear the stars and stripes for another season and now has yet another custom finished race machine to toss into the garage.
Aside from the spectacular paint job, the underlying Stevens Cyclocross Carbon Team frame is the same model as what she first started using last season. Claimed frame weight is an impressive 1,240g (2.73lb) but according Compton's husband/manager Mark Legg, what the national champion really loves is its remarkable compliance. According to Legg, it's this feature that helps Compton consistently keep power down on the ground even on rough terrain, especially when combined with the frame's ample drivetrain and front triangle rigidity.
Credit likely goes to the well-designed carbon fiber lay-up schedule as the tube shapes themselves don't immediately conjure up images of leaf springs and movement. If anything, rigidity is the theme here with the frame's tall and fat chain stays and relatively stout wishbone-style seat stays coupled to a chunky seat cluster – and even an oversized 31.8mm-diameter seatpost to boot.
Things visually settle down a bit up front, though, with more moderate tube diameters and a straight 1 1/8" steerer on the all-carbon fork.
Legg says the frame geometry also suits Compton's aggressive riding style and uncannily smooth handling technique with its low bottom bracket and reasonably nimble 71-degree head tube angle.
Mud clearance is particularly generous throughout, including heaps of room beneath the fork crown – and even additional cutouts to the sides that let the brakes open up more – at least a finger's worth of air up around the seat stays, and absolutely no shelf whatsoever down near the bottom bracket on which mud can collect.
The corresponding build kit is mostly unchanged from last season, which doesn't bother Compton one bit. SRAM continues to provide the Red transmission and more 'cross-friendly PG-1070 cassette while Zipp again steps in with its ultralight VumaQuad carbon crank, shallow-drop SLC2 carbon handlebar, and tough-yet-light 303 carbon tubular wheels customized with personalized rim labels and red and blue anodized hub end caps.
There's plenty of space beneath the crown for mud to pass through while cutouts around the sides let the brake open wide for faster wheel changes.
One major change, though, is a move to Avid's new Shorty Ultimate cantilevers, which Legg (who also acts as Compton's mechanic) sets up in the high-leverage/low-profile configuration both front and rear for maximum braking power.
Filling in the rest of the gaps are a variety of Dugast tubulars – imprinted with Compton's 'KfC' moniker, no less – a set of previous-generation Crankbrothers Eggbeater 4ti pedals (custom coated with "super glue and Colorado sand" for extra grip), KMC's ultralight X10SL chain, TRP top-mount brake levers, a Thomson aluminum seatpost and stem, a WTB Silverado SLT saddle, and Gore Ride-On sealed derailleur cables and housing.
Given the premium build list, one would expect to see a feathery total bike weight as a result and you'd be right, too. As seen here, total weight is an incredible 7.12kg (15.70lb).