By Zack Vestal
“Press Camp” is a new event for the cycling industry. Positioned somewhere between Interbike and the elaborate, expensive, private media launches by the biggest brands in cycling, it’s an intimate affair designed to give the small- to medium-sized players in the industry some one-on-one time with reporters.
Almost twenty brands have convened in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gathered about the same number of editors for two days of focused meetings, product introductions, and demos.
Look for reports to trickle out over the next week or so as we gather the stories and bring them to you.
Out of the Blue
Blue Competition Cycles is on the rise, with more models and some innovative promotions. New for 2010 will be a cyclocross bike and an aero road frame. Still in effect through next year will be the free hour of wind tunnel time for purchasers of a complete Triad time trial/triathlon bike.
Based in Norcross, Georgia, Blue Competition Cycles was founded in late 2004 by a company with roots in engineering scuba gear, high-pressure gas containers, and similar businesses. The owner has a passion for cycling, and became involved coaching riders and founding a small women’s team (Scuba/Genesis). Having difficulty finding a suitable bike sponsor, and relying on the engineering background, he felt that he could satisfy a need in the market for a range of high performance bikes that could also be priced for accessibility to the average cyclist. Design, engineering, sales and marketing are all headquartered in Norcross, while frame construction is sourced in Asia. However, 90 percent of actual assembly of complete bikes is done in-house, at the Georgia office.
The name “Blue” is based on one of the first frames ever brought into the USA. Originally painted blue, due to the popularity of scuba gear in the color blue, the bike was referred to in the office as “the blue bike” during testing and development.
The name stuck, and now Blue Competition Cycles is evolving into a full-service bike brand. “We don’t just offer the $6000 frame or bicycle,” said sales and marketing manager Chance Regina. “The competition aspect of our bikes is important. Our entry level bikes can be built into the same bike a pro would ride.”
The Norcross Cyclocross bike
The new cyclocross bike is called the “Norcross,” a perfect name given the location of Blue headquarters. It’s an all-carbon frame, built using tube-to-tube construction. The new frame is claimed to weigh just 1050 grams in a size 54cm, and is built to have a stiff, precise front end with a tapered 1 1/8 to 1.5-inch head tube. Five stock sizes will be offered, priced as complete bikes with either Force or Ultegra build kits. The frame alone is also available for $1000.
The bike was born of necessity, as Blue sponsored Jonathan Page during the 2008-09 cyclocross season. Page changed bike sponsors in mid-season, riding Blue for the second half and committing to the brand for 2009. “We actually had three of the 10 elite US team members on Blue bikes at world championships last winter,” said Regina. He added that the overriding comment from riders was how stiff the original CXC ‘cross frames were, but that riders also felt the frame needed to be lighter.
Based on the feedback from Page and other riders, Blue engineered the new Norcross frame to have a stout down tube and head tube to maintain that stiffness, but carefully worked with materials and tube shape to keep weight to a minimum. The Blue-designed fork is massive, with good mud clearance.
The Blue Norcross will be available in August, just in time for the fall ‘cross season.
Blue adds aero road with new AC1 road frame
Blue’s new AC1 monocoque carbon road frame fits loosely into the category of “aero road bike.” Chance Regina said that wind tunnel testing showed the bike to be up to18 percent faster than the standard RC8 road frame currently offered by the company. He added that the AC1 is also stiffer than the RC8, partly due to the monocoque construction rather than the tube and lug method used on the RC8.
The frame tubes have an aero, teardrop profile to help smooth airflow, and frontal surface area is reduced as much as possible. As such, a standard FSA 1 1/8-inch headset is spec’ed, rather than anything larger or tapered. Careful shaping of the down tube includes a smooth transition from the fork crown to the down tube, as well as a gentle cutout for front tire clearance. The seat tube is similarly cut out. Massive chainstays meet a BB30 bottom bracket shell to keep it stiff, but curved seatstays offer some give for ride quality. A proprietary aero fork and seatpost round out the package. In a nice touch, the internally routed brake and shifter cables are fully sleeved from housing stop to housing stop – no fishing for cables.
The AC1 frameset is available in either standard or SL construction (which uses higher modulus carbon for lighter weight) for $2300 and $3200, respectively. Build packages include SRAM Red or Force, and Shimano Dura-Ace or Ultegra, depending on the frame platform. (BB30 adapters permit the use of cranks that require standard threaded bottom brackets.)
Buy a Triad TT bike, get an hour in the A2 wind tunnel
The Blue Triad time trial/triathlon bike remains unchanged for 2010, as does the ongoing incentive for buyers. After a customer buys a complete Triad bike and completes the warranty card, a unique gift certificate arrives in the mail, redeemable for an hour of time and bike fitting at the A2 Wind Tunnel in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Regina points out that 85 percent of the aerodynamic drag of a rider and a bicycle is attributable to the rider alone. Because the rider constitutes such a huge proportion of the total drag, and because a time trial bike and wheels are such a significant investment, Blue felt that buyers should have the opportunity to maximize the return on their purchase.
The hour in the A2 low speed wind tunnel (next door to the AeroDyn tunnel that does 24/7 business testing for NASCAR and IndyCar teams) includes bike fitting and adjustment by aero specialist Mike Giraud. He’s known to be generous with his tunnel time, which normally runs in the $700 per hour range. Giraud also takes into consideration the riders end goals, be them short, road race TTs or long Iron-distance triathlons. In addition to offering the buyer’s incentive, Blue does much of its own bike testing in the A2 tunnel.
Look for a more detailed report on Blue’s wind tunnel program in the coming months. And in the next few days, we’ll have continuing coverage from Sun Valley of the first ever Press Camp.