The Sea Otter Classic has long been regarded as more of a mountain bike event, at least as far as the expo is concerned. However, these days, it’d be more accurate to say that it focuses more on dirt than tarmac, and gravel gear now features almost as prominently.
In addition to a wealth of complete gravel and mountain bikes, there’s also a wide array of associated parts and accessories to help keep you going from Point A to Point B, clever solutions for getting your bike to the start of a ride, and even stuff to help you recover once you’re done, too.
If nothing else, the smorgasbord of gear covered in this tech gallery not only shows off the breadth of stuff on hand at the Sea Otter Classic, but also shines a spotlight on the diversity of cycling these days in general, which is a wonderful thing to see no matter what cycling discipline strikes your fancy.
Want to see more fresh new gear hitting the market this season? Check out our complete coverage of this year’s Sea Otter Classic, as well as all the new bits from the Taipei Cycle Show, too.
Moots has revamped its Mountaineer YBB, sticking with its 1 1/4in of softail rear-end travel, but giving it a more dedicated trail bike geometry than before.
Moots’ YBB softail rear suspension design is admirably simple, providing just enough movement to take the edge off.
Moots intends the Mountaineer YBB to be used with 120mm-travel forks, with clearance for tires up to 29×2.6in in size.
Leonardi made the trip to Sea Otter from Italy, and among the many things the company brought over was this striking carbon hardtail.
Leonardi says the flattened chainstays and pre-curved seatstays allow for up to 20mm of rear wheel movement to help smooth out rough terrain.
Leonardi is also well-known for its range of aftermarket upgrades for Cannondale’s Lefty forks. One particularly clever setup is this two-piece Lefty-compatible hub. Normally, when you remove the front wheel on a Lefty-equipped bike, you have to first remove the brake caliper. But with this, the outer hub shell separates from the inner shell, leaving the brake rotor behind.
Kask’s color palette is on point these days.
Details matter, and Kask is clearly paying attention to the small bits like this strap slider and buckle.
Kask’s new Caipi trail helmet omits a few features like an adjustable visor and MIPS low-friction liner, but keeps the price point at a US$169 while offering generous coverage and keen styling. Extra style points go to the matching sunglasses from sister brand Koo.
The Kask Caipi’s 26 vents promise a reasonably cool head in warm conditions.
Tubolito inner tubes are made of thermoplastic polyurethane instead of butyl or latex, which supposedly makes them tougher and more airtight. What’s far more appealing, however, is their incredibly low weight and ultra-compact size. All three of these are designed to fit 29in trail bike tires, but the standard Tubolito tube at left weighs only 85g. The new “S-Tubo” version at right is meant more as a dedicated spare, and weighs a paltry 45g, complete with a removable valve extender to reduce the packed size even further, while still supposedly being as tough as a standard butyl tube. The only downside is that they’re quite pricey, at US$35 for the standard version and US$37 for the S-Tubo one.
The Hayes, Sun-Ringle, ProTaper, and Manitou conglomerate is making a big play on the high-end youth bike market. Seriously, what kid wouldn’t want to ride this?
The new ProTaper J-Unit aluminum handlebar and stem are mighty slick, offering the grip advantages of a tiny 15.6mm diameter (and matching grips) at the ends, instead of the usual 22.2mm size.
Premium Manitou forks are now available for 20in and 24in wheel diameters for kids.
Want to get your little shredder set up on quality tubeless aluminum wheels? Sun-Ringle has got you covered.
The 15.6mm-diameter ends on the ProTaper J-Unit handlebar offer a better fit for tiny hands. But the grips cleverly incorporate a 22.2mm inboard extension so that standard components can still clamp to the bars (and they also help hold the grip in place, too). Also note the SFL (Short Finger Lever) option on the Hayes Dominion disc brakes.
In what can only be described as a brilliant marketing move, Ergon is pairing non-black saddles with matching bar tape.
Evoc’s Hip Pack Pro 3L provides enough storage space for tools, food, and an extra layer or two, while still holding a small hydration bladder or two water bottles. What’s particularly interesting, however, is the stretchy waist belt that promises a little extra comfort.
The little blue strap allows for quick tightening and loosening depending on your body position.
This Evoc race hip pack holds just the bare essentials – but then again, this seems like one of those situations where jersey pockets would work really well, too. Retail price is a modest US$45.
Evoc is getting into the frame pack game now, too.
The Continental SpeedKing uses a ramped center tread for low rolling resistance while still retaining some bite under braking. More aggressive side knobs lend extra security when cornering on loose surfaces, too.
Continental badges its Grand Prix Urban tire as a “statement tire for the city”, combining the company’s heralded Black Chili rubber compound, PolyX breaker layer, and reflective sidewalls.
Want colors? Panaracer has got your colors right here! The brighter options supposedly don’t sacrifice grip or durability relative to black compounds, either.
