The Sea Otter Classic, ’14

The Sea Otter Classic, ’14

I attended the Sea Otter Classic despite a complete lack of interest on the part of the organizers to have the media actually report on the experience of riding their events. Seems to me it would be handy for readers who weren’t there to hear that the events feature fun courses that are worth riding. As it happened, I was so busy visiting friends in the industry that I never found the time to ride, which was a significant disappointment. I’ve got a good excuse, though, sorta. This was easily the biggest expo I’ve ever seen at the Sea Otter. Compared to my first visit back in 1998, the expo of which I was able to fully cruise in about two hours, with four days at my disposal, I never really saw everyone I wanted to. By the end, I felt like I’d been to a trade show.

It used to be that expos were just small attractions meant to keep people at the venue to watch the racing. A distraction. When I was racing their in the late ’90s and early ’00s you could see people out on the grounds watching the racing. There’s not as much of that these days; I don’t see crowds at Laguna Seca’s famed corkscrew anymore. No matter. The expo is a thing in its own right. It is easily the biggest consumer expo in the U.S. and unlike some other expos, you get the A-list here; it’s not uncommon to see a company’s principals on-hand to talk with riders.

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Ibis has introduced some new wheels. Dubbed the 928, 741 and 941, they bring the idea of wide rims, now that that’s a thing, to the world of mountain bike wheels. Within the names are the sizes, so the 928 is a 29er rim that is 28mm wide, while the 741 and 941 are both 41mm wide, but are 27.5 and 29 inches in diameter, respectively.
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As if you need further proof, Chuck Ibis himself was on hand to talk up the new wheels (and the existing bikes).

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While I’d heard of Power 2 Max power meters previously, this was my first time to see them.

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It’s a surprisingly small and light unit and sounds like it is really easy to use. The fact that it’s a wireless unit and they are able to provide any type of crank—including Campagnolo—makes the product especially intriguing.

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You’d think that socks would make for a natural intersection point between fun(ny) and feet, but Sock Guy seems to be the only company on top of this idea. I plan to wear these on my next group ride, for obvious reasons.

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Easton has been trickling out tidbits of information about their new wheel, the Phantom, for a while, long enough to give you some idea how hard a great carbon clincher can be to make. I’ve been seeing preproduction samples and what I saw at Sea Otter looked ready to ride.

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The Phantom will be the first tubeless carbon clincher for the road. With a rounded spoke bed like Zipp’s Firecrest and the Enve SES wheels, it should be very fast and have stellar grip along with very low rolling resistance.

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Giro chose to model part of their display on a trail head. It contained some marketing bits here and there, but it contained enough humor to keep me standing there looking for all the jokes.

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That’s right, boys and girls, rattlesnakes don’t Strava.

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I’m going to have to take that last bit on faith. Cannibalism isn’t something I’m planning to try.

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I met Abbie Durkee and her husband Bill when I was at RAGBRAI in 2012. She’s got her own line of clothing and bike-inspired jewelry called My Alibi.

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She’s got lots of feminine styles and because it’s by a rad woman who knows how to ride hard, there’s more to it than the “shrink and pink” treatment.

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Cleary is a new bike company focused on kids’ bikes. They do everything from balance bikes to 20-inch-wheel bikes. They’re made from steel, so they’ll last.

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I meant to pick up one of these shirts for Mini-Shred. Souvenir fail. 

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I happened to catch Cleary owner Jeff Cleary sizing up a grom for her first (next?) bike.

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Parlee displayed a new aero road frame, the ESX (after Essex, the town in which Bob Parlee lives). IMG_8490

It’s helpful to keep in mind that before he started making bicycles, Bob Parlee made a name for himself in the world of sailing. He knows a thing or two about wind. This design is quite a departure from other aero shapes. I’m told that head-on, it’s not as fast as a Cervelo S5, but that in cross winds it’s much faster. 
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The folks at Parlee noted that placing the rear brake under the BB makes a big difference not just in aerodynamics, but also in ride quality. Seat stays can be make with much less carbon fiber in order to offer a much more compliant ride.

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The proprietary seatpost is made in-house along with all of the tubing.

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The ESX also features Parlee’s first in-house fork, which features a direct-mount front brake to increase aerodynamics.

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Velo isn’t a well-known name in saddles to most consumers but the Taiwanese manufacturer is super-well-known within the industry as the factory of choice for many other saddle brands. They displayed and showed a few new models with great shapes and reasonable price points. I expect to have a few for review later this spring. IMG_8494

The Sea Otter has always made an effort to be family friendly with attractions like slides and climbing walls over the years, but this year I saw far more families present and far more of those families came armed with bikes for everyone. It made my wistful for my own family. I know that Mini-Shred would have loved the event. I’m vowing to make sure the entire family comes with me next year. 
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The United States faces a significant problem in how it transitions its economy into the 21st century. Detroit was only a canary in the coal mine. Making domestic products of sufficient quality to attract buyers isn’t a fantasy laden with unicorns but a political necessity. Shinola has taken the challenge head-on by producing goods in and around Detroit.
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One of Shinola’s more interesting details is the way every product they produce features a serial number that tells the story of the origin of the components and manufacture of the item, such as this watch.
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Yeah, the stuff is expensive, but any quality product is. Why not put your money into a brand that combines cool with doing some good? IMG_8499

Not only do the bikes use classic lugged designs, they are produced by Waterford, as fabled a bike maker as there is this side of the swamp. IMG_8500

Funny how a touch from a bygone era can impart modern cool.

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I had never coveted a pink bike before I saw this. I think what I want isn’t so much this bike, but a daughter riding it.

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Copper. It’s like that.

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Ergon also showed a saddle I’m interested to ride.

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I’ve seen lots of efforts to manufacture seatposts that will impart some shock-absorbing qualities for road bikes. Most that I’ve encountered do nothing. This one from Ergon intrigues me. The two halves are meant to allow significant fore-aft flex. We’ve got one on the way.IMG_8510

Rolf Prima has been undergoing a significant reboot with a bunch of new wheels. The Ares4 is a carbon clincher that comes in either a rim brake or disc brake version. The 42mm-deep rim features a rounded spoke bed for improved handling in cross winds. While the number of disc-brake road wheels is increasing, these wheels still aren’t plentiful and at $2399, these present an attractive alternative to Zipp and Enve.

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2 comments

  1. Velorapter

    > I’ve seen lots of efforts to manufacture seatposts that will impart some shock-absorbing qualities for road bikes.
    > Most that I’ve encountered do nothing.

    Do you tried the Syntace P6 Carbon HiFlex seatpost?

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