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by James Huang
April 25, 2017
Photography by James Huang
The annual Sea Otter Classic never fails to live up to its reputation one of the premier events in North American for showcasing new bikes and gear. Not only is its outdoor setting in the California sunshine vastly more pleasant than typical trade-show settings, but the fact that it’s open to the public, including thousands of amateur racers, means it’s a bit less businesslike vibe, too.
This year’s event saw a number of releases, including Franco Bicycles’ new Latigo RS1 custom carbon road racer, the Chris Cross TIG-welded cyclocross/gravel machine from legendary mountain bike brand Fat Chance, and a preview of the disc-compatible version of Masi Bikes’ speedy Evoluzione — complete with an eye-catching paint job dubbed “Unicorn Blood.”
Also new are Bont’s recently revamped Riot road shoes, with premium features and unique construction that belie its entry-level pricing, Wolf Tooth Components’ clever B-RAD bottle mount-based accessory system, WTB’s new Byway 47 Road Plus tires, Stages Cycling’s slick Dash power-focused bike computer, and Prologo’s new saddle-fitting system.
Check out the details on all of this, and more, in the expansive photo gallery below.
The titanium specialists at Sage brought a stunning gravel machine to this year’s Sea Otter Classic.
Thru-axle dropouts and flat-mount disc brakes are used front and rear.
A machined plate on the driveside chainstay provides a little extra tire clearance without having to resort to a wide-format, press-fit bottom bracket shell.
The graphic work on this Sage gravel bike was quite the sight to behold in the bright California sun.
Someone was very careful with the vinyl masking on this one.
Removable cable stops leave a clean look in the event you want to run an electronic drivetrain instead.
Open broke new ground in terms of road-bike versatility with the original U.P., and has since followed up with the lighter-weight U.P.P.E.R., which pegs the scales at a claimed 870g for a medium frame. Retail cost is a heady US$4,500 / €4,500.
Accompanying the Open U.P.P.E.R. frame is an all-new fork dubbed U-Turn, which offers even better tire clearance than the original 3T option (up to 650×2.5″) along with a lower 375g weight.
Despite boasting clearance for 700x40mm or 650×2.1″ tires, the rear end of the Open U.P.P.E.R is still remarkably short. This is due in large part to the dramatically dropped driveside chainstay, which avoids the typical pinch point between the chainring and tire by bypassing it completely.
The internal cable routing is not only tidy, but also compatible with multiple drivetrain configurations. The bosses on the top tube work with triathlon-standard accessories.
Along with being lighter, the Open U.P.P.E.R. switches from the post-mount tabs of the original U.P. to the more road-specific flat-mount interface.
Franco Bicycles has launched its new Latigo RS1, a tube-to-tube carbon machine that’s made in Italy.
Franco will offer the new Latigo RS1 with custom paint and geometry options, but only with rim brakes — at least for now. Pricing for the frameset starts at US$4,500.
It’s not often that you see this level of shaping on a tube-to-tube frame.
The seatpost binder is hidden away underneath the top tube.
A removable guide on the underside of the threaded bottom bracket shell eases initial setup and maintenance.
Franco is building its new flagship Latigo RS1 with premium MJ-Series carbon fiber from Japanese supplier Torayca.
Masi Bikes will supplement its standard rim-brake Evoluzione carbon fiber road racer with a new disc-brake version to be formally launched later this year.
Masi Bike product manager James Winchester calls this color “Unicorn Blood”. That informal name isn’t likely to make it to the official spec sheet, but the color will. Don’t count on the matching headset top cover, but the painted-to-match 3T stem might actually make the cut.
Masi Bikes product manager James Winchester even worked with KMC to produce a similarly gleaming chain finish to match the “Unicorn Blood” paint.
The giant frame tube diameters and oversized BB386EVO bottom bracket shell on the Masi Evoluzione promise plenty of zip when you apply the power.
Legendary mountain-bike builder Chris Chance came back to the industry last year after a long hiatus, and now supplements his small-but-growing collection with a new TIG-welded steel cyclocross bike that’ll also fit more gravel-friendly tires, too.
The tapered head tube is particularly elegant on Chris Chance’s new Chris Cross.
The rear end of the Fat Chance Chris Cross features a flat-mount disc brake interface and thru-axle dropouts.
It would almost be a pity to get this thing dirty.
Tire clearance is generous all around, easily gobbling up 700x40mm or 650×2.1″ rubber.
The graphics were penned by famed artist RJ Rabe.
Assuming your wallet can handle the hit, few people would likely complain about having to run a few errands on Shinola’s fetching Bixby townie.
Shinola builds its steel frames using a mix of TIG-welding and brazing. The custom lugs are produced in-house.
The leather bits are produced in-house as well, and the copper finish adds a classy touch.
Anything other than a proper leather saddle just wouldn’t look right here.
Needless to say, the dropouts are custom made as well.
Is it a good value? That’s subjective, but the Shinola Bixby certainly is pretty.
