Sea Otter Classic, ’14, Part III

Sea Otter Classic, ’14, Part III

For all the wide cycling shoes on the market, almost no one ever sends them to me to review. Despite the logic behind sending a shoe that fits someone’s foot, I ordinarily receive my size plus or minus a half size. Well that changed at Sea Otter when Lake hosted a bunch of us journalistical types to be fitted with a pair of their shoes. I was put in a pair of Lake’s CX237 in wide; they have a retail of $279. This is a moldable shoe; stick it in your home oven at about 200 degrees for about five minutes. Be sure to have some gloves. Most of what is moldable is the rear half of the shoe, particularly the heel cup.

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Lake introduced a new insole that comes in two versions, one in carbon fiber and another in fiberglass. The fiberglass is slightly heavier and goes for $60 as opposed to the $80 for the carbon fiber model. They molded a set of these for me as well. I’m looking forward to writing the review. As I was setting the cleats up on them last night I couldn’t help but think this was the best-fitting, non-custom pair of cycling shoes I’d ever worn. And for an investment of $340. (Also, a little reminder here, some piece of gunk got in my camera—something I couldn’t see through the lens—resulting in these crescents you’ll be seeing in these images. Sorry ’bout that.)IMG_8513

This was my first chance to see a frame from the Canadian outfit No. 22, which hired some of the former Serotta employees. They used a salt-water bath to do the anodizing, and that detail is nearly the only difference between this bike and a Legend Ti, at least from the standpoint of appearance. IMG_8514

The anodizing has a great look with no weight penalty. IMG_8515

And the welds are superb. Of course. IMG_8516

For everyone who thought they’d missed out on a Legend Ti, you still have the chance. IMG_8517

The Italian maker Scapin is offering a new carbon fiber frame, the Ivor in custom geometry. It’s a handsome bike with striking lines.
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It’s rare that you see a bike with such a wide BB that the Campy Ultra Torque crank doesn’t require a sizable spacer between the bearing and the crank.

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Wahoo, a company full of interesting new uses for technology, introduced this new hear rate strap called the Tickr. What makes it one-of-a-kind is that it broadcasts HR data in both ANT+ and bluetooth, so it will talk to your Garmin and your smartphone all at the same time.

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The Kickr is Wahoo’s trainer. While this isn’t really the time to be getting worked up about riding inside, this trainer addresses every criticism anyone has been able to dream up for the LeMond Revolution. Don’t like the noise of the Revolution’s wind resistance unit? No problem; this uses magnetic resistance but doesn’t give up the flywheel effect found in the Revolution that made it so great to pedal. Don’t like the fact that the Revolution is bulky and hard to put away? The Kickr features folding legs and a handle to make it small and easy to carry. Don’t like that the Revolution is suited to one wheel size? The Kickr is adjustable. Don’t like that the Revolution has no way to track wattage or other training parameters? The Kickr can be adjusted in myriad ways and thanks to an app that will run on your smart phone or tablet, you can make adjustments while riding.

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The bike industry has seen its share of turnaround attempts. Fewer of them have been successful than you would think. When I reviewed the SPY Alphas a while back I found them a refreshing change to much what was out there. Since then, SPY has been on a roll, introducing new models and lenses at a rate that even Oakley can’t match. This display case had the same effect on me that Oakley’s once did: I want that one and that one and that on…. This is what ass-kicking looks like.

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Club Ride was one of the first companies to offer designs that bridged the gap between technical wear and BMX-inspired baggy mountain bike wear. They continue to offer some of the best-looking and most affordable pieces I’ve seen. IMG_8548

Specialized was showing off its new Stumpjumper EVO for 650″ or 27B or whatever anyone wants to call it. The big red S has taken some heat for being last to the 27.5 party, but if history is any guide, they’ve taken their time in getting the geometry right. The two people I spoke to who have ridden this bike say it drops like a downhill bike but pedals like a trail bike. IMG_8552

Speedplay has been hard at work on a new mountain bike pedal called the Syzr. We’re told it is great at shedding mud, offers real float (as opposed to alleged) and doesn’t depend on the shoe’s lugs to provide a stable pedaling platform. This is a pre-production sample; they should be in bike shops ahead of Interbike. IMG_8554

The fence at the bottom of the stairway from the paddock into the expo has become the de facto location to position bikes for sale. I saw eight different bikes there at one point, everything from mountain bikes to road and ‘cross bikes and even the occasional BMX bike.

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Unlike most years, SRAM didn’t have much in the way of new products to introduce. However, they did mention they had two new cassettes. I was all ears. Would they be introducing something beginning with a 12? Of course not. The two new cassettes fall in the Red WiFLi range, with an 11-30 and an 11-32. Nevermind the fact that most of the U.S. is reasonably flat and to spin out a 50×11 you’ve got to be going 45 mph. It seems a silly omission to me, and while I really love SRAM components, I’ll continue to criticize them on this point.

