Webster's defines dilettante as "a person having a superficial interest in an art or branch of knowledge". I'd say that about sums up my place in the cyclocross world, however, MWI's founder asked for reviews of the Blue team bicycles, so here goes:
Blue Norcross, carbon fiber cyclocross frame, size M
Mavic R-Sys tubular wheels (the front is the warranty replacement)
Challenge Fango 32 tiresRitchey WCS Aluminum Bars and Stem
Thomson Elite Seat Post
SRAM Rival Shifters
SRAM Force Rear Derailleur
SRAM 12-27 Cassette
FSA Gossamer Crank, 170mm
CrankBros Egg Beaters
Fizik Arione Saddle
4ZA (Ridley) brakes with Swisstop Green Pads
Gore Sealed Cables
Putting it together was a breeze - of course only run a single front ring, so that meant one less cable to run. The only issue I had was paint overspray on the cantilever bosses - I had to get a razor blade out to scrape the studs and spring mounts off.
Once together and a thru a shake out ride, I hit the races with my new steed. The frame's stiffness was quickly evident, and the power you put in the pedals goes quick and directly to the rear wheel and off you go. Sitting on the saddle with my hands on the hoods or the tops, it really felt good - nice and compact and very responsive. I felt that the CG was low, which was good for corners, but not so low that I had problems with the cranks hitting the ground. The handling was good over a wide range of conditions and terrain - grass, gravel, bricks, asphalt and mud - point it in the direction you want it to go, and it goes that way.
I was a little worried about the wheels at first, because of the stories I had read on the 'net, but I really thought they complimented the bike - stiff and light, and ready to go fast.
Two things of note: First is the side to side clearance between the chain stays - the Fango 32's were a cozy fit (and rubbed when the air had leaked out) so 34's would be even tighter; I only did one muddy race and it was more watery than peanut buttery so I had no issues, but thick sticky mud could be a problem. Second is the spacing on the rear drop-outs - it is not quite 135mm, but a bit more than 130mm; this could be an issue if you needed to make a quick rear change - luckily I only had front flats this season.
Overall I am very very happy with the Norcorss. Even under this dilettante, it was light, fast and turned on a dime. Much more bike than I deserve.