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Sensory overload. That’s maybe the best way to describe how it feels to be a gear geek walking the expo area at the Sea Otter Classic. For those of us very much in love with the full breadth of cycling stuff, from enduro mountain bikes to skinny-tire roadies, Sea Otter offers a feast for the senses matched only by massive industry shows like Eurobike. In some ways, Sea Otter actually surpasses those big shows.
The vibe is different at the Otter. There are more small brands, more experimental projects (check out the 3D printed plastic full suspension gravel bike below), and certainly more stoke. Maybe that’s because it’s a consumer show, surrounded by amateur bike races and filled with more groms doing wheelies than reporters taking pictures. It’s fun.
This gallery is full of fun stuff. Beer coozies, mountain bikes, colorful shoes, and much more. When you’re done scrolling through, make sure you catch James Huang’s Sea Otter gallery, part one. And if that still isn’t enough, never fear; there’s more on the way in the coming days.
Chris Chance of Fat Chance fame is slowly making his comeback. Here’s Chris with his new Wicked Fat Chance, his take on an enduro-tailored hardtail. It has a 65-degree head tube angle, 425mm-long chainstays, is optimized for 140mm or 150mm-travel forks, has a nice long top tube, and will easily clear a 2.5″ tire. Wicked.
If rowdy hardtails are your thing, and you always wanted to own a Fat Chance machine, this is the solution.
Fat tires and hardtails. It’s a combination we’ve had quite a lot of fun on in the past.
You want color? Fat Chance has got your color right here. This custom-painted Chris Cross was one of the prettiest bikes at the show — in fact, it was in the final for the People’s Choice victory at the last North American Handmade Bicycle show.
Speaking of Bontrager, the Aeolus Pro wheel range, which sits under the XXX range, offers up tubeless carbon wheels in two depths for US$1200. Each comes in disc or rim version, and goes through the same impact testing as the more expensive stuff.
The disc rim has no brake track. The Pro wheels come in 30mm and 50mm depths, both with 19.5mm internal widths.
The rim-brake version gets a brake track that borrows tech from the pricey XXX wheels.
This steel frame is just a way for Bontrager to hang all its parts in one place, but we found it oddly beautiful. Or maybe it’s not odd at all. Bontrager started not too far from Sea Otter’s home in Monterey, in Santa Cruz, making frames quite a lot like this one. This bike is fitted with Bontrager’s new Aeolus XXX 6 wheels and the R4 Classics Tubular (which will be available as an open tubular/clincher later this year), XXX cockpit, seatpost, and saddle. The 1x Dura-Ace crankset is an interesting touch.
As someone who spends his fair share of time on airplanes (a.k.a. germ tubes), I’m always looking for ways to keep my immune system working better. Nuun has just released its non-GMO certified Immunity effervescent tablets. These feature all kinds of things that are supposed to help boost immune health, including zinc, ginger, echinacea, and turmeric. Plus, it’s tasty. I tried some at the booth.
These clasps will make more sense once you see the next photo.
That’s right — a cooler made by Ortlieb designed to clasp on to a rear rack. It’s called the Rack Box and it’s US$140.
Lake’s take on lace-ups includes the CX1, a road shoe that comes in approximately one million colors and costs only US$130. Like many Lake shoes, they come in multiple widths, in this case standard and E.
Lake also does a podium shoe version.
The regular Lake CX1 uses an fiber-reinforced nylon sole to keep the price low, but it doesn’t look like a cheap shoe. This CX1 Carbon is a bit more expensive at US$200, but gets a stiffer carbon sole.
Don’t try to jump any sharks on this Niner Magic Carpet Ride; it’s actually made of plastic. The dual-suspension gravel bike is a final 3D-printed prototype, and we expect an actual release sometime later this year. Niner was quiet about final specs, including how much travel is at either end. There will be lockout front and rear, apparently. And a dropper post. And drop bars? And at some point maybe just… buy a mountain bike? That said, the Magic Carpet looks incredibly fun, with short chainstays and a tightly tucked rear wheel, plus a relatively slack front end. It’s the trail bike of gravel bikes.
The flared bars match the personality of the Magic Carpet Ride.
NIner uses a tiny version of its RDO suspension, which is apparently re-tuned for better in-saddle efficiency.
A good linkage design will be crucial to a bike like this.
Maybe 30mm of travel? That’s about all you need on a gravel bike, as provided by this cut-down RockShox RS-1 on Niner’s full-suspension gravel prototype.
