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Blue Competition Cycles Norcross was once a common sight in racing. Used at the top level of the sport, it achieved success under riders such as Jonathan Page before falling on hard times and stepping away from the sport. The brand returned in 2016 with a new frame, and then the company again changed hands following that release.

This summer at the Dirty Kanza we met new owner Orly Chinea, who showed off the new Blue Hogback gravel bike and hinted that something could be coming for this cyclocross season.

That something turned out to be the Blue – Stages Racing program that counts Eric Brunner as a team member. Still a U23 rider, Brunner has had sneaky successful cyclocross campaigns in recent years. He took Christopher Blevins into the last lap at Reno Nationals and followed his silver up with a third-place finish at Louisville Nationals last December.

We got the chance to look at Brunner’s newest edition of the Blue Norcross SL for this bike profile during the Cincinnati Cyclocross weekend about a month ago.

Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross Cyclocross Bike

The last time we saw the Blue Norcross racing to U.S. cyclocross podiums, the frame still featured quick releases and cantilever brakes. That bike dated to the do-it-all days of cyclocross bike design, an ethos shown by Dee Dee Winfield’s winning Almanzo 100 ride in 2018 on a Norcross she once used to race a cyclocross Worlds.

The newest Blue Norcross SL features a frame built with BLUE-TEC High Modulus UD T-800 composite, and the geometry and build indicate Blue designed it as a bike specifically for ’cross racing. The company claims clearance for tires up to 700c x 38mm wide, which is in-line with the Trek Boone and other bikes built specifically for racing.

The Norcross SL fork features internal cable routing and has clearance for tires up to 700c x 38mm wide. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

The Norcross SL fork features internal cable routing and has clearance for tires up to 700c x 38mm wide. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

The frame and fork both feature disc brakes, but the frame uses a low mount post mount caliper rather than the now-standard flat mount system used on the fork. While Blue’s website lists the fork as using the older 15mm thru-axle standard, Brunner told Cyclocross Magazine his fork is equipped with the more modern 12x100mm standard.

The Norcross can accept either mechanical or Di2 drivetrains, and the Blue-Stages team is using Ultegra R8050 series Di2 drivetrains from Shimano. There is a dedicated port on the top tube, just behind the stem, for routing the E-Tube cable that connects the A junction at the handlebar to the rest of the drivetrain.

The top tube has a port to route the E-Tube cable. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

The top tube has a port to route the E-Tube cable. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

We have seen Shimano domestic teams run either the new GRX rear derailleur or the RX805 the company released in 2018. Brunner went the RX805 route to match the rest of his Ultegra group.

Brunner went clutch with the Shimano RX805 Di2 rear derailleur. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner went clutch with the Shimano RX805 Di2 rear derailleur. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Sticking with Ultegra allowed Brunner to more easily run a double with 46/36t chain rings mounted to his FC-R8000 crankset. Not surprisingly, his crank features a left-arm Stages power meter.

Brunner mounted a Stages left-arm power meter to his Ultegra crankset. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner mounted a Stages left-arm power meter to his Ultegra crankset. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Since the frame takes a post mount brake caliper, Brunner had to exit the Ultegra series for an R785 model. In the front, he stuck with the Ultegra BR-R8070 in-series caliper. This pairing means that the front and rear brakes use a different brake pad, with the R785 using the same J02A pad as Shimano’s 2-piston mountain brakes while the R8020 uses the L02A flat mount pad.

The Norcross fork takes flat mount calipers, and Brunner ran an in-series Ultegra R8070 models. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

The Norcross fork takes flat mount calipers, and Brunner ran an in-series Ultegra R8070 models. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Also of note is Brunner’s moto-style brake setup with his Ultegra R8070 dual-control levers, with the front brake on the right side.

Brunner controlled his shifting and braking with Ultegra R8070 dual-control levers. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner controlled his shifting and braking with Ultegra R8070 dual-control levers. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

FSA supplied Brunner with his cockpit components. An alloy FSA Energy stem held his alloy Gossamer handlebar. In Cincinnati, he had a Stages Dash mount on his bars. A 31.6mm Gossamer alloy seatpost held his Velo Senso saddle in place, clamped toward the front of the adjustment on the rails. For pedals, Brunner chose the older XT M8100 SPD model and not the XTR M9100 many Shimano riders are using this season.

Brunner mounted his handlebar with an FSA Energy alloy stem. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner mounted his handlebar with an FSA Energy alloy stem. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Spinergy wheels is an official sponsor of the team but had not yet supplied tubular wheels to Brunner at the time of the Cincinnati race weekend. While he had tubeless Spinergy wheels available to him, he had traveled only with an older set of Reynolds tubulars rims (decals removed) laced to Industry Nine hubs.

Brunner's tubulars featured Industry Nine hubs to complement the Reynolds carbon rims. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner’s tubulars featured Industry Nine hubs to complement the Reynolds carbon rims. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

For the dusty course inspection on the Friday in Cincy, Brunner used Donnelly MXP intermediate-tread tubular tires, which he also used on Sunday to finish 4th.

Brunner had Donnelly MXP tubulars mounted to Reynolds carbon rims when we saw his bike. Spinergy will be providing team tubular wheels in the future. Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner had Donnelly MXP tubulars mounted to Reynolds carbon rims when we saw his bike. Spinergy will be providing team tubular wheels in the future. Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Brunner now takes his Blue Norcross SL to the Pacific Northwest where he will look to add a gold to get the full U23 Nationals collection.

For a closer look at Brunner’s bike, see the photo gallery and specs below.

Photo Gallery: Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL

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Eric Brunner's Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

Eric Brunner’s Blue Norcross SL Cyclocross Bike. © B. Grant / Cyclocross Magazine

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