This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
After a dominant victory at the US national championships last January, Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) now gets to the enjoy the spoils of that win by flying the red, white, and blue all season.
'J-Pow' is off to a strong start, too, with a third place finish at CrossVegas and two more wins just days later in Boulder, Colorado.
Powers' new Focus Mares CX certainly isn't subtle about its patriotic motif with the stars and stripes adorning nearly every corner of the frame and fork: around the head tube, at the bottom of the fork blades, and back by the rear dropouts, plus red, white and blue accents on the down tube, seat tube and seat stays. There's even matching tape finishing the bar wrap and marking the saddle height.
The stars-and-stripes motif is used throughout the bike
Component sponsors have gotten into the game as well with a red-and-white fi'zi:k Aliante VS saddle and custom-configured red-and-blue Crankbrothers Candy 11 pedals. In fact, the only departures from the theme are the bright pink sidewalls on the FMB Super Mud tubular tyres.
As if that weren't enough, Powers and mechanic Tom Hopper have adopted a novel way to record race wins this year, too. Bikes used to notch UCI C2 victories get a little visage of former US president George Washington on the seat tube, while UCI C1 wins get an Honest Abe sticker instead. UCI World Cups earn a portrait of Ulysses S Grant.
Perhaps as a sign of how he is feeling this season, Powers had sponsor Victory Circle Graphix print up quite a few of each.
We expect to see a lot more of these stickers applied to Powers' bikes as the season progresses
Powers may have been looking to the past when it comes to notching his victories, but his bike is undoubtedly looking ahead. Focus's latest Mares CX has adopted a more engineering-centric approach to its design this year. Nominally round tube profiles and higher grade carbon fibre boosts pedaling efficiency while the slimmed-down seat stays and fork blades supposedly lend themselves to a smoother ride than its predecessor.
Notably, the 1.4kg chassis is said to be nearly 400g (0.88lb) lighter than last year's model.
Focus says the new frame's more efficient design has yielded roughly 300g in weight savings compared to the previous edition
In addition to the stiffness, weight and ride quality gains, Focus has also unabashedly baked some thoroughly modern features into the bike's design. Disc brakes are included front and rear, the PF30 bottom bracket shell incorporates ISCG05 tabs for an optional chainguide, and both wheels are secured with thru-axles.
Focus has even headed off complaints about slow wheel changes with its clever Rapid Axle Technology (RAT) dropout design, which requires just a flick of the lever and a quarter-turn to remove each skewer, making it nearly as a fast as a traditional quick-release but with the inherent stiffness and rotor alignment advantages that a thru-axle provides.
Special dropouts make the Focus RAT thru-axle system anything but slow to operate
Componentry is on the cutting edge of technology, too, including SRAM's new Force CX1 1x11 cyclocross drivetrain and matching hydraulic disc brakes – but with narrower (and substantially lighter) Red 22 cranks to provide more clearance for Powers' big feet. SRAM has provided the national champion with prototype Zipp 303 Firecrest Disc carbon tubular wheels as well, complete with oversized thru-axle hubs that neither the company nor anyone on the team were willing to talk about.
11 gears, no waiting