The Supercross Envy BLK 2 | Back from the Future
A month into our monogamous relationship with the completely uncompromised Supercross Envy BLK 2 we consider our future together …
The Supercross Envy BLK 2 | Back from the Future
A month into our monogamous relationship with the completely uncompromised Supercross Envy BLK 2 we consider our future together ...
The only logical explanation for the existence of the Supercross Envy BLK 2 that we can conjure up involves, well, time travel! Somehow, somewhere, someone, has travelled to the BMX future and returned with the Envy BLK 2 … it’s either that, or the guys in Apple Valley have pulled off something extraordinary, something very extraordinary, something ahead of its time. We’re going with option one, as option two seems too … complicated.
So, when your Supercross emblazoned box from the future arrives at your door you’re just not prepared for what’s inside. Yes, you’ve seen the images, you’ve probably seen one zip by you at the track but it’s not until you pick up an unbuilt frame that it finally sinks in … this is not an ordinary BMX frame. It feels different! From across the room, it definitely looks like a BMX frame and we love that Supercross hasn’t fallen into the trap of adding superfluous curves for visual appeal, but in your hands, it feels … special. It’s in the details, it’s the material, it’s the feeling of the decals under your fingertips … which are hypnotically braille like … it’s the complicated simplicity.
The version we unpacked was the matt black with digital camo graphics. It oozes sophistication. All the tubes are beautifully sculpted, yet remain, thankfully, understated. Less is definitely more here. Supercross use the decal design to completely change the personality of the various incarnations of the Envy BLK 2. On our version, the Digital Camo is honed to work perfectly with the matte black carbon, from the big and bold, yet simple logo on the bottom tube to the subtle details hidden in the camo, to the hashtag #lovebmx stamped near the bottom bracket. After a month we’re still discovering details in the decals.
While we’re reluctantly willing to accept that others have different opinions to us, and to be fair, Supercross cater to all tastes, we are of the opinion that if you want carbon you should show it off and not cover it in paint. This is especially true when it comes to the second incarnation of the Supercross Envy BLK … the BLK 2 is, after all, all about the material and this specification of carbon is unique to Supercross in the BMX world. They’ve hand built the Envy BLK 2 using Toray CA 1100-KS carbon fibre … it’s lighter, stronger and stiffer, all the buzz words, than any variation of the material used in BMX to date. This is an aerospace quality material. We could add loads of technical data charts here but we’re not going to read them and wouldn’t expect you to either … all you need to know is that this material is next level and is probably definitely, very expensive. Supercross told us they ‘had to jump through quite a few hoops to be able to get it (Toray CA 1100-KS carbon fibre)’ and they believe that ‘if you start with a great carbon and a great resin you have a better chance of a great frame. We use better moulding techniques, with High-Compactation moulds, EPS inner forms, wrinkle free hand lay-up and pre-impregnated material for resin optimization’.
Luckily you don’t have to understand the material, the technology or even the manufacturing process to understand the bike … you could compare it to driving a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, you know it looks stunning and handles like a dream, but you don’t have to understand what’s happening under the paint … it just feels … special (there’s that world again).
Building up the frame presented no problems at all other than the fact that, occasionally, we’d find ourselves in a kind of daze, unconsciously fondling those braille-like decals … so it took a little longer than expected. But everything fit exactly as it should, there were no moments of panic or frustration.
The 1 1/8” to 1.5” headset fit like a glove into its sculpted carbon home enabling the tapered, all carbon, Supercross BLK Forks to slide in with precision tolerances. The BLK forks are perfectly sculpted to complement the Envy BLK 2 frame … a drool worthy combination, we may have died and gone to carbon heaven!
Installing the bottom bracket and cranks played out the same way, no issues. Supercross have opted to stay with the tried and tested Euro bottom bracket and in the Envy BLK 2 have inserted a one-piece precision aluminium bottom bracket shell. While it’s more expensive than a press fit bottom bracket that other brands have opted to use, Supercross have a good reason for sticking with it … ‘Aluminium Euro bb does not creak and will accept 99% of the cranks on the market. Does it cost more, yes; does it work better, yes!’
Now, before someone jumps in and declares that press fit is lighter, allows for a larger spindle and a wider bottom bracket tube … yes, we agree, but there is nothing worse than a creaking bottom bracket, and yes we concede that not all press fit bottom brackets will creak but the odds are higher. We also like to have the ability to change our bottom bracket without the use of special press fit tool tools … a hammer is not coming near our carbon bike from the future.
Curiously, the brake mounts on the Envy BLK 2 do not have the usual 3 pin holes like all our aluminium frames but just the centre one. We’ve never used the top or bottom ones before though. The brake calliper went on and worked perfectly. Now, to be fair, it’s not all sunshine and roses here in the future, there are a couple of little things that irked us … and one of those things has to do with the brakes. The Envy BLK 2 does not have internal cable routing and it’s a shame to run a cable down the outside of the beautifully formed top tube. Supercross told us they looked at internal cable routing at the time of designing but decided ‘not this time’. They like the ability to remove the brake system as a whole, a request from some riders, and where also concerned about the integrity of the frame … ‘it is something we have been looking at for the future, but not the typical drill a hole and go type of internal cable routing that weakens the frame, but a moulded in cable port that allows for the carbon strands to remain continuous’.
Another omission, of sorts, is the lack of built in chain tensioners but again, the FEA analyse Supercross conducted ruled them out … ‘When we did the FEA on our frames the weakest point of the frame was the area in between the seatstay and the chainstay where the dropouts connected. We did look at building a nice chain tensioner into the frame, but the extra weight that would be added, plus the chance of that part of the frame stripping out, didn’t outweigh the option of using a conventional tensioner. The ENVY BLK is optimized for strength and speed, and it didn’t seem to make sense to add weight and add complication to an area that could be resolved with a current existing light weight option’.
While we’ve ridden carbon frames before, this is the first time we’ve spent any real, substantive time with one, until now we’ve happily lived in an aluminium world. There is no getting around it, carbon feels different and there is a transition period. At first, we thought we had something loose on the bike, we didn’t … it was the track! You feel the terrain as you pass over it, every subtle change … you feel connected, you feel everything. It’s a new weird sixth sense you acquire, it comes free with the frame. You’re not quite as smooth as you once thought you were … aluminium is more forgiving. But once you adjust … wow! The power you put through the pedals seems to transition instantly and directly to the rear wheel, it jumps effortlessly, pick-ups have suddenly become less taxing on a tired and beat up shoulder but our main take away after living with the Supercross Envy BLK 2 is that it reacts, it reacts to the tiniest of inputs from the rider … responsiveness has been taken to a whole new level.
It would be stupid of us to say this is the perfect frame, we don’t think the guys in Apple Valley would say that either, but the more we examine and dig into it, the more we ride it, the more it becomes apparent … what Supercross have done here comes pretty damn close. They have unleashed a pure, unadulterated, thoroughbred race frame. No frills, no gimmicks, no compromises! We’ve seen the future, we’ve touched it, and there is no going back now!
Check out the Envy BLK 2 at supercrossbmx.com
If you have BMX product and you’re interested in a ‘Fifteen BMX’ fair and honest review please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org … BMX since the 80’s with 25 years of real-world product design experience!
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