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Pro bikes, November 13, 2007

Katie Compton's Spike Shooter Primus Mootry

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Photo ©: James Huang

Custom Stars and Stripes machine for America's best

By James Huang in Boulder, Colorado

Stars and Stripes for the nation's undisputed
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This front end is all business.
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The carbon rim on the Racing 38CX
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Hubs roll on hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings
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The TRP CR950 cantilever brakes
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Campy's Chorus CT carbon crankset
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Crank Brothers Egg Beater pedals
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WTB's Silverado saddle
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Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) stunned the cyclo-cross world in 2004 when she won her first of what would eventually be three consecutive US national championships (2004, 2005, 2006). At the time, she seemingly came out of nowhere since her double life as a captain on a Paralympic track tandem team prevented her from participating in most key events.

Now with those other obligations behind her, Compton has since dedicated herself fully to the discipline of 'cross and hasn't looked back since. She scored a silver medal at the 2007 Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium after competing in only one UCI World Cup event beforehand, and has now just won her first UCI World Cup event in Pijnacker, Netherlands last weekend.

Compton's powerful physique and aggressive riding style have certainly suited the 29 year-old Colorado Springs, Colorado resident well. "It's been a slow progression," says her manager/mechanic/husband (among other things!), Mark Legg. "Basically she's been tandem racing with the Paralympics. When you're dragging around a rider on the back, you just bury yourself and it makes you strong like an ox. She also grew up in Delaware riding singlespeed with a lot of her friends, and just trying to keep up with them made her into this really, really good bike rider in terms of handling skills."

Remarkably, Legg also says that Compton has only just recently been able to train and race at full capacity in spite of her already well-established dominance in the US women's 'cross racing scene. Compton has long suffered from a mysterious muscle cramping disorder but she and Legg finally managed to bring it under control. "We still don't have a positive diagnosis, but we're managing it and figuring out some things so she can finally train a lot harder than she used to be able to," he said. "It's mainly just supplements: B6, folic acid, a lot of massage, a daily regimen of aspirin, and that seems to be doing the trick. Now, for the first time in the last year and a half, she's actually been able to train at 100% max efforts, and she lost ten pounds (4.5kg). She's very muscular. She doesn't lift weights at all; it's just genetic."

Compton has also swapped bike and equipment sponsors over the last few years but seems to have settled on a potent combination, much of which is sourced locally. Longmont, CO-based Primus Mootry provides custom-built frames, Denver, Colorado-based ROL Wheels supplies wheelsets, and Challenge delivers its racing tubulars, whose US subsidiary is located just outside of Denver in Highlands Ranch. Other key equipment sponsors include Reynolds Cycling, Crank Brothers, TRP, Thomson, Cane Creek, WTB, Cyclocrossworld.com, Enduro, Giro, Smith Optics, and Vermarc.

"If you don't feel the rim every now and then, you're running them too high."

- Mark Legg on the ideal tire pressure for 'cross

Primus Mootry has built Compton's frames for almost three years, but this season marks her first year on a new model built from carbon fiber and aluminum. "In the past, she's ridden Easton Scandium, and she really liked it; it's perfect for 'cross bikes," said Primus Mootry's one man show, Joe DePaemelaere. "Even with really ultralight aluminum tubing, with a small size you still end up with a pretty stiff frame. She was willing to give up a little bit of the stiffness for the comfort, so by going with the carbon we were able to do that. Weight was going to be about a wash, so we did the main tubes in Reynolds carbon, and what it's ended up doing is making the bike a little more comfortable. She can be more relaxed on the bike."

Frame numbers are reportedly fairly standard issue, but Compton does apparently run a slightly steeper-than-normal seat tube angle. "She's used to the track, so she's used to more of a forward position on the bike," continued DePaemelaere. "Because of that, you shift the weight balance on the bike and have to make sure it still handles right. You build the bike on the top for the rider, but you build the bike on the bottom for handling. Her [sic] and Mark have done testing on positioning and determined that that's the most efficient position for her where she can generate the most power, and put out as much power at the end as she does at the beginning." Along the same vein, Compton also runs rather long 175mm crankarms in spite of her height.

Compton has also been attacking the 2007-08 'cross season on new wheels since her previous sponsor, Cane Creek, decided to pull out of the road wheelset market entirely this year (although it still offers models for the track). Compton has been testing prototype sets of ROL Racing 38CX tubulars, which boast mid-section carbon fiber tubular rims built by up-and-coming Edge Composites of Ogden, UT.

"Quite frankly, most people are just using road wheels for 'cross, but I figured let's start from the ground up with a fresh sheet of paper and let's do something that is specific for Katie that would be good for 'cross," said Sean Lambert of ROL. "We have our own hubs, and I've been working with the guys from Edge Composites for a little over a year and they have a hoop that is just amazingly tough. She needs a lot of stiffness and a lot of strength in the hoop. A lot of the times, most of the hoops these days are made in Asia and they can't get the strength-to-weight ratios that these US-made hoops have. They can't get the resins into China, into Taiwan, that we can get here because they're Department of Defense-spec'ed resins. We also settled on a two-cross/two-cross rear [lacing pattern]. Radial non-drive is cute, but it doesn't last as long, it doesn't stay as true, and with Katie and Mark going to Belgium and Europe all the time, we had to make sure that they'll stay true and that they just weren't going to be a service issue."

With Compton's handling prowess, tires naturally occupy a particularly high rung on the ladder, and so far, Challenge's Grifo and Grifo XS treads seem to be doing the trick. Compton and Legg have been experimenting with tire pressures and tread designs since signing on with the Italian company, and settled on an aggressively low 23psi up front and 25 psi in the rear for the grassy UCI race in Boulder, Colorado. "If you don't feel the rim every now and then, you're running them too high," said Legg.

As of November 4, Compton and Legg had identified two major goals for this season: a UCI World Cup victory and the Elite World Championships in Treviso, Italy. Goal number one took only a single week to accomplish, and with that kind of brutal efficiency, one can only imagine what January will bring.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Primus Mootry custom with Reynolds Cycling carbon fiber main tubes
Fork: Reynolds Cycling Ouzo Pro Cross

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.65m (5'5") ; Weight: 63.5kg (140lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 478mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 520mm
Top tube length: 525mm (horizontal)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 687mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 462mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 610mm

Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Record ULTRA-TORQUE with Enduro hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings
Campagnolo Chorus ULTRA-TORQUE CT, 175mm, 34/46T
Chain: Campagnolo Ultra Narrow
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Chorus QS STD+CT
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record
Front brake: TRP CR950
Rear brake: TRP CR950
Levers: Campagnolo Chorus QS Ergopower and TRP RL950
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record UD steel+titanium, 13-26T


Wheelset: ROL Racing 38CX prototype with Enduro hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings
Front tyre: Challenge Grifo 32
Rear tyre: Challenge Grifo XS

Bars: Deda Newton, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: Thomson X2, 110 x -10°
Headset: Cane Creek Solos
Tape/grip: Cinelli Gel

Pedals: Crank Brothers Egg Beater 2ti with short titanium axle upgrade
Seat post: Thomson Masterpiece
Saddle: WTB Silverado

Total bike weight: 8.0kg (17.6lb)