Almost Pro Bike – Russell Harding’s Blue Norcross SL

This post is a semi-spoof of cyclingnews’ features.  If you’ve been reading cyclingnews for a while, you have a pretty good feel of what to expect from one of these pieces.  They are mostly sponsor fluff, but generally give away interesting details and mechanical workarounds PRO teams use to keep everything looking good and sponsor correct.  They’re also noteworthy for what are now known as “James Huang-isms”: terms heard ad-nauseum like “laterally stiff yet vertically compliant”.  I’m not a PRO, but I’ve got a nice setup for the Mike Horgan Hill Climb that I wanted to share it in a lighthearted, yet very serious way at the same time.

Update: I finished 3rd in the race! Read the race report for details.

NOT-PRO Bike: Russell Harding’s Blue Norcross SL – Mike Horgan Special

2011 Blue Norcross SL - Mike Horgan Hill Climb Special

Colorado native Russell Harding is making his third attempt at the Mike Horgan Hill Climb this Saturday.  The demanding course changes year-to-year, but always features one of Boulder’s most notorious climbs, Magnolia Drive or Sugarloaf Road.  After the relentless 7.2 km (4.5 mile) ascents, averaging 9.8% and 8.0% grade respectively, the roads continue for over five miles of rolling dirt pave.  This year the course ascends Magnolia drive and continues through the villiage of Nederland to the ski station at Lake Eldora.  The challenging parcours occasionally bring out special equipment, and Harding’s bike is no exception.

The SRAM Force Compact BB30 Crankset is perfect for steep climbs.

He tells us he chose to use his cyclocross bike for a few reasons, “First and foremost it was for gearing”.  The Blue Norcross SL features a SRAM Force BB30 Compact crankset to keep the legs spinning.  “The steepest part of the course is in the early part of the race, so I’ll be able to save my legs with the low gears”, Harding continued.  The addition of the ultra-lightweight SRAM Red OG-1090 11-28 cassette will provide the rest of the gearing needed for Magnolia’s nasty grades of up to 14.75%.

Harding is larger than most climbers, standing is 183cm (6’0″ ) tall at 72.5kg (160 lbs), so drivetrain stiffness is essential.  The combination of the stiffness in the BB30 crank and super beefy, wide, bottom bracket area will keep all the power going straight to the rear wheel.  “I’ve been racing my Blue RC8 all summer, and I could instantly feel the improved power transfer once I had my road race wheels on the Norcross”, Harding said.  His size large Norcross SL has a 580mm horizontal top tube and is constructed of Aerus Composites T800 high modulus carbon fiber for optimal lateral stiffness and vertical compliance.

While the crankset and gearing options available on his 2011 Blue Norcross SL are important, it wasn’t the only factor in Harding’s decision to race his cyclocross bike at he Mike Horgan Hill Climb.  “There is a bit of washboard on the six miles of dirt roads.  I expect to be in a small group and hopfeully I can save some extra energy the other guys will be losing on the bumpy sections”, Harding added.  Rounding out the extensive feature list on the svelte 1000g Norcross SL frameset is the 1 1/8 to 1 1/5 inch tapered head tube, top tube cable routing, replaceable derailleur hanger, and a stout 480g Aerus Composites C4CX full carbon fork with carbon dropouts.

The BB30 Crankset simply has bearings set inside the large diameter bottom bracket assemlbly, the bearings and the frame are both set very wide for maximum power transfer out of the saddle.

Unsurprisingly for an amateur racer, the parts list reads like a must have for the weight, budget, and reliability conscious racer.  The cockpit features a no-nonsense house branded 120mm Aerus 2014 Alloy 31.8 stem and 440mm Aerus 6061 Alloy 31.8 Oversized handlebar combo.  Seatpost is a 31.6 x 240mm Thompson Elite and saddle is the stock Prologo Scratch Pro TR with solid titanium rails.  Wheels are Rol Carbon 58mm with stock Rol hubs, which are glued to Continental Sprinter 22mm tubulars.  Rounding out the build are TRP EuroX cyclocross cantilevers and a full 2010 SRAM Force build.

Last year Harding had one of his breakout performances with his 6th place finish at the Mike Horgan Hill Climb.  This year he is hoping his 7.3 (16.2 lb) race rig will deliver him to the podium.

Full Specifications

Complete bike specifications:

Frame: Blue Norcross SL, Size LG
Fork:  Aerus Composites C4CX full carbon fork with carbon dropouts
Headset: FSA Orbit C-40 CX tapered, 1 1/8-to-1 1/2in
Stem: Aerus 2014 Alloy 31.8, 12cm x -6°
Handlebars: Aerus 6061 Alloy 31.8, 44cm (c-c)
Tape/grips: Cinelli Cork Ribbon, Black
Front brake: TRP EuroX w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads (not pictured)
Rear brake: TRP EuroX w/ SwissStop Yellow King pads (not pictured)
Brake levers: SRAM Force DoubleTap
Front derailleur: SRAM Force w/ Umlenker
Rear derailleur: SRAM Force
Shift levers: SRAM Force DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM OG-1090, 11-28T
Chain: Wippermann 10S8
Crankset: SRAM Force BB30, 175mm, 50/34T
Bottom bracket: SRAM Red BB30
Pedals: Time RXS Titan
Rims: Rol Carbon 58 Tubular 58mm
Front hub: Rol 3D Forged Alloy
Rear hub: Rol 3D Forged Alloy
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray w/ alloy nipples
Front tire: Continental Sprinter, 700x22c
Rear tire: Continental Sprinter, 700x22c
Saddle: Prologo Scratch PRO TR
Seat post: Thomson Elite 31.6 x 240mm Zero Setback
Bottle cages: Specialized Rib Cage MTB (not pictured)
Computer: n/a
Other accessories: Jagwire derailleur cables and housing

About Russell

I have been racing bicycles for a decade. This blog will chronicle my efforts as a Category 1 road racer lining up with the pros.
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One Response to Almost Pro Bike – Russell Harding’s Blue Norcross SL

  1. baz says:

    dude nice rig
    i have a chance of a blue ex(one down from ur trusted steed)
    also at 6ft tall myself,the rig on offer is also 58cm top tube(i.e large)
    would you recommend this as i was swayed towards the MD 54 or even ML 56cm TT? for cx
    have you cyclocrossed this rig and was it too big!
    i do have long arms but was worried more about me my dogs bollox!
    can you email me directas the offer is only open today

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