Day two of the 2021 Sea Otter Classic brought with it warmer temperatures and a lot more sunshine, as well as an even-bigger heap of new goodies on tap. In this round of coverage, we take a look at Enduro Bearings’ supposedly indestructible (!) Maxhit bottom bracket and headset bearings, Orucase’s nifty top tube bag with its brilliant magnetic zipper, Alchemy’s new ceramic-coated made-in-USA carbon fiber gravel bike, a novel vibration-squelching stem from FSA, the speedy Vision wheels that Sonny Colbrelli used to win the men’s Paris-Roubaix, and… well, you get the point.
There’s a lot of fun bike stuff at Sea Otter, and there will be plenty more to share in the coming days.
Vision’s new Metron SL tubeless-compatible carbon clinchers supposedly just won the men’s Paris-Roubaix under Sonny Colbrelli. Are tubulars done in the pro peloton? Not yet, but it’s not looking so good for fans of glue. The new Vision Metron SL wheels boast a generous 21 mm-wide inner width and fat external widths that are optimized for 28 mm-wide tires. The new rear hubs ditch traditional pawl-type drivers for a new helical spline design. The new PRS rear hub boasts a responsive five-degree engagement speed and supposedly better durability than the old pawl design. The front hub looks nice, but what I find more interesting is the 2-to-1 lacing pattern for more even spoke tension. FSA’s new NS VAS stem features an elastomer handlebar clamp insert that supposedly attenuates vibration before it can get to your hands. The elastomer insert requires a pretty unusual clamp design that includes a third clamp band in between, and wholly separated from, the usual two. Bottom brackets usually consist of a cartridge bearing pressed into a separate cup. But with Enduro Bearings’ new Maxhit bottom bracket, the cup and the outer are one and the same, which allows for much bigger bearing balls than usual, and far better durability – at least according to Enduro Bearings. Stainless steel construction promises to keep corrosion at bay – so much so that Enduro is applying a lifetime warranty to the new Maxhit bearings, even for wear-and-tear. They’re still a few months away from being available, and will also be several grams heavier than a more conventional bottom bracket made with aluminum cups. Enduro Bearings will offer its new Maxhit bottom brackets in BSA threading to fit 30 mm, DUB, and 24 mm Shimano spindles. Retail price will be US$160 when they hit the market in March. When it comes to bearing durabiity, ball size makes a big, big difference, and it’s supposedly the key to the Maxhit bearings’ longevity. We’ll find out soon enough, I guess. Enduro is applying the Maxhit formula to various zero-stack headset bearings, too. Having trouble keeping headset bearings alive? These might be the ticket. Retail price on the Enduro Maxhit headset bearings will be US$120 per set (seals are removed here just to show the interior). As with the bottom brackets, the headset bearings will carry a lifetime warranty, even against corrosion and wear-and-tear. Unreal. Ever wish you could train on gravel at home? Feedback Sports has got you covered – but only if you ask very, very nicely. Alchemy Bikes debuted a new Rogue carbon fiber gravel bike at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. And yeah, sorry about the feet in the background. That’s not traditional paint you’re looking at here. It’s an ultra-durable Cerakote ceramic surface treatment that should be well suited to gravel riding. The Rogue is unusual in that it’s a molded carbon fiber gravel bike that’s actually manufactured in the United States. That doesn’t inherently make it better, of course, but it’ll be noteworthy for some buyers regardless. A note to gravel bike makers everywhere: Fender mounts do not make your bikes less serious. What they do is make your bikes more versatile and usable. The press-fit bottom bracket provides more space to spread the chainstays apart for more tire clearance. Alchemy says the Rogue will accept 700×50 mm knobbies. It’s quite pretty, no? The Giro Synthe gets a few minor changes that help bring the price down a bit. Those mesh vent covers that once supposedly boosted the aero performance of the original Synthe? They’re gone. The biggest change is how the MIPS liner is now incorporated directly into the retention system, which Giro says makes for a better fit and improved ventilation over the original Synthe MIPS. Giro has developed a range of rear lights for its helmets. This one clips on to any helmet with a Roc Loc 5 retention system. Other lightr are designed to fit into the rear vents of specific helmet models, sort of like handlebar end plugs. It’s unclear at this point if any of these are truly bright enough for effective daytime visibility. Giro debuted a new cold-weather shoe called the Blaze that features a waterproof shell and Primaloft insulation. I may not be looking forward to winter, but I am looking forward to trying these things out. Like so many other winter cycling shoes, the Giro Blaze emulates cross-country ski boots with its speed-lace interior and zip-up shell. The Giro Blaze is built atop a fiber-reinforced nylon sole and a grippy rubber outsole that’s purpose-formulated for cold temperatures. Seems like good ingredients for toasty feet. If you’d rather go the traditional overshoe route, Giro has made some from the same laminate Xnetic knit material used in its popular waterproof gloves. A rubberized coating on the lower portion of the Giro Xnetic overshoes promises to keep these from falling apart too quickly. Specialized is often accused of making products that are just outrageously priced, but this new Tactic MTB helmet is anything but. It’s got to be the best US$110 helmet I’ve come across. Lots of coverage, lots of venting. The outermost forward vents are designed to hold your sunglasses. This new Tactic uses a traditional MIPS liner, but there’s also a lot of deep internal channeling that promises good airflow. I’m eager to try this one out. As with some other Specialized mountain bike models, the retention system adjuster is built directly into the foam liner. The magnetic zipper on Orucase’s top tube bag is absolutely brilliant. It’s incredibly easy to get to your stuff, and yet you never have to deal with manually opening or closing anything. Retail price seems pretty acceptable, too, at US$50.
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