The Sea Otter Classic has long served as a sort of annual gathering of the tribes, so to speak. On the one hand, it’s always incorporated a strong racing component, with events held across nearly every cycling discipline, on-road and off, and everything in between. However, it’s also a major stop on the annual trade show circuit, and as it’s also open to consumers, there’s a strong festival feel and a wide range of products on display.
Above all else, though, the theme of the event is usually “fun”, and the bikes and gear on hand here generally reflect that sentiment. Race bikes are here as usual, of course, but these days more than ever, the equipment seems aimed at riders who are more keenly focused on just having a good time.
The first day of the show brought relentless winds, chilly air, and cloudy skies that had attendees grasping for additional layers and shelter whenever possible, but even that someone didn’t manage to dampen the overall mood — or keep us from finding plenty of interesting new gear to share with you. Here’s an initial round to whet your appetites, with more to come in the following days.
This round of coverage includes gear from
Ritchey, Rodeo Labs, Salsa Cycles, Franco Bicycles, Chapter2 Bikes, and Emery Bicycles.
Rodeo Adventure Labs collaborated with Rapha to produce a limited run of Trail Donkey 3.0s. If so desired, buyers can even have their Rapha Cycle Club member number printed on to the frame, too.
Rodeo Adventure Labs is definitely at the forefront of this category of this bike, offering far more all-terrain capability than most users will ever need.
Rodeo Adventure Labs offers its Spork carbon fork separately, and it’s a popular choice for other frame builders that are looking for something with heaps of tire clearance and accessory mounts. It’s also one of the best product names ever.
Rodeo Adventure Labs definitely knows how to keep things fun.
The T47 threaded bottom bracket shell allows for better bearing choices than English shells when using larger-diameter crankset spindles.
Chapter2 debuted at this year’s Sea Otter Classic its new gravel bike, the Ao (which means “earth” in Maori).
Chapter2 designed the Ao to work with either 700c or 650b wheels, with clearance for tires up to 47mm, depending on the wheels. There’s a fairly generous array of mounts, too.
“Not all who wander are lost”… but just in case you are, there are mounts on the top tube for a bento box that will hopefully be holding a bunch of extra snacks.
The “essentials” paint option include this gorgeous New Zealand-themed graphic on the underside of the down tube.
The Chapter2 Ao can accommodate 1x or 2x drivetrains, and a chain guide will be included should you desire a bit of extra drivetrain security.
Discreet fender mounts are incorporated into the design as well, with a removable seatstay bridge up top.
Pleasantly subtle, yet tasteful, graphics. This seems to be Chapter2 hallmark, in fact.
Dropping the driveside chainstays is a trick that was first introduced by Open as a way of shortening the chainstays without affecting tire or chainring clearance. As it turns out, it was such a good solution that more than a handful of other companies have now adopted the strategy for their own frames.
Interchangeable aluminum dropout inserts allow for 412.5mm, 420mm, and 427.5mm effective chainstays lengths.
The flat-mount brake interface is built into the dropout, so at least in theory, there should be no brake adjustments required if you decide to change the dropout position.
Each port for the internal cable routing is laser-etched to reduce confusion as to what goes where. And because the Ao is also designed to accommodate an internally routed dropper seatpost, riders on Shimano Di2 drivetrains won’t be able to mount a battery there. So instead, there’s a hatch under the down tube bottle cage mount.
A hatch underneath the bottom bracket shell should make it easier to route hydraulic lines, cables, and wires. And yep, the new Chapter2 Ao takes good old fashioned threaded bottom bracket cups.
Ritchey’s redesigned Swiss Cross broke cover at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. This elegant white-to-red fade paint job will only be produced in limited quantities, though.
The Ritchey logo on the inside of the fork blades is a nice touch.
As icing on the cake, buyers of the limited-edition version of Ritchey’s redesigned Swiss Cross will also get a free bobblehead and a pair of tires.
Ritchey has been making these bar plugs with integrated tire levers for several years now, and they’re a great way to ensure that you’re never without one if you get a puncture.
Salsa’s new Warroad is designed as a true all-road bike rather than a dedicated gravel machine. Interestingly, three of the four models available are specified with 650b wheels as standard equipment. Maximum tire width is 47mm for 650b versions and 35mm for 700c hoops.
The geometry may be more road-like on paper, but there are still more than enough accessory mounts for an awfully long day in the saddle.
Salsa’s trademark “Class 5 Vibration Reduction System” seatstays are bowed outward to help them flex over bumps.
It may be a press-fit bottom bracket, but at least it’s a BB86, which tends to be less problematic than PF30.
The flat-mount front brake caliper bolts directly to the fork with no additional adapters required.
Emery is the electric bike offshoot formed by Hector Rodriguez, who is perhaps better known as the man behind Franco Bicycles. Franco is still around, but Rodriguez also sees where the future is heading, and bikes like the Emery One are likely a big part of that.
The frame is 3D-printed from carbon fiber by Arevo, who first came up with the basic frame design several years ago. This time around, though, it looks to have a much better chance of actually making it to market.
The battery is located in a separate compartment atop the down tube, and the plastic housing that surrounds it might ultimately incorporate lighting for daytime and nighttime visibility. Prototype 3D-printed plastic shells are pictured here.
Out back, there will eventually be rack and fender mounts integrated for added versatility.
The first versions to come to market with be so-called “Founders Edition” models, of which there will be just a hundred produced.
The Franco brand is still alive and well, and this Sycamore model is the latest to join the range. Unlike some gravel models, this one is meant to accommodate tires no wider than 37mm or so, for more of a sporty feel on milder unpaved surfaces.
There’s a bento box mount on the top tube in addition to the usual double bottle cage mounts inside the main triangle, plus hidden fender mounts front and rear.
The seatpost binder is tucked away inside the top tube for a clean look.
The U-shaped down tube at least hints at some sort of aerodynamic shaping.