Pro cyclist and Cyclocross Magazine writer Christine Vardaros is in possession of not one, not two, but three Stevens Carbon Team DA bikes to get her through the long European season. The only difference on the bikes? The bar tapes colors, where she opted for one red, one white, and one blue.
And yes, this is the same Stevens frame/fork as the BKCP Team rides. That team, if you haven’t heard of them, includes Belgian Champions Sanne Cant and Niels Albert, current World Champion Marianne Vos, and four-time World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel.
As far as Vardaros’s take on the frame and fork? She digs the “relaxed geometry, perfect for handling technical offroad and for slide-out prevention in tight turns.”
“When I took my first few pedal strokes on the new bike, I immediately knew that this machine was made specifically for cyclocross racing. It felt well-balanced while the geometry was very lax yet responsive. I have never owned a car, but if I could imagine a cross between the stability of a Cadillac and the responsiveness of a Ferrari, this would be it. For the first time in two years, I felt safe enough to lean a cyclocross bike into a turn far enough where the sidewalls of my Grifos are engaged.”
The handlebars are specifically designed to be top-lever compatible. They have flared drops, meaning the 42cm bar is 45cm at the drops.
She says, “When I first heard about this cyclocross-specific handlebars, I was really curious to see if its 3cm flare in the drops would provide enough clearance to finally keep me from smacking my gangly arms and legs against the bar. I am pleased to announce that I am bruise-free so far! What I also quickly noticed is that the flare put my hand and forearm in a comfy position when shouldering the bike. And when sprinting and riding aggressively in the drops, I had more power to manhandle the bars to get more out of my effort from the slightly forward angle position of my hands.”
The seatpost is interesting as well: it has separate adjustment for the fore/aft position and the nose up/down position. Vardaros is excited about this development, saying, “Finally I can adjust the fore/aft position of the saddle without unexpectedly tipping the nose to the sky in the process. The two adjustments are done separately which comes in handy – especially when setting up the bike for the first time.”
The TWP CX 8.4 brakes are new on the market, and her team made the switch to the V-brake style from last year’s TRP EuroX Mag last year. The V-brake style (CX9) were also seen on Belgian Champ Sanne Cant’s STEVENS Di2 bike this season.
“The 8.4’s are slightly less aggressive than the CX9 version but stop the bike just as effectively. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have full braking power, especially on some of these crazy European courses with descents that put fear in the strongest of wills. I may still crash on some of these courses but at least it’s a nice feeling to be in control of my speed.”
And while Vardaros, like so many other pros this season, hasn’t yet glued up her Limus tires, she adds, “I have not yet tried the Limus 33, but if it is good enough for Bart Wellens to win on, then I’m sure it will effectively get me through the knee-deep Koppenberg mud just fine!”
- Frame: STEVENS Carbon Team DA made of Carbon Monocoque HMF 54cm
- Fork: STEVENS Full Carbon Straight
- Stem: 3T ARX Team 90mm
- Handlebars: 3T Ergoterra Team – 44cm c-c, 45mm at drops
- Front brake: TRP CX8.4 v-brake
- Rear brake: TRP CX8.4 v-brake
- Shift/Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 12-25
- Crankset: FSA SL-K Light Carbon 170mm, 36/46
- Bottom bracket: FSA Mega XO
- Pedals: Shimano XTR
- Wheelset: MICHE SWR Full Carbon Cross
- Front tire: Challenge Grifo typically, Limus for mud, Grifo XS for fast courses
- Rear tire: Challenge Grifo typically, Limus for mud, Grifo XS for fast courses
- Saddle: Oxygen Speedline
- Seat post: 3T Palladio Team 31.6
- Total Weight: 7.8kg