Just as it’s a yearly tradition for Katie Compton to win a National Title, it has become a tradition for Cyclocross Magazine to take an in-depth look at the bike that got her there. Sure, it's only been a few months since our last look, but quite a bit has changed...
The last time we profiled Compton’s Trek Boone was at Cross Vegas and she had several trick bits and tweaks from her mechanic (and husband) Mark Legg-Compton. Prior to that, we’ve profiled her alloy Crockett prototype in 2013, her Crockett one season later, her winning Boone in Boulder, then in Austin, and finally in Asheville. At the 2017 Hartford Nationals, we got an up-close look at Compton’s new race bike. What’s changed? Read on to find out.
Compton's New Ride: A Brake Thru Decoupled Ride
Compton's CrossVegas-winning ride resisted the trends of hydraulic disc brakes and thru axles out back, but those days, at least for her A bike, are gone.
The biggest updates this year to the frame of the carbon Boone is in the form of the thru-axle 142x12mm rear, a flat mount rear brake caliper and adoption of Trek’s IsoSpeed Decoupler technology in the head tube. Similar to the IsoSpeed technology used in the seat tube/seatstay portion of the rear, the IsoSpeed front seeks to allow a controlled amount of flex in the front to allow better dampening.
Trek developed the IsoSpeed Decoupler technology back in 2012 with help from road race legends like Fabian Cancellara, who provided key input and feedback on the system. Developed as a way to reduce fatigue and impacts on the riders to keep them fresher, the original IsoSpeed decoupled the seat tube from the top tube, allowing the bike to flex just enough to provide comfort without reducing the rider's efficiency (although from our tests, seat extension and fore-aft position greatly impact the effective compliance).
Now, in its latest format, the same technology has been incorporated into what Trek calls Front IsoSpeed, located at the top of the headset. A rocker cup is used at the top of the headset to allow the carbon steerer tube to flex, thus providing a degree of compliance.
Like the original IsoSpeed, the Front IsoSpeed uses a pin fixed through the side to keep the system laterally stiff and ensure that the handling of the bike stays predictable. The whole system sits underneath a cover which can be seen on Compton’s latest bike. The new tech certainly didn't hurt in the frozen Hartford course, and Legg-Compton reports that Katie Compton appreciates the change, noticing that "it takes the edge off the hits."
Earlier this season, Compton was a rare Trek-sponsored racer still using mechanical disc brakes, as she stated she prefers the lighter levers at the bar for better handling, but in 2017, she couldn't quite stop the hydraulic-powered movement. With the new Boone frame, she's forced to use the BR-RS805 hydraulic flat mount disc brakes unveiled in 2015, since Shimano doesn't have a flat mount version of the BR-CX77 disc brakes she used previously.
Still, Compton keeps a glass-half-full perspective, saying, "The new flat mount brakes have a better feel at the lever."
Picking and Choosing Her Way to Another Title-Winning Build:
The wife and husband pair are famous for their attention to detail in component choices, and aren't afraid to go against tradition and flip conventional wisdom around by 180 degrees. For the icy conditions of the Elite Women’s title race, Compton ran the Clement PDX up front and a Clement BOS out back (both tubular versions). She rode at 19.7 psi both front and rear (that's 1.36 bar).
Judging by our start line video, the PDX was a popular front tire choice, but Compton was the only one to orient the tread to have the "arrows" pointing backwards, citing better grip on off-cambers.
Out back, Compton opted for the newer mud tire from Clement, the BOS. There she oriented the chevrons pointing forward, setting them up not to "scoop" the ground for driving traction, but instead having the blunt edge of the side knob hit first on the off-cambers.
One of the major benefits of Compton not being part of an official “factory” team is she's able to run whatever parts spec she chooses. Chief among these are the WickWerks chainrings that Compton mounts to her Dura-Ace 9000 175mm crank. The champion opts for a 44x34 combination shown here. She also runs Enduro bearings in her bottom bracket.