Panaracer’s venerable GravelKing SK+ is now offered in a huge 50mm width (center). The GravelKing EXT (right) is a gravel version of the CG mountain bike tire, and the GravelKing AC (left) is meant to excel on looser conditions with a more open tread design.
Panaracer showed off two new mountain bike tires at this year’s Sea Otter Classic: the Romero (at left) and the Alisa (at right). The more open-treaded Aliso is intended for softer and looser conditions, while the Romero is designed for all-around trail use. Both are offered in 2.4 and 2.6in widths, in both 27.5 and 29in diameters. Retail price is pretty reasonable no matter which size you go with, at US$60.
Panaracer’s “low-allergen” tire sealant uses crushed walnut shells to help plug larger holes.
Saris is moving upscale with its new MTR hitch-mounted rear bike rack. The overall design is clearly a riff on 1upUSA’s long-running rear rack, but with a number of notable refinements that make this one easier to use, like the ability to handle 5in-wide tires straight out of the box, one-handed arm operation, and built-in cable locks. Whether it holds up as well long-term is a question that remains to be answered, though.
The trays fold up with no tools required, which not only helps with rear hatch access, but also makes the Saris MTR easier to store when it isn’t being used.
Saris has also developed a neat cargo tray adapter for its SuperClamp four-bike rack, which still holds two bikes, but also leaves room for extra gear.
I’m old enough to remember when Paramount was heralded as the ultra-exclusive, high-end division of Schwinn, and the 70th anniversary Reynolds 953 steel frame I sampled in 2009 is still one of the sweetest-riding bikes I’ve had the pleasure of throwing a leg over. Schwinn is now once again resurrecting the storied nameplate, this time for a value-minded carbon endurance road bike with SRAM Force eTap AXS and Vision carbon wheels. Asking price is a modest US$3,300, and they’ll only be available consumer-direct – oddly enough, by picking up the phone and calling Schwinn, not online.
Given the commoditization of mid-range carbon road frames these days, I’ve little doubt this Schwinn Paramount is a perfectly fine bike, and there are likely a fair number of people who will find it sufficiently appealing to buy one. But the fact that it says “Paramount” on the down tube still makes me a little nostalgic, and a bit sad.
Redshift Sports showed off prototypes of its upcoming ShockDrop seatpost, which combines a suspension post up top with dropper functionality, too. 27.2mm diameter posts will offer 60mm of drop, while 30.9mm and 31.6mm sizes will go up to 100mm of drop, both with 35mm of suspension travel.
The new Kitchen Sink handlebar concept from Redshift Sports is designed for ultra-endurance events like the Tour Divide.
Meanwhile, the Redshift Sports Endurance Grip system allows users to add silicone rubber shapes for better ergonomics. This is yet another one of those old-yet-new ideas that various companies have been pitching in various incarnations for decades.
Squirt is best known for its wax-based chain lube, but the company also has a growing range of other bike care products. The tire sealant is enhanced with small beads to help seal holes, and the bike cleaner is supposedly biodegradable.
The new Nutcracker from South African brand Ryder combines a valve stem nut tool, spare valve core holder, and disc pad spreader.
The Ryder Slyder CO2 modular storage system can hold two cartridges, or one cartridge and a plug tool.
WTB says its Venture 47 is its most versatile Road Plus tread, combining a fast-rolling center tread with a more squared-off shoulder for mixed-conditions riding.
I’ve long advocated wrapping spare inner tubes in plastic bags or some other durable covering so that they don’t develop holes from getting bounced around inside a saddle pack. But these “tube socks” from BikeTube accomplish that task with a bit more elegance.
Also coming soon from BikeTube is this neat multi-tool, which combines ten bits with a CO2 inflator head.
I’ve long been a huge fan of ESI’s silicone foam rubber mountain bike grips. They’re light, almost immune to slipping, and provide an additional layer of cushioning for your hands. But ODI’s new F-1 Series Vapor Grips are set to challenge that long-held position, with a slow-rebound elastomer compound that somehow manages to feel grippier and cushier.
ODI also offers its AIRE foam elastomer compound in a lock-on version, providing the same cushy feel for your hands, but with better bar security. These also have closed rubber ends that should help the grips stay newer, longer.
Wonder Pax was one of those booths at Sea Otter that I typically just pass over during my rounds, dismissing the wares as some kooky scheme to part fools with their money. That said, their booth workers were impressively persistent, and I definitely walked away impressed with how these reusable heat packs work. Inside is some sort of salt solution that is activated by clicking a small metal disc that floats about inside. From there, the chemical reaction releases the energy stored in the solution, and the whole thing gets remarkably hot. Immersing the pack in boiling water recharges the solution, but it doesn’t get hot until you click the little disc. All this said – and despite the “manager’s special code”, I still walked away empty-handed, but with my wallet full.