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The Sea Otter Classic has always been a predominantly American event. It’s based in California, it perennially showcases the open-mindedness to new trends that have long characterized American riders, and most of the brands displaying in the expo have typically called the United States its home base. The parking area is lined with big pickup trucks, and burgers and hot dogs are common fare with people walking the aisles.
But just as the Sea Otter Classic itself has expanded outward — there will be another Sea Otter Europe in Girona, Spain in early June — the rest of the world has also devoted more attention here, with more global brands making their way to the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to show off their wares, and more global trends permeating the ranks. Gravel bikes were the norm in terms of drop-bar machines, not WorldTour racing machines, and e-MTBs almost seemed normal.
What will next year’s show bring? Unfortunately, our crystal ball isn’t any clearer than yours, so we’ll have to wait a year for that question to be answered. But in the meantime, here’s the final round of what caught our eyes in this edition. Next stop: Eurobike.
The Vision TriMax 40 TL uses a carbon-over-aluminum rim.
Vision’s new Metron 30 SL sports a shallow 30mm-deep carbon rim for riders that prioritize low weight over aerodynamics. Vision will offer it in both tubular and tubeless clincher versions.
Want to run full-carbon rims but can’t afford full-carbon prices? With the Vision Trimax 40 TL, your riding buddies will never be the wiser.
Vision’s Metron 4D MAS drop handlebar has built-in ports for a bolt-on aerobar.
As the name suggests, FSA’s new K-Force Flat Di2 carbon fiber handlebar is designed with Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifters in mind, complete with wire channels on the underside of the grip area and access holes for internal routing. They’re also usefully wide at 740mm.
FSA’s new K-Force Light AGX carbon wheels are aimed at well-heeled gravel riders with a 21.5mm internal width, tubeless compatibility, and a 1,465g claimed weight for the set.
FSA has moved to adjustable bearing preload on virtually the entire wheel line, for improved bearing durability and easier servicing.
Want the look of carbon, but the crash tolerance of aluminum? FSA’s OS-99 CSI features a forged aluminum body with a carbon overwrap. Supposedly, there’s also a modest stiffness benefit. Supposedly.
Want some more speed and durability for your SRAM Eagle rear derailleur? Enduro is about to release aluminum-and-Delrin pulley upgrade kits that spin on ultra-low-friction XD-15 ceramic bearings. There’s even an optional XD-15 upgrade for the cable pulley, too.
The hybrid construction supposedly adds more rigidity relative to all-plastic wheels, and the smooth surface has no holes or pockets where mud and crud can accumulate.
Enduro Bearings will also offer an XD-15 upgrade for the cable pulley on SRAM Eagle rear derailleurs.
The new Enduro Bearings XD-15 derailleur pulleys for SRAM Eagle rear derailleurs will retail for US$230; the complete upgrade kit with the new cable pulley will fetch US$300.
Enduro Bearings has been quick to support SRAM’s new DUB 29mm-diameter spindle format with new bottom bracket and bearing models.
Specialized has just released a complete redesign of its Stumpjumper range of trail bikes, complete with modern long-low-and-slack geometry, a stiffer frame for more predictable handling, and a brilliant internal cable routing design.
The asymmetrical frame design looks unusual, but adds frame stiffness by tying the top tube and seat tube together.
The storage compartment in the down tube is bigger than it was on the previous generation, meaning there’s now an even better chance you won’t need any sort of seat pack for all of your repair essentials.
The internal cable routing system really is truly brilliant. The paths are fully guided from end to end, meaning you insert the housing here…
…and then it magically reappears here, with no fishing required.
Specialized says the raised nubs on the chainstay protector dramatically reduces noise when riding through rough terrain.
Specialized designer Robert Egger never fails to impress. E-mountain bikes are often criticized by skeptics as just being electric motorcycles, so why not just embrace the hate?
Knog’s new Plus LED blinkers are cleverly designed for both on-bike and on-body use. Retail price will be around US$20 each.
An embedded magnet easily attach the Knog Plus to the bike mount, while the light itself plugs into a USB port for charging with no cords required.
The Knog Plus also attaches to clothing like a paper clip.
Knog is continuing to build its PWR family of lights with a new MTB-focused model. Claimed output is a whopping 2,000 lumens. The bigger battery offers a claimed run time of two hours on the highest setting. Retail price is US$180 for a complete setup, or US$80 for just the lamp head, which can be attached to other PWR bodies thanks to the system’s modular design.
Knog’s PWR family isn’t just a bunch of lights. It’s actually a modular ecosystem with bar- and helmet-mounted lights, a camping lamp, and even a portable wireless speaker.
Knog will soon manufacture its one-millionth Oi bell, and is celebrating with a premium version called the Oi Luxe. The all-metal construction looks trick, and instead of the usual rubber shim, there’s a strip of leather. Retail price will be US$40.
Giro’s new Chamber 2 mountain bike shoes are aimed at trail and gravity riders who want a more casual look. A still fiber-reinforced nylon shank helps maintain pedaling efficiency, and the cleat pocket is placed slightly more rearward as compared to XC-style shoes for a more centered feel. Two colors are available for now, with a third Aaron Gwin-inspired edition coming soon. Retail price is US$150.
The Vibram rubber sole on Giro’s new Chamber 2 shoes feel impressively tacky, promising good grip despite the minimal tread depth. Tapered edges of the cleat pocket promise quick pedal engagement.
Industry Nine is working with Stickerd to provide custom decals. It’s a cheap and easy way to dress up your bike.
New sock brand Freshly Minted has some heady industry veterans behind it, such as former Crankbrothers designer Tim van Gilder. The look is apparently inspired by mid-century modern patterns, and the company has an interesting release plan. Three or four new designs will be produced each quarter, and when they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Retail price is US$20, and the company will donate US$1 of each pair to the National Inter-scholastic Cycling Assocation.
Bont’s new Helix road shoes feature a unique wire arrangement that spirals around the middle of the foot. Carrying over are Bont’s usual heat-moldable carbon fiber construction and more squared-off toe box shape.
Much has already been written about Campagnolo’s new 12-speed Record and Super Record groupsets. But as far as I can tell, no one has yet mentioned this brilliant feature on the cassette. These small tabs protruding inward from the largest cog prevent the chain from jamming between the cassette and spokes in the event of an overshift. It’s not a new idea, but one that’s nice to see regardless.
Bell showed off an impressively broad array of colors for its top-end Zephyr Z2 road helmet at this year’s Sea Otter Classic.
Stainless steel tubing on this Brompton folding bike adds a healthy amount of visual flair (not to mention corrosion resistance) to this classic British folding bike.
Galfer isn’t a name that’s well known in the bicycle world, but it has very strong roots in the motorcycle world. Its new mountain bike disc brake rotors use a floating design where the steel brake track is allowed to expand separately from the carrier when hot. According to Galfer, this also reduces operating noise and vibration.
Syncros is yet another company that has jumped into the short-and-wide saddle game with the new Belcarra V.
Jaybird’s new Run wireless earbuds look like a good option for riders looking to bring music on the road. There’s no way to pipe in ambient sounds, though.