2016 Sea Otter Classic, Part II

2016 Sea Otter Classic, Part II

First online retailers, now mobile bike shops. The traditional bike shop is under fire on all fronts. Velofix is the latest challenge. Maybe you’ve seen them? Sprinter vans outfitted to the gills with bike components and tools. Velofix does appointment, in person repairs (yes, there’s an app for that) or it can station at large events, say a Gran Fondo or company bike day. They recently started a bike build and delivery program.

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Velofix was at Sea Otter looking for owner/operators and investors. The franchise fee is $25,000 and the truck, fully outfitted, is $90,000. Mercedes does offer a lease that can cut initial startup costs to 50 grand. In three years Velofix has already signed 49 franchisees in North America.

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We are big fans of Catlike’s top of the line helmet, the Mixino. But at $289, it’s head protection for the carbon wheel sect. Catlike gets it and has added the Olula (we’ll check on the pronunciation). 200 bucks. No Graphene but it does have the MPS eVo fit system and that distinctive, Catlike look. By the way, those straps are replaceable. Sexy here in neon, but there are nine color combinations to choose from.

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Catlike also jumping into the aero thing with the Cloud 352. Officially they call it an aero/bad weather helmet. It comes with two, top panels–one with vents and one without. Six color styles with an option for custom tops. A good place to put a team logo or sponsor maybe?

Like most Catlike products, both the Olula and the Cloud 352 are hecho en España.

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The Omata (OH-mah-tah) bike computer has a handsome, throwback look. But its developers say there’s more to the analog displays than retro-fashion. The man behind it is an artist and a designer who spent years at Nokia. Rhys Newman says it was an article on cognition that got him thinking about what matters most in a computer read out. He decided that speed, elevation, distance and time are what should be represented on the face. Underneath, the Omata is a GPS device capturing the ride data most bike computers record, it’s just hidden until the post-ride upload.

Newman says there’s a reason sports cars and some plane cockpits used, and in some case still have, analog displays: the information is easier to read at high speed.

Just before showing up at Sea Otter, The Omata had its debut on Kickstarter where the asking price is $499.00. Delivery expected early next year. Fabian Cancellara is a consultant and endorser.

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Bonk Breaker is now in your bottle. To date the nutrition company has been about bars and chews. Two flavors in their debut drink mix: Wolfberry-Pomegranate and Lemon-Lime.  The drink is designed for hydration, not fuel, so lots of electrolytes (700mg) and just 35 calories. Real, recognizable ingredients.

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This maybe a case of trying too hard or going too far to be part of a trend. Sea Otter had Gravel Fever and looks like a fork company from Iceland is running a temperature. Lauf now has front suspension for ‘Cross and adventure bikes. Travel is 30mm, about half as much as their mountain bike fork. Cannondale has the same in its Slate. Rake is 47mm. Clearance for 700x42c tires. Through axle? Yes. Weight, 890g.

Out of curiosity, I took it for a quick spin. Not much can be said, nor should be, based on a 10 minute roll around the Sea Otter Expo. But I will give them this: they did not put the word gravel in the labeling. This is the one and only Lauf Grit.

 

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4 comments

  1. Ric

    Apparently the mobile bike repair business looks good to lots of people, there is one called Beeline that I spotted here in Marin. Same mo, spotless Sprinter van, fully outfitted, very professional looking. They are also looking for franchisees. As you said, another assault on the LBS, brutal.

    1. Padraig

      I don’t see mobile shops as assaults on the IBD. I see it as an IBD reinventing itself in a means to stay relevant. Sure, some IBDs that already exist will feel pressure from mobile operations, but every time a new shop opens, some IBDs will feel competition. This is a chance to remind cyclists that good service is worth paying for.

  2. Jorgensen

    Rode by a mobile Bike repair van yesterday, parked off the primary Palos Verdes “loop”, of a name I don’t recall. Black Sprinter van with a blue stylized O. Not a promising sign when you cannot recall the shop name.
    I have seen a few Velofix vans around, most recent set up for a few hours in a local Whole Foods parking lot, I cannot see a goldmine in the concept. If one is lucky a by appointment client base can be created, but that is a long lead proposition.

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