One of the annual traditions of Cyclocross Magazine is reflecting back on a year filled with reviewing products and award those that struck us as the best of the best in the realms of cyclocross, gravel and cycling gear. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be releasing all of the awards one day at a time. Be sure to keep checking back to see what products are most worth your hard-earned dollars. Issue 28 also has the Editors’ Awards and the Readers’ Choice awards, so be sure to order your backcopy today, which is also available on Uberflip, in the App Store on iTunes, and on Google Play for Android.

We’re willing to admit that the term mid-range can mean a lot of different things to different folks (although the throwing around the phrase “affordable” can land someone in hotter water). Something that many of us can agree on is that mid-range should fall somewhere between “entry level” and “top-of-the-line,” or a bike often described by the industry as a “workingman’s bike.”

With that in mind, we are unveiling the Editors’ Award for the Best Mid-Range Bike, which goes to the Focus Mares CX 3.0.

Hyde's race bike is based on this Shimano 105-equipped 2015 Focus Mares cyclocross bike we're currently reviewing for Issue 27. © Cyclocross Magazine

The Shimano 105-equipped 2015 Focus Mares cyclocross bike, the ideal mid-range cyclocross machine. © Cyclocross Magazine

The taller head tube fits more of us, and the cantis, light weight and cream-colored Rocket Ron tires appeal to the retrogrouches. Simple can be refreshing at the mid-range $2750, and the rear tire clearance was generous enough to offer versatile options for tire choice as well as allow us to play in the mud.

As we said in our review in Issue 27:

“…the center of gravity also moved up, as the low bottom bracket moved up from a 7cm drop to a 6.5cm drop. The bike also lost weight, added thru axles on disc models and added a huge metal plate to prevent and protect against chain drops.”

2015 Focus Mares cyclocross bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

The Focus Mares CX 3.0 comes with a chain guard built into the frame. © Cyclocross Magazine

It is hard to find flaws with the Focus Mares CX 3.0, especially as the frame helped take Stephen Hyde to new levels this year (be sure to check out Hyde’s Pro Bike Profile, as seen at 2014 KMC Cyclo-Cross Festival, Day Two). With other riders like Jeremy Powers, Allen Krughoff, Meredith Miller and Ellen Noble riding high on the Mares, the brand has certainly created a deep pedigree in American fields.

If all of the above wasn’t convincing enough, then we should also mention that we thrilled to have a last chance to give cantilever brakes their final moment in the sun. With even the most tradtionally European companies moving exclusively to disc, we’re glad to see more than a few holdouts for 2015.

2015 Focus Mares cyclocross bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

The generous rear clearance was a big selling point for the Focus frame. © Cyclocross Magazine

Focus Mares CX 3.0 Full Specs:

MSRP: $2,750
Frame: Mares CX P2T 10 carbon disc
Fork: Mares CX P2T 10 carbon T4
Weight: 19.5 pounds, 12.2 pounds without wheels
Shifters: Shimano 105 11-speed
Derailleurs: Shimano 105
Crankset: FSA Gossamer
Brakes: Avid Shorty 4
Cockpit: Concept EX stem, Concept EX bars
Seatpost: Concept EX
Saddle: Concept EX
Wheels: Fulcrum CX 7.0
Tires: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Focus Edition
Warranty: 6 years
Country of Origin: Taiwan

Be sure to keep checking back to our Readers’ and Editors’ Award Pages for day by day updates.