Blue Competition Cycles showed the successor to its RC8 round tube road race warrior at the Lifeboat Events 2010 PressCamp. It’s a 2011 model called the Axino, of which there are only two currently in existence. The new bike shares a few of its key features with the Norcross cyclocross line, which is again revamped for 2011 and includes three models that are ready for this autumn.
Blue describes the Axino as a versatile, stiff crit bike, and we found the assessment to hold true during our short test ride here in Park City, Utah.
The new bike relies on monocoque frame components that are joined with a tube-to-tube construction that Blue calls Virtual Lug Technology, which was first used on their Norcross cyclocross frame last year. The new Axino also adopts a tapered head tube and fork steerer.
“A lot of the stuff that I learned while building the Norcross SL last year, I put into this frame,” said Chris Pic, Blue’s product manager. “Our vision was to make an amazing USA criterium style bike or one day World Cup style bike – super stiff and light.”
According to Pic, a key element of the new bike is its chainstay and BB30 bottom bracket assembly. The components are monocoque molded as one piece, called Direct Drive, which is the heart of the Axino. The head tube, top tube and down tube are also molded as one piece. The two-monococque components are assembled together along with the seat tube and stays, using Blue's Virtual Lug Technology. The construction is far superior to the traditional lugged construction of the previous RC8 model.
Blue's Direct Drive chainstay and bottom bracket assembly
“The RC bikes were good bikes, but this takes us to a level where we can compete at a world class level,” said Chance Regina, Blue’s product and marketing manager. “We want a bike that can go up against a Tarmac SL or a Madone, and that’s what this bike is.”
The Axino is finished with internally routed cables that enter the frame just behind the head tube. The location keeps them out of the way of a rider’s knees when standing, and allows short runs of cable housing with straight shots to save weight and decrease cable friction. The routing also keeps the housing from rubbing on the side of the head tube and marring its finish. A medium frame weighs 1000g, while the frameset costs US$2100. Blue will also make the bike available with a few component builds, ranging from working man’s to completely extravagant.
The Axino's internal cable routing protects the frame, reduces cable friction and keeps the housing out of a rider's way
The Jonathan Page line: Blue Norcross SL, EX and SP
For 2011, all of Blue’s cyclocross bikes carry the Norcross name. They are also branded as the Jonathan Page signature line.
“He’s one of the few athletes I’ve worked with in any industry where, we sponsored him, and immediately people called and said, ‘because you sponsored this guy I went to this bike shop and I bought this bike,’” said Regina.
Aside from calling further attention to the brand’s star cyclocrosser, a portion of the sale price of each model will go directly to the racer to fund his racing program.
“What we’ve done this year is to make all three of these bikes Jon Page signature bikes, and in addition to the contract we already have with Jonathan, we will, on top of that, give him a portion of the proceeds of each of these bikes,” he said. “So now if you want to help Jonathan, it’s kind of cheesy to say, but if you buy a bike you are helping him it’s – a significant amount. If we sell all of the bikes that we’ve ordered, which is three times the number of ’cross bikes that we ordered last year, his salary from us will triple.”
The Norcross SL heads up the line as Page’s true signature bike. Indeed, it’s the one he rides himself. It features slight refinements to the Norcross model Blue produced for the 2009/10 seasons. The new model keeps the same keeps front triangle, but adds BB30, and a refined, open junction between the chainstays and bottom bracket shell reduce the amount of mud it collects. The full-carbon tapered steerer fork also remains the same (save for a switch to carbon dropouts), which saves a small amount of weight. The new frame has a claimed weight of 1000g (medium) and will cost $2300 as a frameset; $4300 built with SRAM Force or $4500 built with Shimano Ultegra.
Complete Norcross SL bikes will come with the Umlenker an add on front derailleur linkage that allows bottom pull road derailleurs to accept top routed cables
The Norcross EX is a new model that fills the void left by the discontinuation of the CXC. Whereas the old bike was constructed from aluminum lug and carbon tubes, the new EX is a full monocoque carbon bike. This model, and the entry-level SP alloy model, both gain 2cm in their head tubes, when compared to the SL model. The EX features most of the technical features as the top model, including BB30, a tapered head tube and steerer, and better mud clearance than last years frames. The EX frame is roughly 100g heavier than the SL model, so still quite light, and will cost $1700. An SRAM Apex equipped Norcross EX will cost $2400 and is said to weight 18.4lbs out of the box.
The 7000 series double butted alloy Norcross SP costs $1800, complete, with SRAM Apex. A frameset will retail for just $600. The bike features both BB30 compatibility and a tapered head tube fitted with the same full-carbon fork found on the EX model. It also features a taller head tube, in line with the EX model. With these features it will surely offer one of the best price-to-performance ratios out there this autumn.
Despite its reasonable price, the SP features a tapered head tube, tapered full carbon fork and BB30
“At Blue Competition Cycles, our concept is to provide the best bike for that athlete to be as competitive as they want to be in whatever realm they’re in,” said Regina.
The Norcross SP looks to give credence to this motto. Even if you’re on a budget it seems, Blue is trying to keep you on the latest technology, especially on the cyclocross course.