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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.