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December 15, 2017
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Otso Warakin
  • Wily_Quixote

    Great read – part travelogue, part review. Nicely done.

  • Steel

    Nice muffin shot.

    I invested in some panniers and a rack for commuting, but with a longer view to some off road bike touring. Reckon I made a mistake there. Having the weight of cargo down the middle of the frame is going to make for much more enjoyable riding, and the weight of the racks and bags is substantial.

    Question, do you think guards are needed for this sort of riding?

    • James Huang

      To be honest, my next outing will likely be done with a traditional rack and panniers. The seatpost/saddle-mounted pack shown here works ok, but the design ultimately came about to accommodate full-suspension mountain bikes and bikes that don’t have rack mounts. The cone-like shape is tricky to pack, and the weight is up high. In contrast, panniers are boxier and lower to the ground, albeit slightly heavier given that there’s a rack required. Provided you load them up evenly from left to right, I think you’ll be just fine.

      As for guards, do you mean mudguards/fenders? I actually could have used them on my way back down the mountain the next morning, as the roads were a bit wet and the dirt sections made for quite the mess. They’re nice to have, but I suppose it ultimately just depends on your local conditions.

  • Kartikeya Panwar

    Lovely! Makes me feel like skipping those intervals tomorrow go out for a backpacking trip. I’ve been eyeing this frame for a while now and the decision seems to be a little firmer now. For some reason though, it feels like you didn’t give it enough love? Like perhaps a couple of more rides to have a conclusive opinion about it. And while i know you guys must be sick of explaining the scoring system by now but it’ll be really helpful to know why the frame scored only 7 on marketing claims and 8 on function. Something amiss?

    • James Huang

      I spent several months on it, actually, but chose to highlight specifically the one bikepacking trip I did while I had it.

      As for the scoring, it’s honestly more a by-product of an old review system we’ve been using than anything else. In my opinion, the criteria and descriptors are vague and somewhat arbitrary, and only marginally useful. Let’s just say it’s something I’m looking into.

      That all said, I scored the frameset slightly lower in terms of marketing claims and function because it’s made out to be a do-everything drop-bar machine, but the fact of the matter is that I felt it was a bit too heavy and soft for proper CX use. I also would have liked dedicated mounts for frame bags so the unsightly straps aren’t needed. Otso already offers a specific frame bag for its Voytek, and I would expect a similar update soon.

      Adjusting the rear end also doesn’t match with a adjustable front end. In the 420mm mode, the Warakin is great: truly CX-like handling. But in 440mm mode, you get the longer and more stable rear end, but the front-center stays the same. It’s a very minor point that I doubt many people would ever notice, but perhaps something I should have mentioned, anyway.

      Finally, there’s also the question of long-term durability. Otso has apparently chosen a good manufacturing partner (the Warakin is welded in Taiwan, not China), but as a new brand, there’s no way to know what the track record will be.

      Nonetheless, the core question remains: would I buy one of these myself were in the market for such a thing? Yes, I would. (Full disclosure: I bought one of Otso’s Voytek fat bike framesets last year!)

      • Kartikeya Panwar

        Ah that was quicker than I expected! Thanks for the response. It’s good to have a slightly more in-depth opinion now. Otso seem to be in a place somewhat similar to Trek with Domane a few years back with ISO speed decoupler only at the back – a bike of two different halves. I wonder if they can come up with (or license) something like the Twin Tip technology that Rondo have with their Ruut gravel bikes. That could perhaps truly make it two bikes in one frame. I am having serious second thoughts now because the Trek Crockett seems to offer 95% of the same functionality with about half the price and the assurance of one getting one of the world’s most renowned brands to boot!

        And thanks for the “if it were my money” response. I find that to be a good marker of the value in a bike. Happy to see it given that I generally agree with your assessments – case in point, the Domane v. Roubaix shootout. Cheers!

        • James Huang

          The Crockett is obviously a very different machine from this: primarily suited for racing, but with some utility in mind, as compared to the Warakin, which I consider to be more of an adventurer and backroads explorer that you’re likely to keep for a longer period of time. The stainless frame really is quite pretty, and many will find the lack of paint to be extremely appealing.

          It’s a tough call, but it’ll probably just come down to how you expect to ride whatever you buy.

          • Kartikeya Panwar

            Couldn’t agree more on the visual appeal of the bike! It looks better some titanium frames IMO. One more thing that I just noticed – what black magic was used to keep the bike upright without so much as even a small twig under the crank arms? o_O

  • cnm

    Good one James … loved it.

  • W. Bradford Williams

    Once a regular reader of this site I have changed my riding from road racing, KOM chasing, and skirting through dodgy pacelines to a more general riding approach with wider tires more comfortable rides and more ride options (gravel, pavement, trails, overnighters, etc). It was refreshing to see this report/review amongst the usual reviews of teeth chattering aero bikes that either cost $10k or are really only suited for the pros. Thanks for including this on the site. I can relate to this for a change. I guess I’ll have to check back in to see if more similar reports appear.

    • James Huang

      Thanks for sticking with us! Let’s just say that I think you’ll be happy with some of the other stuff I’ll be publishing soon ;)

  • 2wheelsandme

    Nice piece Mr Huang. As for the frame I like the price+whats included.

  • TypeVertigo

    Great piece.
    One corrrection James – I believe your saddle is a Fabric Line, not a Scoop.

    • James Huang

      Oops, you are correct! Thanks for the sharp eye.

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