Pro bike: Jeremy Powers' Focus Mares CX

Patriotic paint, progressive features and prototype Zipp wheels

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.

Focus is ahead of the curve in terms of cyclocross frame design with the new mares cx featuring not only disc brakes but thru-axles with slick quick-release skewers:
Focus is ahead of the curve in terms of cyclocross frame design with the new mares cx featuring not only disc brakes but thru-axles with slick quick-release skewers:

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.

Jeremy powers is using ex-american presidents to mark race wins this year:
Jeremy powers is using ex-american presidents to mark race wins this year:

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.

The squared-off head tube surrounds a 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered steerer:
The squared-off head tube surrounds a 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered steerer:

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.

Focus didn't just include thru-axles on its new mares cx; it developed its own skewer that requires just a flip of the lever and a single quarter-turn for installation or removal:
Focus didn't just include thru-axles on its new mares cx; it developed its own skewer that requires just a flip of the lever and a single quarter-turn for installation or removal:

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.

The sram 11-32t cassette provides a reasonable amount of total range for 'cross racing when paired with a single chainring:
The sram 11-32t cassette provides a reasonable amount of total range for 'cross racing when paired with a single chainring:

11 gears, no waiting

Nor were we allowed to weigh the bike, but we'd guess it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 7.2kg (15.87lb). Whatever it weighs, it sure looks good.

Jeremy powers (aspire racing) has a fleet of red, white, and blue focus mares cx carbon 'cross racers to celebrate his status as the current us national champion:
Jeremy powers (aspire racing) has a fleet of red, white, and blue focus mares cx carbon 'cross racers to celebrate his status as the current us national champion:

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame: Focus Mares CX Disc, size M
  • Fork: Focus Mares CX Disc
  • Headset: 1 1/8-to-1 1/4in tapered, integrated
  • Stem: Zipp Service Course SL, 110mm x -7 degrees
  • Handlebar: Zipp SL, 42cm (c-c)
  • Front brake: SRAM Force hydraulic disc w/ 160mm Centerline rotor
  • Rear brake: SRAM Force hydraulic disc w/ 160mm Centerline rotor
  • Brake levers: SRAM Force CX1 hydraulic
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM Force CX1
  • Shift levers: SRAM Force CX1
  • Cassette: SRAM PG-1170, 11-32T
  • Chain: SRAM Red 22
  • Crankset: SRAM Red 22 BB30 w/ 44T SRAM Force CX1 chainring, 172.5mm
  • Bottom bracket: SRAM PF30
  • Pedals: Custom Crankbrothers Candy 11
  • Wheelset: Prototype Zipp 303 Firecrest Disc thru-axle
  • Front tyre: FMB Super Mud tubular, 33mm, 26psi
  • Rear tyre: FMB Super Mud tubular, 33mm, 26psi
  • Saddle: fi'zi:k Aliante VS, carbon rails, carbon shell
  • Seatpost: Zipp SLSpeed, 0mm offset

Critical measurements

  • Rider's height: 1.80m (5ft 11in)
  • Rider's weight: 68kg (150lb)
  • Saddle height from BB, c-t: 730mm
  • Saddle setback: 52mm
  • Seat tube length (c-t): 535mm
  • Seat tube length (c-c): 490mm
  • Tip of saddle nose to center of bars (next to stem): 519mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop: 74mm
  • Head tube length: 130mm
  • Top tube length (effective): 536mm
  • Weight: 7.2kg (15.87lb, estimated)
James Huang

Former Technical Editor, US
James was BikeRadar's US tech editor from 2007-2015.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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