Let’s say you really love TRP’s Hylex RS hydraulic disc brakes. We wouldn’t blame you, as they have great modulation and the long, thin hoods are super comfortable. But TRP doesn’t make integrated shifters. Bingo. Stick some buttons on. The Hylex RS is now sold with eTap or Di2 adapter kits so you can run an electronic drivetrain with TRP hoods/levers. The adapter kits are US$35 per side.
Shifting from the drops might be a bit awkward with this arrangement.
The TRP Hylex RS uses Shimano-sized brake pads. The system offers a bit less bite than Shimano discs but, in our experience, better modulation.
TRP’s hydro hoods are long and thin, with a much smaller hood bump than SRAM and Campagnolo (or older Shimano models).
K-Edge’s new mount for the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt GPS computer follows the same curve as the front of the computer. It’s supposedly more aerodynamic than other GPS computer setups, but perhaps more importantly to some, it also just looks cool. It will set you back US$70.
K-Edge’s aftermarket mount for the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt is much sturdier than the stock plastic version, too.
Beer. It’s very important. These vacuum-sealed growlers from Drink Tank will keep your beer cool (or hot cocoa warm, if that’s more your style) for a full day. US$75 for 64oz, US$114 for 128oz.
But wait! What if you need to keep your beer ready to go for more than a day? This CO2-powered keg cap turns a regular Drink Tank into a mini keg, which will keep your beer good for up to a month on the road. It’s US$45, on top of the Drink Tank cost.
Wander around a bike event and Mission Workshop roll-top bags are everywhere — and for good reason. They work, they’re burly, they’re comfortable. The company now has a new hip pack, the Axis, which is made of “High Tenacity 500d nylon” with a TPU-coated nylon liner, so it’s completely waterproof. It’s designed to work with Mission Workshop’s other bags, too. The straps tuck away and it can be attached to most of the company’s larger bags.
New Jersey-based VonHof showed off its steel ACX cross bike at Sea Otter. It’s made in the US, and available in a bunch of stocks sizes for US$2,395 or full custom for more (exactly how much more depends on what you want). The ACX joins the company’s gravel and road bikes in the lineup.
Douchebags, one of the world’s most unfortunate names for a bag brand, actually makes very good bags. The company is relaunching its bike bag, called the Savage, which uses an aluminum space frame to keep your bike safe. It takes road, gravel, and mountain bikes, and that aluminum frame provides some peace of mind.
There’s definitely a beer theme here. Green Guru re-uses materials to make stellar bike bags, and now has this nifty insulated six-pack top tube holder. Each one is made from up-cycled nylon, so colors and patterns will vary. Cost is US$40.
But what if I need to get beer across rough surfaces? The Tubular top tube sling will hold three beers (or Lacroix, or whatever), keep them cold, and straps easily to the top tube. It’s US$40.
Marzocchi is back. The company, now under the Fox umbrella, is jumping back into the ring with a single crown trail fork and a double crown DH fork. The Bomber Z1 trail fork is basically a budget Fox 36, costing US$700 instead of US$900 for the Fox. It uses nearly the same damper and spring internals as its more expensive brother, but uses cheaper (and slightly heavier) uppers and lowers to keep the price in check. So you get almost all the performance of a base level Fox 36 for $200 less. Plus, your fork says Bomber on it, which sends the heart lightly aflutter for anyone who rode mountain bikes 15 years ago.
Chrome’s Cardiel ORP (Operation Readiness Pack) is a light, water-resistant roll-top bag we’ve long been fans of. Now, creator John Cardiel is doing a special edition inspired by the Japanese reggae group Mighty Crowns. It looks cool, and if you’re into Japanese reggae, it’s probably the only bag on Earth made just for you.
Felt’s gone big with its Compulsion enduro bike, which has 170mm of front travel paired with 165mm rear. That rear travel is controlled via a six-bar linkage called Equilink.
The rod that ties the upper and lower links together allows Felt to more independently tune the wheel path and shock leverage rates for a more refined feel. Felt also went to Igus solid composite bearings this year in an effort to increase wear life.
This is maybe more CyclingTips’ style. The Edict FRD gets a major update for 2018, dropping a full pound off the frame. The FRD version is 100mm/100mm-travel front and rear, but Felt will sell the same frame with a 120mm fork as well. Those two longer-travel models are called the 3 and 5, and both can take an internally routed dropper post.