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Felt showed off a disc-brake version of its grand touring Z model. Road product manager Dave Koesel told me that the disc version of the Z frame features a significantly different layup, making the bike even more comfortable than the rim brake version.  IMG_8573

The Z has always been an unusually comfortable example of a grand touring bike, and while many examples of this line of thinking do all they can to suppress vibration, the Z is a surprisingly sensitive bike. IMG_8576

Cable routing is both internal and clean and this bike got a redesigned fork to direct the front brake line routed through the fork itself. This is a fine example of why Felt is the most consistently underrated bike manufacturer out there. IMG_8560

Lest we forget just how this event started.

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8 comments

  1. Chris

    I have an early Lynskey-made 22 Great Divide. I absolutely love the look and ride quality. It looks like the anodizing on the new one is bolder and I hear it’s lighter. Oh well, at least I have mine already!

  2. bwebel

    I hope you are right about the Speedplay Szyr. They’ve been promising this pedal “soon” for at least two years now. I it works like they say it does, I’m in line to buy at least a half dozen, but I’m getting tired of waiting for them to release it.

    Amen about the 12t cog on the SRAM cassettes. I’m really not happy looking at the specific ratios that are being done on the 11 speed cassettes. For example, the SRAM 11×28 has a 3 tooth gap from 19 to 22, then 25, 28. I’d far rather have 19, 21, 24, 28, but you don’t get much choice these days.

  3. Aar

    Just an invitation to debate: I don’t get the criticism being leveled at SRAM for making all of their cogsets with an 11 tooth cog. Yes, you’ve got to be doing 45 mph to spin out a 50×11. For me, it only takes about a 3% down slope to get there, I’m not exceptional in the least and I get there quite frequently in the gently rolling part of North Carolina. Also, 11 tooth cogs allow use of smaller chainrings for a desired high gear on a drivetrain. So, please explain.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not a SRAM customer, probably never will be. I’m one of those nutty Campy people. I frequently change cranksets as well as cogsets to match the terrain I’ll be riding at a given time. Campy cogsets that come with 27 or 29 tooth large cogs are only available with 12 tooth small cogs and I find it disappointing that I have to give up that tiny bit of top end whenever I’m out of shape or headed for the mountains. The 11 tooth cog on SRAM’s WiFLi cogsets are one of the most attractive things about SRAM in my eyes. Yes, I love the shifting response of a corncob and other closely matched cogsets. That’s why I have them and switch to them when I get fit or the terrain I will be riding is flattish. So, I get the desire for an extra step in the middle of a cogset. I get that the friction of chain wrap is greater on smaller cogs and is pretty much at its worst on an 11 tooth cog. Further, I have broken a chain due to hop of a link that was too stiff to wrap an 11 tooth cog. Is there more to this desire than that?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Aar: Keep in mind that my criticism isn’t based on a false assertion—that no one will go 45 mph. Nor am I saying they shouldn’t make any cassettes that begin with an 11. Let’s frame it this way: How much time each week do you spend in a 50×11? I’m willing to bet for most riders that it’s way less than 1% of their total riding time. Additionally, I suspect there’s a huge population of riders who haven’t done 45 in years, if ever. Haleakala is the only descent I’ve done in the last three or four years where I wished I’d had an 11 (I was running Shimano with a 12-27). Why not take that cog and devote it to a 16 or 21 in order to make the jumps in the middle more workable and give you a gear you’ll use far more? Finally, there’s the simple reality that most riders I know aren’t looking to pedal harder once they are north of 40 mph; generally, what they are looking for is better control as they corner at high speed. If SRAM simply offered a 12-25 and a 12-28 in addition to their other cassettes, they wouldn’t hear a peep out of me.

  4. Mike

    Padraig, I agree with you on SRAM expanding their cassette choices. Along with the 12-25 and 12-28 you mention, a 12-32 could have it’s place as well. For those not concerned too much with top-end, these 3 ranges would give the rider closer gearing. And for those not wanting to lose the top-end, a 52/36 up front would give back half of it while not losing much at all in the bottom gear.

    As for that 11-30 cassette. 10 or 11-speed and did you get any word on an availability date? Thanks, Mike


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Mike: The 12-32 makes terrific sense, I agree. I’ve got an email in to SRAM to ask about the availability for the new 11-30. It’s 11-speed.

  5. Curtis

    … About those wicked looking shoes; they are on my radar. Do you know if somebody (me) with a D width foot requires the wide version? Can’t wait to read your review on them!


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Curtis: My sense is that unless you have a very high-volume foot, the standard width should be enough for you.

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