The internal cable routing is nicely executed through the curved top tube.
Shinola is constantly experimenting with different finishes, such as copper plating on this showpiece. Don’t expect this to be available any time soon, however, given how much maintenance is required to keep the tarnishing at bay.
As compared to the industry standard, Shinola sells a vastly disproportionate number of female-friendly mixte frames from its factory-owned retail stores.
Shinola isn’t so much a bicycle company as it is a design company that makes bikes. Amongst its diverse range of offerings is a collection of leather goods, notebooks, analog watches, and high-end audio equipment — and virtually all of it is made in the United States.
Is there another bike company that makes watches, too? Perhaps, but not watches like this.
The redesigned Riot may technically be Bont’s entry-level shoe, with a retail cost of just US$180, but its feature set and unique construction puts more expensive shoes to shame.
If your feet aren’t narrow and pointy like many European cycling shoes, you might want to give some Bonts a try.
The carbon composite sole on the redesigned Bont Riot wraps up and around the heel for a tighter fit and better support than most plate-style soles.
Is gravel your thing? Bont’s new Vaypor G shoes are specifically aimed at you with its unyieldingly road-like carbon fiber sole stiffness and walkable tread. Needless to say, the line between a “gravel” shoe and a traditional cross-country race shoe is getting blurry, indeed.
Hiplock’s latest offering is a low-security “lock” that is basically just a keyed zip-tie with a stainless steel core.
WTB follows up on its excellent Horizon 47 road plus semi-slick tire with the more capable Byway 47, which sports a diamond-pattern intermediate tread and legitimate shoulder knobs for secure cornering on loose surfaces.
Islabikes is but one of several companies that have recently formed to exclusively serve the premium youth bicycle market. This 16-inch model features an aluminum frame and carbon fork, cartridge bearing hubs with a fast-engaging rear freehub, TRP CX-9 linear-pull brakes, and three-piece aluminum cranks with titanium-axled pedals.
Is all of this overkill for a kid? Perhaps, but one could also easily make the argument that kids can benefit from lighter bikes even more than adults.
The woefully slow engagement speed of most hubs on kids’ bikes make it much harder to get started than it should be. The quick-engaging rear freehub on Islabikes’ Pro Series Cnoc 16 is a smart upgrade.
Given the company’s background, it’s no surprise that Stages Cycling’s new Dash computer is built specifically for power meter users with a wide range of targeted functions and built-in diagnostics to help you keep your power meter charged up and calibrated.
Quite uniquely, the Stages Dash computer can be set up in either portrait or landscape orientations, depending on your preferences.
Looking for some more color in your life? K-Edge has you covered. The company has also managed to shave off some grams with lower-profile clamps and arms (middle).
Machined aluminum computer mounts may be more expensive than molded plastic ones, but they’re also notably more solid — and they tend to look nicer, too.
Prologo’s new Nago C3 saddle tips the scales at a feathery 159g while still offering full padding and a textured microfiber cover.
Prologo’s latest CPC Airing surface treatment bundles tiny rubber cylinders into domed, hexagon-shaped clusters that the company claims keep you from sliding around while pedaling while also adding airflow and padding to sensitive bits. The latter two claims seem like a bit of a stretch, but the rubberized surface certainly is grippy.
Liberal helpings of carbon fiber litter the underside of the new Prologo Nago C3.
Prologo also recently announced a new saddle-fitting system, which uses a combination of sit bone width, hip flexibility, body mass index, rider age, and rider preference to determine your “perfect” saddle.
Don’t have any reflective material on your clothing or bike? No worries — just smear a couple of stripes of Safety Skin to your legs and arms. Mixed into the wax-based spread are thousands of tiny reflective glass beads, just like what’s used in higher-performance reflective tapes and clothing appliques.
American Classic’s road disc hubs all use a Center Lock splined rotor interface since Shimano doesn’t offer its 140mm-diameter Ice Tech discs in a six-bolt pattern.
American Classic founder Bill Shook says his 29 Race wheelset, originally designed for cross-country and trail mountain bikes, has found new appeal for the burgeoning gravel scene thanks to its impressively low weight, easy tubeless compatibility, and generous 24mm internal rim width.
Joe Breeze was an early pioneer of mountain bikes, but now focuses his attention on urban transportation. The Doppler model pictured here sports a wide-range single-ring drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, versatile 650x47mm tires, and plenty of eye-catching polished aluminum.
A wealth of braze-ons allow users to outfit the Breezer Doppler as needed.
Picky Bars may not look all appealing to the eyes, but they’re gloriously tasty in your mouth and easy to digest with a simple ingredient list filled with “real” food. The new “Chai and Catch Me” flavor is particularly yummy.
Wolf Tooth Components’ new Bottle Relocation and Accessory Device — or B-RAD — is basically a plate that lets you reposition the bottle cage upward on one end, and attach other bits at the other end.
There’s also an intriguing option for a double bottle mount up front, which doesn’t create any pedaling interference since it’s positioned ahead of your feet.