To put the power through her chainrings, Compton uses a KMC X11 SL chain and a close ratio 11-28 cassette. In our last profile, we documented how Compton switched to the new KMC design, after breaking a chain just prior to Interbike, and the new shaped chain has been problem-free since.
The Devil Is in the Details
Chief among the interesting details of any pro’s bike are the little modifications that a mechanic makes. Husband Legg-Compton might be the king of small mods in the name of comfort, speed or weight savings. As previously highlighted, Compton likes to use Bondic on her shift levers for an extra bit of grip, especially helpful in the harsh, changing conditions that the Hartford Nationals unleashed on all the racers.
What's up with that red stripe of electrical tape? You could be forgiven for thinking it was for aesthetics, texture or even a bit of mud-shedding, but the explanation is simpler—it hides a tear in the tape.
"Katie hit a post on the pre-ride," said Legg-Compton. "[I used up] my last roll of the light blue bar tape so I used the red electrical tape [because] it matches."
Compton only nicked one side of her bar tape when hitting the post, but Legg-Compton, knowing his wife all too well, didn't want to throw his wife off-balance. "I put another strip on the other bar to make it symmetrical. The brain doesn't like asymmetrical objects that it's familiar with. Taping the other side allows Katie to full focus on the course instead of seeing an a-symmetrical shape."
Compton couldn't roll her way to a 13th title without some true and round hoops to balance on, and fairly new sponsor for Compton, Knight Composites supplied the Tubular 35 wheelset. She raced on the Knight carbon hoops with DT Swiss hubs. Color-matched, of course.
"The brain doesn't like asymmetrical objects that it's familiar with. Taping the other side allows Katie to full focus on the course instead of seeing an a-symmetrical shape." -Mark Legg-Compton
Not Everything Is Top-End or Latest Generation
Now on front and rear thru axles, hydraulic brakes and a Dura-Ace 9070 drivetrain, Compton doesn't instantly reach for the top-of-the-line in everything she uses. For her perch, she eschews the carbon-rail Pro level Montrose saddle from Bontrager for the Elite level with hollow titanium rails.
For pedal power, Compton's trusty pedals are the M780 Deore XT model. She prefers them over the XTR model, saying they have better mud clearance than the XTR M9000 model, and in September she told Cyclocross Magazine, "I’ve probably used these [same pedals] for four years now." The ones we saw in Hartford, judging by the pristine logo, might be a newer NOS model, but they're not fresh from the factory.
Shimano has since updated the M780 model to a M8000 Deore XT model with slightly increased surface area and rounded edges, but increased surface area is often what cyclocrossers avoid due to shoe/pedal interface issues when it gets muddy.
Full photo gallery below the specs.
Katie Compton's 2017 Cyclocross National Championship-Winning Trek Boone Specs:
Frame: 600 Series OCLV Carbon, IsoSpeed, E2 tapered head tube, BB90, disc balanced post mount, hidden fender mounts, internal control routing, 3S chain keeper, Ride Tuned seatmast, thru-axle rear
Fork: Trek IsoSpeed Cross carbon disc, E2 tapered steerer, 15mm thru-axle
Wheels: Knight Composites 35 Carbon tubular
Tires: Clement PDX (front, arrows pointing backwards), BOS (rear), tubular, 120 TPI, 700x33, 19.7 psi front and rear (1.36 bar)
Shifters: Shimano R785 hydraulic Di2, 11-speed
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070
Crank: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000, 175mm
Chainrings: WickWerks 44/34T
Bottom bracket: BB90 with Enduro bearings
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-9000 11-28
Chain: KMC X11 SL
Saddle: Bontrager Montrose Elite, hollow titanium rails
Seatpost: Bontrager Ride Tuned carbon seatmast
Handlebar: Bontrager RXL, 42cm
Grips: Bontrager gel cork tape
Pedals: Shimano XT M780
Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite, 31.8mm, 7 degree
Headset: Integrated, cartridge bearing, sealed, 1-1/8" top, 1.5" bottom
Brakeset: Shimano hydraulic disc BR-RS805
More info: trekbikes.com (new model not featured yet on Trek’s website)